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ATWOOD (December 13) — Between West Carroll’s high school basketball games against Gibson County Friday night, a special ceremony was held to officially dedicate the junior-senior …
ATWOOD (December 13) — Between West Carroll’s high school basketball games against Gibson County Friday night, a special ceremony was held to officially dedicate the junior-senior high’s new gymnasium floor as Coach Richard Welch Court.
Welch (1932-2006) was a 1950 graduate of Trezevant High School and coached basketball in the West Carroll community from 1956-1991. He spent his first ten years at Westview Elementary School in Cedar Grove coaching boys and girls basketball, accruing a record of 500-100.
He then led the Trezevant High School girls to nine district championships, nine region championships, nine state tournament appearances and two state championships (1974, 1976).
The coach then took a four-year hiatus from education from 1978 to 1982, but during that time conducted basketball camps at the Carroll County Civic Center.
He next coached at Atwood High School until the school was merged into West Carroll High School. As the West Carroll girls coach, he won four district championships, went to six region tournaments and had two substate appearances.
From 1994 to 1997, Welch served as announcer at West Carroll home games. He served as an observer of TSSAA officials for many years after his retirement.
Coach Welch was a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
He was posthumously inducted into the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Hall of Fame in 2007.
Over the course of his storied career, Coach Welch was at the helm for 1,488 games, including 888 high school games. His high school record was 747-141 for an 81 percent win rate.
He coached the West All-Star team in Knoxville from 1970 to 1973 and received Coach of the Year honors nine times.
Coach Welch remains the only coach in the history of West Carroll, Trezevant and Atwood to win a state championship in any sport.
These accomplishments were announced during the ceremony as Welch’s wife, Betty, his daughter, Teresa Welch Wall, and son-in-law, Jonny Wall stood at center court.
The family was then joined on the court by David Hale, a longtime educator and coach in the West Carroll Special School District who had the distinction of both playing for and coaching with the legendary coach.
Coach Hale spoke at length about the impact that Coach Welch and Betty had on so many lives. Hale said that Welch “bled basketball in his veins” and was “the best coach I’ve ever been around.”
The family was then joined by dozens of Welch’s former players, including many from his two championship teams.
The ceremony concluded with Jonny Wall giving remarks on behalf of the family. He thanked everyone that made the “high honor” possible and said, “I’m thankful to have had him in my life.”