Three Marion County locals will be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame on Feb. 26.
Vic Girder, Ken Colquette and Leon Rash will be honored at the event at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Colquette started his football coaching career in Tennessee at Cleveland in 1976. He then moved to Marion County High School in 1980 and served as the Warrior’s head coach for 17 years.
“I’m not big on that type of stuff, but I do appreciate it,” he said. “I accept it in the name of all of the kids that played over the years. I appreciate their thoughts and efforts and consideration. I wish it could be a group instead of just me.”
Colquette compiled a 257-94 record during his career and won four state championships and two-runner up titles. He was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2014.
“I’m proud in the fact that we were able to have some success, but it was a collaborative and group effort,” Colquette said. “It was the town. It was the athletic club. It was the players. It was partly the coaches and the administration had a part in it. It was a really good group.”
Grider has compiled a 197-49 record during his 19-season career at South Pittsburg and he, like Colquette, was humble about the recognition.
“It’s a big honor,” said Grider. “When you win something like that it means you’ve had a lot of good players. That’s how I look at it. I don’t get too wrapped up in personal accomplishments, but it is a big honor.
“This also tells me I’m getting older and have been doing it a long time,” he joked.
Grider has seen tremendous success at South Pittsburg. He has won three state championships as head coach and was the defensive coordinator on the 1994 state championship team. The Pirates also have more playoff wins than any team in the Chattanooga area, many of which came while Grider guided the team. He also has 18 region titles.
“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of good players and a lot of good coaches helping me out. When you put those together, you usually win a lot of games.”
Both Colquette and Grider said it was an honor being inducted into the hall of fame at the same time as the other.
“Vic is well deserving,” said Colquette. “I started out coaching against Vic’s dad (Don Grider). We’ve always had a good relationship.”
“To be able to go in at the same time is a pretty neat deal,” said Grider. “He’s somebody I played against and he coached against my dad for a long time. He’s somebody I have a lot of respect for.”
Leon Rash will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame for his contribution in the officiating field. He has worked as a basketball official for over 40 years. He was also a baseball umpire for 20 years.
“That’s a great honor to be included with people of that stature,” said Rash. “It really surprised me, but it truly is a great honor.”
Rash organized the Sequatchie Valley baseball umpires’ association in the mid-1970s and is currently the supervisor and assigning officer for the Southeast Tennessee Basketball Officials Association. He has also officiated three state basketball tournaments and numerous district and region tournaments. He was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2012.
Rash, who played sports in high school and was a three-year letterman in baseball at Middle Tennessee State University, said it is important to keep kids in sports.
“When I was 15, my baseball coach said ‘If you keep a kid in sports, they’ll stay out of courts’. That’s truer today than it was then,” he said.
He also said he thinks officials are taken for granted sometimes.
“Whether the referees are good or bad, if they don’t show up, I bet you don’t play,” he said. “Everybody hollers at the referees. It’s just hard to get people who want to do it these days.”
Colquette, Grider and Rash, along with 14 others, will be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame on Feb. 26. This is the second straight year a Marion County resident will be inducted into the Hall. Last year, Chattanooga Times Free Press sports editor Stephen Hargis was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his contributions from the media field.