Coaches’ memories of ‘Snowball’ Days

By Steve Williams

There were no basketballs bouncing or bowling balls rolling last week.

Wrestling, where no ball is needed, had been halted too by the deep snowfall that many Knox County residents woke up to on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday last Monday.

Schools were closed and sports shut down all week due to the snow and frigid temperatures that created treacherous roads to drive on.

You could have called it Snowball Season!

With sports pages needing to be filled, The Knoxville Focus asked coaches if they would like to share Snow Day memories and pictures.

Five coaches jumped at the opportunity.

Enjoy, with Hot Cocoa!


Best part is spending time with family

Russell Mayes, Fulton: “I have certainly enjoyed this big snow with the kids. They wake us up every morning ready to go outside. We have a nice little hill next to us for them to sled on. The best part of the time off is to just be with family. It is nice for the world to stop for a few days so we can be together.”

Mays wears many hats at FHS. He is the WKCS-FM radio station manager, a production and broadcasting teacher, does play-by-play at the Falcons’ football games, is the school’s Sports Information Director and is an assistant baseball coach.

“I remember during the blizzard of ’93 that our family walked in the snow from North Hills to the McDonalds on Broadway just because we needed something to do,” recalled Russell. “I remember it being strange that we were the only ones there!”


Snow war in the cul-de-sacs

J.P. Burris, Farragut: The head boys basketball coach and Physical Education teacher said he grew up in the Farragut/Bearden area and “we had a few good snow days over the years.”

His favorite things to do: “Going over to sled at (hilly) West Valley Middle School and play snow football games in Tan Rara (a neighborhood in West Knoxville). “It’s on Fox Road and used to be right were the Bearden High /Farragut High zoning line was.”

His special memory: “One of my years in high school our whole neighborhood got snowed in because the entrance was a very large hill. We gathered almost 30 kids in the neighborhood for a huge snowball fight where we built two bases in two side by side cul-de-sacs and stayed out for almost three hours in the dark having the time of our lives.”

The Mains thing was he won the game

Travis Mains, Knoxville Catholic: “Riding a sled into the side of the house when I was 12 years old and cutting my knee so bad I had to go get nine stitches and then played that weekend in sweatpants,” said the Lady Irish basketball head coach.

“All the kids were asking why I was playing in sweat pants and playing with a limp,” he added. “Man I loved some basketball and my parents knew how much I loved it and let me play anyways. Still have the scar and remembering how I didn’t want to miss any games. Still got double figures and got the W!!”


Six inches of snow looked like a ‘blizzard’

Lauren Williams, Berean Christian: “I grew up in Florence, Ala., where we had more tornados than snow days, but when we did, it was so exciting to see at least an inch and get out of school for it.

“My favorite thing to do on snow days as a kid was to walk down to my friend’s house and we would go make snowmen with the little snow that was on the ground,” continued Williams, who is the Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at BCS. “We would use all the snow in the yard that we could find. After that, we were too cold to stay out and would come in and drink hot chocolate.

“When I got older and we traveled for volleyball in the winter, at some of the places we would go it would be snowing,” pointed out Lauren, who played on the Carson-Newman beach volleyball team in her college days. “It was always so fun to play in the snow with my teammates because we hardly ever got snow back home.

“My favorite memory is when I thought we had so much snow and we only had about six inches,” she added, “and I got to spend the night at my friend’s house on a school night and her mom made us a blanket fort. We probably slept and played in the fort for over a week.

“My dad used to bring out our kayaks and we would pull my baby brother around on it like a sled. We would also try to use it going down a little hill in our backyard.”

In addition to being the Lady Eagles’ volleyball coach, Williams is an elementary SOAR teacher at Berean. The condensed version that SOAR stands for, according to Williams, is Support, Opportunities, Accommodations and Reach our goals.

“We work with kids with Learning Disabilities such as ADHD, Dyslexia and other reading/Math disorders,” she said.


The ‘Snow’ must go on, despite dog bite

Buzz McNish, Fulton: “We definitely had snow days growing up,” said McNish, the Falcons’ head baseball coach and a College and Career teacher. “We had a big hill by where I grew up. Everyone in the neighborhood would gather there to sled. We would sled all day long.

“A funny memory, or maybe not so funny, from one of those snow days revolved around sledding,” added McNish. “The hill was right in front of our house.

“The dog we had growing up was very protective,” pointed out McNish. “One day while we were sledding, I was wearing a ski mask, so my face was completely covered. I was yelling, like kids do. Our dog (named Rebate) got out of the house about the time I started to take off down the hill.

“I guess our dog thought something was wrong, he jumped on me and bit a hole through my ear inside the ski mask. It was painful, but I put the dog back in the house and kept sledding.

“Then you have a family of your own and make new memories with them,” concluded Buzz.