Tyler Brown and Pat Boston
Westerfield’s second-best sport lands him in GCHS Sports Hall of Fame
On May 1, Joe Westerfield was announced as one of the newest members of the Grundy County Sports Hall of Fame. The historic vote made him the first and only wrestler inducted in the Hall of Fame’s short six-year history. Westerfield lettered four years for the Yellow Jackets, amassed a 73-9 record and placed third at 105 pounds in the TSSAA State Tournament as a senior.
The three-sport athlete went on to compete for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he was 9-6-0 in two seasons. He placed second at 113 pounds in thein the Southern Open Championships in 1983-84 and spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Mocs. But, despite his outstanding record in a Grundy County singlet, a wrestling career was something Westerfield never expected to pursue.
“I didn’t know wrestling from any other sport,” Westerfield said. “I played baseball, football and basketball growing up, but wrestling wasn’t on my radar until seventh grade.”
His father, George, served in the United States Army, and his family was always on the move. Joe was born Nov. 4, 1964, in Shirley, Mass., about 30 miles northwest of Boston, and didn’t discover wrestling until his family was living at Fort Ord in Monterey, Calif., when he was around 13 years old.
“Because of my size and weight, the middle school coach talked me into trying out for the wrestling team,” Westerfield recalled. “I gave it a shot, and I wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t think I would wrestle again after that. I was always better at baseball.”
Following his seventh-grade year, Joe and his family moved to Monteagle. Westerfield’s father and mother, Cathrine, were Grundy County natives, but it was the first time Joe had called the mountain his home.
“We moved to Grundy in 1979, partially through my eighth-grade year, and it was kind of a shock,” Westerfield said. “I had gone from a middle school in California that was bigger than Grundy County High School and offered tons of sports, to Monteagle Elementary where there were about 20 kids in my class and all I could play was basketball. And, I knew I wasn’t going to be playing basketball in high school. I am 5-foot-3.”
Westerfield played one season on the court for the Hornets before setting his sights on making the football and baseball teams at GCHS. He would letter four years on the gridiron and three on the diamond in a Yellow Jacket uniform, but it was by way of another recruiting pitch from a wrestling coach that Westerfield found his way back on to the mat for another four years.
His family’s house in Monteagle neighbored coach Bill Colquitt’s house.
Colquitt spotted Westerfield outside one day and approached the then-freshman about joining the wrestling team. Over the next four years, Westerfield became the most decorated wrestler in Grundy County history. His 73 wins came in multiple weight classes as he would wrestle anyone if it gave the Yellow Jackets a chance at a victory.
“I only weighed about 100 pounds in high school,” Westerfield said. “But instead of taking a forfeit because we didn’t have someone to wrestle in a higher weight class, I would volunteer to step up and wrestle in that spot. I was going to do whatever it took to give us a chance at winning. I wrestled up to 119pounds.”
After just one year into Westerfield’s career at GCHS, Colquitt stepped away as the wrestling coach.
“After Coach Colquitt left, we didn’t really have a wrestling coach,” Westerfield said. “Coach Bill Bouldin, a football coach, stepped in for my sophomore and senior years so we could keep a team. And Darrell Austin, a math teacher, served as coach my junior season. Neither were wrestling coaches, so we had to kind of coach ourselves. But, we were happy they were there to keep the program going for us.”
It was then that Westerfield was taken under the wing of University of the South Hall of Fame coach Yogi Anderson.
“Coach Anderson invited me to come practice with his team at Sewanee during my junior and senior years. He had wrestled at Sewanee, was a three-time CAC champion and was back as their head coach. He was instrumental in my development those last two years in high school.”
After the 1973 wrestling season ended, Westerfield decided for forgo his senior baseball season, much to the chagrin of coach Frank Clay.
“Coach Clay wasn’t too happy with my decision, but he understood,” Westerfield said.
During his final semester, Westerfield was going to school and putting in nearly 70 hours per week between working at the Monteagle truck plaza, Dairy Queen and sheriff’s office. He was saving money to attend UTC with plans of walking on with the baseball team, but those plans were derailed in 1983. In order to comply with Title IX, Chattanooga dropped its baseball program following the 1982 campaign, but Westerfield always seemed to have wrestling to fall back on. He walked on with the Mocs upon his arrival at UTC in 1983and spent nearly two years wrestling at the Division I level. Appendicitis sidelined the sophomore during the 1984-85season before a knee injury ended his career. Following the injury, Westerfield was asked to stay on as a bench coach for the Mocs for the next two seasons. Along with head coach Ethan Reeve, Westerfield helped coach Chattanooga to back-to-back Southern Conference championships and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Westerfield spent his final year at UTC as an intern at TVA and graduated in 1988 with a B.S. in Corporate Fitness and Physical Therapy. He now resides in Etowah, Tenn., with his wife, Cherryl Colleen, daughters, Brenna and Caitlin, and son, Reid.
Jody Nunley played football at Grundy County High School from 1961-1964, ending his career with a 14-7 win in the Industrial Bowl in Lafayette, Tennessee. This victory gave the Yellow Jackets a 10-1 record. Along with co-captain Gary Ross; quarterback Jimmy Gary Gipson; and a team of really tough boys coached by Ed Cantrell and Hollie Brown, they compiled one of the winningest records in GCHS history.
Jody loved football, but never played until his freshman year and lettered that year. He often had to hitchhike after practice from Tracy City to Pelham, then often had to walk home from there to Paynes Cove.
Known for his speed and ability to catch the ball and run he was a favorite target for the quarterback. He was a four-year letterman with numerous touchdowns and made all-conference and all-state teams as a senior.
After graduation, he went to work at Spaco in Huntsville, then married his high school sweetheart, Edith, in 1965. His children, Mona Beth and Jody Jeremy, were central to his life and he called them his blessings.
A family man and proud father, he helped coach Pee Wee football with his son on the team. Throughout his son’s junior and high school years, he never missed one of his son’s games.
His son Jeremy was offered and accepted a scholarship to the University of Alabama in 1989. Jody attended many of these games and was very proud of his son’s success, including Jeremy’s 1992 National Championship and many other awards. Jeremy was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft and played professionally for the Houston Oilers and Carolina Panthers.
Jody lives in Winchester with his wife, Edith, whom he has been married to for 54 years. He enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, fishing, hunting, artifact hunting, and watching western movies and sports.
Westerfield and Nunley will be inducted into the Grundy County High School Sports Hall of Fame on August 3, at 4 p.m., at the Grundy County High School cafeteria as the Class of 2019 is celebrated and enshrined. For more information on the Grundy County High School Sports Hall of Fame, to view current members or to RSVP for the banquet, visit Facebook.com/GCHSSportsHOF or search @GCHSSportsHOF.