Plan to rename Overton's football field sparks outrage, debate

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 7:19pm

A firestorm of outrage has emerged in the Overton High family.

It’s come from a large number of Bobcats supporters over the controversial attempt to rename Coutras Stadium, its football facility, after a retired band director at the school, Jo Ann Hood.

The Bobcats won their only state football championship in 1981. The following year, the field was named after Nick Coutras, the long-time and legendary coach at the school. Coutras, who passed away in 2003, guided the Bobcats to a 14-0 record in their title run.

In 2006, retiring principal Monica Dillard made a recommendation to the Metro School Board to rename the football field the Jo Ann Hood field after the school’s highly regarded band director.

Neither the Coutras family nor athletics department was notified.

Upon reporting the story recently, WSMV-TV made attempts to contact the three members of the school board who voted for the name change, and none responded. The station reported that the renaming had been scheduled for a final vote but that the recommendation had been pulled from the agenda “for further discussion.”

Last Wednesday, in a strongly worded email on the NIL website, addressed to “Friends of the NIL and athletic community at Overton,’’ John Griffin wrote, in part, “I am not sure that that you are aware of the injustice that has been done to Coach Coutras and his family by the Board with the renaming of the football field after a retired band director at Overton, Jo Ann Hood.

“A select group, led by then principal at Overton (Dillard), petitioned the Board to name the field after Ms. Hood. This decision was hidden from the Overton athletic committee until 2011 when it was announced at a band competition at Overton.

“Rest assured, we are not saying that Ms. Hood is not deserving of some recognition, but it is unacceptable to re-name the field that Coach Coutras poured his heart and soul into after Ms. Hood! Name the band room, the section of stands where the band sits during games, but not the field.”

Griffin then wrote the email addresses of the school board members at the bottom of his letter and urged people to write them and express their concerns.

“You’re naming an athletic field for somebody and nobody in the athletic department knows it’s going on [for five years],” current Overton football coach Terry Anderson said.

The online discussion brought forth a wide range of opinions.

“Coach Coutras may have built the stadium, but he and his family don’t maintain it,” one response said. “The hard-working teachers, not all the coaches, help keep the field in good shape. Some people come to see the game, some come to watch their kid march. Both teachers brought recognition through state championships: Coutras 1, Hood 6, both on that field. Sharing the recognition seems appropriate. Anything less — petty.”

Another wrote: Name “the band practice field after the lady.”

And still another wrote: “Who travels to watch the band play on Friday night except their parents?”

Finally, one suggested: “Why don’t they rename it the Coutras-Hood field?”

Stay tuned.

17 Comments on this post:

By: bobo3355 on 5/17/12 at 6:24

there wouldn't even be a band marching on the field if it wasn't for football.

Shame on you Ms. Dillard.

would she have done this if she weren't retiring?

By: edsupp on 5/17/12 at 6:27

Hood needs to be recognized for her accomplishments as band director. However, naming the football field after her is highly inappropriate being that she never once even offered to help maintain the field. Those that think that the teachers maintain the field and not the coaches have no idea what they are talking about. The football coaches, mainly Coutras and Anderson, are the ones who have maintained the field for the last thirty years.

By: global_citizen on 5/17/12 at 6:48

It is absolutely ludicrous to strip the naming of the field away from the coach who built the football program at Overton and took it to the state championship in favor of a band director, who is only tangentially associated with football.

The fact that Ms. Dillard conducted this campaign in secret tells you she knew how visceral the opposition would be and sought to protect herself from the blowback until she was no longer in a position to suffer the consequences. What a cowardly way to go about this.

The proposal to rename the field should be taken off the agenda immediately, once and for all.

By: whatsuptls on 5/17/12 at 9:48

Interesting to see the 'Athletic' Committee is upset because there might be a name change to the football field...I mean we are looking at a 1 time State Championship versus 6...the football team certainly has done nothing since Coutras retired and definitely not under Coach Anderson. Maybe the football practice field could be name after Coutras now...oh wait...that's SUPPOSED to be the girl's softball field but MALE sports take priority at Overton High School...total discrimination. Softball District Champs and have to leave school campus to find a place to play because the football team wouldn't dare actually practice on the actual football field...pathetic. Who exactly is the 'Athletic' Committee here to serve? How about instead of wasting a bunch of time being concerned about a name change you start investing some time into figuring out equality for female sports.
And no, the field name shouldn't change...but of course if it was to another male football coach there would be no issues and no 'outrage' from the committee.

