Natchez pair inducted into coaches’ HOF

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

JACKSON &045; Roy and Doc.

Sounds like a pair of outlaws, doesn’t it?

These two gunslingers, longtime Cathedral coach and athletic director Roy Garcia and the legendary Natchez track coach Henry &uot;Doc&uot; Woods, took another town by storm with each one’s induction into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame in Jackson Friday.

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The pair was honored in the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom alongside Noxubee County girls basketball coach Narvel Colemon, Hernando High basketball coach Theron Long and Bob Tyler, who coached prep football in Mississippi along with serving on the staff’s of Johnnie Vaught at Ole Miss and Alabama’s Paul &uot;Bear&uot; Bryant.

&uot;Teaching and coaching is the most important profession because when you see the fruits of your hard work, that’s the $10,000 bonus others get,&uot; said Garcia, whose family drove in from West Point, Alexandria, La., and Texas. &uot;When you do a job like it’s supposed to be done, that makes your heart thump, you know you’ve done something good.&uot;

Woods, who credited Garcia with his admittance, added: &uot;Mississippi Association of Coaches, you are the winners. I thank you for acknowledging me and my championship coaches up here with me tonight.&uot;

At pre-banquet pictures, there the two sidekicks stood on each side of an inductee portrait, Woods with a pair of loud black-and-white wingtips and those trademark sunglasses, and Garcia just as humble and appreciative as ever.

Two contrasting personalities but with a common bond and goal: teaching youth how to maximize their potential.

&uot;I must convey this professional axiom to all track coaches because track is the most athletic of all sports,&uot; said Woods, who anchored the night’s acceptance speeches. &uot;Continue working with your athletes. Coach them how to be technical. Once they master that, they’ll become elite.&uot;

In 1939, the year that his family came to Mississippi, Garcia was born in Rolling Fork, one of three boys.

&uot;Having three boys in my family growing up, we were taught quickly hard work, religion and to treat people with dignity,&uot; he recalled. &uot;My daddy always said, ‘It doesn’t cost to be nice to people. It goes a long way.’&uot;

In 1968, after three years at St. Joseph in Greenville, Garcia came to Cathedral, where he just completed his 35th year, as coach and/or athletic director.

In the 1970s his Green Wave tennis teams won six consecutive state championships, and after ushering the 1973 football team to a 9-1 record, Garcia was named the National Coach of the Year for Mississippi.

&uot;I tell people there is no place like Natchez,&uot; he said. &uot;It reminds me of a close-knit family. They are so loyal. As long as you’ve got the family unit, you can do anything.&uot;

Woods, who was a sprinter at Mississippi Valley State, returned to Natchez in 1965 when Sadie V. Thompson principal T.M. Jennings asked him to begin a track program.

With the help of local fire department hose, Woods set up a makeshift track and held his first meet, in which his team won &045; of course.

Woods accumulated 643 meet victories, including an astonishing 24 straight, 19 state championships and made the hopes and dreams come true for at least 94 prep athletes that received college scholarships in more than 30 years of service.

He was named the National Coach of the Year for District 5 from 1982-87 and was the NAACP Man of the Year in 1984.

Woods impact on the youth he coaches can be seen firsthand in his son Henry Woods Jr., who started in track at age 6 and is now a coach in Dallas.

But neither Butch nor Sundance is ready to tip their hats and mosey off into the sunset.

&uot;I had a good run, but it’s not over with. I woke up this morning and sent two kids to regionals in Nashville (Tenn.),&uot; Woods said of USATF participants Taji Dorsey and Kendrick Gibbons. &uot;I’ve already punched their ticket to nationals in Miami.&uot;