Georgia Tech “NBA” Players Part I


Photo Credit: Edward Keng

Long before it was chic to work out over the lunch hour or jog to stay in shape to eliminate as much stress as possible, an intrepid group of men at Georgia Tech decided that they wanted to exercise and workout over their lunch hour. Whether the attempt was to manage stress or have fun many healthy, competitive, friendships began about 50 years ago and the activities that sparked those relationships are maintained to this very day on the campus. Recently, John Cerny and Edward Keng shared a brief history on Georgia Tech’s NBA (Noon-time Basketball Association).

John and Edward said that among the early participants were John Cerny, Edward Keng, Allen Ivey, Jim Toler, Jim Cofer, Bud Sears, Allen Ecker, Charlie Pollard, Bob Lowell and Dick Johnson. A few first began by playing paddle ball in Peters Park. When the workout evolved into basketball, at first they had to play one-on-one, three-on-three or four-on-four till others joined in, but they would not be deterred. They played outside on concrete until they found a facility, the Old Naval Armory gym in which to play. They later played in the practice facility next to the Alexander Memorial Coliseum and were thrilled to occasionally play in the coliseum. In the late seventies-early eighties the Student Athletic Complex with its hard rubber floors was a welcome playing site for sore, old aching knees.  Today the NBA plays on the fourth floor of the Campus Recreation Center (CRC), one of the most outstanding recreational facilities in the United States. There are often two or three games being played simultaneously on different courts over the noon hour especially on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  The variety of recreational activities and programs run in the CRC could hardly have been imagined in the late 60’s. Today students, faculty and staff all benefit from the facility and legacy of noon time basketball.

The benefits and outstanding participants in the noon time de-stressors are very impressive.  The positive and healthy life styles led by the NBA players tell only part of the story about the contributions of these early pioneers. The professional and community leadership contributions tell another part of their stories. Dr. John Burson is a reknown EN&T specialist. He has gone back to Afganistan three times to help out or relieve physicians so that they could come home and spend Christmas with their loved ones. Dr. Daniel Papp is president of Kennesaw State University. Dr. Jerry Thuesen still holds the consecutive varsity basketball free throw record at Stanford University. Jim Reedy directed the Student Athletic Complex and was a really great shooter/player. Tom Akins headed the Georgia Tech Co-op Division. Dr. Bill Osher  was the founding director of the Success Center at Georgia Tech and Dr. Thomas A. Parker was the founding director of OMED and directed the Georgia Tech Counseling Center. Allen Ecker became the Chief Technical Officer at Scientific Atlanta. Dick Johnson headed the Radar Branch of the GT Engineering Experiment Station, now GTRI. Unfortunately, there is not enough space in the article to cite the outstanding accomplishments of all of the noon time players. They are all very well respected men in their professions and communities. The guys reported that they still work out in some form and attribute a very positive and healthy life style to the habits born from the attitude that “working out was essential to their mental and physical health.“ Some of the guys passed away but left a legacy with their NBA buddies. Bud Sears, Fred Cain and Dick Johnson are missed. Dick Johnson’s health conscious attitude made him decide that any meetings he had for classes, etc. took place before 11 am or after 1 pm so that he could get in his beloved basketball game. Professor Brooks played well into his 77th year. He was so respected that all of the guys called him Mr. Brooks. Besides him being strong as an ox, he had a deadly underhand shot from what is called today three point range.  Assistant head basketball coach, Byron Gilbreath often played and helped the guys secure facilities in which to play.

Next month in Part Two: Additional insight from participants and more pictures of the joyous meeting.

THANKS TO THE Georgia Tech NBA Players

Dr. Thomas A. Parker, LPC, CPCS





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