By Ralphine Major
“What do you remember most about that year?” I asked—wondering if it would be a record night in rebounding. But, the coach was right. Former Gibbs Coach Bob Dagley said that David Widner took the 1964-65 Eagles’ first loss harder than most players. After forty-eight years, the coach still knows his players.
The former 6-foot-4 senior forward answered, “Our first loss which was to Murfreesboro.”
Dagley followed up with what Coach Pate of Murfreesboro said about Gibbs after he found out that Alcoa had beaten the Eagles and their season was over. “Part of this was quoted in the article about Les Spitzer,” Dagley said–referring to the Knoxville News Sentinel clipping in his scrapbook. “Coach Pate was quoted in the newspaper as saying, ‘there isn’t a better guard in Tennessee than that Spitzer boy, and those two big men—Widner and Everette–looked mighty tough, too.’”
Dagley added, “I hope David realizes how important he was to our team’s success.”
David Widner was once married to his high school sweetheart, the former Norma Faye Thomas, and they had a daughter, Tracy Widner Adkins. Norma Faye and her sister, Glenda Sue, played basketball on an outstanding Gibbs girls’ team that won the District 6 Championship in 1963 under Coach J. A. Beeler. The two sisters also played ball under Bob Dagley who succeeded Beeler in the fall of ‘63 as coach of the boys’ and girls’ teams.
Despite two losses, Widner and his teammates gave Gibbs much to celebrate. Widner hopes another Gibbs’ team comes along and does even better. Former players have reminded me of Gibbs’ remarkable run last year. But, with divisions now in place for teams to play schools their size, it is unlikely we will ever see a team quite like the ‘64-65 Eagles again. The small, rural school competed with schools much larger—and won.
Widner served two years in the United States Army, one of those in the Vietnam War. These days, No. 24 enjoys spending time with his three grandchildren. Felicia is minoring in dance and majoring in physical education at Middle Tennessee State University this fall. Young Ashlyn is a dancer, too. Grandson Jonathan plays basketball and made the middle school team. He has only to look to a grandfather to learn some great moves on the court. I believe there may be another treasured scrapbook in the making! (This is No. 15 in the series about Gibbs’ 1964-65 season. Another player will be featured later this month.)