The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

May 22, 2013

Cobb, Rhodes inducted in Cougars Hall of Fame

Sports Correspondent

PINETOPS — PINETOPS – The SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars athletic department inducted two legendary coaches into their Hall of Fame Monday night. Former football coach Raymond Cobb and former baseball coach Bruce Rhodes were the recipients of the awards.

Both coaches had similar interest in their respective programs and players. They were passionate about their players and coached the sport, because they loved being around the athletes. Neither coach was in it for the wins or loses, but more so to turn their players into great young men. They wanted to show them the ropes of becoming productive citizens and becoming men as they went through their programs. As far as the wins, they both surpassed 240 in their careers.

Cobb wasn't on hand to receive his award, because of a new job he just took as a crop adjuster. His son, Jonathan Cobb, took the honors of receiving it for him.

Cobb's son and family were pleased to accept the award on his behalf. After he accepted the award, he said he was thankful for the honor that his father had received.

"I am certainly proud of my father for all of his accomplishments," Jonathan Cobb said. "He loves his home, athletics and he especially loves young people. I feel like those combinations enabled him to have the success he did over the years."

Cobb was a head coach for 25 years in Edgecombe County. He coached at North Edgecombe from 1988 through 2003 and in 2004 he took over a program that was down at the time at SouthWest. When he took over the Cougars program he put it  back on the map.

Cobb never missed the playoffs as head coach. His overall record was 253-79. He won two state championships while at North Edgecombe and carried his team to the championship game four times.

Cobb graduated from South Edgecombe and went to East Carolina University and earned a BS degree in physical education. After college he had the opportunity to come back to the county he grew up in and work as a teacher and coach. In 1988, when Cobb took over as football coach at North Edgecombe, it was history in the making from that point on. Cobb made a name for himself on the gridiron and earned the respect of so many opposing coaches during his career. He was a well liked coach.

During his years as a high school coach, his success didn't go unnoticed. He was an assistant coach in 1995 in the East-West All-Star game and in 2009 he was named head coach of the event. He was also an assistant coach in 2001 in the Shrine Bowl and in February he was inducted into the North Carolina Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Rhodes was inducted for his athletic ability and knowledge of the game of baseball. He graduated from SouthWest in 1979 and was the first Male Athlete of the Year chosen at the school. After graduating from college he came back to where it all started and coached the Cougars for 26 years.

"I feel honored to be given this award tonight where I played and coached," Rhodes said. "This award just means a lot to me."

After high school, Rhodes continued his education and baseball career at N.C. Wesleyan where he earned a BS degree in physical education in 1983. Rhodes was the first player from SouthWest to play college baseball. During his college baseball career, he led N.C. Wesleyan to the Division III World Series three times.

Rhodes came back to where it all started in 1986 and began his coaching career.

Rhodes had other opportunities after college and was asked to help Mike Fox as an assistant at Wesleyan, but Rhodes said he turned that down and came back to SouthWest.

"I wanted to come back home when I was given the chance and work with young people," Rhodes said. "Being a student and athlete here made it even more enjoyable to come back home and coach."

Rhodes said once he got back to SouthWest and started coaching, he put in a lot of time and hard work to make the field look good.

"When I played here it was a bare field," Rhodes said. "It just wasn't much to it. I enjoyed working on the field and getting it right."

When Rhodes decided to come back and work at SouthWest he coach football, basketball and baseball. The first four years he was at SouthWest, he helped his brother Don Rhodes with the baseball team. Rhodes said when he helped his brother, he said his brother said they were co-head coaches.

"My brother made my life more enjoyable for me after he built the program here," Rhodes said.

In 1992, Rhodes took over the baseball program after his brother stepped down as head coach. During his career as head coach, Rhodes carried his team to the NCHSAA playoffs 11 times, made two final eight appearances, made a trip in 2004 to the NCHSAA 3-A state finals, won three conference championships, six Easter Classic titles and had over 240 total wins as the varsity baseball coach.

In 1984-85 he was the All-Star coach for the legion baseball team and in 1989-92 he coached the baseball team in the NC State Games where they won silver.

Rhodes said it wasn't about the wins and loses that made him enjoy coaching the game.

"I hope they inducted me not for my wins but for the impact I had on the kids lives," Rhodes said. "Some of the kids that played for me didn't have the father figures that some of the others had. I just hope I was able to be a father figure to some of them and I hope I was able to have an impact on their lives."

Rhodes said it is always nice to go somewhere and have a former player come up to him and talk to him, because he knows that he possibly had an impact on their life.

Rhodes was known to have discipline teams during his career. He said he made sure that was one of the main things he had, because that carried over into the aspect of the game.

"Wins and loses take care of itself," Rhodes said. You just have to have the other parts to go along with the other aspect of it."  

Rhodes said it was an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame beside a coach like Coach Cobb.