The names that crop up when discussing Tattnall Square athletics are many, from state championship coaches to scores of athletes who have left their mark on the Trojans’ trophy case.
And then there’s the 65-year-old from south Georgia who never suited up or blew a whistle for Tattnall yet is as ingrained in the school’s athletics program as anybody.
Take this Facebook page, “Tattnall: A tribute by David Thorpe and Daniel Windham,” and the first item: “Tattnall football is hearing Jimmy Anderson over the loudspeaker as you walk onto campus from Lakecrest Drive.”
That’s not a bad legacy for a Cairo graduate who missed all of one game after a mini-stroke in 2009.
Tattnall folks associate Anderson with their school as much as people, well, paid to be at Tattnall.
From doing the PA to keeping scorebooks to setting up the gym for basketball games to handling football postgame meals, Anderson is a staple on Trojan Trail, and that’s why he’s The Telegraph’s Volunteer of the Year.
“Jimmy is one of the most dependable volunteers I’ve ever been around,” longtime head football coach and former headmaster Barney Hester said. “He’s one of those guys that always has it taken care of. It’s always taken care of.
“You don’t have to worry about it. He’s going to be there and take care of it.”
Jeff Ratliff graduated from Tattnall and is the school’s athletics director.
“He’s going to do it and get out of the way,” Ratliff said. “He’s in it for all the right reasons.”
A stroke and the wedding for his stepson can’t keep Anderson from his duties for long.
Ratliff didn’t need a reminder of Anderson’s value but got one in the fall of 2009 when Anderson suffered that mini-stroke.
“We were like, ‘You need to take it easy, Jimmy,’ ” Ratliff said. “He didn’t stay out long.”
Anderson was back to “work” pretty quickly. It was that or catch more grief.
“They called me at home that night and said, ‘There’s not many people out here for the football game, and the reason is they heard you weren’t going to be here,’ ” Anderson said with a laugh. “That’s the only one I’ve missed in nine or 10 years.”
Head boys basketball coach Paul Brooks and longtime Tattnall basketball legend Richard Reid play golf with Anderson, in addition to benefitting from his duties in the gym.
Hester said Anderson planned to try and step back from basketball a bit last winter.
“He tried it a few games,” Hester said. “It didn’t last long.”
Anderson has been employed as a teacher at Macon State for about 40 years, serving a short time as the school’s athletics director.
The retired adjunct professor at Macon State was an associate professor from 1986 until retiring in 2008. He started there when it was Macon Junior College and has been there through its growth to a four-year school of about 6,500 students.
Anderson earned his bachelor’s from Georgia Southern, master’s at Georgia and an Ed.S (education specialist) from Georgia College.
“My original idea was to go to college, get a degree and go into a small town and teach and be a director of recreation,” Anderson said. “Then the draft board said, ‘You’re gone, son.’ ”
He taught at Macon Junior College and then was drafted and served a stint in the Army. At the end of that service, he decided that he was suited for a different career than the military.
He started a recreation job in Thomas County but then returned to Macon and the college for good in 1973.
His stepson Will played football at FPD, and his stepdaughter Hope graduated from Mount de Sales.
“I told my wife, ‘We’ve been to Mount de Sales, we’ve been to FPD, I’m going to find the closest school to where we live at right angle so I can drop them off when I go to work,’ ” Anderson said on finally ending up at Tattnall. “Tattnall’s one mile from our house. We’ve been here ever since.”
Daughter Lauren will be a sophomore at Georgia and Abbey a senior at Tattnall this fall.
Will got married on a Friday, so what was Anderson’s attire for that night’s football game? A tux.
Anderson, whose wife Susie is on the nursing faculty at Macon State, has been involved more than just varsity football and basketball, ranging from powder puff football to junior high sports, soccer to city midget football and Vine-Ingle baseball, among other activities.
“He’s not just good for Tattnall,” Ratliff said. “He’s good for Macon.”
Anderson has taken quite the road to Trojan Trail, but those he works are happy he took it.
“He cares about those kids, he cares about the image of the school,” Ratliff said. “He wants what’s best for the school. We think Jimmy’s pretty special. It’s hard to imagine a football Friday night or a basketball game without him.
“He’s blue and gold, through and through.”