Former Ringgold High School baseball coach Bill Womack died Monday around noon after a long battle with cancer, current coach Brent Tucker reported.
Womack built the Ringgold program into a state power in his 20 years in the dugout and along the way developed strong relationships with his players, coaches and rivals. Those relationships remained strong until the end.
"He was just a friend to all of us," said Tucker, who played against Womack's teams in high school at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe. "Last year, when we made the run to the state finals, it was great to get to spend time with him. When we broke the news to the boys today, I reminded them that he was the reason we have the program we have now. The foundation he laid for us will forever be his legacy."
Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family after they are finalized.
Weather delays hoops
The damaging thunderstorms that moved through the area Monday also postponed two region basketball tournaments, meaning several area girls' teams now must play on back-to-back nights.
The Region 3-AA tournament at McMinn County and the 3-A tournament at Signal Mountain were moved back one day after the Hamilton County Department of Education decreed Monday afternoon that no extracurricular activities could be held because of the weather.
Originally, the girls' semifinal games would have been played Monday, while the boys' semifinals were scheduled for tonight and the championship games were set for Wednesday. The winning girls' teams in both tournaments no longer will have a day off before the championship round.
"It's not ideal," Marion County girls' coach Randy Ellis said. "It's not the way any of us would want it, because you'd like to have a day off to prepare when you get this far into the tournament. But nobody has an advantage, so we'll just play."
Tyner's girls will play top-ranked McMinn Central tonight at 6, followed by East Hamilton vs. Polk County. Because the 3-AA boys' tournament has only Hamilton County teams remaining, those semifinals will be played at East Ridge tonight, beginning at 6 with Tyner vs. Brainerd, followed by Red Bank vs. Howard.
The 3-A tournament will cram four games into today, beginning at 3:30 with Whitwell's girls playing Arts & Sciences, followed by Marion County's girls vs. Copper Basin, Arts & Sciences' boys vs. Van Buren County and Signal Mountain's boys vs. Lookout Valley.
Richie Wood, the scorekeeper for Soddy-Daisy High School's softball team and a softball assistant coach at Soddy-Daisy Middle, underwent a six-bypass heart surgery last Thursday. Wood's daughter, Mariam, a Soddy-Daisy senior who has signed a softball scholarship with East Tennessee State University, said he is expected to return home today.
Mariam said her father thought he was having a heart attack when he checked himself into a local hospital on Feb. 17. After staying through the weekend, he was transferred last Monday to another hospital, where an arteriogram revealed the blockages.
Mariam said the surgery took five and a half hours. She said he's told her that his chest is hurting, but other than that he feels "like a new human."
Because Wood did not have a heart attack, there was no muscular damage, which should help reduce the recovery time. The Lady Trojans open at Cleveland on March 15.
"It's not even a question," Mariam said. "He'll be there, yelling at everybody."
State champs honored
Cleveland High's state championship wrestling team will be honored Friday, first at an assembly at the school at 1:45 p.m., then at a reception at 7 at the Jones wrestling building.
The Blue Raiders survived a rugged battle with area rivals Bradley Central and Soddy-Daisy to win the traditional state tournament on Feb. 19 in Franklin. Cleveland won duals chamionships from 1992 to '94 but had not won a traditional title since 1994.
The wrestlers also were recognized at halftime of the Lady Raiders' Region 3-AAA basketball quarterfinal last Thursday.