By: edsupp on 5/17/12 at 11:14

Whatsuptls you have no idea of what you are speaking about. Athletics at Overton to show equality. The football team only practices on the softball field when the softball team is not using it. Also, there would be outrage from the head football coach whom considers Coutras to have been his mentor. Anderson does not want the name to change at all.
Championships are not the issue. The issue is that the stadium is named after Coutras. It should not be changed. The field is not named for anyone and it should not be named for someone who never once even offered to help maintain the field.
Let us all know when you have facts to back up your opinions.

By: whatsuptls on 5/17/12 at 11:50

edsupp - definitely check YOUR facts...PLEASE just ask where the softball team has played it's 'home games' this year...never once at Overton. The 'softball' field is destroyed by the football team AND THE FOOTBALL TEAM does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to repair it...NOTHING. The coaches park on the field...and yes there are photographs and plenty of documentation of this as well as the holes in the outfield caused by the football team and their equipment...but let someone want to use the football field for anything and it's a huge deal. Why doesn't the football team go to the baseball field and practice...OH WAIT...YES THERE IS A FIRST CLASS FIELD FOR THE BOYS so they wouldn't think of going there.
So yes, I fully believe the 'Athletic' Committee might better spend their time working on EQUALITY versus griping about a name change.
So edsupp...not my opinion...JUST THE WELL DOCUMENTED FACTS WITH PHOTOS to back it all up...every single word. Or you might just take a little walk over there and take a look for yourself before YOU offer up your OPINION.

By: whatsuptls on 5/17/12 at 11:50

edsupp - definitely check YOUR facts...PLEASE just ask where the softball team has played it's 'home games' this year...never once at Overton. The 'softball' field is destroyed by the football team AND THE FOOTBALL TEAM does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to repair it...NOTHING. The coaches park on the field...and yes there are photographs and plenty of documentation of this as well as the holes in the outfield caused by the football team and their equipment...but let someone want to use the football field for anything and it's a huge deal. Why doesn't the football team go to the baseball field and practice...OH WAIT...YES THERE IS A FIRST CLASS FIELD FOR THE BOYS so they wouldn't think of going there.
So yes, I fully believe the 'Athletic' Committee might better spend their time working on EQUALITY versus griping about a name change.
So edsupp...not my opinion...JUST THE WELL DOCUMENTED FACTS WITH PHOTOS to back it all up...every single word. Or you might just take a little walk over there and take a look for yourself before YOU offer up your OPINION.

By: EMINEM on 5/17/12 at 12:18

Nick Coutras is a LEGEND. I had NEVER heard of the band director until this story. Football rules!!! Football pays the bills!! If not for football, there'd be NO BAND!!!! Nobody pays for a ticket to a FOOTBALL game to watch the BAND!!

By: whatsuptls on 5/17/12 at 12:28

And a few more facts...documented facts...

Fact..............The band practice field was located for many years where the baseball field is now located. That would have left the band without a place to practice because they never used the football field, with the exception of Thursday night practices, had the band booster president and Jo Ann Hood not worked closely with Johnny Clouse to get Mayor Phil Bredesen to approve the "now" parking lot located beside the bandroom paved. This was to be the practice field for the band, but then it was decided to also make it double as a parking lot. For those of you who don't remember this was just a grassy rocky area.

Fact.......The band boosters and Jo Ann Hood have done maintenance on the stadium. It was dirty, needed painting, repairs needed to be made and the band boosters under the direction of Jo Ann Hood and Rodney Webb did it. This was during the time Andy Coutras was coach. (Not Nick). So as you can see the band director, in this case, Jo Ann Hood has always been actively involved with the football field. You have coaches who say, "The stands were full because the spectators came to watch the band and not the football team.

Such a pity that 2 "totally awesome" people cannot be honored. No one has said to change the name of the stadium, only to call it the Jo Ann Hood field at the Nick Coutras stadium.

By: edsupp on 5/17/12 at 1:20

Whatsuptls you are right in that the football coaches park their vehicles at the top of the field on what would be the first base side. However, they do not trash the field by doing this. The football equipment does not harm the field any more than normal wear and tear of grass. The football team has practiced on that field even before it was used for softball. You speak of the baseball field being better than the softball field. That is due to the baseball coaches and them spending their time fundraising and working on the field. Maybe the softball coaches should do the same if they want equality. I am also aware of Mr. Clouse. We used to be neighbors a while back. You said Hood used to conduct maintenance on the stadium and I do not doubt that. Maybe you are correct there. However the stadium already has a name. The field is what is in question. Did the band ever maintain the football field? No. Did they ever offer? No. Why name a field after her when she did nothing on the field to help out? Believe me, I know firsthand about this situation. I know much much more than you do about the field in question.

