Thinking about particular moments in life lead to the realization that the past is merely a jumbled memory. It takes more thought than it’s worth to try and decipher between five- or six-years old, ninth grade or tenth and frankly it isn’t the time frame that matters but that the memory exists at all.
That said, I don’t remember whether I was in ninth or tenth grade but I do know that I was standing in the Amen Corner watching the Gainesville boys, coached by Jerry Davis take on the East Hall Vikings, coached by Seth Vining in a regular season game.
The game was being played at Gainesville in, what was at the time the only gym on the campus and not only was there no room to move, room to breath was a luxury.
This was before Davis’ famed red sports coat hung next to the state championship pictures in Gainesville’s current gym and the coach had, in the middle of the fourth quarter, flung the jacket over an open chair on his team’s bench.
The Red Elephants were getting beaten that night, not by a lot, but beaten nonetheless and a frustrated Davis needed a spark.
As is the case on most teams there are kids that play, kids that play some, and kids that don’t play at all and a young, skinny, short kid by the name of Kary Nordholz was in the latter group.
Nordholz, who too was in the ninth or tenth grade, didn’t stand taller than 5’4 but he was quick, fast, his heart bled for Big Red and Davis knew it.
With his team down on the scoreboard and down on themselves Davis looked down the bench and called on Nordholz. The kid who never got in was suddenly flung onto one of the biggest stages in high school basketball in North Georgia.
Being down late with a chance, no matter the magnitude of the chance, to win means one thing for a basketball team, it’s time for full-court man-to-man pressure and Davis called for it.
The fresh-legged Nordholz took over from their.
He stole the ball, hit layups or got fouled trying, hit free throws, hit an open teammate who hit a shot and overall was a hit.
When the buzzer sounded that night at the old Gainesville gym the Red Elephants had prevailed and the reason was that Davis took a shot on a kid he knew wanted it and Nordholz proved him nothing short of a coaching genius.
As the Vikings looked on exhausted from yet another epic Gainesville-East Hall battle, Red Elephants’ teammates and members of the Amen Corner carried the young, skinny, short hero around the court on their shoulders as Davis stood to the side with a smile on his face letting his team soak up the glory.
It’s been over 13 years since that night and I get the same feeling thinking about it now as I did living it then and, the best part is, it’s not the only memory that conjures those emotions when I think about Davis’ tenure at Gainesville.
He was, is and will continue to be a giant in the Hall County and state of Georgia basketball world and importantly, Davis has always stood to the side in his gentlemanly way while others have gotten the glory and that more so than any record is what will give him legendary status when he retires at the end of the season.
The longtime Gainesville coach who now dones a red or black sweater vest won his 700th game Friday night and is ranked second among active coaches for wins in a career.
I bet, however, if you were to ask Davis about any one of those wins he’d tell you that they’re all kind of one big jumbled memory and that it isn’t the particulars that matter but that the memories exist at all.