@lhspirates June 20

Coach4aday blog posts are written by John Rancke and I. We write daily about leadership, food, people, music, our granddaughters, Lumberton NC, and things that pique our curiosity.
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June 20, 2018 Coach Read’s Dinner and small town high school sports-Part 3

Post by John Rancke part of a series-Part 1 Part 2

Every Friday night during football season and every Tuesday and Friday during Basketball season, my mom’s (Bunky Rancke) car was loaded down with little boys going to watch the Lumberton HS Pirates play. It didn’t matter where they were playing, Bunky was going and the car would be packed with anyone and everyone that was on time when the station wagon departed.

Most of the little boys grew up to play for the Pirates in some sport or another. And there were many loaded cars every Friday night headed to wherever the Pirates were playing. Lumberton always took a crowd to the games. Especially enjoyed going to Sanford cause we were able to stop and eat at the Pizza Palace on Bragg Blvd.

Or the trips to Hamlet and Rockingham and eating at Revels BBQ on old 74.

What you guys gave us little boys that followed in your footsteps was priceless and we are forever grateful for giving us real life heroes here in Lumberton. You had no idea how many little eyes were watching you. We would have followed you to the end of the earth.

Back in the 60’s the football team practiced behind the armory (now called Bill Sapp Recreation Center).


I grew up just down the street between 6th and 7th street. I want to thank My father for allowing my grandmother, his mother in law to move into the house and live with us cause when she moved in Coach Brooks and Coach Read started showing up after football practice once or twice per week or so to eat a piece or 2 of a freshly made pie or cake my grandmother had made that day.

Before they would go home to their families and eat dinner warmed from the oven . They could decompress and not take their frustration home. While they are sitting in the kitchen eating that pie and cake, they would discuss with my parents how the team was doing, who was looking good, who needed to join the chorus or perhaps should become a cheerleader.

My favorite thing to do was sit behind the dining room door and eavesdrop on these 2 giants sitting in the kitchen booth. It was like having 2 Vince Lombardi’s sitting in my kitchen. So all you guys sitting out there that played in the early 60s if you really want to know what the coaches thought of you back then see me after this ceremony.

Growing up , I was a skinny shy little boy scared of his own shadow. Just didn’t fit in anywhere.

Couldn’t sing after puberty hit me, couldn’t play the drums so joining a band was out and(I don’t think I would have gotten out of the house with long hair), scared to death of girls, But in the 8th grade, Coach Read, you and Coach Brooks gave me a stat book and asked me if I could figure it out and keep stats for the Lumberton Pirate Varsity football team.

You gave me some responsibility. I had found a home, something I could belong to. I had a purpose. Met Jerry Jackson who taught me how to run those old machines in the corner of the dressing room that as I look back on you and I should both be looking down on this thing tonight because we should have been electrocuted. We could have easily lost an arm in the old ringer we used to spin the water out of the clothes before we put them into the dryer.

wringer washer

We used an old baseball bat to keep the tension on the belt that drove that thing. Washing socks, jocks, towels. It didn’t matter to me. Cause I got to spend time around these dirty sweaty players and then in and out of the coaches room with the coaches. Remember that little room down that corridor adjacent to the stage at the Armory. That was the coaches office, training room storage room. I got to hang out with Coach Collins, Coach Tyndall, Coach Brooks, Coach Read.

Brooks and Read 5

Spent 4 years keeping stats and managing the football team with Jerry and later Les Abbott and Adrian Hunnings.

After football season, I made the JV basketball team under Coach Read. Why I don’t know. I was skinny and could not shoot very well. Maybe it was the reward for the pieces of pie and cakes my grandmother served. Basketball was a no contact sport or so I thought. We get to practice one cold morning in the gym just down this hallway (could see our breath when we breathed) and Coach Read says “Form 2 lines and when I throw this ball down to the other end of the gym, somebody bring it back, and the one that doesn’t have it better try and take it away anyway possible. I did not know an open field tackle on the basketball court was allowed. Buddy Mclean, John Lennon, Al Price, Alvin Bullock, James Bruce Horne almost killed me.

Oh yea and don’t ever think about ‘Playing the play” on defense while practicing dummy offense. David Fink did that and James Bruce Horne almost put his elbow into David’s chest and almost gave him a 3rd shoulder blade. The freshmen on the team looked at Coach Read and he was smiling and said “Don’t play the play”.

Then baseball came along and I kept the scorebook and was able to sit beside him and watch him outsmart the opposing team. Nothing complicated, but you could see his mind working. Watching little Jimmy Sessoms throw that little slow left handed curve ball. What a great baseball mind you have and it was passed down to Carey and then on to his son Mac Read.

Several times after I moved to Wilmington and Lumberton would be playing down there, I would sit with Coach Read and watch the game..

What I took away from my years under Coach Read and the rest of the coaches was a sense of belonging. Being a member of a group that worked to accomplish something. A place a shy insecure little boy could find a place to fit in and make friendships that will last a lifetime.

Coach Read




  1. […] Post by John Rancke tribute to Finley Read Previous Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 […]

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