By Collin Brooks
A coaching tree is only as solid as it’s roots, and you won’t find many more solid than former Daniel Boone track and cross country legend coach Carl Winkle.
Winkle noted that a program’s roots are only as fertile as the community it calls home, and there is no better ground than that found in Gray. But you won’t find better roots than the ones that Winkle planted in his tenure.
Because of that, the Washington County Board of Education voted to name the Daniel Boone track after Winkle and former coach George Moody, while they will name the cross country track after current coach Len Jeffers upon his retirement.
Each of the three has won a state championship during their reign as head coach, with Winkle claiming his in 1981. Moody was an assistant on that team, while Jeffers was a runner. Moody would follow that up with a state championship of his own in 1998, while Jeffers’ team claimed one in 2014.
Winkle has been slowed down by age, but a quick smile came to his face when asked what the dedication means to him.
“It makes me think somebody appreciated what we did,” said the now 83-year old Winkle, who got his start at Boones Creek High School. “…I don’t know how to express any better than that. You just know you were appreciated.
“Now you might not have been liked all the time,” Winkle said through a smile. “But you were appreciated.”
Moody agreed with his former colleague, but added that he felt like Gene Bartow replacing John Wooden at UCLA when he took over the track program.
“I’m honor, humbled and tickled to death to be thought of and able to join in with Carl Winkle,” Moody said. “He is kind of one of my heroes and I learned so much from him.”
Jeffers took over as the third coach in the program’s history in 2006 and Moody said that he knew the program was in good hands when he gave it up, noting the Jeffers is a phenomenal coach.
“There ain’t a better coach in Tennessee than Len Jeffers,” Moody said.
Jeffers currently serves as the school’s cross country coach, and ran under Moody and Winkle during his team at Daniel Boone He said that he is honored to have his name associated with two of his former coaches.
“It’s extremely humbling to be included with Coach Winkle and Coach Moody, because those were the pioneers,” Jeffers said. “What those two have done for the area in cross country and track, they’ve set such a high standard. I’m just humbled and honored.”
The trio will be honored during Daniel Boone’s home football contest on Sept. 1.