Thursday, June 21, 2007
Charles Gillespie is pictured coaching the Byhalia Indians during one of their state tournament appearances.
Charles Gillespie is leaving his head basketball coaching job at Byhalia High School after 13 seasons.
“I think I helped put Byhalia basketball on the map,” said Gillespie, whose Indians finished as state runners-up twice.
Byhalia racked up several 30-win seasons under Gillespie’s leadership, including a 34-0 regular season that was followed by an upset loss in the playoffs. His teams made it to the state tournament four times.
Perhaps the biggest win of his successful career came in March 2004 when the Indians knocked off highly-touted Prentiss and super big man Al Jefferson in the state tournament semi-finals.
Gillespie, 58, has been coaching 32 years. He said “at some point I would like to coach again.” He is also pastor of New Mt. Gillian MB Church on Stonewall Road.
He said the highlight of his coaching tenure at Byhalia High School was the players he coached.
“The kids – we became close,” Gillespie said. “I always wanted to help the kids. There’s a life after basketball, and that’s what is important.
“I remember the success we had, but more than anything else, I have great memories of the kids. I will never forget them.”
Gillespie grew up in Olive Branch and graduated from Eastside High School. He signed a baseball scholarship with Rust College, and then played both baseball and basketball at Rust.
His first coaching/teaching job was in Olive Branch where he helped with the ninth grade boys and girls and varsity teams. He then went to East Tate Elementary.
He was head coach of the Independence varsity boys for two years before moving to Coldwater in the same position.
He came to Byhalia in the 1994-95 school year.
“I enjoyed working at Byhalia High School,” Gillespie said. “It’s a great place to work, and I enjoyed my time there.
“We had some dedicated fans, and I appreciate them.”
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