Byrd was a great role model

Published 8:13 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I was saddened to hear last week that former Banbridge High School Lady Cats head basketball coach Ken Byrd had passed away Sept. 22.

I was aware from conversations I had had with his good friend Bainbridge High School athletic director Stan Killough that Byrd, who has been in my prayers, had been valiantly fighting cancer for some time, but it was still a shock when I heard the news.

After leading the Lady Cats to several strong seasons, Byrd went to the University of Kentucky, where he served as assistant head basketball coach with the Kentucky Lady Wildcats.
Byrd later went to Rabun County High School in Tiger, Ga., where he was head girls basketball coach and vocational director before retiring.

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There has been quite a Bainbridge connection at Rabun County. Former Bearcats head football coach Sonny Smart was head football coach there and former Bearcats head basketball coach Jeff Page is currently head boys basketball coach there.

Byrd was an outstanding coach but he was an even better person. He always had words of encouragement for his players and others like me who had the good fortune to know him.
He also had a great sense of humor. About 20 years ago, when the Bainbridge Pilot Club roasted me for the first time, he was one of the roasters.

Many times, when I was having a tough day with deadline pressure, I would go to talk to him about one of his games and he would immediately cheer me up by telling me what a good job he thought I was doing.

He had a knack for encouraging people and making them feel better about themselves.
Two of Byrd’s most outstanding players were Bainbridge High School science teachers Amy Brock Howell and Tandria Cox Phillips. Both have told me what a positive influence he had on their lives.

I’m sure that many of his other former players, both here and at other schools, have similar fond memories of Byrd.

Former Bainbridge High School player and Lady Cats head coach Babs Coyle, who was coaching the Hutto Middle School Lady Cats during coach Byrd‘s Bainbridge High School coaching tenure, said he was a fine Christian man who she greatly respected and who you always knew he meant what he said.

Byrd influenced untold numbers of young people in such a positive way throughout his coaching and teaching career. What better legacy could a person have?

In conclusion, I would just like to extend my sincere sympathy to coach Byrd’s wife Christine, their children, grandchildren and other family members, and all those he influenced so positively through the years.