A longtime and well beloved Greenwood teacher, coach, and administrator passed away on Friday, June 18.
His voice would echo through the speakers at Smith-Robinson. His smile was infectious as he shook hands and waved at those attending events. His welcoming reception was the same in the halls at Greenwood schools. He was Aaron Gamble.
This piece will mainly be opinion-driven, there undoubtedly will be tributes from all over the state and country as to what Mr. Gamble, or as I always called him Coach Gamble, meant to them. When the news broke of his passing, people went to social media to express their condolences and their heartfelt remembrances of Aaron and his son Landry. For myself, my interactions with Mr. Gamble are similar to many others in the community.
Mr. Gamble was different, from the times in the late ’90s when he would come back on Friday nights or throw a bit in two-a-days practices, it was hard to not gravitate towards him. A lineman turned Quarterback for the 1995 season, he took the reigns from the recently graduated talented QB Travis McDaniel and showcased what the then Head Coach Ronnie Peacock’s offense could do.
While his work on the field would have cemented his legacy in Greenwood lore, it was his work in Greenwood when he returned after college that set the standard for Bulldog Pride. Mr. Gamble would return to work in the booth with Tim Terry on Friday nights and become a teacher within the school district. Even driving a bus and making a large impact on my oldest son. Once again… Mr. Gamble was just different. He would Coach for a time at his Alma Mater then moved toward a concentration in education. Eventually, he would accept his dream job as an administrator.
In April of this year, it was announced he would be taking over the role of principal at Greenwood High School, another exciting chapter in the story of Mr. Gamble.
Last year, amidst the pandemic, I found myself in a familiar spot on the sideline of Smith-Robinson. Mr. Gamble was there watching the JV team and pointing out different things with a coach’s eye. A field goal was kicked and no one went to retrieve the ball. Mr. Gamble scooted over to behind the end zone opposite of the jumbotron and gave the football back to the ball boy. Well as the JV team did often, Hunter Houston found the end zone again through the air, another field goal. Mr. Gamble went back picked the ball up, planted his feet, flicked the hip and the ball was thrown back. I snapped a few pics that I will cherish forever, it was how I met Mr. Gamble 22 years prior. Same field, same town, same Aaron Gamble.
When he came back to the sideline I went over to him and showed him the photo. We laughed about how long it had been since he really tried to throw a football and how he would feel that in the morning. We stood and talked about past teams, the hometown superstars with names like Coatney, Burgess, Wilson, Morgan, and Hanna. We talked about the upcoming classes, like my youngest son’s and how Greenwood is set on the football field for the next several years.
At graduation, he stood next to me directing students where to go before making his way to his seat on the visitors sideline next to Coach Sandifer. We joked about not hearing his voice from the press box and how great it was that this group of seniors made it through an incredibly tough year. When I walked over to the “visitors” side, I thought how great it was to see two of Greenwood’s sons sitting there making an impact on everyone’s kids.
Coach Sandifer and my youngest daughter have this saying, “God Bless, Go Dogs.” when they would pass each other in the hall. You know on a night such as this everyone is a Greenwood Bulldog. This community through the passing of teacher Megan Whitson, Officer Josh Mourton, and now Aaron and Landry Gamble, could use a “God Bless, Go Dogs.”