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Posted on Sun, Mar. 08, 2009

Georgia's greatest high school basketball game won by ‘Where's Mark Smith?' team

BY JAY ADAMS

Coach Butch Clifton

Every so often, the memories come fluttering back to Butch Clifton like it was yesterday when he was yanked out of a car and hoisted onto the shoulders of a frantic crowd and carried onto a stage. The reminders are sometimes subtle, but mostly, curious admirers take him back to what it was like 40 years ago. Like the landscaper who showed up just the other day to cut Clifton’s trees and didn’t leave before cordially demanding Clifton to “tell me about the story,” or the seemingly unconnected man who approached Clifton 10 years ago while on a visit to Atlanta. “You’re Butch Clifton,” Clifton recalled the man saying to him. “Yeah,” Clifton responded. “I was there,” the man said. Clifton probably didn’t need to ask. After being approached countless times with even more ambiguous, nonspecific remarks before a formal introduction, Clifton always has a way of knowing what someone is talking about. Still, he plays along. “Where is that?” Clifton asked the man. “I kept score at Alexander Memorial Coliseum,” the man said. That was all Clifton needed to hear.

The man was, indeed, referring to what is considered one of the greatest high school basketball games played in Georgia. The game itself, that Monday night back in 1969, is only part of the reason why Clifton is regularly asked by complete strangers and long-lost acquaintances about what it was like back then. There was much more to it, after all. That season wasn’t just about a single game or a single person. It was about defying odds that seemed astronomical. It was about gaining respect when there was none to be given. It was about healing wounds that seemed incurable. Most importantly, it was about answering the question, “Where is Mark Smith?” NO WHITES ALLOWED.

