I make my living putting words to paper while attempting to inform and entertain the Rhea County community on the happenings ranging from city council and school board meetings to feature stories and athletics across the county.
Sometimes the words just flow right onto the page. Other times, it isn’t quite as easy. I can say without question that this column is by far the toughest I’ve ever had to write to date.
Rhea County lost one of its most precious gems on Thursday afternoon in the passing of Terry Goins, known as simply “T.G” to generations of the Rhea County community. Everyone’s favorite uncle and friend transitioned to his forever home following a courageous battle with Leukemia.
With over 30 years of Rhea County sports coverage, dedication to the county education system as the high school attendance clerk, a coach and short period on the County School board, Terry’s colossal influence in this town has been felt longer than I have been on this earth. His lasting legacy will continue to live on for decades to come.
Through my nearly five years in Rhea County I can’t ever recall a single time hearing someone speak negatively about T.G. He was just that guy that everyone loved. Watching the students and our local athletes interact with him was further proof of how much everyone adored him. If I had a dollar for every time I heard any variation of, “What’s up, T.G.?” or “You ready for the game tonight, T.G.?”, I could afford a few trips to Ruth’s Chris for a nice steak dinner…with dessert.
T.G.’s health battle forced him to step away from covering the final two 2018 Golden Eagle football games for trips to Vanderbilt for treatments. According to our record, that was his first missed RC football game (either as a fan or sports reporter) since 1975.
What an incredible run.
He eventually took time off from covering Rhea Basketball this past winter and Baseball in the spring in hopes of returning to action this fall to continue doing what he loves in the press box. TG did return to this rightful position in the press box at Bill Horton Field back in August for Rhea’s home games against Carter, Tuscola and Lenoir City, but his health limited him to just being a fan and enjoying the game. I’m beyond grateful to have had a few more Rhea County football games with him.
While our meetings became more sporadic over the last 12 months, I always did my best to check in with him whenever I could. Generally, he remained upbeat and kept a positive attitude on what was to come.
From his longtime sports writing career, Rhea County Baseball/Basketball public address skills, to his musical talents—which included being a pioneer member of with the popular local group “Manshoes” and singing “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” after the fourth inning of every home Golden Eagle baseball game the last few years—T.G. was truly a man of many talents.
I can’t imagine what the past four plus years would have been without knowing Terry Goins. I can say that he was absolutely one of the greatest colleagues, friends and just overall human beings I’ve had the pleasure to know. T.G.’s legacy will live on in the hearts of many he influenced and wrote articles on and photographed throughout his decorated career.
Anyone that knows me will tell you I bleed Clemson orange. Moving forward, my heart will also have to root a little harder for the Vols in honor of my great friend.
TG, I’ll miss our pregame conversations and dinners in the press box at Bill Horton field on Friday nights in the fall. I’ll miss chatting it up with you when you dropped by the Herald-News office to file your stories. I’ll miss your calls when you thought I had forgotten to get your weekly Pick ‘em Panel selections for the week before deadline. I’ll miss your friendship and genuine excitement whenever we greeted each other.
I find solace in knowing through our numerous conversations after your diagnosis that you were a man of faith and, more importantly, you were prepared for whatever outcome came your way.
Pick up your crown, T.G., and enjoy your rest. I hope to see you up in heaven’s press box one day. Maybe we’ll be fortunate enough to enjoy pregame chicken pasta or hamburger steak together like the days of old.
Love ya, man!
Christopher Hall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org