MAIS Hall of Fame set to induct Watts

Published 4:31 pm Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dale Watts enjoys the best of both worlds.Brookhaven Academy’s ultra-successful boys basketballcoach  will be inductedinto the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools CoachesAthletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 13. The ceremony will takeplace on the Hinds Community College campus in Pearl. Activitiesbegin at 6:30 p.m. in the Clyde Muse Center, located at 515 CountryPlace Parkway.

    Watts, 57, will be joined by fellow inductees Ronnie Aldy, TermieLand, Dr. Bobby Lishman and Brookhaven native Bobby West. Banquettickets are $30 each and can be purchased in advance by contactingAmanda Brewer at 601-932-2007 by Aug. 5. Due to limited space,seats can’t be guaranteed without a reservation.

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    Watts has won seven Class AA state tournament championships in thelast eight years at Brookhaven Academy, including an unprecedentedsix straight. Earlier in his career, Watts won two OverallTournament titles at McComb Parklane Academy in 1982 and 1990.

    Asked about his overall record, Watts said he didn’t know thenumber of wins and losses. Estimates are over 800 victories in a34-year career.

    For the unknowing reader, coaching basketball is a pure joy forWatts. He considers it his rest and recreation. “After a stressfulhorse show season, basketball is a wonderful sight.”

    His real job is at Pioneer Stables, located just north of Summit onHighway 51. He owns and manages the large facility, raising andtraining top-of-the-line Tennessee walking horses.

    His wife Lucy, along with sons Josh and Jonathan, work with him atPioneer Stables. For sure, it is a full-time job, with lots ofpressure to produce champions.

    Thanks to his two sons, he has scaled back some on the everydaytraining and workouts. “I train a few  horses and I administrate a lot.”

    During the summer heat wave, workouts often start at 5:30 a.m.,before the sun creeps above the horizon and burns the dew off thepasture.

    Watts began his coaching career in 1975, after graduating fromSouthern Miss. While attending USM, he coached at Columbia TrainingSchool working part-time with the high school and  junior high programs.

    He got out of coaching for two years after leaving Parklane butkept his foot in the door. He worked with Southwest MississippiCommunity College men’s basketball coach Dennis Sims as a volunteerassistant for two years. Sims now coaches at Co-Lin.

    Watts came to Brookhaven Academy in the fall of 1994. When I firstmet him, he was on teacher’s duty outside the school early onemorning. He was sporting a wide grin; greeting students and parentsas they deposited their children.

    “I’m blessed to have two jobs and I love both of them,” said Watts.”I’m where I am and that’s where the Good Lord wants me to be.”


    Recognized far and wide for his fiery courtside demeanor, Wattsoften catches the attention of opposing fans, coaches and players.His own players are used to his emotional outbursts because hecoaches hard in practice, too.

    Off the court, he’s a soft-spoken gentleman who will spend hourstalking basketball, horses, family and the Bible. He cares deeplyabout his family and his players.

    “I really enjoy coaching and working with the kids,” said Watts.”Some coaches enjoy the games more than the practice  routine. But I enjoy the games andthe practices.

    “I took my junior high to a camp and my high school team to twocamps this summer,” said Watts. “I still enjoy the teaching andwatching my players progress.”

    A student of the game, Watts enjoys playing new teams and talkingbasketball with coaches. “You never get too old to learn somethingnew about coaching.”

    Watts credited a Southern Miss professor, Jerry Ladner, withshaping his approach to coaching. Coaches must be able to adjusttheir strategy on offense and defense, shaping it around theavailable players.

    “Defensively, I will do whatever is best for my team,” said Watts.”I’m in a unique situation. I start coaching these guys in theseventh grade. Unlike some (coaches) that just coach high school, Ihave them for six years. I have time to teach them.”

    Watts is famous for upsetting heavily favored opponents. Ithappened last season when his Cougars ambushed powerful CentralPrivate in the South State playoffs. Watts took the air out of theball and went to a delay game that gave the high-scoring opponentfits.

    “Every team I have is different,” said Watts. “Some are tall andsome are short. I want these guys to do whatever they do best incritical situations. I want to put my team in a position to win.Sometimes you don’t win it until the last two minutes.”

    His son, Josh, played basketball for him and earned a scholarshipto Southwest. Jonathan preferred football and starred atlinebacker.

    Josh makes most of his father’s games.  He is married to Olivia Parker ofBrookhaven and they have a 2-year-old son, Jay Parker Watts.

    Jonathan recently married  Blair Everett ofLewisburg, Tenn.

    “The first thing God established is family,” said Watts.

    Watts has won world championships with horses and numerous statechampionships in boys basketball. Most importantly, he has hispriorities in order.


    Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by