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Column: Recalling some memorable interviews

The views of the author aren’t necessarily the views of AllOnGeorgia.


The host of a local sports radio show asked me last week what my favorite Masters tournaments were.

I gave him several that quickly came to mind. They were:

1986 when the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus won at age 46 with an amazing back nine.

1995 when Ben Crenshaw won just days after the passing of his teacher Harvey Penick and edged local favorite Davis Love III by one little shot.

1996 when Greg Norman collapsed and Nick Faldo won. That was the first Masters I ever covered on a press credential.

1997 when Tiger Woods won for the first time at Augusta.

But, I never will forget that 1995 tournament. I was in college at the time and watched the last nine holes on TV from the second floor of the office building that housed the Red and Black, the student newspaper at the University of Georgia.

I can still see Crenshaw bending over in tears in the middle of the 18th green after he sank his final putt. He had beaten Love III who my roommate and I were both rooting on as he also was from the Golden Isles.

Just a few months later, back home working at The Brunswick News after graduation, I got to interview Crenshaw who was here for the Safe Harbor Challenge, a friendly competition hosted by Love III at Sea Island to raise money for the local children’s shelter.

I don’t remember much about the interview with Gentle Ben, but I know we sat at a table in a back room at the old Corn Barn, which at the time was still being used to house the pro shop at Sea Island Golf Club, and I remember him lighting up a cigarette in the middle of our conversation.

I told the local radio host that was just one of my most memorable interviews as a journalist. I was fresh out of college and was sitting down for a one-on-one with the Masters champion and one of the finest gentlemen in the game.

So, that got me to thinking about other memorable interviews I’ve had as a sports writer later that night and quickly several came to mind. I thought today I might share some of those and have separated them by sport and have added a little comment beside all of them.

Here goes:

Football (broken down by level and high school is coaches only).

High School

Rush Propst – Have interviewed him twice by phone and in the visiting dressing quarters at Camden County’s Chris Gilman Stadium. The time I talked to him in Kingsland he was sitting on a bench getting an IV after the game.

Dave Hunter – Talked to the old Brookwood coach on the phone prior to the 1999 state quarterfinal against Brunswick and he had me believing the Pirates were the Green Bay Packers when we were done. Also have talked to him several times since then.

Rich McWhorter – The longtime Charlton County coach once told me “if we beat Brunswick, they ought to throw us a parade through downtown Folkston.”

Larry Campbell – The old Lincoln County coach is a legend in Georgia prep football.

Craig Howard – He was Tim Tebow’s high school coach. I talked to him about Timmy Jernigan when he coached at Columbia in Lake City, Fla. Guy can talk.

College

Vince Dooley – Can’t remember what he was hear for, but talked to the former Georgia coach in a hospital room at Southeast Georgia Health System.

Herschel Walker – One of my childhood heroes. Talked with him at Butts-Mehre on the UGA campus with a group of reporters as a student journalist, maybe it was 1994.

Mark Richt – Been in several press conferences with him, but had a small-group chat when he was here in June 2008 to speak with the local Bulldog Club. The Georgia baseball team was playing Fresno State that same night in the College World Series championship series.

Charlie Ward – Talked to the old Florida State quarterback when he was here as a speaker for the Gathering Place. I’m pretty sure I asked him about winning the Heisman Trophy.

Terry Bowden – Got a one-on-one with him when he was head coach at North Alabama following a game at Valdosta State. Earlier that afternoon, I had my picture taken with his dad Bobby.

Pro

Tom Coughlin – Nothing special here. Was just in on several post-game press conferences when he coached the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Marty Lyons – Talked to him by phone about his foundation and golf tournament here on Jekyll Island.

Terrell Owens – Was in the crowd of reporters talking to him at Super Bowl Media Day in Jacksonville. You remember him playing just a few weeks after surgery for a broken leg?

Tom Brady – Again, seated among at least a hundred reporters with the New England quarterback standing behind the podium during Super Bowl week in Jacksonville.

