By Reba Phelps
The Natchitoches Central gym received a meaningful upgrade that will surely impact students for decades to come.
When students are allowed to come back they will be greeted by a life size mural that recognizes two of NCHS’s most treasured athletes and role models; Coach JD Garrett and Mr. Joe Dumars III.
“First of all, we would like to thank Weyerhaeuser, Mr. and Mrs. David Thornton, School Board Member, Reba Phelps and the other entities that helped put this project together, “ said Head Basketball Coach, Micah Coleman.
Coach JD Garrett was a 1958 graduate of Central. He played for the legendary Coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling State University. He went on to be a three time winner of the All-Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship. He had 259 yards rushing and two touchdowns as a rookie in 1964. He had an impressive 1,704 kickoff and punt return yards in his career. He also coached and touched the lives of student athletes through football, track, basketball and swimming. He could also be found at the Lee Street pool every summer from when he was fourteen years old until he passed away in 2012.
Members of Coach Garrett’s family were able to attend and view the mural along with donors and school officials. His son, Edward Scott, daughter, Yvette Garrett Ceasar Williams, grandson, Trevor Williams Jr and his wife, Rosetta Garrett were almost speechless as they stood in awe of the tribute.
Mrs. Garrett was tearful as she said, “This is a beautiful thing, I really like this. I will always think that he would have been so proud and humbled over this. They did a great job.” Coach Garrett’s grandson, Trevor said, “I really want people to remember his legacy and this will definitely do it.”
Joe Dumars III, a 1981 graduate of Natchitoches Central High School, was also honored on the mural. Mr. Dumars has two NBA Championships under his belt. He was the 1989 NBA Finals MVP. He is a six time NBA All-Star. The Detroit Pistons retired his #4 jersey and he went on to be an Executive for them in 2003. Mr. Dumars also had an outstanding career at NCHS. He was Allstate as a Junior and named MVP in Quad A.
One of the most unique details about the mural is that Coach JD Garrett was Joe Dumars coach for his Junior and Senior year of high school at NCHS. In February of 1982 the Alexandria Town Talk reported that Coach Garrett said, “I’ve never seen anybody who loves the game like Joe, he worked so hard at it, after practices I would have to run him out of the gym at night. Then I would make sure that I drove by Northwestern, because I knew he’d be over at Prather Coliseum and I would run him out of there too!”
This mural would not have been made possible without the generosity of local donors and the local talent of Mr. Cole Gentry.
“This was important project that was long overdue”, says Boys Head Basketball Coach, Micah Coleman. “I felt like it was super important to honor these two gentlemen for not only rising to the top of their profession but also using those positions to turn around and better theirr communities”.
Coleman went on to say, “We want Natchitoches students to know that these two gentlemen played at the same parks, went to the same schools, and come from the place that we come from. We want to them to inspire our young people to accomplish achievements and to serve their community through those accomplishments.”
Coach Coleman worked closely with talented design artist and local resident, Cole Gentry, to help make this project come to life.
Pictured above on front row from left are Trevor Williams Jr., Yvette Garrett Caesar Williams, Rosetta Garrett and Edward Scott. On back row are Coach Micah Coleman, Donors Jennifer Thornton and David Thornton, Peyton Weeks; Weyerhauser Timberland Manager, Jason Smith; Weyerhauser Mill Mangaer, Rachel Proctor; Finance Manager, Reba Phelps, School Board Member District 6, Designer Cole Gentry and NCHS Principal Bill Gordy.