Bobby Haile was a winner at all levels in his sports
Posted By Sparta Live | January 31, 2013 12:00 am
Bobby Haile won at whatever level he was competing and in whatever role he was undertaking.
The 1960 graduate of White County High School played on and starred on both the Warrior basketball and football teams. He turned that into a successful football career at Tennessee Tech and then when his playing days were over, he did nothing but win as a coach. For his success and years of dedication to his craft, Haile has earned a spot in the WCHS Hall of Fame.
Haile, the third of six children born in Jackson County to Patterson and Doris Haile, came from a basketball family. All of his siblings played and four would go on to coach.
As he had been around basketball all his life, he knew he loved the game at an early age and started showing signs of stardom early on. After moving to White County in third grade, Haile attended Macedonia Elementary School in the northern part of the county. With Haile leading the way and one of his brothers coaching the team, Macedonia won the county tournament and went on to play in a tournament in Shelbyville. They would lose to a team from Ashland City by a score of 40-38. Haile set a record for most points scored in a game in that tournament as he tossed in 32 of the 38 Macedonia points.
After moving on from Macedonia, Haile took his game on to White County High School. He played all four years for the Warriors scoring almost 1400 points in his career. He played two years for Coach Bill Slatten and his junior and senior year under Roy Sewell.
During his time as a Warrior basketball player, Haile was a part of some outstanding teams. WCHS made two trips to the state during Haile’s playing days. They went 24-4 his senior year. His junior year, the team posted a 23-2 mark, but lost in the finals of the region.
The Warriors were not afraid to take on any challenge during that time. During his senior year, WCHS played against Meigs County, a team that had finished runner-up in the state. The game drew plenty of attention statewide. The Warriors handled the Tigers scoring over 100 points against the defending state runner-up.
The most points Haile ever scored in a single game was 33 points in the region semifinals against York.
At the state tournament during his senior year, Haile set a state record making 18 of 19 free throws in a game.
Haile received many basketball honors including All State, Banner All Midstate and Region All tournament. All the successes of the team and honors received by Haile came at a time when there was only one classification across the state. All teams competed against each other and the all-state team was picked from every single team across the state and there was just one All State team picked.
Coach Roy Sewell talked about Haile as a basketball player, “Bobby Haile was a great all-around player. He had great hands and could play inside or out. He was blessed with basketball skills. He did so much for our team.”
While Haile had spent most of his life dribbling or shooting a basketball, he had never played football. That all changed at the start of his junior year of high school. Dee Harris took over the coaching reins of the program. With the help of Bill Johnson, Harris was able to talk Haile into joining the Warrior football team. Ironically, that would be the sport that would pay for his college education.
Haile explained what made him join the football team, “I had never played football. I had always spent my time playing basketball and didn’t really have any other free time. If I wasn’t playing basketball or at school, I had cows I had to help milk. But Bill Johnson approached me in the hall one day at school and talked me into it coming out one day.”
Haile started for two years at tackle for the Warriors. After posting a 4-6 mark in 1958, WCHS was destined for greatness the next year. The Warriors went undefeated in the fall of 1959, Haile’s senior year. Not only did they go undefeated, but also they held their opponents scoreless over the final nine games of the season including a 7-0 win over Carthage in the Tobacco Bowl.
At that time in high school football, there was just one classification and only three bowl games in the entire state.
During the 1959 season, the Warrior football team allowed only 12 points the entire season. They won eight games and two ended in scoreless ties. They avenged one of those scoreless ties with the Tobacco Bowl win over Carthage. The other tie came against Cookeville. The Warriors posted a 60-0 win over McMinnville in the regular season finale.
Dee Harris discussed Haile, “We talked him into coming out his junior year, which was my first year as coach. He immediately worked himself into a starting position. He was an easy person to coach. To have never played, he caught on very quick. He brought a lot to our team. I am sure glad he decided to player for us. He went to Tech and played an important role for them as well.”
Despite only having played football for two years, Haile caught the eye of Tennessee Tech football coach, Wilburn Tucker, who offered him a scholarship to play for the Golden Eagles.
After redshirting his first year, Haile earned a starting spot at end for TTU as a sophomore. He was a starter as sophomore and junior and was headed for a starting spot his senior season, but tore up his knee the first game of his senior season.
He was a co-captain for the Golden Eagles and led not only Tech, but also the OVC, in receiving as a junior. That season (1963) he had 32 catches for 436 yards.
Haile graduated from TTU in 1965 with a degree in education. Upon graduation his first coaching job was the head coach of the DeKalb County football team for one year in 1966. Coaching and teaching would become his lifelong career.
After spending one year in Smithville, Haile moved over one county. He was both an assistant girls’ basketball and assistant football coach at McMinnville Central. After two years there, the school system consolidated and became Warren County High school. He continued with his assistant coaching duties, but in 1972, he became the head coach of the girls’ basketball team. He would coach in Warren County for 18 years.
The Warren County girls made back-to-back trips to the state in 1972 and 1973. In 1972, Haile was the assistant when they lost to undefeated Marshall County, but in 1972, he guided the Lady Pioneers there as the head coach. They would lose in the state finals to Bradley County and Jim Smiddy, who was at the time one of the winningest coaches in the nation. The final score was 45-43.
That would not be Haile’s only trip to the state finals though. In 1979, he guided the Warren County girls to the title game in Class AAA where they would defeat Riverdale 40-35 to win the state championship.
That was the final year of six-on-six girls’ basketball in the state of Tennessee. During his years coaching girls in the six-on-six era, Haile compiled an overall mark of 178-31.
Haile coached in Warren County until 1985 and would return to his alma mater.
Haile came back to Sparta in 1986 and began as an assistant on Jimmy Maynord’s football staff and coached ninth grade boys’ basketball. He would help coach football for 16 years at WCHS serving on the staff of six different head coaches. His final season coaching football at WCHS was 2001.
In 1994-95, Haile moved over from freshman boys’ to freshman girls’ basketball and coached one of the best freshman girls’ team in Warriorette history leading them to an undefeated season. The following season, he also joined Steve Holland’s varsity girls’ staff as an assistant coach. He would serve as Warriorette assistant coach for 11 seasons working with three different head coaches.
During most of that time, Haile taught elementary physical education after teaching health for a few years at the high school.
Haile officially retired from coaching at the end of the 2005-06 season.
Upon his retirement, it gave Haile an opportunity to focus on another one of his sports passions, fishing.
During his 40-year coaching career, Bobby Haile touched the lives of numerous young men and women.
Haile is a sports legend in and around White County. On Friday, his name will be added to the Hall of Fame at his alma mater further cementing the legacy he built in the local sports community.