Former CCC Coach Oree Banks Inducted in Sports Hall of Fame
PEARL – The soaring glass Muse Center overflowed with athletic giants here Tuesday night for the seventh annual induction of the Mississippi and Junior College Sports Hall of Fame.
In the foyer coaches, players, teammates, and former rivals renewed relationships, and the spectacular ballroom decorated with crystal vases of snapdragons reflected high spirits and the camaradie of champions.
Although more than 50 years had passed since Coach Oree Banks led the Coahoma Community College Tigers to multiple conference championships, no one in the room was more at home.
Enjoying mixing, mingling, shaking hands, and energetically recruiting coaches to bring their players to visit West Virginia State where he still teaches, Banks met no strangers.
Soon hundreds would be applauding the induction of this legendary coach as CCC President Vivian Presley proudly draped a blue-ribboned Olympic-style medal over his head and shoulders.
Following his 1960-64 tenure at Coahoma , Banks would coach at Grambling State and become America’s first African American head coach at major universities: the University of South Carolina and the University of Virginia and one of the top winning coaches in the United States.
He was inducted in the National Football Hall of Fame in 1995, and received the Johnny Vaught Lifetime Achievement Award from the All-American Football Foundation.
One of his former players, James Evans of Jackson, an All-American at South Carolina and a current state representative in the Mississippi Legislature, came by to congratulate Coach Banks.
Earlier Eric Clark, former Secretary of State and current executive director of the state College Board, praised sports for unifying and uplifting Mississippians.
“Mississippi has had a lot of problems that have caused people to be divided,” he said. “But sports bring together two great things: it causes some to be unified and many to be happy.”