Another Article about Coach Nathan H. Gay, Sr.
The News and Observer of Raleigh recently ran a new article about my high school basketball coach, the late Nathan H. Gay, Sr. For those of us who knew Coach Gay, this is a very moving story. He managed to quietly touch thousands of lives in his everyday activities and inspired thousands of young kids from Sampson County during his tenure at Union High School and at the Sampson County Schools. While doing all of this, he was able to compile a champion's résumé as a basketball coach.
Bonnie Rochman, Staff Writer for the N & O, and Brooke Cain, my cousin, another Union alum, and researcher at the N & O, did a very good job capturing some of the highlights of his life in Generation of athletes trusted unruffled coach: Lights faded for Nathan Gay one last time in his gym.
I personally feel that there is a screenplay just waiting to be written about this man, one of my many heroes. I hope that someone will take that as a challenge.
I played on his 1976 Union Spartan Basketball team. We finished the season with an 25-3 record after falling to Elm City in the State NC AA semi-finals by a score of 102-101. From the Reflector, the Union High School Year Book:
Coach Gay's talented Spartans broke several school records in their final two games at the state tourney. Against a strong Elm City team in semi-final play, the Spartans came from a deficit of 16 points in the final four minutes 28 seconds of the game, to gain a lead of 101-100. This incredible comeback, however, was not quite strong enough to defeat the determined five from Elm City, but Union scored a record 41 points in the final quarter of the game.
The "Mighty Spartans" brought home the third place trophy after beating [J.P.] Knapp in the consolation game, setting another school record--119 points in a single game.
I actually got to play in that final game of the season for Union. We had shared the same hotel in Winston-Salem with the players from J. P. Knapp High School before we were fated to play one another. Elm City lost the title the following night to Clayton and we pummeled our new friends from Currituck County in the consolation game, winning 119-87 as I recall. As our game and season wound down, I got on the court and was fouled and made one of two freethrows to contribute to the school scoring record set in that game. I didn't know it then, but that weekend would stay with me throughout my life. I just have to close my eyes and think of the game with Elm City and I can see the final 30 seconds of the game replay in my mind.
Contributions can be made to the Nathan H. Gay, Sr. Scholarship Fund, c/o Sampson County Schools, P.O. Box 439, Clinton, NC 28328 if you feel so inclined.
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