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2015 Rewind: April

From RCNH Archives

MURFREESBORO – The Chowan University campus and community suffered a great loss on April 3 as long-time football coach and Athletic Director Jim Garrison passed away.

Garrison spent 37 years at the helm of the then-Braves football program and as Athletic Director for the Chowan athletic department. In all, Coach Garrison spent more than 50 years of his life dedicated to Chowan and the athletic department. Even in his final months his work for Chowan was on going.

“Chowan lost its first citizen with the passing of Jim Garrison,” stated Chowan University Vice President for Athletics, Ozzie McFarland. “While this loss is immeasurable Coach Garrison lives on through the lives of his children and his players.”

Coach Garrison posted 185 wins during his 37-year stint as head football coach. However the wins are not what count after all is said and done. The legend is made in the space between, in those grueling losses, those long office chats, those tough, hot practices, the multitude of drills based solely on developing skills that could not just aid in carrying a football down field but also aid in carrying yourself down field in life. Coach Garrison embodied the very spirit of all the qualities he wanted to see in his players, his staff, and his friends. He, by any definition, is a legend.

“Coach Garrison helped mold all of his players, whether first team or third team, into the best players and people that we could be,” said former player and friend Harvey Rhinehart. “All of us owe him a huge debt for what he did for us. He was a living example for us in helping become the best that we could be.”

If you were loved by Coach Garrison, he never forgot you. His mind was a rolodex of former players, former employees, friends, and family and at any time he could recite names, years played, hometown, and any pertinent statistics. He was always ready to tell stories about his former players detail by detail as clear and vivid as if it had happened just the day before.

“It is not unusual for players to have a special relationship with their coaches but it is unusual for this feeling of connection and love to stay with them throughout their lives. Coach Garrison loved coaching and he loved his players. His players loved playing for him and they loved him. That is about as good as it gets,” Jim McGill, member of the 1961 Chowan football squad and Chowan University’s Jim Garrison Hall of Fame.

Coach Garrison gushed about his former players in an interview given on a special night in September of 2008 when he was honored for his service to Chowan.

“Some folks will say that old Garrison over there at Chowan had twenty-some players compete in professional football and had thirty-some players become football All-Americans,” he stated that night. “While I’m proud of those who achieve those goals, I’m just as proud of the thousands of other players who went on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers, bankers, musicians and the like. They are enjoying successful lives and it all started for them right here at Chowan University. Chowan has been my life. This is where my family grew-up. I can’t picture myself anywhere else.”

Garrison’s accolades in life include induction into of five Hall of Fames: the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Gardner-Webb Hall of Fame, the Western Carolina University Hall of Fall, and Chowan’s Hall of Fame. The Chowan University Hall of Fame now dons his name as the Chowan University “Jim Garrison” Hall of Fame.