Retirement celebration to be held Saturday

Published 11:02 pm Thursday, February 5, 2009

The city of Brundidge will roll out the red carpet Saturday night in celebration of the retirement of Wayne Grant and in appreciation for his longtime dedication to education and athletics at Pike County High School.

The retirement celebration will be at 6:30 p.m. at Brundidge Station and the public is invited.

There is no charge but everyone is invited to bring their favorite “Wayne Grant” story.

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“We will toast and roast Coach Grant and also have an open mike for anyone who has a Wayne Grant story they would like to share,” said Gentry Hassett, an organizer of the event, which is sponsored by the Brundidge Business Association, the City of Brundidge and faithful fans of Wayne Grant.

“Wayne did a lot for our community,” said Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage. “He put Brundidge on the map. Everywhere I go people say, ‘Pike County High School is where they win all those state championships.’”

During his tenure at PCHS, Grant had 10 seasons with 10 or more wins, his teams made 17 post season appearances, won 10 region championships, 11 quarter-final games, five semi-final games and five state championships. He had an overall coaching record of 218-93 and was name Coach of the Year nine times.

But it was not just Grant’s ability to win on the football field that distinguished him.

“Wayne is an excellent teacher on and off the field,” Ramage said. “I don’t know of a better science teacher anywhere. His students have been successful in many different careers. Wayne set the bar extremely high in the classroom and on the football field and he expected his students to reach it. He was an excellent role model. His time at PCHS was an exciting time. The success on the football field spilled over into all the school and the self-esteem of our students heightened and so did pride in their school.”

Dr. Johnny Wright, former PCHS principal, hired Grant to teach and coach at Pike County High School in the early 1980s and he did so with great expectations.

“I’m not surprised by Coach Grant’s success on the football field or his ability to motivate students to achieve at a high level,” Wright said. “I expected that he would do that.”

Wright said his first impression of Grant was that he ambitious and aggressive and he also had been an excellent student in college and had a coaching background.

“I thought that he would be a good teacher,” Wright said.

“The night after his interview I was talking with my dad. I told him that I had interview a young man that I thought I was going to hire. He asked me if that was ‘Paul’ Grant and I told him that it was.

“Wayne had worked for my dad in buildings and grounds at Troy State. He said Wayne was one of the hardest working people he had ever seen in his life. He said, ‘Hire him.’

Wayne came on the recommendation of my dad. I, also, found him to be one of the hardest working people I have ever known. He is an excellent teacher and coach. He was one of those really good people who came along during my time as principal.”

The open mike at Grant’s retirement celebration will be an opportunity for others to share their stories about the “Pride of Pike” coach. Everyone is invited to the program.