As a mid-20-something, Clifton admitted to being sometimes guilty of naivety. Looking back, he excuses those instances by shrugging and saying, “What did I know?” As a head coach, however, there were very few actions he took that weren’t well thought out and deliberate. A year before the Georgia High School Association allowed white and black teams to compete against each other, Clifton figured the best way to acclimate his Mark Smith players to a different style of basketball was to show them first-hand. He took his group down to the Macon Auditorium where Ballard-Hudson and Peter G. Appling — two all-black teams — were playing. Clifton approached the gate and was stopped by the attendant. “No whites allowed,” the attendant said to Clifton. Clifton wouldn’t accept the answer. For five minutes, he tried to coax his way past the gate with his six players in tow. The attendant left to get another opinion on the situation and returned. The Mark Smith players were allowed in. “We would go in, and they’d put us on the stage,” said Jag Gholson, Mark Smith’s sixth man in 1969. “We would be the only (white) people there, and they really started appreciating that we would come there and see their games. We started, I think, bridging the gap of — at least on the basketball court — social interaction between the races in Macon.” That, however, is in retrospect. At the time, most of Mark Smith’s players had no idea what kinds of issues desegregation was sprouting among white and black communities alike. They were just a group of teenagers playing a game that happened to have a deeply rooted history in both communities. Even when the 1968-69 season rolled around and Mark Smith began facing all black teams, there was never a hint to them that anything was different. “When we stepped on that floor, we were athletes competing against each other, and they were the best athletes around,” Mark Smith forward Charlie Anderson said. “All we wanted to do was compete with them. There was never a racial component to any of our competition. It was just athlete against athlete.” HARDLY A REGULAR SEASON The end of the 1967-68 season marked the first official season in Clifton’s head coaching venture, and it wrapped up with Mark Smith finishing 14-14. For a program that hadn’t even been around five years at that point, ending a season at .500 was an accomplishment. But Clifton felt his players were capable of more. Since the GHSA didn’t allow teams to participate in camps inside the state at the time, Clifton rounded up his players and took them to North Carolina during the offseason. There, a Louisiana State University freshman by the name of Pete Maravich was helping UCLA head coach John Wooden conduct a basketball camp. With an opportunity too great to ignore, Clifton knew he couldn’t leave the camp without getting a few private words with Wooden. For a half-hour, Clifton sat and picked Wooden’s legendary basketball brain. Wooden gave Clifton advice and illustrated fast-break and defensive drills Clifton would soon implement at Mark Smith. While the camp served to teach Mark Smith players basketball skills that would undoubtedly help them reach the impending success of March 1969, it did more to simply show the team that other players were also working to get better. That was Clifton’s purpose for taking the long road trip. He wanted to show his players that, while he may push them and make them work hard, other players are out there doing the same thing — maybe even more. The message was received, and Mark Smith got out to a fantastic start to the regular season. When Clifton looks back on it, he can identify several moments throughout the season that he considers turning points. For instance, during the second game of the season, Mark Smith edged Albany 60-59. One year earlier, Albany beat the Bulldogs by a 30-point margin. But the moment Clifton truly considers the key when it comes to turning points came near the midseason mark. Mark Smith had gotten out to a 10-2 start, and the Bulldogs were facing rival Lanier. With 1:05 left, Mark Smith had a somewhat comfortable six-point lead when it began getting careless with the ball. It didn’t take long for Lanier to cut that lead down to one possession, and Mark Smith’s mistakes proved costly when a late steal by Lanier resulted in a halfcourt heave that banked in for the win at the buzzer. “I went down to the dressing room, and I didn’t say a word. I just looked at them,” Clifton said. “The next day, I said, ‘OK, if you don’t want to play my way, then you’re not going to play (in the next game at) Northside.’ ” Clifton stayed true to his word and benched three of his starters. Mark Smith went on to beat Northside 55-44, and the season was never the same. The Bulldogs had suddenly found something. Clifton explained it by saying that everything that needed to click Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 Georgia's greatest high school basketball game won by ‘Where's Mark Smith?' team Page 1 of 3 http://www.macon.com/198/v-print/story/643163.html 3/8/2009 did. But whatever changed resulted in Mark Smith winning 17 of its final 18 games to finish the regular season
23-4 , earning a ranking in the top 10 in the state. WHERE IS MARK SMITH? Despite all the success Mark Smith had achieved, there was very little respect given to its players. After all, they were just the River Rats — a name given to Mark Smith students by those at other Macon schools because the school’s proximity to the Ocmulgee River — locally, and at the state level, there was hardly any mention of the Bulldogs. It was, perhaps, easy to overlook them. Mark Smith — an all-boys school that operated in conjunction with Lasseter, an all girls school — had just 400 students, which meant that the school’s athletic competitions would take place at the Class A level. But in order to play Lanier — the public school now known as Central which had the most stunning athletic reputation at the time — Mark Smith, which later became Northeast, would have to play up in AAA, which was the GHSA’s highest classification in the late 1960s. So there was a certain feeling around the state — among those who took the time to pay a second’s worth of attention to the team — that Mark Smith didn’t belong and would hardly be a nuisance once the playoffs started. The way the state playoffs were set up at the time, a team like Mark Smith, which lost in its region championship game to earn the region’s second seed, would often be matched up against a region champion early in the state playoffs. That’s exactly what happened to the Bulldogs. The tough draw, however, hardly fazed them as they gutted out a first-round win over a Monroe-Albany team that was coached by state legend Lewis Smith and was 22-1 on its home court. The second round looked even more daunting. The Bulldogs were set to take on Beach, a Savannah team that had its share of success at the time. Beach was coming off a state championship season two years earlier and had finished as the state runner-up the year before. Beach was coached by another state legend, Russell Ellington. Leading up to the quarterfinal matchup, Ellington was asked by a reporter what he thought of Mark Smith. “Where is Mark Smith?” said Ellington, who died in 2007. Ellington’s words, while not meant to be disrespectful, became the rallying point for the Bulldogs, and by the end of the quarterfinal matchup, Ellington knew exactly where Mark Smith was. The underdog team beat the tournament favorite 52-49 to reach the Final Four. One night later, Mark Smith downed a Price team from Atlanta — 56-52 — that had entered the game with a 21-1 record. By the end of their Final Four matchup, the Bulldogs were tired. They had been tested, and they had fought through a lot of tough odds to get to the AAA championship game, but the exhaustion of reaching that point was almost too much. The last time Mark Smith had been that worn out was just a few weeks earlier during the region tournament. The Bulldogs faced a grueling tournament schedule that included wins over Northside, Lanier and Jordan of Columbus and a hard-fought victory over a Spencer team from Columbus that pressed the entire game, pushing the Mark Smith players to their physical limit in reaching the region championship game. Their region title opponent was Carver-Columbus, which took advantage of Mark Smith’s exhaustion and handed the Bulldogs a 76-59 loss — their first in 14 games. And after another long, exhausting road toward a championship game, it was Carver-Columbus that again was waiting on the other side. THE GAME Clifton was meticulous about planning for the AAA title game. A consolation game would be played before the Mark Smith-Carver matchup, so a few minutes before that game was slated to end, Clifton took his team down the tunnel at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the Georgia Tech campus. To Clifton’s surprise, however, the consolation game went into overtime. By that point, Carver had also made its way down the tunnel, setting up just behind Mark Smith and leaving the Bulldogs stuck between the basketball court and the locker room. Taking advantage of the situation, Carver began whooping and hollering in the corridor. “Carver was really intimidating the daylights out of us,” Clifton said. Mark Smith, however, stayed composed despite the chanting coming from Carver and the fact that there were about 8,500 people inside the arena waiting for the title game to start. Most had shown up to see how the Bulldogs would handle Carver’s big men. With 6-foot-8 Ruben Whittaker and
7-foot Fessor Leonard, Mark Smith’s tallest players — Anderson, Frank Prince and David Lee, all 6-4 — likely would have their hands full. “I taught Charlie Anderson and all my kids that if you’ve got somebody big and strong, take it to them,” Clifton said. “But if you’ll show them the ball and pump fake, they’ll leave the floor. If they leave the floor and you get two fouls on them, you’ll own them.” That’s exactly what Mark Smith’s post players did, and it worked to neutralize the clear advantage Carver had. But with four minutes to play in regulation, Mark Smith point guard Scott Judd fouled out. “Only game I fouled out the whole year,” Judd said. “Thirty-one games, and I foul out the one game the whole year. Can you imagine that? But God had a plan.” So did Clifton. Facing a tie game with less than two seconds left, Clifton called a timeout. His players joined him at the bench and asked the head coach what they were going to do. “We’re going to run the four-second play in two seconds,” Clifton recalled saying to them. The four-second play consisted of inbounding the ball from down the court and calling a timeout while the ball was in the air so the Bulldogs would have another chance to inbound the ball from halfcourt. The problem was, the play was time-consuming. Mark Smith, however, found a way to pull it off with about one second left on the clock. With Lee inbounding the ball at the halfcourt line, a screen was set for Anderson, who ended up wide open at the top of the circle. He got the shot off and was then hammered by a Carver defender. The ball went inside the rim and ricocheted out. Clifton waited for a whistle that would send Anderson to the line, but it never came. The game went into overtime, but the first extra period also finished in a tie. It was the second overtime period that would turn a state championship game into a legendary contest. With 11 seconds left, it looked like the magic had run out for Mark Smith. The Bulldogs were down by one point, and Carver had possession. Mark Smith had to do whatever it could to change its fate at that point, but it didn’t look good. “We were not a good pressing team. We were kind of a zone press,” Clifton said. “I turned to them and I said, ‘Guys, we’re going to play butts to the baseline. Prince, I want you to fight the inbounds pass, and for goodness sakes don’t let them have the first one because they’re going to out-quick us.’ ” Prince followed his coach’s advice, playing tall at the baseline to keep Carver from getting a clean pass into play. Once Carver finally decided where to pass the ball, time slowed down for some and sped up for others. Cam Bonifay, Mark Smith’s shooting guard, came from out of nowhere as the ball was on its way inbounds. “He played second base all his life,” Clifton said. “All he was doing was making a double play.” Bonifay got a hand on the ball, tipping it to Prince, who was set up right underneath the basket for the easy layup, giving Mark Smith a one-point lead with less than 10 seconds left. Mark Smith’s bench went wild. But the celebration was premature. Carver inbounded the ball quickly and made its way downcourt. The ball got into Whittaker’s hands, and he had a nearly clear lane to the basket. The only thing standing in his way was Lee, who attempted to draw a charge. Whittaker and Lee collided, and a whistle blew. Clifton expected the foul to be called on Whittaker, but instead, Lee was the one called for the foul, which sent Whittaker to the line to shoot a 1-and-1 with a chance to put an end to the game with Carver as the champion. Up to that point, Whittaker was 5-of-8 from the free-throw line. “It was pretty tense because you have no control,” Gholson said. “You’re sitting there hoping that you get a break, and we did.” Georgia's greatest high school basketball game won by ‘Where's Mark Smith?'