Darius Slay – Have interviewed him several times, but do remember sitting with him at Glynn County Stadium on a Saturday morning when the former BHS standout was home just weeks before his first preseason camp with the Detroit Lions.

Basketball

Kwame Brown – Got to interview him several times in high school and then again during and after his days in the NBA. I had to look up to him every time we talked standing up.

Hugh Durham – Never will forget this day in 1995. I was supposed to be studying for final exams but the coach of the Georgia Bulldogs had been fired and all of a sudden we were scrambling to get the story in the Red and Black finals edition. Sat in his press conference then toured Foley Field and Stegeman Coliseum getting a reaction to his dismissal from UGA fans.

Tim Jordan – He’s the only coach I know who has his sport coat off during warm-ups and puts it on at tip-off. The Savannah High coach is a good talker.

Billy Donovan – Got to talk with him when he was the coach at Florida. He was here to speak at Glynn Academy’s postseason team banquet. Yes, Kwame was supposed to go to Florida.

Harlem Globetrotters – I don’t remember who I actually talked to, but they played a game here at Glynn Academy. They won, so they were happy to talk.

Baseball

Adam Wainwright – Had the pleasure of interviewing him several times, but remember talking to him after minor league games in Jacksonville and Savannah and also at his St. Simons Island home after winning the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Robert Sapp – Just remember talking baseball with him a couple of different times at his local youth camps in the summer.

Steve Webber – Recall interviewing him after a practice in the home dugout at Foley Field in Athens as a student reporter in 1995. He led Georgia to the 1990 national title.

Jeff Francouer – Talked with the young Atlanta Braves outfielder at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event here.

Hank Aaron – Had two conversations with him. A short one when he was here on a bus tour with Democratic Party members. He only wanted to talk politics that day. He asked me to call him at his office to talk baseball. So, I did.

Golf

Davis Love III, Jonathan Byrd, Brent Schwarzrock –Not too long ago, they were the only PGA Tour guys living on St. Simons Island. Now, I can’t count them all. But, if they want to do an interview, I’m game.

Ben Crenshaw – Will always remember that one-on-one with him as noted above.

Mark O’Meara – He was here once playing in an event with Toyota, a sponsor. I believe I asked him a few questions about his buddy, Tiger Woods.

Michelle Wie – She was just 14 at the time. She was here practicing at Sea Island with the U.S. Curtis Cup team.

Colin Montgomerie – He was here for the UBS Cup and I was doing a story about him and his relationship with U.S. golf fans. He talked a good game as always as we chatted while he walked to the driving range.

Auto Racing

Josh “Kid” Rocket – Talked to him out at Golden Isles Speedway when he was a rising star in motor sports, one who was apparently on the fast-track to NASCAR. Today, though, he’s still running and winning on dirt tracks across the nation in late-model racing.

Ken Schrader – Talked with the longtime NASCAR driver in the back of his hauler at a Golden Isles Speedway event.

Chris Madden – Another late-model driver on dirt. Just had a good conversation with him prior to the Super Bowl of Racing at the local speedway one year.

And now just some of the other interviews that stand out for one reason or another:

Suzanne Youclan – The former UGA gymnnastics coach was a hoot. She loved the media. She would call you if you didn’t call her first.

Morgan Brian – Interviewed her during her Frederica Academy days before she became a star with the U.S. national soccer team.

Maria Sharapova – Talked to her in 2003 after she won the Cloister Cup on Sea Island, a small pro tournament hosted by the United States Tennis Association. Soon after that, she was winning bigger pro tournaments and the next year won at Wimbledon.

Oscar Pistorius – He once did a presentation related to prosthetics at the local hospital. He had both of his legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old and became a sprinter in the Paralympics and Olympic Games. He was convicted for murdering his girlfriend in 2014.

Kevin Price is a freelance writer for AllOnGeorgia with more than 20 years experience in journalism and communications.

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