By Steve Williams
Hospitality rooms are enjoyable to visit during high school basketball tournament time when districts and regions are played.
Such rooms are usually located in a classroom close to the gym and staffed by faculty members or volunteers. Of course, there are a lot of good things to eat and drink, plus good conversation.
Coaches and representatives of competing schools spend time in the hospitality room when their team is not playing, and media covering the tournament also are welcome.
Referees who are working the tourney also sometimes come by if the coast is clear. By that, I mean it can be an awkward situation if refs and coaches are in the same room after a heated and controversial contest. Usually, food and drink is brought to the officials’ dressing room.
On my visit to Alcoa High last week to cover the Austin-East and Fulton boys game, I stopped in the hospitality room for a pregame snack. Sitting directly across from me at the dining table was Pete Stout, who I’ve known for years as an assistant football coach at Fulton. I learned more about Pete that night.
“Well, I was part of a sports moment that will never be matched,” he said, after finishing a plate of barbecue ribs.
What’s that I asked, as any inquiring sports reporter would.
“When I was the head girls’ basketball coach at Horace Maynard High School, one of my players was the first in the state to make a 3-point shot,” revealed Stout. “Katina Burchfield did it in 1986 or ’87. And Horace Maynard’s Chris Washam was the first boy to do it after our game.”
Last Friday I emailed the TSSAA state office to seek any historical information it might have on the 3-point shot.
Assistant Executive Director Matthew Gillespie replied, stating Tennessee added the 3-point shot when the National Federation of High Schools adopted it in the 1987-88 school year.
“We would not have a record of who made the first baskets,” emailed Gillespie. “I’m sure there were numerous games going on the same night, but we don’t have any record of who actually made the first 3-point basket.”
Gillespie obviously had not heard Stout’s story and what he told me.
Stout said Ron Green, a sports-minded teacher at the high school in Maynardville in 1987, came up with the idea to start Horace Maynard’s games early the first day the 3-point shot would be used in TSSAA play.
So that’s what the school did. The girls’ game started at 11 a.m., with the boys’ game following, recalled Stout.
“I wanted Saundra Bull to shoot it,” said Stout. “She was a senior. But the ball rotated around.” And Burchfield, a freshman, got the chance, instead, to make history.
“They stopped the game and gave her the ball and it was put in the trophy case,” said Stout.
Gary Chandler was the boys’ head coach at the time, added Stout, who coached the girls’ team some 20 years.
Horace Maynard became a middle school in 1997 when the new Union County High School opened.
Stout, a 1976 Knoxville Central High grad, also has another claim to fame he shared with me. He played on the UT basketball team as a walk-on for two years. The first season, he was a member of the team that included the famous duo of Ernie and Bernie. Howard Wood, another great Vol player, was a teammate of his the second season.
Stout said he and two others were selected from a tryout of 100 for the walk-on spots.
Stout was a 6-5, 200-pounder when he played for Coach Conrad Majors at Central. Tennessee Coach Ray Mears was recruiting Bearden star Bert Bertlekamp during that time and watched Bert play Central one night.
“Bert scored 22 points in that game and I scored 24,” recalled Stout.
The two of them later became teammates at UT and friends.
“Remember the Vol Classic they always used to have,” asked Stout. “In 1977, Tennessee lost to Utah in the finals and the players received a watch for coming in second place. As a walk-on player, I didn’t get one. But Bert gave me his at the end of the season and I’ve still got it.”
He showed it to me, too. It’s still in the original box it came in.
Before last week, I had only known Pete Stout as an assistant football coach on the Fulton staff, a position he has held since 2005. Last fall, I did hear about Pete’s wife, Donna, becoming Fulton’s new cheerleader coach and their daughter, Emily, being on the cheerleading squad. I’d say that was a big reason why he was at Fulton’s basketball game.
I’m glad he was, too. Thanks to our conversation in the hospitality room, I now know a lot more about Pete. I even got a scoop on the beginning of the 3-point shot in TSSAA prep basketball.