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Alumni gladly get soaked at Brooke Culbreth Memorial game


Victor Upshaw began breaking the rivalry barrier years ago, befriending the Culbreth soccer family of Farragut.

Upshaw, a 2003 Bearden High School graduate and All-state forward for two Class AAA state title teams and one national champion, grew up playing club soccer alongside Bradley Culbreth with the Arsenal.

“They’re a great family … all the Culbreth family’s done for everybody in this community has helped out a lot,” said Upshaw, who gathered together the Bearden team for the Brooke Culbreth 1st Annual Memorial Alumni Game between Farragut and BHS alumni, held at rainy Bill Clabo Field Saturday, April 14. The Admiral alumni won 3-2.

Brooke Culbreth, Bradley’s sister, left a reputation for dependability — with a broad smile — lending both physical and moral support to her brother’s teams that were coached by her father, FHS head coach Wallie Culbreth.

And winning over hearts.

“The one thing that describes Brooke more than anything to me is just a gentle presence around,” said Derek Wright, FHS assistant coach who was in charge of the Farragut alumni. “She was sweet to everyone, loved everyone. She loved this team more than they loved each other.

“She would do anything for these boys — she put them ahead of herself.”

Brooke, 18, a 2006 FHS graduate and beloved team manager during the Admirals’ glory days of championships, died of heart-related problems last year.

She is also remembered through the Brooke Culbreth Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded annually to an FHS senior from alumni game and general fund-raising efforts.

Bradley, a standout former Admiral from the Class of 2002 and FHS assistant coach, said “the Farragut-Bearden game was huge for her … it was a big part of her life. She would have enjoyed this. I know she’s looking down smiling, as she always did.

“She had the sweetest and gentlest spirit anybody knew.”

Wallie got a friendly reminder. “One parent came up to me and said, ‘look around and see how many people love Brooke and your family,’” he said. “That’s very heart-touching. … This is what you get in close communities.”

Among about 40 participants, “It’s amazing to see how many guys came back who Brooke had touched their life,” Wright said.

Brooke and the Culbreths were not forgotten from afar. “I had a lot of phone calls today and during the week telling me, ‘coach, I can’t be there, but my prayers are with you all,’” Wallie said. “That’s meant a lot to me, too, hearing back from those guys.”

Donna Culbreth, Brooke’s mother, labeled the event “just wonderful, we’ve just been so pleased and thankful. You can see how many people loved her. ... And the community’s really shown a lot of love to our family through cards and phone calls.”

Bradley added, “I’d personally would like to thank everyone that came out here for sure.” Included in that list was Upshaw and Dee Dee Underwood, chair of the Brooke Culbreth Memorial Scholarship effort.

Wallie’s parents, Walter Culbreth Jr. and Peggy, “are in their late seventies and they drove over to be here today,” the coach said. “And they’re sitting out it in this rain.”

The action itself “really wasn’t that lighthearted,” Upshaw said. “It reminded me of the days when I was in school. It was exactly like that. “This field, every time we played here it was rainy and dark — and we were coming from behind.”

 

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