The date April 5 already has special meaning to Charles “Chic” Nute.
It was on that day in 2012 his wife of 47 years Bonnie passed away after a battle with cancer. Both longtime educators retired in 2011. What was supposed to be their golden years together gave Chic one last chance to support the love of his live.
For decades Bonnie gave her support to her husband at ball fields, basketball courts, paved tracks and the gridiron from Georgia to Kentucky to Tipton County, Tennessee. So when Nute got the news he will be one of eight inductees in the 2014 TSSAA Hall of Fame on April 5 in Murfreesboro, the date flooded his memories with his loving wife.
“She’ll be there in spirit,” he said. “She’ll be there with us sharing this.”
Since receiving the news, Nute has been busy compiling a list of guest from family, friends and those who had an impact on his 48 years in education.
Joining Nute as inductees into the TSSAA Hall of Fame are Gary Householder, Glenn McCadams, Randy King, Ken Colquette, Melvin Black, Marvin Doggett and Willie Brown. Nute said being selected for the Hall with those peers is special.
“I was very humbled by it,” he said. “I was excited because it’s quite an honor. An honor like that, although it’s my name on it, it’s a lot more than just one person. It’s by the grace of God it was allowed to happen. So many coaches, teachers, administrators and athletes who I coached and was A.D. at who helped me and influenced me.”
Nute’s career started outside the Volunteer State after he graduated from Ole Miss in Manor, Ga. He spent two years kicking off his coaching career with basketball and baseball.
Then a move to Memphis sent Nute to Bartlett. While his wife was teaching at Hillcrest, Chic was busy with freshmen basketball, assisting with football and leading a baseball program.
Nute’s next stop was at Whitehaven. He became a Tiger for four years working with the junior high athletics and varsity baseball. The next school for Nute was Kingsbury.
During his six years at the school Nute coached boys and girls basketball. He was the skipper for baseball and picked up a new job title, athletic director.
After five years at the post with Kingsbury, every school Nute continued his career with named him A.D.
Before his journey took him to Tipton County, Nute traveled to the Bluegrass State to become athletic director and basketball coach for Calloway County. After time in Kentucky, it was time for the Nute family with children Rick and Nita to move back to the Memphis area.
A quick stop by Oakhaven Baptist in Memphis, Nute became part of the Tipton County fabric helping open the new Munford High School in 1983. During time at MHS, Nute got the softball program off the ground and also coached girls basketball and baseball.
Then it was time for Nute to get involved in administration work by moving to the new Munford Middle School. Before working at MMS for four years he had a brief stint as interim principal at Munford High.
At the middle school he was assistant principal and athletic director. During that time Nute help create the middle school athlete conference and was one of the original members of the TMSAA committee.
His last school in his distinguished career was Brighton High School. The new BHS opened with 1996 with Nute as part of the staff. After wrapping up a 15-year run with the Cardinals, Nute accepted a countywide athletic director position in Tipton County, as well as the assistant transportation supervisor.
The news spread quickly around Tipton County about Nute being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Several former players, colleagues, peers and friends were ecstatic.
“That’s very humbling,” Nute said. “I’m happy some people feel that way. They’re all apart of this award. This award is for Tipton County.”
His career spans the Mid-South, and Nute said fulfilling his calling has left many wonderful memories.
“I’ve been forunate to have a lot of good athletes and outstanding teams,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of good coaches, principals and administrators. It’s hard to single out anything. I might be able to give you two things I’ll always remember.
“As old as I’m now, people who played for me years ago, folks still call me Coach,” Nute added. “That’s an honor there. I sometimes think it’s on my birth certificate.”
Nute’s other memorable moment barely involved sports.
“The other thing that stands out, I was coaching baseball in Memphis,” he recalled. “One of my pitchers wasn’t following through. And he was tipping his curve ball. After practice he came into my office, ‘Coach, I want to talk to you.’ ‘I think I know what you’re doing. You’re not following through. Your arm is coming down behind your leg.’
“He said, ‘No Coach, that’s not what I want to talk about,’” Nute continued. “‘I want to talk about Jesus. If I died tonight, I don’t think I’ll go to Heaven.’ I witnessed to him and helped lead him to the Lord. Then he helped another ball player, lead him to the Lord. Then Michael went home and helped lead his father to the Lord. That stands out more than anything else. Those guys are still strong Christians today.”
Nute said that’s the best kind of award from his coaching career. That statement is made by a man who has a room full of plaques, trophys and certificates. The leaders of multiple district champions, Nute was honored with several Coach of the Year awards.
His time as an athletic director had its share of honors with Nute winning A.D. of the Year in 2000. Nute said one of the keys to his success came from some advice by a legendary coach.
“I sat down with the great John Wooden,” he recalled. “He made this statement to me and I’ll never forget it. ‘Coach if you get to where you can’t learn anything, and you think you know it all, you better get out of it.’ I’ve always believed that.
“Here’s a man at the height of his coaching career at UCLA, and he was willing to sit down and listen to me and my ideas,” Nute added. “He showed me by example coaching is more than about talking. It’s also about listening. I am 71 years old and I’m still learning.”
Nute said another great teacher in his life was his wife. And having a chance to share this award with her spirit on April 5 brings tears to his eyes.
“I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” he said. “I think that’s a sign that it was meant to be. She always supported me in everything. She was always there with me many of times. When the kids were real little, she would take them to the ball game just to be there for me when I was coach.
“She always told me to do my best and good things will happen,” Nute concluded. “Both of us lived that way and for God. That’s the start of everything. The Lord has been good to us.”
Two administrators, three coaches, two officials and one contributor will be inducted that day to join others in the annual gathering of those selected since the process began in 1982. The Hall of Fame luncheon will begin at 11 a.m. and tickets go on sale Feb. 24 for $25. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.tssaa.org.
The date April 5 already has special meaning to Charles “Chic” Nute.