Longtime McCallie Athletic Director Bill Cherry Dies

2018-2019 McCallie School headshots, dorm staff, dorm life and convocation. Photo by DanHenryPhotography.com

(school press release) Longtime McCallie Athletic Director Bill Cherry died February 20, 2020, following a lengthy illness. He was 78.

An active and beloved part of the McCallie School community for 50 years, he served as McCallie’s Athletic Director from 1973 to 2008 – a span of 35 years.

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“Bill Cherry was a constant presence on this campus and in the lives of McCallie boys for a half century,” said Headmaster Lee Burns ‘87.  “He was so much a part of the culture and the spirit of the school that it is hard to imagine McCallie without him.”

After graduating from Tennessee Tech University and serving a short stint as a coach at Battle Ground Academy in Nashville, Coach Cherry came to McCallie in 1970 as a math teacher and assistant football coach.  In 1973 he was named Athletic Director, a position he held until 2008. During that time, he spearheaded the growth of McCallie’s athletic program into the great, well-rounded program that it is today.

He grew the athletic program to include 14 varsity sports (now 15), including bringing such diverse sports as lacrosse and rowing to Chattanooga. During his tenure, McCallie secured 65 state championships. And he coordinated construction of most of the athletic facilities presently on campus, including the Sports and Activities Center. In 2017, the renovated team meeting room in the Sports and Activities Center was named the Bill Cherry Team Room in his honor.

But even after retirement as Athletic Director, Coach Cherry loved McCallie so much that he continued as a teacher of Middle School math, and in the last few years, assisting the Boarding Program.

Coach Cherry’s value as a respected sports administrator went well beyond McCallie’s Campus. He was past chairman of the TSSAA Division II Athletic Director’s Association, a position he held for a decade. In addition, he served on several TSSAA committees and was the recipient of the association’s Distinguished Service Award and as an A.F. Bridges Athletic Director of the Year.

He is survived by his wife, Mary, daughters Rachel and Mclean, and two grandchildren, Bridger and Liza. Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family.


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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.