Patrick Ochs

Buddy Singleton: I never worked a day in my life

By PATRICK OCHS

pochs@sunherald.com

AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD 
 
 Reggie Collier, right, congratulates his former high school football coach Buddy Singleton, left, during a ceremony to name the field at Warrior Stadium "Buddy Singleton Field" on Friday, October 21 2011. Many of Singleton's former players were on hand for the occasion.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD Reggie Collier, right, congratulates his former high school football coach Buddy Singleton, left, during a ceremony to name the field at Warrior Stadium "Buddy Singleton Field" on Friday, October 21 2011. Many of Singleton's former players were on hand for the occasion. SUN HERALD

If things had played out a certain way, Buddy Singleton could have actually ended up as a long-tenured basketball coach.

Singleton had just completed his second year as an assistant at D'Iberville when he accepted a job as Purvis' basketball coach and assistant football coach.

"Tom Ferrill was the head football coach at D'Iberville and had resigned. That's when the job opened," Singleton recalled Tuesday. "The assistant principal actually came to Southern looking for me to know if I would be interested. That's how that unfolded."

So, could Singleton have been a successful hoops coach?

"You never know," he said. "I've had some opportunities, but I still like the Coast. It has to be home for me."

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Two-hundred and ninety-eight wins after deciding to remain home, Singleton has decided to hang up his clipboard and whistle -- this time for good.

"They talked to me about coming back for another year, but I think it's time to go ahead and step back," Singleton said. "It needs somebody with a little bit more energy than what I've got. I still feel like I could do the job, but I told them going into this year (I would retire).

With Singleton at the helm, the Warriors have had plenty of highs and lows -- but mostly highs.

During the football team's banquet, his assistant coaches presented Singleton with a plaque outlining his various achievements.

-- 298 career wins

-- Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Famer

-- 30 winning seasons (and two undefeated campaigns)

-- 18 playoff berths (he never missed the playoffs during the modern post-season era)

-- Five Pascagoula River Conference championships

-- One Gulf Coast Conference championship

-- Four region titles

And an unimaginable number of lives touched.

"What more can you say about him?" assistant coach Sheldon Black said. "The football stadium is named after him."

1978 Shrimp Bowl

Asked his favorite moment, game or team, Singleton, 75, was quick.

The year Reggie Collier played (in 1978), we were undefeated. Back then we didn't have a playoff, but we played Ocean Springs," Singleton said. "They had Eddie Hornback, who signed with Notre Dame. We played them in the Shrimp Bowl, which was a big bowl game. It was packed out and we beat them.

"That team didn't give up a rushing touchdown until the Shrimp Bowl. We beat them 13-12. We had some real, real good football players."

Never 'really' worked

Some moments were better than others, but Singleton said he's enjoyed every minute of his career.

"I never worked a day in my life," he said. "Work is when you go over to Ingalls and you're laid up under a ship with a welding torch. I never had to experience that."

Next chapter

When Singleton came back to D'Iberville and was asked about coaching, he often said it was just 'something to do.'

Now, for the first time in a long time, Singleton will have to find something new to fill his days.

"What do I plan on doing? I've got lots of things. Maybe some traveling. All the things I've put on the back burner I'll get done. I'll assure you one thing -- I'm not going to take another coaching job. Those days have gone by.

Patrick Ochs, a Sun Herald sports reporter, can be reached at pochs@sunherald.com or followed on Twitter at PatrickOchs.

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