Whittaker missed the front end of his 1-and-1, and Prince came down with the rebound with five seconds ticking off the clock. Clifton should have felt comfortable, but with the ball in Prince’s hands, anything could happen. Prince had just previously moved to Georgia from California, so naturally the Bulldogs referred to him as their California Dreamer — primarily because Prince was known, as Clifton put it, for doing some screwball stuff. Instead of holding the rebound and waiting for time to run out, Prince took the ball to halfcourt and heaved up a shot as the final buzzer mercifully sounded. “I mean, it’s classic,” Clifton said. “You can still see me on the film pointing my finger at him like, ‘I’m not going to kill you right now, but I’m going to kill you later.’ ” The Alexander Memorial Coliseum crowd swarmed as Clifton was hoisted onto the shoulders of several of his players and was carried off the court. When they returned to Macon and exited the freeway, they were given a police and fire department escort back to the Mark Smith campus, where Clifton was lifted out of his vehicle. They were greeted by Mayor Ronnie Thompson, the City Council and hundreds of citizens. THE LEGEND LIVES ON It feels like it has been every minute of 40 years since that March day in 1969. The players from that storied team are a lot older, a little wiser and a little grayer. They have families now. Some stayed in Macon, others moved away. The bond that was formed during that unbelievable season, however, is stronger than anything any of them have experienced since. They get together every so often for reunions. In fact, the 40th is scheduled for May. Some of them, however, got together Friday morning at Macon City Hall for a special proclamation from Mayor Robert Reichert. It was a small affair. Some players and a couple of family members showed up, but it was recognition long overdue as a Mark Smith High School Championship Day was declared. What most of the players remember most about that year, however, had very little to do with the game itself. Sure, it was exciting to be a part of what many consider to be the greatest high school game ever played in Georgia, but the social impact in Macon outweighed the excitement of the game itself. Several of Mark Smith’s players don’t remember Macon as a city in turmoil despite the social issues of the late
1960s. Yet still, they admit there was a gap between blacks and whites in Macon, and the Bulldogs like to think they played a role in beginning to heal those wounds because of the incredible circumstances surrounding the team. “I just think it was a mutual feeling at the time. Everybody kind of came together,” Clifton said. “The blacks called me, the whites called me. Everybody kind of pulled together. It was a win for Macon.” For Clifton, however, that championship game is his legacy. He eventually went on to coach at Middle Tennessee State, Georgia and Georgia Tech. After that, he was a radio analyst with Larry Munson. Yet Clifton is known for that championship game. It’s the reason he’s approached by strangers all the time. But Clifton doesn’t need a reminder from someone else to let himself drift back 40 years and remember what it was like. He has a CD of the radio broadcast from that game. On his way to Atlanta from his current home in Athens with his wife, the two popped in the CD and listened to the whole game again. “We went to Neiman Marcus. She was going shopping, and I looked over, and she was crying,” Clifton said. “She said, ‘That’s unbelievable.’

