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Former Coach Has 'Big Huge Heart'

The court at Marietta High School was recently named for Charlie Hood, who coached basketball there for 40 years.

Coach Charlie Hood's wife, Marsha, and his daughter, Ansley, often don't want to go out in public with him.

"I always see someone I know," said Hood, who recently had the .

And you'd have a hard time finding anybody who would say he didn't deserve it.

Hood, who retired in 2009, was at the helm of the basketball program at Marietta for 37 years, 40 if you count his assistant years.

"He had a tremendous impact on not just the players, but the school," said former player and current Georgia Tech assistant football coach Andy McCollum. "He was not only a great coach but a great person."

Hood, 64, coached 999 games, with a record of 715-284, 34 winning seasons, 21 playoff appearances and two state championships in 1983 and 1999.

He's had 60 plus kids go from his program on to play college ball, and Dale Ellis went on to play in the NBA.

But basketball wasn't the only part Hood played in many of his player's lives.

"He's got a big huge heart," said James Richards, or "Coach Friday."

"He believed in his kids, and his kids believed in him."

Richards, who got the nickname because of his playing skills on Friday night, played for Hood in the 70s and coached with him during his 15 years as head football coach at .

Hood helped coach football for years and also coached the tennis team.

"You could always sit down and talk to him," Richards said. "He put his kids first."

Heard Quite a Few Basketball Stories

You might say that basketball is in Charlie Hood's blood. His father played. His uncle Lindy Hood was the first All-American at the University of Alabama.

Charlie Hood said he grew up hearing "quite a few basketball stories."

Hood, who was raised in Collinsville, AL, was named for his father, Paul Charles. He played basketball outside on a dirt court in those days.

His school team had two sets of brothers on it, including Hood and his brother, Carl. The other pair was his cousins.

"It was like a family team," Hood said.

His graduating class at Collinsville High School had 37 people including him. During high school, several scouts came to see him play and he was offered a few scholarships.

Hood ended up at Berry College, where he had to pay just $25 a quarter. Regular tuition was $1,275, Hood said.

Hood earned degrees in physical education and biology. He began student teaching at in 1969. He would go on to get a master's degree from the University of Alabama.

The head basketball coach at Marietta then was Bud Smith, and his assistant was leaving. Hood spent three years as Smith's assistant.

When Smith left, he recommended Hood for the job. Hood said he had some offers in Alabama to teach, and he almost went back home. However, he stayed at Marietta and took the head coach job.

And he built a program that had several schools a tad jealous.

"We were quite successful for a number of years," he said matter of factly. "Everybody wanted to beat Marietta."

Miss the Kids

Hood still gets up at the crack of dawn like he did when he was coaching. But he doesn't have anywhere to be most days, unless he's playing golf.

"I can see a golf ball 200 yards away, but I can't see the newspaper in front of me," Hood joked on a recent morning.

He used to be a jogger. Now, with his worn-out knees, he walks most mornings. Sometimes his wife will join him, sometimes their shaggy dog will.

He and his wife have been married for 40 years, and he's enjoyed the time he's been able to spend with her now, he said.

"Coaching takes right much time," he said recently as he sat in his Marietta room.

The downstairs den of his home is nothing put basketball paraphernalia. There's the pictures of him and various faces throughout the years, and many "Coach of the Year" plaques and other awards lining the walls. A closet holds a stack of items he didn't have room for.

He still goes to most home games, even though this will be the last year he knows any of the kids. They were freshmen the year he retired.

"I miss the kids," he said of his retirement, "but I don't miss the bell ringing and that rigid time format for everything."

And he keeps in touch with "99.9 percent" of his players.

Using his black cellphone, he can tell you any of their numbers. He texted them when the court was named for him and invited them to come. Many of them did just that.

"I don't know if I was a father figure to any of them," he said, "but I know many of them were like sons."

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