Progress 2012: Quality of Life

April 4, 2012

Return of the Roadrunners

Dalton State College seeks to reclaim exciting, winning basketball program

In an area known more for carpet weaving skills and the success of its high school football players, there was a time when Dalton was also known as the home of one of the most colorful, successful and mythic basketball programs in the state.

Like a shooting star blazing through the sky, the Dalton Junior College Roadrunners energized

the community and the college, winning state and regional titles and competing for national titles with a style of play that kept the tiny gymnasium at the school packed and THE place to be. And also like a shooting star, the Roadrunners of coach Melvyn Ottinger didn’t last long. With just a decade of basketball excellence, the program faded out as quickly as it appeared.

The school is looking to its past to stake out its future as the now four-year Dalton State College recently announced the hiring of Derek Waugh as its first athletic director since Ottinger was the do-everything athletic director who also coached the golf and tennis teams.

This time around, Waugh will be looking to start an athletic program that will have the return of men’s basketball as a priority, while at the same time staying within federal guidelines, becoming Whitfield County’s biggest fundraiser and taking over the top cheerleader position — even though the college doesn’t even have cheerleaders as of yet.

“There are so many things that we are looking at, and there are some things that I could sit here and say that there is a 97 percent chance that it will happen, but I would hate to have it not happen,” said Waugh, 40, who was hired away from Florida’s Stetson University, where he was men’s basketball coach and assistant athletic director. “We want to take the time and make sure that we do this in the right way.”

Already, the hiring of an athletic director with an eye toward building some sort of program has boosters and supporters of the college buzzing. For many, the re-starting of athletics is long overdue.

“I thought they should have done it long before now,” said former Roadrunner and Dalton native Gary Smith, who played on the school’s first basketball team in 1968. “I know (basketball) would be competitive. It might be a challenge to compete at first, but I think with the right person, they could be great again.”

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Progress 2012: Quality of Life
  • rr archival 1.jpg Return of the Roadrunners

    In an area known more for carpet weaving skills and the success of its high school football players, there was a time when Dalton was also known as the home of one of the most colorful, successful and mythic basketball programs in the state.

    April 4, 2012 4 Photos

  • MSUMCChurch at Christmas 2011.jpg 150 years strong

    Many members of Mineral Springs United Methodist Church like to refer to it as “my little church.”

    April 4, 2012 3 Photos

  • HouseCrownMillVillage.jpg Greenways could help revitalize one of Dalton’s oldest neighborhoods

    Flora Caldwell and her husband have lived in Dalton’s Crown Mill Village area for more than 50 years.
    “Our relatives lived in our house before us. Caldwells or Caldwell-related folks have been living here for a hundred years or longer,” she said.

    April 4, 2012 3 Photos

  • NGA Speedway_ 18.jpg Speed and survival

    Since the first race on a Sunday afternoon in 1965, change has been the theme of North Georgia Speedway. Another theme is survival.

    April 4, 2012 5 Photos

  • Guild Gallery to Snow Queen 2009 062.jpg The Creative Arts Guild

    Founded in 1963 by a small group of committed citizens, the Creative Arts Guild is the oldest community arts organization in the state of Georgia and the only multidisciplinary facility in northwest Georgia.

    April 4, 2012 4 Photos

  • Heart of Stone family.jpg ‘Heart of stone’ mystery revealed

    It takes an astute eye to locate — but there it is, unmistakably — a rock set in the stone tower on Fort Mountain in the shape of a heart.

    April 4, 2012 2 Photos