End of an Era:
Legendary Southwest Men’s Basketball Coach and Athletic Director Verties Sails Jr. will retire effective June 30, 2012, ending a 33-year coaching career at the college in which he led the Saluqis to a 709-276 record, 16 Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) championships and ten region championships and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) turnament appearances.
“Coach Sails is a living legend,” said Southwest President Nathan Essex. “His accomplishments on the court have been recognized locally, statewide and nationally. While his basketball accomplishments are outstanding, he has served as a father figure for many aspiring student athletes. He has assisted them not only on the court but also with important life lessons off the court. We will certainly miss Coach Sails’ presence at Southwest and wish him and his family an enjoyable retirement.”
Sails was named TCCAA Coach of the Year 13 times and was inducted into the TCCAA Hall of Fame in 1994. In addition, Sails was inducted into the African-American Hall of Fame in 2010, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. During his career at Southwest, Sails coached numerous players who went on to play at four-year colleges and also professionally including Lester Hudson and McKinley Singleton,who both played in the National Basketball Association.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with emotion because this has been my life,” said Sails. “However, all good things must come to an end. I would like to thank all of the players who entrusted their lives to me over the years and also the students, faculty and staff who’ve supported us. I’ve enjoyed these 33 years and hope we’ve done some things to make the school proud.”
In 1979, Sails was named the Saluqis’ head basketball coach at (then) Shelby State Community College after serving as assistant coach at (then) Memphis State University for five years under Head Coach Wayne Yates. He was previously head coach at Melrose High School in Memphis, where he compiled a 132-35 record and led the Golden Wildcats to the Tennessee State Championship in 1974 with a perfect 35-0 record. Sails was twice voted High School Coach of the Year while at Melrose (1970 and 1974).
Photo caption: Coach Verties Sails Jr