by Alan B. Gibson
A really nice guy – taken too soon
Normally this time of year we are talking about how much fun we’re having enjoying the basketball season as we reach the mid-way point of regular season play.
The athletic community, as well as the entire student and faculty bodies at Clinton County High School was, of course, saddened over the weekend to learn of the untimely death of Mike Anders, who perished when the single-engine airplane he was piloting crashed into a house in Florida Saturday.
Anders, in addition to teaching Spanish at Clinton County High, was also the boys’ golf coach for the past couple of years, which is how I became acquainted with him while covering the Golf Dawgs the past few seasons.
We weren’t especially close friends but since being introduced a few years ago by then head golf coach Mike Tallent, we had spent several afternoons having brief conversations during golf matches and a few things stood out about Anders’ personality.
First of all, he had a very unique personality that was entertaining during conversations. After that first introduction by Tallent when Anders first arrived and began working as an assistant coach to the golf team, others would introduce me to Anders when I walked up, unaware that we had already met. He would always take those two quick steps, hand extended and proclaim “Yep, I know Al well.”
Outgoing, yes, but that wasn’t what stood out about Anders – at least to me. Like I said, our conversations were always brief, often out on the course while I was photographing matches and he would stop by while “hop-scotching” from hole to hole to keep up with the progress of his team members.
He never wanted to talk about his own life, his accomplishments or how his past had led him to teach and coach in Clinton County. Instead, within seconds, the conversation would head toward his players – how “Sawyer” had performed in the previous match, or perhaps how “Evan” had put it all together in a round or even how some of the younger players were beginning to show some real promise. “John Richard” had put together back to back to back pars to finish a round nicely or “Reed” had finished a particular hole in up and down fashion.
His conversations were always about the kids, and he was often even borderline “over the top” in dishing out praise for his players when reporting match results or during interviews.
That’s a trait that we don’t get to see enough of these days. Mike Anders was one of the good guys, unique and fun to be around. But his desire to bring as much positive attention to his team members made it clear that his love for the youth he had been charged with teaching – whether it be on the golf course, at the chess tables or in the classroom – was a genuine love and his first priority.
And that’s the best thing anyone could ever get to say about a coach.
Mike Anders – one of the good guys – and one that will certainly be missed by the entire CCHS community.
Tie-night for Mike
Friday night’s home double-header at C.C.H.S. (vs. Russell County), will be a special night to honor the memory of Mike Anders.
Those who knew Mike recognize that in most instances, he was always seen wearing a necktie, especially when he was in the classroom or hallways and on the job as a teacher at Clinton County High School.
Melissa Sewell Tallent, who is the pep-club (6th Man) sponsor at C.C.H.S., worked closely with Mike in that he was serving as the volunteer driver for the pep buses that were being taken to the basketball games. She has asked me to inform our readers that in honor of Mike’s memory, this Friday night has been designated Blue and White night for Mike, and all Clinton County fans, men, women, boys and girls, are being asked to wear blue and white to the game, and for everyone to include wearing a necktie in honor of Anders.
Pretty nice gesture and one he would have appreciated.