Ginn, the longtime football and basketball coach at Alexandria High School, was obviously a great coach — all those great games, come-from-behind victories and championships. Didn't he win back-to-back football and basketball championships? Has anyone in the history of sports ever done that? If so, then I would guess that list is short. Coach Ginn had that kind of coaching brain that could have served him in the collegiate level. In a time where Division I coaches are becoming millionaires, Ginn's life reminds us that great coaching is essentially about teaching and shaping the lives of young people. The game is always a metaphor for living life. This is why sports are important, and oh, how much we need leaders like Coach Ginn in the world today.
Coach Ginn was a constant student of the game and, like former Alexandria Coach Lou Scales, he lived it. I did not play basketball for Coach Ginn, but I still play basketball every chance I get. I play with a bunch of old guys when I can on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. They are a fun group because they play hard and even argue like kids over fouls. I have often thought about Larry and his intense playing of basketball with students during P.E. class. I think he played basketball at P.E. during his entire teaching career. He was always playing and coaching. A good coach never misses a teaching opportunity. The game played with passion and intensity is contagious, and certainly Coach Ginn loved it.
I had Coach Ginn for driver's education in 1981. He took the teaching of that class seriously, though many of us didn't. I remember him challenging some of my simplistic attitudes about drunk drivers. Answers for difficult problems are not always easy.
Coach Ginn was the quarterback coach and I rarely worked with him directly, but I do know that he, like John Madden, was one who always appreciated a great block or tackle. Linemen always know those often go unappreciated. He was an encourager of everyone.
No doubt, Coach Ginn was instrumental in Alexandria's 1983 victory at Oxford. I was in the stands watching that one. We should have torn the goalposts down at Oxford's stadium. Some younger whippersnappers have trouble appreciating this, but during this period, Alexandria and Oxford were in the same classification. Alexandria had to beat Oxford to have a chance for going to state. We had barely lost to Oxford the year before, my senior year, and the entire team was deflated the rest of the season. My guess is that Coach Ginn and Coach Scales studied the Oxford films all year and figured out how to beat them — and did. He showed us that David can beat Goliath.
Finally, I deeply appreciate Coach Ginn's example as a simple churchman, a member of First Baptist Church of Duke. He taught my mama's Sunday School class into this year up until the time he could physically not do it because of the treatments — that's guts and commitment.
My own belief is that at times of loss, we should give thanks for the goodness we have shared and pass it on. I don't know if there is basketball in heaven, but if there is, I would guess that Michael and his Archangels are about to be beaten by Coach Ginn's full-court press.
Bruce W. Gentry is an instructor of religion in the Baptist Student Center at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo.