By Ralphine Major
He scored over 2,000 points in both his high school and college careers. He became a college All-American and was later named to Carson-Newman’s Team of the Century. He played softball for 22 years and was named to the Knoxville Softball Hall of Fame. Despite his achievements in athletics, however, Tommy Everette may best be known these days as a teacher, coach, and principal. After spending 31 years with Knox County Schools, this former school administrator enjoys retirement on his farm in Corryton.
Even while he was with the schools, Tommy spent summers doing farm work. Our father always enjoyed seeing him and his father-in-law, the late Reed McKelvey, going up the road on their tractors headed to a hayfield. Everette has been married to his high school sweetheart, the former Carolyn McKelvey, for 47 years. Carolyn is a Carson-Newman graduate and taught in Knox County Schools for 33 years. She recalls riding on a bus to one of Tommy’s All-Star games and holding their two-year-old son on her lap. In front of them sat the legendary Kentucky coach, Adolph Rupp, for whom Rupp Arena is named. What a special moment that was to tell their son about later in life.
Carolyn shared more memories of her years growing up in Corryton. She would ride her bicycle up Boruff Road to McGinnis Grocery on the corner of Boruff and Emory Roads. With the fifty cents her mother had given her, Carolyn bought a loaf of bread, bologna, and a carton of “dopes.” “That’s what we called them,” my mother said when I repeated the comment to her. I had forgotten the word we used for carbonated beverages back then, but I remembered hearing our grandfather call them “dopes,” as well. I was intrigued by Carolyn’s comment about “dopes” and mentioned it to Coach Bob Dagley.
“That’s what we called them,” he said. Even the “son of country storekeepers,” Perry McGinnis, told me those exact words, too. While “dopes” was a part of our everyday language back then, those refreshing bottles of cold drinks were usually reserved for cookouts or parties.
The Everettes have a son and a daughter who followed in her parents’ footsteps and became a teacher and coach. They have one grandson, one granddaughter, and one grand-dog! Animals are a common sight on their farm; goats, donkeys, and cattle roam the grounds. In retirement, the tables are turned. Instead of Tommy receiving reports, he has to turn in nightly reports on the animals to their granddaughter! Tommy and Carolyn are members of Clapps Chapel United Methodist Church.
Sitting on the wraparound porch overlooking the Everette farm is a perfect place to reflect on where you have been—and enjoy every moment of where you are today. “I would like to thank Coach Dagley for being more than just a coach,” Tommy says. “I realize how fortunate we were to have had him as a coach. For me personally, making me focus on life after basketball helped me stay focused after a very successful career in basketball.” Those comments speak well for the coach—and the player! (This is No. 25 in the series on the Eagles’ incredible season and the closing segment on Tommy Everette. The series will resume in the coming weeks.)