Coach Edd Cantrell is known for coaching one of the most successful teams in the history of Grundy County football. His 1963 Yellow Jackets entered the Grundy County High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
Coach Cantrell has a long and rich history in sports and sometimes a writer’s best job is to just let the subject tell the story themselves. Here’s the Coach’s Hall of Fame story:
“I consider it pure joy when looking back on the opportunity I had to coach and teach at Grundy County High School and it is an honor to be recognized for a job I enjoyed. The community, faculty, and student body made GCHS a special place to be,” says Cantrell.
“I had the privilege to serve as a teacher, coach football, and coach girls basketball 1962-1964 and again from 1966-1971 at GCHS with outstanding young people on all the teams. Also, GCHS embraced my family as well as me by allowing my children to be part of practice, games, and homecoming events. This type of community has a lasting effect on an individual, especially children.
I was blessed to be raised by a Godly father and mother and I was one of ten children. I can see know how the Lord had his hand on me allowing me to play for White County High School with the coach being a formal University of Tennessee football player under General Neyland. His connection and the success the team on the football field led me to be the first person in my family to go and graduate from college at UT.
“I still remember there were 30 to 35 ends battling for two positions and boy was I lost in the shuffle. Hard work and sticking with it, I got the opportunity to play on the varsity and letter as a freshman at UT. Fact – you are always one play away from being a starter because the person ahead of you may get hurt – always prepare to be the starter. God allowed me to letter and play four years as a Volunteer and also get an education.
“I was inducted into the White County High School Hall of Fame in 2001 for playing football there. My coaching career started as a freshman coach at UT for a couple of years, then I got my first head coaching job at Lebanon, Tennessee. I left Lebanon for MTSU to get my master degree as well as being an assistant football coach. I left MTSU and found myself coaching a Miami, Florida – Hyaliegh High School.
I was so homesick and my sister Hanna told me about an opportunity at Grundy County High School. I coached at GCHS for three years and then went to coach at the offensive line at Morehead State University. After a one-year stint and winning the OVC, I returned to Grundy in 1966 and was there until 1971. I finished my coaching career at Warren County High School and retired from there in 1996. God blessed me with a wonderful wife, Hilda, who always supported every move I made and loved me through all the mistakes I made along the way.
“Hilda and I were blessed with two children, Cathy and Edd II, a wonderful daughter-in-law DeLisa, and five grandsons, Rett, Mason, Hunter, Luke, and Andrew. Now I am great-grandfather due to Rett and his wife Shayna’s two children, Lyla and Gage Rowland.
“I look at my days at GCHS with joy and the lasting impression it made on me and my family. Still today, I tell stories of events that occurred during my days at GCHS and I tell them with a smile every time. My goal was to try to be a positive influence on young people lives and teach them life lessons along the way. I tried to be consistent with each athlete and hopefully that influenced them to be great father or mother, a great community leader, but most of to serve others each day and give all the glory and honor to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“It’s hard to mention individuals, because I do not want to leave anyone out, but the measure of a person is what they contributed to the team. Sports is more about people working together to achieve a common goal. There were wins and losses, but the greatest thing was to play a game we love.
“When we individualize sports, the team concept suffers as well as the end result. Today’s society plays the blame game when the team loses. You win as a team and you lose as a team. Be thankful for the win and allow it to bond the team, influence the community, and build momentum into the next game.
“Losing is something to learn from, not a label. No one likes to lose, but there is many things to learn from losing. Consider the effort of the team, and build on the positives. Improve by working on the fundamentals of the game. For football, it is blocking, tackling and protecting the football. For basketball, it is about good passing, taking good shots, and minimizing turnovers. Sounds simple, but the team that practices fundamentals will always make the most of each situation.
“The willingness of players at GCHS to participate shines bright in my memory. Many student athletes desired and wanted to play, hitchhiking their way home after practice all the way down the mountain. Today’s students have better vehicles than the teachers and administrators and use the words ‘Have too and got too’ when talking about practicing and working out for athletics The proper attitude should be ‘want too’.
“It was a privilege to play and I do not remember having to beg anyone to play. When it came to rules, I always tried to be fair and consistent. I see so many coaches bend their rules today and allow some athletes to get by with more than other team members. This hurts the team and does nothing for the athlete that gets by. There should never be a gray area; just black or white and just right or wrong. We all must be accountable for our action and keep the team in mind.
“When it comes to coaching, it is not just about talent; it is about heart and effort. I always tried to find the other teams weaknesses and prepare our team twice as hard, twice as long, and we always thought we could win. I tried to correct the team’s mistakes with in a positive way, reinforcing the positive things we did and not tearing them down causing them to lose confidence. If influence could be defined, I would want and hope my tenure was an encouragement to all students, parents, and community. Work hard, enjoy life, and make the most of each day,” said Cantrell.
Welcome to the GCHS Sports Hall of Fame Coach. Your history well deserves to be included in the best of Grundy County High School.