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Service Thursday for track coach
BY JEFF LOCKRIDGE • STAFF WRITER • AUGUST 12, 2008
Bill Etheridge’s knowledge of sports and willingness to share it won young athletes numerous state titles and won him more friends than he probably realized.
A memorial service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Franklin Road Academy’s upper school auditorium for Etheridge, 50, who died Friday from a heart attack.
“The kids were his family, as many of the coaches were his family,” Franklin Road Academy track Coach David Tucker said. “This guy was rich — like It’s a Wonderful Life rich — because of all the friends and people he touched.”
A prep football and track standout at Warner Robins (Ga.), Etheridge became one of the nation’s elite pole vaulters at Fort Valley State. He later made the practice squad for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Four high school track athletes who received instruction under Etheridge captured first place in the pole vault at Spring Fling in May. It is estimated he coached more than 20 state champions. He also gave instruction through Westside Gymnastics and Precision Track Club.
“One of the greatest gifts he gave was time of himself,” said Vanderbilt women’s track assistant Clark Humphreys, a state champion pole vaulter at Brentwood Academy and national champion at Auburn.
“He’d meet you any time, day or night. When I was in college, he’d leave his job at Travelers Rest motel after working the graveyard shift at 7 a.m. and meet me at BA at 7:30 for workouts. And he did it for everybody. It didn’t matter what school you went to, public or private.”
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