TMC CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
On Saturday, July 30, 2005, Truett-McConnell College honored the women who have played on its basketball teams through the 30 years since women’s basketball became a permanent intercollegiate sport at the college. The event was sponsored by the Office of Institutional Advancement as a kick-off for fundraising to establish a women’s basketball scholarship fund. Many of those attending had not seen each other in 25 or more years, and the entire day took on the atmosphere of a family reunion.
|1980 National Championship Team|
The luncheon and program celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1980 TMC Women’s Basketball National Championship. The team of national champions was introduced, and each team player, manager, and trainer was presented a signed and numbered print of a watercolor of the Truett-McConnell campus by renowned North Georgia artist John Kollock.
At the celebration Joe Campbell talked about the origins of the women’s basketball program in 1974, telling some humorous stories about its beginnings. A women’s basketball team had been organized at TMC in the early 1950s, soon after the college began. However, it was disbanded after two or three years, and women’s basketball did not appear again as an intercollegiate sport for 20 years.
Coach 1974 – 1976
In the fall of 1974, a women’s basketball team went to the courts, organized and coached by Joe Campbell, who was employed in the admissions office of Truett-McConnell. Campbell was a former basketball, baseball and track star at South Hall High School in Gainesville and a standout on the Danes basketball team at Truett-McConnell in 1969-70.
The 1974-75 inaugural team of Danettes (as the ladies’ team was called then) played a 20-game schedule. Four of the five starting players on the team had played on the 1974 State Class A champion team from Pickens County High School, making the TMC Danettes a strong force to be reckoned with, even in their very first season.
The third year of their existence brought the Danettes a new head coach, Colby Tilley. With his quiet manner, wry humor, and strong spiritual guidance, Coach Tilley was to lead the Danettes to many years of glory and to a reputation as a national powerhouse in women’s basketball among two-year colleges.
Coach 1976 – 1985
During the nine years (1976-1985) that Tilley coached, the Danettes won five state championships, four NJCAA Region 17 championships, and the national championship in 1980. During his nine-year tenure at TMC, he steered the team to a 236-46 overall record (.837 winning percentage). In the 1979-80 season, he led the team to a 36-win season and a national championship, followed the next year by a 31-win season.
Tilley left Truett-McConnell College in 1985 to start a women’s basketball program at Auburn University-Montgomery. His stellar record during his nine years at AUM resulted in an overall record of 218-74 (.747), and his teams made seven appearances in the NAIA National Championship tournament.
In 1995 Tilley left AUM to become head women’s basketball coach at Kennesaw State University, where he remains today. Now in his tenth season at KSU, he is the winningest coach in the history of Kennesaw State University.
At the celebration luncheon, Tilley introduced each former player who attended and shared some interesting information about each one. He commented: “The years I spent coaching at Truett-McConnell College were the best years of my coaching career and of my life.” The program ended with a challenge by Dr. Sam Cash, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at TMC, for the former players to support the college with their prayers, by recommending students, and by contributing to the newly-established women’s basketball scholarship fund.
Former players attending were Catherine Whiddon, Cordele; Daria Myers, Loganville; Deanna Stacks, Gainesville; Doris Metcalf Coleman, Atlanta; Elaine Higginbotham Kenyon, Cornelia; Glenda Long Folsom, Johnson City, TN; Jeanette Dorsey Fuller, Duluth; Jeanette Balsam Looney; Winterville; Kay Bramblett Brown, Dalton; Kristi Mullinax Helton, Buford; Lynn Underwood Mosely, St. Simons Island; Martha Moss Hufstetler, Shannon; Montey Walters Nix, Flowery Branch; Phillis Thomas, Buford; Rhonda Coker Sillesky, Dawsonville; Robin Hendrix, Kokomo, IN; Robin Rainwater Hardy, Kennesaw; Sandra Turner Renfroe, Stone Mountain; Stephanie Grogan, Marietta; Tammy Allen, Ellijay; and Teresa Dunbar Landers, Rome.
In addition to players, those attending also included four former team managers, Gina Elrod Brissy, Talmo; Penny Sosebee Cain, Jefferson; Susan Thompson Chapman, Peachtree City; and Dan Alexander, Seneca, SC, as well as former trainer, Joe Gailey, Toccoa. Claude Smith, former Dean of Students at TMC, now retired, returned for the event, as did Rodney Fitzgerald, former Director of Admissions, now retired, and his wife, Alice.
A handful of loyal fans of the women’s teams also attended: Terry Thomas, Douglasville; Kent Tench, Gainesville; Miriam Tilley, Marietta; Connie Campbell, Cleveland; and Steve Hood, Cleveland, as well as a number of family members of the honorees.
According to Dr. Sam Cash: “This event was one of the best alumni events I have ever attended—at Truett-McConnell or any other college. Bringing these players together again after all these years and honoring the 1980 National Championship team on the silver anniversary of its championship can only strengthen their ties to the institution that gave them their start in higher education.”
Edna Holcomb, 30-year employee of the college who had known all of those attending when they were TMC students, ended the program by saying to the gathering: “Welcome back. We’re glad to have you home.”Return to News Archive