By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
Anyone familiar with the history of Glencoe Yellow Jacket football is familiar with the name “Lett.” Ed, Kenneth and Gary were popular athletes at Glencoe High School during the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. The boys’ father, Dr. M.G. Lett, served on the sidelines as the Yellow Jackets’ team doctor for over 50 years.
All three Lett brothers were quarterbacks at Glencoe. Gary was the backup quarterback of Glencoe’s 1973 state championship team. Ed and Kenneth made their fame as highly talented quarterbacks at Jacksonville State University. Ed is arguably the most decorated of the trio and is a member of the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame.
Gary’s success fell in a different but familiar field. He attended JSU on a partial golf scholarship. After JSU, he followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued a career in the field of chiropractic.
Lett’s chiropractic career has flourished at his private practice in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for over 25 years.
Lett has contributed regulary to Southern Golf Journal since 1989. His column, “Ask the Doctor,” offers readers insight to various sports related injuries. Lett is also a regular contributor to scholarly medical journals such as the Hattiesburg American and Chiropractic Economics.
Lett recently took his knowledge and experience in sports into a different realm.
Lett is the author of the novel Sideline. The story follows a football player from the high school ranks to coaching in the Southeastern Conference. Most importantly, the books analyzes the importance of the community in correlation to the success of a small town high school football team.
Lett is scheduled to sign copies of the book at Little Faces Doll Shop during First Friday celebrations on May 4.
Bob Hayes, the novel’s major character, is incorporated into many of Lett’s personal experiences. Lett said Sideline is full of true stories, many of which he experienced as both a player and as a caregiver.
“A lot of the stories in Sideline come from actual events in my life, just with different twists added to them. I truly lived parts of this story, and I also had some very good inspiration. [Comedian] Jerry Clower always said that the most entertaining stories he told were true, and I have to agree with him.”
Lett said many of the stories brought back good memories, while many were an emotional drain.
Lett said one of the most difficult aspects of writing Hayes’ story was his family life.
“We lost our mother when I was 12. As I was writing about the Hayes family, with their mom being there, I was reminded of how that was something I really missed out on.”
The following is a excerpt from Sideline:
Bob Hayes grew up in a small Alabama town, the son of a prominent high school coach. Although there were a few shining moments as a player, he never really became a starter. Instead, he found his niche in the preparation and application of the strategy of player performance on the field. Capitalizing on his own talents and his father’s experience as a coach, Bob understood the game and excelled at motivating and coaching the best performance from the players.
Sideline tells this story and gives a view into the rise and success of a famed young football coach in just over 80,000 words. The experience of not being a star player, like his older and younger brothers, drives Bob to become the youngest head coach in college football at a famed SEC university. The lessons learned and how they originated tell a compelling story and puts you in the middle of the huddles and on the playing fields.
While writing Sideline, Lett was reminded of Glencoe’s state championship game at Florala High School in 1973, a game the Yellow Jackets came from behind to win.
“That was a special time for me. Our starting quarterback (Jeff Davis) and I came out of the locker room to start warming up together on the field. We were the first two players out. Even at that moment, well before the game, our stands were overflowing. It was the Yellow Jacket fans first chance to start cheering and the roar that Jeff and I got to experience was unbelievable. I remember the tears running down my face while we were throwing.”
Lett said the success of the ’73 Yellow Jackets was interwoven with the support from the Glencoe community.
“The support we had was truly phenomenal. Everyone [in the community] was involved and supportive in their own way. They supported us and showed us that they felt a part of our success. When we won the whole town won. It seemed like a total effort.”
Lett said Sideline is sure to catch the interests of any fan of small town, rural high school football.
“If you’re from my hometown of Glencoe, Alabama, you’ll have a flashback or two. But in no way do I want to take credit from anyone or steal anyone’s stories. Although I’ve fictionalized for the sake of storytelling, I still want to highlight these great achievements.”
Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of Sideline should visit www.garylett.com.