BHS SPORTS MEMORIES

BRAMWELL HIGH SCHOOL 1967 CLASS A STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS

BHS ASSISTANT COACH CHARLES PHELPS - ( June 2017 )

BHS Class "A" WV State 1967 Championship - Bramwell Season (26-0)

BRAMWELL: June 1917 — Charles Phelps was a happy man on Saturday. At age 75, the former Bramwell High School assistant basketball coach reunited with his state championship boys team of 1966-67. “It seems like yesterday,” he said. “It’s really great. It’s really great,” he said after the reunion ceremony, in which he was the sharpest-dressed man in the room. “Still, I call them youngsters; presently I’m three-quarters of a century old, so I still can call them youngsters.” Phelps, who grew up in the Kanawha Valley town of East Bank, was a four-year starter for the Bluefield State College Big Blues basketball team.

As an education major, he did his practice teaching at Bramwell High, less than 10 miles away from campus. He was evaluated by the esteemed principal of Bramwell for 31 years, Dwight W. McCormick. Phelps said about his subsequent hiring at the school, “I guess he just appreciated what I did as a student teacher, and he asked me to stay.” “Also, he had known that not only had I played in college, I had played at East Bank High School,” Phelps said. An all-American named Jerry West had graduated from East Bank 10 years earlier after leading the EBHS Pioneers hoops team to a Class A state prep title. “When I got to Bramwell, it reminded me of home, in many ways,” Phelps said.

Coach Phelps’ teaching and coaching career almost got derailed before it started due to the military draft. “As a matter of fact, I was drafted in the summer of ’66,” he said. “It so happened he only thing that kept me from going (into the military) was the fact that my appendix burst. I walked around two weeks with it burst, so I had some poisoning (set in).” Prior to that unexpected illness, he had discovered the potential of the boys on the Bramwell Millionaires team from some informal scrimmages. “At the beginning of the season, I was just 24 years of age,” he said. “I had been coming down to Bramwell on Sundays after church; we’d play, and I had a chance to go against different competition. I saw all the pieces were there.” “We had the right folks in the right positions. We had the big man inside with Tommy (Gravely). Charlie Davidson played basically a power forward. And Dennis Hood, he was our wing man, our small forward. And of course, Ricky Stores and Billy Pierce were our two guards. “But the thing is, those on the bench, they provided really a great service for these guys,” the coach said. “I think they could have competed against most of the Class A teams that year.” “The offense that we had really was versatile,” he added. “We called it ‘the side offense,’ but people today would probably call it the flex, and (the) passing game.” He was asked about the dynamics of a team that included both black and white players, in an era where segregation was in effect in many parts of America. He said, “What I saw was a bunch of black kids in Bramwell, and they played together and they knew each other, that type of thing. In some environments, they’re separated and segregated by the fact that they live apart. And sometimes, when you try to develop a team, sometimes those issues get in the way. “So I was familiar with that, since I played at East Bank. And all the coaches at East Bank, they didn’t worry about your color, but whether you can play or not.” The Bramwell Millionaires, he soon found out, could play. The 26-0 season of 1966-67 and the school’s first state championship became a unifying factor for the community. The trophy and the memories were a source of pride. Phelps said, “But I’m more appreciative of is how well they did in life — because, they say it’s about basketball, but it’s really about life, about persistence and doing the right things. And not only (to) help your family, but to have your family be proud of you.” A commemorative booklet distributed at the reunion bears that out. A listing the post-basketball careers of team members includes two ministers, at least three military veterans, a correctional officer, the owner of a welding business, a college teacher education instructor, a civil engineer, a university professor, a forester and real estate broker, a fraud investigator and men who spent years working in industries and other businesses.

Article By: TOM BONE, Bluefield Daily Telegraph - Jun 25, 2017.

From BHS 1967 Yearbook

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