For one of the few times in his teaching and coaching career, Tyner football coach Wayne Turner was caught unawares earlier this week.
Under the guise of a pep rally for spring sports that was held in the football stadium, veteran football public-address announcer Cornell Beslin keyed the microphone from the press box and said, "Good afternoon and welcome to Bob Evans Stadium and Wayne Turner Field."
"He was dumbfounded," Tyner principal Carol Goss said. "Then the football team came down and surrounded him and gave him their hugs and pats on the back. He was grinning from ear to ear. It was obvious he was so appreciative. He is one of the most respected coaches among officials, educators, his peers, the students and the media."
Turner has been Tyner's football coach since 1991.
"It caught me totally off guard. It was a total shock and it's still sinking in," he said.
The plan, which included the presence of Turner's mother and other relatives at the event, came together quickly.
"I have often thought about this, and it's also something folks in the community had brought to my attention," Goss said. "He recently got his 200th win, but beyond that he has impacted the lives of so many kids. We had a committee that presented a petition to the school board, and they approved."
Turner knew beforehand that he would be recognized, but he thought it was for being named Chattanooga-area teacher of the year through a program sponsored by Barnes & Noble.
"We put one over on him. He had no idea," said Larry Dillard, one of Turner's longtime assistants. "He doesn't like to show emotions, but it was obvious he was touched."
Dillard said Turner is so respected by students because he treats them with respect.
"He treats every kid he meets the same with a handshake and a hug, whether they play for him or not," Dillard said. "They respect him, love him and adore him because he's honest and genuine."
Not surprisingly, Turner immediately shared the honor with those who have surrounded him over the years.
"It's quite a tribute, but it's more of a tribute to all the people who have played for me and worked with me at Tyner. They're the ones that made this possible," he said.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...