ave you ever heard of a woman coaching a boys basketball team? Faye Morris coached the high school boys basketball team of Garner to the White County boys tournament championship and also to an undefeated season. That history-making event took place in 1945. As Mrs. Morris explains, it was wartime and all available men either volunteered or were drafted into the military service. She was teaching grade school at Garner at the time. The school board wanted her to move into high school teaching and she did so.
“I really don’t remember why I became coach,” she said, shyly, strolling down memory lane from her comfortable Garner home. “The boys asked me to do it so I did. They were the best boys you’ve ever seen. I just loved it.”
Most of the 1945 team still hang their hats in White County. Some of the team members were Calvin Rogers, Tracy Parrish, Elroy Scott, Glen Carter, Herman Scott, Richard Anderson, Buton Scott and Francis “Red” Sanford.
“It was nothing I did that made them successful,” said coach Morris modestly. “They loved basketball so much they just played well. I kept them together, met with them for practices, called timeouts during the game and I would take one out of the game if I felt it was needed. Basketball was really the only activity there was other than school and the boys could not get enough of it. They were always coming over at night to get me to come watch them practice,” she remembers with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye.
Faye never played basketball but her son and daughter grew up loving the sport and she learned it from them. She started teaching at Garner, going from grade school to high school English in her 15-year career there. She transferred to Searcy in 1952 and taught grade school until she retired in 1973.
Coach Morris remembers that the basketball season was not particularly long in 1945, with her team averaging two games a week. As the only woman coach, she said she never encountered any problems from anyone and she said that if anyone was ever surprised or shocked at her role they didn’t show it. She remembers a comical strategy she used once. A team that Garner was slated to play in the White County tournament opted to play Garner once before the tourney started in order to get a look at her team. Morris slyly played her second string exclusively and Garner won the game. When Garner faced the team once more in the tourney she says they were so surprised to see a completely new team on the floor. Garner went undefeated in 1945 under the guiding hand of Faye Morris, a tribute to any coach male or female.
“The boys were all so wonderful, I never had one minute’s trouble with any of them and they are good about keeping in touch with me,” she said. “I was with a friend going into a store about two weeks ago when two men passed us and climbed into a truck. Then one of the men came running back to us to hug me. It was Herman Scott. He also calls me every once in a while just to see how I am doing.”
Faye will always have a soft spot in her heart for the team. vvv