TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - Tift County High School Basketball Coach Anthony Bateman passed away Saturday and Tift County High alumni are speaking out, saying that he wasn’t just a great coach, but also a great man.
“I met him, I had always heard about him, but I never really encountered Coach Bateman until I got to the high school, which I was in the 10th grade,” said Joshua Jordan, a 2007 graduate of Tift County High School.
Jordan said he and coach Bateman were neighbors for years.
“Coach Bateman was a great guy. We spent a lot of time playing basketball out in his driveway. I use to always be afraid to play with him because I knew how he was when it came to playing basketball. For the first time I had rode around the corner in my neighborhood and I had seen him for the first time in probably like 13 years. He was actually cutting somebody’s grass. One of our neighbors’ grass and I was like, ‘Oh, look at coach,’” said Jordan about one the last memories he has of Bateman.
Jordan tells me that this loss has affected his family as well as the community.
“Um, I felt, I wasn’t discouraged. I was broken because the moment in which he passed away, it brought me chills,” said Jordan.
Jordan said that after Bateman’s death, many people approached him about writing a song.
“A couple of my peers come to me and say, ‘Hey, you know what? You should write a song for Coach Bateman.’ I was like, ‘I really can’t.’ And they asked why I can’t and I didn’t want to tell them I was so hurt,” said Jordan.
But Jordan found the inspiration he needed, and wrote a song to honor the late coach.
Randy Jackson, 2002 Tift County High graduate, was at the basketball tournament when Bateman had the heart attack that suddenly claimed his life.
“He looked at the guy and flexed on him like this. Everybody just went to laughing and smiling and as I watched him walk to the bench at halftime, that is just where everything took place and hurt him,” explained Jackson.
Both students said that Bateman will be remembered as an influencer.