By: edsupp on 5/17/12 at 1:21

How about naming the portion of the stands that the band plays in after Hood. Would that not be a good compromise?

By: Daisycutter47 on 5/17/12 at 3:10

Dillard didn't retire from Metro until 2010. She had plenty of time to lobby for this and work for it right in the central office from 2007 when she left Overton until her retirement. As principal, and later as an Area Director, Dillard was a secretive, back-stabbing, disloyal, incorrigible narcissist, who had almost no friends in MNPS. Hood was one of the few. Payback.

By: whatsuptls on 5/17/12 at 3:18

And edsupp I know first hand about the field in question as well...and the facts that go along with it which include what the band has done on the stadium...which you said originally they had done nothing to maintain. And as far as the 'softball' field I have pictures of the coaches vehicles parked on the pitching mound...not the first base 'side' of the field. We have pictures of the holes in the field with the football equipment sitting right there - not normal wear and tear for a softball field. And the parents of the softball team got tired of trying to even get the field playable after the football team was done with it especially when they were told the football team would continue to use it as a practice field because they come first. The parents fixed it, the football team destroyed it...season after season. The softball team requested space anywhere for a new field and agreed to fundraise to help get it done...guess what? Sorry, no space to do it. All first hand...all documented.
Finally, how about the band never attend another football game...that seems a much better way for them to go. Why sit out there and support them when obviously there is zero support back. Are you aware that back when Coutras was coaching he had his team go and support the band at Contest of Champions simply to repay the support they gave to the football program? Bet not...but I assure you I have pics of that as well.

By: edsupp on 5/17/12 at 7:09

The field is what is in question, not the stadium. Read what I wrote. The field and the stadium are two completely different things. Unless you are a family member of Coutras or Anderson I can assure you I would and do know more. Not that it matters though. How do you know for sure it was the team unless you were there. Maybe it was a fox instead, I have seen one or two around digging holes in the ground. Maybe the softball team agreed to fundraise. How much funds were raised? I can guarantee you that if the band never attended another game it would be there own loss. No one is saying there is not support of the band. All I am saying is do not name a FOOTBALL FIELD after the band director that never once helped maintain it. Instead, name the section of the stadium that the band plays in after her or change the name of the band room to Webb Hood Band Room.

By: Dore4Life on 5/17/12 at 9:28

It is a fun debate to me, as an outsider because traditionally, Overton has been known for having one of the absolute best marching bands in TN year in year out, so has McGavock. Despite some arguments here, AT THOSE TWO SCHOOLS, there are plenty of people who come to the football games primarily to see the halftime show.

As for the stadium being named for anyone, I'm a football guy and I don't really think its an important issue. It's just a kind of monument devoted to a person, and its cheaper than erecting a statue of a person near the stadium. BOTH people have done very memorable things at John Overton High and deserve recognition by the ENTIRE Overton community, rather than the way this has been approached....it has inevitably turned into a battle of musicians/marching supporters vs. football supporters. THAT's wrong.

By: edsupp on 5/18/12 at 6:17

Dore4Life you are right on with your statements. No one is taking anything at all away from the band or band director. As you have stated, the band has won numerous awards for their efforts and the director should be praised for her efforts. This situation was and is an ugly situation only because a principal and a small group of band parents were very secretive and sneaky in getting this done. If this had been proposed openly, then it most likely would have been shut down from the very beginning. This effort has created the rift between community members. It was not needed and should have been done openly if this is what was wanted. The community of Overton and its alumni should have had a voice.

By: Tennesseegirl1990 on 8/2/12 at 6:35

To bobo3355....Why would there be no band if there was no football program? That's simply not true.
I was in the band a long time ago. Went to California to be in the Rose Bowl Parade, went to the Bahamas. The best memories I have are related to the friends I made in band.
We practiced every Thursday night on the football field. Before competitions on Saturdays we practiced on the field, too. We had to clean up from the games on Friday nights.
The band has done far more for the school than the football team. The scho is nationally known for the band, not the football team. White House is more known for football than Overton! That says a lot...a small TN town has better football than the "powerhouse" Overton.
I don't think that the name should change at all. Ms. Hood is a band director, not a coach.
That being said, don't anyone kid yourselves into thinking that Overton has a football program to be proud of. They don't. I am tired of people knocking down the band. If the football team had just half of the dedication of the band they could possibly win another state title. But I don't see that happening for another 31 years.