Merrell is a member of the Class of 1954 and made All District Tournament all four years on the basketball team and All Region Tournament in 1952 and 1954. Juanita was Most Athletic her senior year and won the Babe Ruth Sportsmanship Award that same year.
She received her associate degree from Martin College in 1956 where she played on the tennis team and received the H. Clay Walker Award both years. Juanita earned her bachelor’s degree from MTSU in 1958.
Merrell went on to be a teacher and a coach with some outstanding achievements. She coached basketball at Springfield High School and her team garnered the district championship in 1961. She moved on from there to Azalia Junior High in St. Petersburg, FL. There she coached basketball, volleyball and tennis.
Merrell taught and coached for a year at GCHS where her basketball team won the district championship in 1964.
Her longest tenure was a Kirkman High in Chattanooga. She was the basketball coach from 1964 through 1969, and volleyball coach from 1964 through 1979. Her volleyball team was the district, region, and State Champions in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. During that time, her team compiled a 139-4 record with a win streak of 81 consecutive matches.
Juanita was honored with several coaching awards throughout her career. She received the Scrappy Moore Volleyball Coach of the Year in Chattanooga in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. She was the Scrappy Moore Most Outstanding Overall Coach in 1979. She received the Chattanooga Old Timers Presidential Award in 1977 and was nominated for the National High School Coach of the Year that same year.
In 1985, she received the Tennessee Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Teaching and Service Honor Award. In 1994, she received the Service Life Fellow Award from the same group.
Merrell was inducted into the Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2002, she was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame. In addition, in 2009 the Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame honored Juanita with the Betty Probasco Lifetime Achievement Award.
Make plans now to attend the Grundy County High School Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet Saturday, August 8, at Grundy County High School. Tickets will go on sale next week and are limited to the first 250 sold.