MARVIN ELVIS WALL ~ HIS LEGACY!!!

 

This article was published in the Albany Herald in January at the time of the death of Marion Walls, Class of 1966.  His death was reported in the February edition of News and Clues.  This is the “rest of the story”...

http://www.albanyherald.com/stories/20090114n6.htm  (article text only)

The brutal murder of Jessica Reinhardt   resulted in the formation of the Extended Day program in the Dougherty County School System.  Participating children stay at school for planned activities rather than going home alone.  Larry Bays, who was mayor of Albany at the time of the incident, happened to be passing by, saw a fire at a residence and reported it. After hearing about what was found at the grisly scene, he started the ball rolling to establish the after school program, so that it would never happen again!

Jessica is remembered as a sweet and precious little girl by her step-grandmother, Gloria (Malone) Drake, class of 1959.  Gloria was married to Jessica’s grandfather, James Dorriety, at the time of the murder. James has since passed away and Gloria remarried.

Further research revealed that this notorious case was shown on Court TV in 2007.  This link will take you to the article in the Albany Herald about that show. It includes details of the case and how Jessica’s killer was apprehended.  Warning!  It is an ugly story and likely to break your heart!!!

 http://www.albanyherald.com/archives/News/2007/front071907g.html

(article text on Court TV)

 SHERIFF JAMIL SABA

Dougherty County Sheriff Jamil Saba (AHS Class of 1956) hung up his hat and guns at the end of 2008 after nearly 39 years in law enforcement.  The picture below, from The Albany Herald, Dec. 26, 2008, incorporates in its background the cover of Albany magazine’s Sept-Oct 2000 issue shown above.

  A native Albanian, 1956 graduate of AHS, and Army veteran, Jamil began his career in law enforcement in 1970 when he became a deputy in Sheriff Lamar Stewart’s office. Two years later he was serving as Stewart’s chief investigator.  When Sheriff Stewart retired in 1984, Jamil became Dougherty County’s new sheriff, a position he has held almost unopposed ever since.

