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Welch's Way
Former Farragut Admiral coach to be honored with street naming


Approval from Knox County leaders appears only to be a formality in naming the drive from Kingston Pike to Farragut High School in honor of former FHS three-sport coach and teacher Lendon Welch.

Track and field head coach from 1964 to 1981, Welch led his teams to 16 county championships. An assistant football coach from 1959 to 1978, Welch coached baseball from 1959 to 1963.

Eddie Courtney, current FHS varsity football head coach, joined community leaders and other FHS coaches and former athletes spearheading the effort to honor Welch.

“We thought it would be nice to honor Lendon, a long-time coach at Farragut,” Courtney said. “He still works Friday nights in the press box for us.”

David Moore, FHS driver’s education teacher, volleyball and softball head coach who has taught and coached at the school for 22 years, labeled the decision “a great honor, a wonderful honor for him. He was obviously good for the school as a teacher and a coach.”

When the idea was hatched to name the football field in honor of former coach Bill Clabo last year — that honor bestowed prior to an FHS game last September a few weeks before Clabo’s death — “we talked about, ‘could we do something for Lendon?’” Courtney said. “We knew we couldn’t with the track because of people giving money on that track. So we looked at the next possible thing.”

As for community leaders, “Richard Hobbs and Doug Horne [FHS alumni] and I talked, and some other players and tracks guys at Farragut,” Courtney said.

The next step was turning to Mike Hammond, one of three Fifth District Knox County Commissioners.

“I was contacted by Mr. [Michael] Reynolds, the principal at Farragut High, and said that a group of citizens wanted to change the name in honor of the coach,” Hammond said. “And I was contacted by Doug Horne, and Doug expressed his desire on behalf of a number of people to get that roadway named.”

Though exact procedures were not clear concerning the roles of commission, board of education and school system staff in approving the name, both Hammond and Chuck James, District 6 Board of Education representative, are confident of approval.

“The schools, as I understand it, have the authority to rename that road. If they do need to bring it to county commission to rename it, that’s not a problem. All three commissioners [Hammond along with Craig Leuthold and John Griess] are in favor of it from the Fifth District …,” Hammond said.

In addition to contacting the Knox County mayor’s office, “I sent letters to Mayor [W. Edward “Eddy”] Ford of Farragut ...,” Hammond said. “They both expressed their desire to see the road renamed. And so we sent that information to the School Board, I sent it to Chuck James as well as to Karen Carson [District 5] and to Dan Murphy [Board Chair]. And that’s where we are with it now.”

James said he feels “confident” that the name will be approved by the start of the 2006 high school sports season in late August.

If county leaders sign off on the idea, “We’re going to try and do it either the first or second home game,” Courtney said about an official ceremony. “The first game is the Bearden game, we’ve got so much going on that night anyway. If not that game, it’ll be the second game [McMinn County].”

The FHS coach added that by “taking care of Lendon” FHS officials and alumni would be taking care of all prominent Admiral coaches “from the old high school,” joining Clabo, Lynn E. Sexton (FHS gymnasium) and John Heatherly (baseball field).

“They gave a lot of their time and effort, and [were] certainly an influence in the Farragut community and with Farragut athletes,” Courtney said.

Saying he turned in paperwork on the matter “about a month ago” to superintendent Dr. Charles Lindsey, James added, “If the school owns the road, it can be done downtown by staff. If the county owns that road, it’ll have to go before county commission.”

However, Hammond said he “investigated for them and found out that because that is school property, it has to be approved by the school board.

“It’s right now in the school board’s hands.”

 

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