Charlie Anderson outlasted them all.
The Nashville Christian School basketball coach has been successful in every corner of the city over the last half century — East Nashville (Stratford High), South Nashville (Hillsboro) and West Nashville (old Bellevue High), then NCS.
Even central Nashville, where he got his coaching start, was in the mix. That was at the old Central High, where he was named a Tornados assistant in 1959.
Jim Nollner (North, Whites Creek, Antioch) at age 70 and Glenn Falls (Glencliff) at 73 are Nashville coaching giants who retired recently.
Anderson, who is the dean of Nashville coaches, is still going strong at 77. Many have taken notice.
On, June 23, friends, former players and administrators will hold a reception honoring Charles Murray Anderson beginning 4 p.m. at the Vanderbilt University Club.
“Coach Anderson not only taught us how to play basketball, but he prepared us for life,” Ray Maddux said. “I learned so much under him. He was a brilliant coach. He got to know each player so well individually. He knew which ones to yell at, and he knew which ones to pat on the back.”
At this point his career covers 53 years and is defined by lofty expectations, steely defense and an intense but disciplined approach to each game. Those characteristics have helped the graduate of old Cohn High and Middle Tennessee State win nearly 1,100 games.
Maybe his most endearing victory came at NCS four years ago when he racked up No. 1,000. With his son Chuck as his assistant, he watched as grandson Caden, a senior guard, sparked a region semifinal victory at a packed Hillwood High gym in February 2008. With that victory the Eagles advanced to the sectionals.
Anderson started that season with 970 wins. Caden knew he and his teammates had to win 30 to reach the magic number before his senior year was over. They got just enough as the Eagles’ season ended with a loss in the next contest.
“Garland Russell, who was at Central at that time, opened the door for me there,” Anderson said. “Then principal Ronald Webb gave me my chance to become a head coach when they had a new school opening in 1961 called Stratford High. With it being a new school, that first year (1961-62), we had just freshman and a few eighth graders on the team. We only won five games that first year. But that group improved and the next season when we had a few sophomores, we almost got to the region. We lost Overton in overtime and they were the team back then. After that, we started getting pretty good.”
• STRATFORD STARTS STRONG: He eventually spent 14 years at Stratford and coached such notable players as Mike Jones, Benny Jones, Randall Lemley, David Richardson, Mike Lovelace and B.B. Norris. Later stars included Maddux, Mike Jackson and many more.
Anderson took four straight Spartans teams to the state tournament (1966 through 69). Led by Maddux, the 1969 team went 31-2 and got all the way to the final before it lost to top-ranked powerhouse Chattanooga Riverside (which ended 33-0).
“Mike Jones was maybe the best pure all-around athlete I’ve ever coached,” Anderson said. “He was a four-year starter. Coach [Ray] Mears wanted him to play basketball at Tennessee, but they insisted he play just football.”
Stratford has returned to state only twice since (1987 and 2002).
“My senior year , I played at Madison when he was coach at Stratford,” Dale Harned, who later became the third head coach at Stratford, said. “… They were without a doubt always the toughest team to play against and were defensively all over you the entire game. His teams were the first I remember that made taking a charge a weapon and an art.
“He left such a legacy and tradition at Stratford that I always tried to remind my teams of his accomplishments, which were incredible. He is an amazing man and some day, Nashville will miss seeing him sitting on a bench coaching to the level his teams achieved.”
• WINNING WAYS: Anderson left Stratford, became coach at old Bellevue High and took three teams to the state tournament in just five years in that job. He was Hillsboro High School’s girls coach one season and led the Burros to the sub-state round.
“After I left Hillsboro, I was led to continue coaching at Aquinas Junior College by my good friend Randall Wyatt,” Anderson said.
He coached 20 seasons at Aquinas and guided that school to the national junior college championship in 1991 at Hutchison, Kansas. Whites Creek High product Cory Allen led the Cavaliers that season
He later landed at NCS after Aquinas decided to de-fund its basketball program.
“[NCS] had been down in recent years, and Donnie Keeton encouraged me to try to lead the program back,” Anderson said.
Anderson is a member of the TSSAA Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Junior College Hall of Fame, the National Junior College Hall of Fame. The past April, he was inducted into the Metro Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame.
“You need to always remember that you have to have great players to have a great team, and I have certainly have had my share of them,” he said.
• AGENT OF CHANGE: Maddux and Jackson, two of his former players from the early 1970s, are among those who helped organize the June 23 event in order to honor him yet again.
In this case, though, it is not as much about the number of games he won but the number of lives he influenced.
“At Stratford, he played a big part during the period of integration in the mid-1960s in Nashville schools,” Maddux said. “They closed old Haynes High [a predominantly black school], and three or four of them came over to Stratford to play. It brought about a lot of change.
“Coach told me to become friends with them, and I said, ‘Sure, I’d try to get along with them.’ Then he said, ‘No, you don’t understand. I want you to really be their friend.’ I never forgot that. One of them was Lawrence Haywood, and he became one of the best friends I had on the team. And Lawrence remains one of the good friends I have today.”
Anderson admits the end of his career might not be far off.
Mike McPherson recently signed on as his assistant and prompted speculation that the former Lipscomb coach is the heir apparent.
“I want to coach as long as I feel good. I’ll stop at any point when I feel I’m not able to do the job,” Anderson said. “You will know when it’s time. It may be another year or two. I like Mike, he’s a good one. I really like working with him.”
He still plays golf and says he recently shot a 40 on the back nine. He and his wife of 56 years Beverly still live in their modest West Nashville home — a place where there are lots of pictures and trophies and even more memories.
His former players haven’t forgotten either.
“I’m so glad they’re doing this for him while he’s still alive,” Maddux said. “There were 118 guys who played for him at Stratford, 1962-75, and I hope as many as possible will be there.”