A major accomplishment of his career was the building of a much needed new, modern jail. On-site court rooms, a touch screen locking and intercom system, and a state-of-the-art crime identification system used by many state agencies are some of the special features he introduced there. The facility is maintained in part by inmate labor, keeping the operational costs lower. 

Always interested in the youth of Dougherty County, he is credited with starting a series of educational programs for them. The D.A.R.E. program takes an anti-drug message to schools and parents, and the G.R.E.A.T. program helps children to resist becoming members of gangs.  In May of 2008 Jamil was awarded the title of regional Sheriff of the Year by the Office of Child Support Services for his work with that organization.

Of all his career accomplishments, perhaps the most outstanding is the growth of his department. From a staff of 13 when he joined, it has grown to a complex network of many divisions employing more than 270. Jamil is very proud of the people on his staff and gives them the credit for making his department look good.  As he turned over the helm on January 1, 2009, to his long time deputy, Kevin Sproul, he praised them for all the good work and entrusted them to the new sheriff to continue the progress he has made for Dougherty County.

Now Jamil is going to enjoy his well earned retirement fishing, hunting, and golfing with his buddies.  Look for him around town catching up with everyone!  Your classmates and all the residents of Dougherty County thank you, Jamil, for a job well done!!!

For more on Jamil’s career see.........http://www.albanyherald.com/stories/20081226n1.htm

 

D. J. Vinson - AHS 2003 Graduate - given hero's funeral

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

August 7, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Albany man, who died trying to save a drowning child, was buried with heroes' honors Thursday.

Twenty three year old D. J. Vinson, drowned in the Flint River Sunday evening. At his funeral, he was remembered for his bravery and valor.  Vinson was remembered Thursday as a brave young man. Friends said they would never forget the laughter and smile from the young man who wouldn't think twice about giving you the shirt off his back.

Dressed in white shirts, more than 50 friends from Albany High School and Darton College served as honorary pallbearers, for their friend D. J. Vinson. Inside Sunnyside Baptist Church in East Albany, nearly 400 gathered to remember the young man's bravery, like friends did earlier this week.

"D. J., had a very loving heart, he loved everybody," said Jason Blackstock, a friend.

"Always did the right thing, a Christian guy," said friend Rick Porter.

Vinson's bravery to help two brothers struggling to stay above water in the Flint River was recognized by Albany Mayor Willie Adams in a proclamation. Congressman Sanford Bishop's representative Kenneth Cutts presented Vinson's parents with a letter of Special Congressional Recognition from the President and Congress remembering D. J.'s Outstanding Achievement in Public Service.

The Albany Dougherty Dive Team also awarded Vinson's parents a posthumous Medal of Valor.

Friends say those honors are well deserved. "He gave his life to try to save another, a real big hero," said Blackstock.

They say, Vinson adored children, hoped one day to coach a little league team, and had future plans.

"Planned to go to Valdosta State University. Had his own lawn care business he just started up," said Porter. While those dreams have been cut short they say their memories of this selfless young man never will.

"I won't ever forget it, I won't ever forget it," said David Reaves, a fellow rescuer.

Reverend Chris Turner told family and friends D. J. Vinson should be an encouragement to them all because it's one thing to be called a hero, but it's another thing to be recognized as one for one's actions.

D. J. was laid to rest late Thursday afternoon at Crown Hill Cemetery. Funeral arrangements have not yet been scheduled for 11 year old Joshua Perry who also drowned Sunday.

Class of 1960 Classmates Spencer Lee and Jim Hall

Lead the Team!!!

Classmates can be proud of their home city for the Snicker's Marathon Bar Marathon that was held here on March 1st.  It was really a class act and drew about a 1000 runners in only it's second year.  Kudos to the many AHS grads who helped make it such a success.  (by the way, "Snickers Marathon Energy Bars" and "Kudos" are made right here in Albany, along with "Combos")

Attached is a picture of two of our classmates who helped to oversee the race to insure integrity of runners along the proscribed course; chosen no doubt for their own running histories and unquestioned integrity (and only incidentally because both their wives work for Phoebe, a race sponsor).  Those who have suggested that we clocked and recorded the wrong runners are just mean spirited and don't understand all the technical nuances of marathon race oversight...and besides that, we were having to do repeated quality checks on the Marathon Energy Bars, Kudos and Combos that were being passed out to the race participants.   

