October 5, 2012

Werner Braun: Tony Ingle to coach Roadrunners at Dalton State

— Football season has just begun, but I find myself already looking forward to the basketball season of 2013.

I’ve always considered myself an athlete, but more importantly, I’m a huge fan of all sports. Even spectator sports, and those I don’t play. So for me, Dalton State’s return to competitive basketball is a most welcomed development. It’s about time, in my book.

What makes this return to “Roadrunner Madness” even more satisfying is knowing that we have an excellent coach in place to build the program.

Back in the program’s glory days, from the late 1960s to the late 1970s, Dalton Junior College (as it was then called) probably surprised many other schools in the Southeast by having one of the most successful basketball programs in the country. Coached by Melvin Ottinger, “Coach O,” the team had many spectacular win-loss records and competed in two National Junior College Basketball Tournaments.

The program was disbanded in 1978, so around 35 years will have passed before today’s Roadrunners take to the court, but even so, everyone knows that the new coach will have some mighty big shoes to fill.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Tony Ingle is the man who can fill them.

Tony is a Dalton native and former competitive basketball player who holds the distinction of being the only NCAA men’s basketball coach in Georgia to ever win a National Championship.

And he is the only coach in the history of Georgia basketball to be named Coach of the Year in the state at the high school, junior college, and NCAA level.

During his career, Tony has worked for a number of colleges and universities, including Brigham Young University and Kennesaw State University.

But even more impressive than his career success is Tony Ingle’s amazing life journey and his motivational spirit.

Tony was born in Dalton, and suffered from a birth injury that required him to undergo a number of painful surgeries when he was a young child. He grew up poor in the government housing projects, so poor that he had to fish shoes out of a Dumpster to try out for the basketball team.

While playing for the Dalton Junior College Roadrunners, Tony suffered a horrific knee injury that ended his own athletic career.

But whatever life has thrown at Tony, he always manages to turn the insult back around to something positive.

That drive to accentuate the positive is one reason he’s become one of the most popular motivational speakers around. He teaches that “winning comes from within” and he shares his inspirational life-changing stories to groups of athletes, conference goers and just plain old business folk.

Two of his most popular programs are called “The Coach Tony Ingle Story (I Don’t Mind Hitting Bottom; I Just Hate Dragging),” and the “Impossible Becomes Possible.”

And one of his favorite sayings is “I know dreams come true because I have lived mine and it only took me 31 years.”

 Ingle’s dreams have come true with the position of head men’s basketball coach at Dalton State, his hometown and the court where he first played college ball.

Dalton State, and the larger community, should soon realize their dreams coming true as well. A return to basketball for this town is a step in the right direction, and it’s long overdue.

Werner Braun is president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.