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Dresden dedicates gym floor to beloved coach, Chuck West

Chuck West’s wife Katrina, and sons Jonathan and Justin accept a replica of the Dresden High School gym floor after it was dedicated to the memory of the legendary coach and principal Chuck West during the floor dedication ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.

If you ask anyone who knew him, and just about everyone in Dresden and Weakley County did, the legendary former Dresden coach, principal, teacher and mentor Chuck West was a rich man.

But his wealth was not measured in dollars and cents, it was measured by the positive impact that he made on his town, his school, his teams and most importantly the people of Dresden and Weakley County.

That wealth was on full display Saturday night as his family, friends, colleagues, cross-county rivals and former players packed into the gymnasium at Dresden High School to pay respect to the man that devoted his life to those same people, on a basketball court that he loved more than most places in the world that would soon bear his name.

Dresden Principal Scott Kilebrew said that when West passed away in 2021, he knew that the floor needed to be named after his former mentor. So he, along with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association President Mike Reed started planning.

All of that planning culminated Saturday night with a dedication ceremony, renaming the floor inside the Dresden High School Gymnasium the Chuck West Floor.

The night was filled with what many called, “Chuckisms,” moments in time etched into the minds of those that knew him best.

Former Greenfield Coach Don Durden talked about how close the two coaches were, even though most expected them to be rivals. He said they shared many plays and strategies during their years of coaching, but he said the most meaningful conversations weren’t about coaching, players or even the game that they both loved. They were about family and friends, the thing that West cherished even more than the basketball victories and championships.

Hall of Fame Broadcaster Paul Tinkle shared those same sentiments, telling the crowd that his most meaningful conversations with West came, “right there in that gym.”

Former players like Popeye Jones and Carrie Hatchel Forhetz talked about Coach West’s love for the bank shot, exclaiming that, “The bank is open!” after each made shot. Jones said he used that same bank shot on many an occasion during his playing days in professional basketball.

Hatchel Forhetz said some of her best memories came after her playing days at Dresden, when she was playing basketball at Freed-Hardeman University. She said on numerous occasions she would look out in the crowd and see her former coach in the stands, cheering as loud as the next for his former player.

“He made it a point to come to multiple games when I was in college and that meant so much to me,” Hatchel Forhetz said. “He would drive to Henderson, Tennessee, the middle of nowhere to watch me play basketball.”

Katrina West, Chuck’s widow, summed up the evening as she was overcome with emotion looking out over the crowd assembled.

“Thank you to all that spoke and told all those sweet stories and those kind words,” Katrina West said. “And thank all of you for being here tonight. It’s so special to our family.”

She said that when Chuck was battling cancer, she once looked at him and told him that he had to be the richest man in Dresden and all of Weakley County because of the outpouring of love and support that they received from the community.

“Tonight, sitting and looking at all of you here, it just means so much to us” Katrina said. “I’m reminded once again that he was one of the richest men in Dresden and in Weakley County.”

So, Katrina ended the evening as she said Chuck ended so many conversations.

“Thank you. If you need anything, let me know. I appreciate it.”