Hope some of you will plan to come to next year's race as it is part of a whole day of activities that bring Albanians together and makes for fun for the entire family, like Grandkids...

Go Indians,

Jim Hall
Albany High School
Class of 60
AHSIndian_60@mchsi.com
http://albanyhightimes.com/1960.htm

B.B. Rhodes ('52) and Frank Orgel ('56) ... forever friends! 

Two men’s friendship takes them through a lifetime of experiences.

JOSHUA BROWN joshua.brown@.at.albanyherald.com

ALBANY — Half a century ago B.B. Rhodes and Frank Orgel went to the city’s swimming pools to entertain children.

They would do somersaults and twists off a diving board. Orgel would get into a giant pair of overalls with another member of the Clown Diving Team — which was Rhodes’ idea — and do flips into the water.

They’d hide an air tank at the bottom of the pool, dive to the bottom and stay for several minutes, finally coming up to declare that the pool “is plenty deep!”

Now they go for physical therapy.

Orgel was diagnosed in April with a debilitating motor neuron disease that doctors said would only continue to get worse as time went on. But working with Rhodes, who went to Florida State University on a diving scholarship, at the YMCA’s swimming pool since his diagnosis has brought a significant improvement to Orgel’s condition, he says.

“When I started, we’d just walk in circles — walk backward, walk forward, walk sideways.” Orgel said recently during an interview at his home on Frank Orgel Road. “Finally, we just started (swimming) the whole length (of the pool).”

The disease keeps electrical signals from his brain from firing properly, hampering the ability to move various muscles in the body, Orgel explained. There is no cure from the disease and, once a person is diagnosed with it, he or she is expected to get progressively worse.

If he continues to improve, Orgel says that he will have been misdiagnosed, because people who have motor neuron disease just “don’t get better.”

“You’re not supposed to get better. You’re supposed to get worse,” he said. “But I’m not worse.”

The two began working together after Rhodes heard that Orgel had been diagnosed with the crippling disease. They had been serving together on an Albany Sports Hall of Fame committee for several years at the time.

Rhodes, a strenuous therapist, takes Orgel through a series of exercises every Tuesday and Thursday at noon, including leg and arm stretches. They begin at noon and go until about 1 p.m., with a quick stretching and warmup routine with a rope Rhodes was able to install in the YMCA pool.

After a few minutes of Rhodes gliding Orgel on his back through the pool, they shimmy their way down the pool’s side to maneuver Orgel so he can swim the length of the 75-foot pool from deep end to shallow. There they pause for a moment so Rhodes can push Orgel under water for a few seconds at a time.

This is just another of the various stretches that Rhodes takes Orgel through. Because Orgel can’t raise his arm over his head, he holds onto the edge of the pool so Rhodes can push him down, moving Orgel’s left arm in ways it can’t on its own.

Orgel began his friendship with Rhodes in the early 1950s. Rhodes was a friend of Orgel’s family and hired him a few years later to work as a pool lifeguard at Tift Park — now a Boy & Girls Club — on Jefferson Street.

After going their separate ways — Rhodes went on to become director of the Albany YMCA and Orgel went on to coach football for the University of Georgia, Auburn University and Clemson University — the two kept in touch when Orgel visited the city on recruiting visits.

Orgel, who in his time as an assistant football coach has worked with men like Bo Jackson and coach Pat Dye, first noticed something was wrong in 1996, his last year coaching at Georgia. An occasional stumble caused Orgel to think it was just a back problem. But after having surgery, he continued to get worse.

Orgel described a process of going from the occasional trip to hardly being able to pick up his leg, and eventually having to give up his golf hobby.

Once he realized he had a significant disability, though, Orgel was determined to do whatever he was able to do for as long as he was able to do it.

“Well, I thought I was going to do whatever I could .... and stay as healthy as I could and work out,” he said. “Then (I was going to) get strong enough to get back out and do some things I want to do while I was retired.

“I could say, ‘Well, the hell with it.’ I can just sit here and let people take care of me, or I could go to physical therapy.”

Rhodes, who is about four years older than Orgel, says he enjoys helping his longtime friend.

“I’m just really pleased to know it’s helping him,” Rhodes said one afternoon in one of the YMCA’s breakrooms. “I look at it like, what if I was in that position? It would be nice to have somebody working with me.”

Rhodes says he’ll keep helping Orgel for as long as he can.

“As long as I’m able, as long as it’s doing him some good,” he said.

  

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