Bumper Reese, coach for Signal Mountain's baseball team, walks toward the dugout on Saturday at Grace Academy.

Do you know the only person who had a hand in the only two public high school football championships in Hamilton County in this century?

Yep, Bumper Reese, who was an assistant on Tom Weathers staff at Red Bank in 2000 and on Bill Price's Signal Mountain staff in 2010.

But only true trivia buffs may know how Bumper became Bumper. And for Final Jeopardy, what's Bumper's real name?

So, as an energetic toddler in Marion County, Michael Reese's grandmother would try to rock him to sleep in a straight-back chair. The action caused a bump, bump, bump noise that became synonymous with his bedtime, and hence Bumper was born.

"I had a first-grade teacher who called me Michael, and she probably thought I was deaf because I never answered," Bumper told me in his office earlier this month. "And it's been that way ever since."

In that office is a collection of high school sports memorabilia that covers the highlight reel that has been Reese's 30-year career in Hamilton County education, a career that is coming to an end with his retirement at the conclusion of this school year.

But for all the team pictures, the signed baseballs, the state title rings and plaques, the memories of three decades as a teacher, a coach, an athletic director and as an assistant principal at Signal Mountain Middle High School could fill 1,000 offices and maybe more.

"I'll miss the kids the most, no question," said Reese, 53, who started at his alma mater Red Bank High School a few months after graduating from UTC in 1992. "The relationships are what you remember. The good times and the bad, too, but that's because of the relationships." He has seen the ups and downs for sure.

There was that magical 2000 football season at Red Bank that started with the death of Tom Weathers' wife and ended with a state championship led by a dominant defense. There was the high-flying Signal offense that cruised to a title a decade later.

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Signal Mountain baseball coach Bumper Reese walks to the dugout during their District 7-AA prep baseball game against Grundy County on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, at Signal Mountain High School in Signal Mountain, Tenn.

There were trips to the Spring Fling as the head baseball coach, and Reese quickly tabulated the 29 state championship teams Signal has produced during his time as the athletic director.

The trophies and the tributes — Reese, along with Dabo Swinney, delivered a eulogy at the funeral of former Red Bank High and University of Alabama star Victor Ellis — crafted a tapestry of sports experiences that few can match.

Those memories demand time, and Reese is looking forward to having more of it in his future endeavors, both professionally and personally.

But there's no way Michael "Bumper" Reese would trade a day of it.

"I had a player at Red Bank, and he was standing on my porch one night at 2 a.m. because his dad had just died," Reese said. "He was one of my favorites, right there with Victor, and he needed our help."

Reese and his wife took the player in and helped him get through the ordeal and high school.

"I still hear from him," Reese said, "and he named his son Michael Thomas after me and Coach Weathers.

"Now there are probably a lot of kids out there named after Coach (Weathers), but that's the only Michael I know about."

If they are looking for a nickname for Michael Thomas, I've got a couple of suggestions.

Contact Jay Greeson at or 423-757-6273. Follow him on Twitter @jgreesontfp.