William R. Walker, Earl Rowan and Dr. Josh Hare were honored between the boy’s and girl’s games Friday with induction into the Bradley Central High School Bear Basketball Hall of Fame.
“We have two super-great coaches and a great player. All of these men are of great character,” said Bears assistant coach Chuck Clark, who also helps coordinate the selection process. “Coach Walker went on to be school superintendent in Bradley County. Coach Rowan is still on the staff here and teaching after more than 40 years. Josh is at the University of Kentucky Medical Center and is a doctor,” said Clark. “We are talking about some men who have done something more with their lives and have carried on well with the Bradley tradition.”
Coach William R. Walker, who spent 20 years at Bradley teaching and coaching, 14 as head basketball coach, was posthumously honored with induction into the Hall.
“Coach Walker took over the coaching position from Tip Smith (grandfather of Bears’ coach Kent Smith),” Clark detailed. “In those 14 years, they won 14 consecutive district tournaments, a couple of region titles and a state tournament. They also went to the state tournament a couple of times in between (championships),” Clark extolled.
Clark elaborated on the selection process.
“It is set up with the head committee with (BCHS athletics director) Turner Jackson and (assistant principal) Martha Frazier. The secondary committee is the coaching staff. We kind of organize what all goes on. Then, we have the actual selection committee who gets the nominees and does the research,” he explained.
After the process of nominating and research is competed, the vote takes place and the honorees are informed of their impending induction.
When the process was complete, two more outstanding Bears were chosen to join coach Walker.
“This year, we have a Tennessee Mr. Basketball in Josh Hare who helped take us to the state tournament after 18 years of not going. When he graduated he was the all-time leading scorer with 2,100 points,” Clark said of the inductee. “He went on to sign at Appalachian State before transferring to Samford to finish out his career.”
Bear’s coach Kent Smith also lauded his former all-star.
“Out of all the players I’ve coached, he is right up there at the top. I didn’t have to come into the locker room and give him some big ‘rah-rah’ speech. All I had to do is look at him, give him a wink and he was ready to go,” he praised.
“Plus, you see what he has done with his life and what he is doing. He is quality from the get-go. Coaches will tell you if you stay in it this long you forget the wins and losses but you never forget the people. Without a doubt, Josh Hare is right at the top of those guys I am going to remember coaching here at Bradley Central.”
Also inducted into the Hall was a name familiar not only locally as a BCHS basketball coach, but nationally as coach of the former Lee College Vikings. Earl Rowan, who is still remembered as a big winner on “The Price is Right,” TV show, also went in as one of the latest members of the Hall of Fame.
Before the ceremony Rowan, who retired as Bears’ coach with the second most wins (281) in Bradley history, joked with a friend about not having to be a great coach when he has great players.
“That is exactly true,” Rowan said with a big laugh. “I have certainly had my share of outstanding players.”
Rowan recalled his coaching tenure as nothing but positive.
“I look back on those 14 years and they were 14 of the best years of my life here at Bradley High. They were when I was in my prime. I came to Bradley when I was in my late 30s and coached all through my 40s. The first couple of years we kind of struggled, then we kind of hit our stride. We had 12 straight winning seasons. We had a region championship early on. There are so many outstanding players that gave me thrills.
“When you are coaching, honestly you don’t have time to enjoy those big victories. But I look back on it now, as I have through the years, and there were some tremendous moments, some exciting games. I will always carry those memories of Bradley Bear basketball with me.”
Bradley Central athletics director Turner Jackson extolled the group as most deserving of the honor.
“These are people that make the tradition here at Bradley High School. Coach Walker gave me a job here in 1979. Earl Rowan is Mr. Bradley High School and of course, Josh Hare was one of our greatest players ever.
“What a great group to be around and be a part of Bradley High School.”