Local Sports

June 8, 2012

Well-deserved attention for Coach McClurg

Ronnie McClurg says he would rather not be the center of attention, but there was really no way for him to avoid it Thursday night.

McClurg, the former longtime Dalton High educator, coach and athletic director, was honored Thursday night during the Family Support Council’s 23rd annual Toast of the Town event at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face.

Humble and thankful, McClurg was honored by the warm reception from his family and friends. He called his greatest achievement in life his family — he and his wife, Judy, have three adult children and six grandchildren.

“I knew years ago Dalton was a very special place,” McClurg said just before the event. “I have a wonderful wife of almost 51 years, and I’m proud of my wonderful children and grandchildren. I’m also proud of this community.”

McClurg and others also expressed admiration for the Family Support Council. The United Way agency works to prevent child abuse by providing children and families with education and support programs. Comer Turley, a past board president for the council, said Toast of the Town is the organization’s largest fundraiser.

When McClurg arrived at The Farm, the attention of everyone in attendance shifted to greeting him.

“I don’t like to be the center of attention ... but sometimes it comes with the territory,” McClurg said. “I chose a profession where I’ll be out there from time to time.”

Once he entered into the room, he shook hands and said, “Thank you,” to everyone for attending or helping put on the event. Bill Chappell, who won 317 games as Dalton High’s head football coach and worked alongside McClurg from 1964-1994, was one of the toasters.

Humbleness and thankfulness — wanting to stay out of the limelight and put the praise on others — sums up McClurg pretty nice, Chappell said.

“That’s Ronnie,” said Chappell, a past Toast honoree, as people were still filing in. “He did a tremendous job at Dalton high School in everything he did — football and track. ... We went through a lot of wars (football games) together.”

Chappell joined Pete Wilson Jr., Gordan Whitener, Ken Brown, Lowell Kirkman and Lamar Hennon as McClurg’s six toasters. They took to the podium to tell tales — some jokes and some serious reflections — about the newest of the 27 Toast honorees. One thing prevalent in most of their opinions was how positive McClurg was and is.

“It’s that positive, candid attitude,” said Kirkman, a family friend of McClurg through the Dalton Rotary Club, prior to giving his toast. “I’ve just never heard anything negative come out of Ronnie. Even when there is a difficult situation, he can turn it around very professionally.”

Kirkman admires McClurg’s past and current “support of youth” and believes that is his legacy.

McClurg, who moved to Dalton in 1964, was an assistant football coach at Dalton High after a playing career at the University of Chattanooga — he was part of the only Chattanooga team to defeat the University of Tennessee — and led the high school’s track program. After retiring in 1994, he returned as Dalton’s head football coach starting in 2001, leading the Catamounts to the Georgia High School Association’s Class 4A state championship game that season.

He coached for the six additional seasons, keeping up Dalton’s long streak of winning records and finishing with a career coaching mark of 63-17.

Aside from football accomplishments, McClurg also was instrumental in beginning Dalton High’s chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 1965 and the Rotary Invitational Track Meet in 1974. The meet was renamed in McClurg’s honor this year, and the high school’s multipurpose athletic building is called the McClurg Activities Center.

Wilson, the toastmaster, is a 1981 Dalton graduate and former Cats football player.

“He is the ultimate encourager,” Wilson said to the audience. “He is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met.”

Whitener, who attended Dalton High from 1977 to 1981 and also played football for the Cats, said the admiration he has for his former coach goes beyond the field and into how he treats others.

“I told my wife on the way up here, ‘You know, it is really hard to come up with something to say about a man who is so amazing,’” he said before the dinner began. “He’s one of those guys who it didn’t matter if you were rich, poor or what your race was, he saw the good in everybody. His focus was making you better each day both in life and in sports.

“Over his career, he’s touched so many people’s lives, not just in the coaching profession but around sports and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He’s been an amazing beacon of positivity for us and made our lives better.”

Text Only
Local Sports
  • Hip hop dance lunch#1BFF1D8.jpg All the right moves

    March 14, 2014 2 Photos

  • Dalton school system chief’s contract extended

    The Dalton Board of Education unanimously voted to renew Superintendent Jim Hawkins’ contract as head of Dalton Public Schools for another three years.

    March 14, 2014

  • NM at DHS baseball   1  mlh.jpg Prep Roundup: A little bit of momentum

    Neither Dalton High School baseball coach Shane Ramsey nor North Murray coach David Redmond has had much reason to complain about their offensive production this season.
    Defense is another matter.

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • "After Deadline" sports podcast - March 5, 2014 (free)

    The Daily Citizen's "After Deadline" sports podcast returns to talk about the high school soccer season so far, including the surging Coahulla Creek boys team, which sports writer Devin Golden predicts will win the Region 5-3A title.

    March 7, 2014

  • Chris Whitfield: Catching up on (golf) courses this spring

    With the arrival of spring weather — this weekend’s temperature drop notwithstanding — area courses are getting ready for their busiest time of the year, and the area’s public courses are in varying conditions.

    April 21, 2013

  • Andrews, Hutchinson score goals for Rebels

    The Dalton Parks and Rec-reation Department’s Rebels lacrosse team lost 5-2 to host Signal Mountain (Tenn.) on Saturday.
    D.J. Hutchinson and Chase Andrews scored for the Rebels (2-4), while Jack Sanderson made four saves in goal.

    April 21, 2013

  • MMA guys w_ belts mlh.jpg Dalton gym doubles down on titles

    Jarrett Slaughter was the reason Jeremiah Morgan started training at the North Georgia Hayastan MMA Academy, so having each mixed martial artist win his first championship at the same event was a nice bonus.

    April 12, 2013 1 Photo

  • rampage v fury football2.jpg One that got away

    The blown coverage and botched snap couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Georgia Rampage.
    And as the clocked expired, all hope for payback evaporated.

    April 9, 2013 1 Photo

  • rampage v riverdogs football2.jpg Catching a second (win)d

    Through two games of the Georgia Rampage’s inaugural season in Dalton, mistakes were made, decisions were poor and timing and familiarity were missing.
    Now after four games, the team has found its rhythm.

    April 2, 2013 1 Photo

  • Local lacrosse squad gets into win column

    The Dalton Rebels lacrosse team picked up the first victory in the first-year program’s history with an 8-2 win against Tenness-ee’s Soddy-Daisy on Thursday.

    March 30, 2013