The next two inductees to be introduced as newly elected members of the 2016 GCHS Sports Hall of Fame are the 1955 GCHS Yellow Jackettes basketball team and an individual star on the team, Rachel Cheek Smith. The team played the old six-on-six version and Rachel was a forward on the team.
Smith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Cheek was born in Sewanee, Tennessee, attended Shook School and graduated from GCHS in 1955 where she played four years of basketball. In 1954 and 1955, Rachel made the all Tennessee Valley Conference (TVC) teams.
After graduating in May 1955, she enrolled in summer school at UT Knoxville. In 1956, she married Carey J. Smith in Tracy City, lived in Knoxville and raised two sons, Carey Judson Smith, Jr. (Jud) and Jeff Wilson. In 1988, she and her husband moved to Houston, Texas. She worked at Coastal Water Authority (CWA) and divorced in 1988. In 1999, she retired from CWA and moved back to Knoxville.
Smith has attended almost every 1955 class reunion, and has kept up with many friends and classmates.
The Yellow Jackettes of ‘55 fought their way to a very successful season. They had 17 wins and two losses in their regular season of play. In the three tournaments in which the Jackettes participated, they won six games and lost two.
Gayle Meeks was the leading scorer of the team with 723 points for the season. Rachel Cheek was next with 359 and Betty Elliott had 152. The guards were outstanding in almost every game. They did a wonderful job in holding their opponents to only 893 points compared with Grundy’s 1,377 points.
One of the highlights of the season was in the finals of the Tennessee Valley Conference tournament when Elliott sank a field goal with one second to go in an overtime, beating Soddy Daisy 51-49, and giving the Jackettes the TVC championship title. Meeks, Cheek, and Mary Smartt made the all TVC team.
In the 16th District tournament, the Jackettes were not quite as successful. After winning two games, the girls then faced McMinnville in the finals. Although it was a hard fought game, the Jackettes lost. But three of the players brought honor to the team. Selected on the all-tournament team were Mona Sweeton, Meeks, and Nancy McGovern. With the title of runners-up in the district tournament, the Jackettes gained a position in the Regional tournament. This is the highest any girls’ team can go.
The first game in this tournament matched the Jackettes with Sparta, considered to be one of the best teams in the state. Sparta’s record up to this game had been one loss in 85 games. But the determined Jackettes battled to give Sparta their second loss in a thrilling game 41-36. This win led the Jackettes to face a strong York team. This was one of the strongest teams Grundy had faced all year, and York lived up to its record in the game by leading from start to finish and defeating the Jackettes 40-30.
Meeks was selected for the all regional team becoming the first Grundy player to receive this honor. This brought to an end a successful season for the Jackettes. The record for the whole season was 23-4.
The scores of the tournament games were: TVC 16th District Region IV – GCHS 52 Bledsoe 43; GCHS 35 Morrison 27; GCHS 41 Sparta 36; GCHS 31 Van Buren 28; GCHS 33 Van Buren 32; GCHS 30 York 40; GCHS 51 Soddy Daisy 49; and GCHS 50 McMinnville 65.
Congratulations to the 1955 Yellow Jackettes basketball team and individual player Rachel Cheek Smith on their selection to the 2016 GCHS Sports Hall of Fame.