The Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame is set to announce its five inductees on Saturday night with a ceremony at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.
Perhaps the most notable nominee is Charles Flowers, the longtime head coach of both the football and baseball programs at Shaw High School as well as the first athletic director of the Muscogee County School District.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Flowers said of his nomination. “I feel honored that the panel felt enough to recommend and vote me in. There’s a lot of rich tradition in the Chattahoochee Valley area in coaches and players.”
Flowers had brief stints later in his coaching career at Dougherty and Troup, but it was at Shaw where he made his mark, spending 18 years at the helm of the Raider football and baseball programs. He reached the pinnacle of his success at Shaw in the 2000-01 school year, winning a football state championship in the fall and a baseball state championship in the spring.
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“To win the baseball and football state championship in the same year really stands out to me,” Flowers said. “We had tremendous young men and very dedicated coaches. Those coaches put the time in and worked extremely hard. They were on top of things. The faculty and administration made it truly a family atmosphere. To culminate that in the spring by beating your crosstown rival in Columbus High School was phenomenal.”
The full-year schedule of coaching duties at Shaw was rigorous on Flowers, but rewarding as well.
“It was difficult, because we were usually in the football playoffs, then we’d turn around and get ready for baseball,” he said. “Then when you were in the baseball playoffs, you’d have spring football and summer baseball. It was a balancing act, but we never really put an emphasis on spring football because the guys we had played both sports. Spring football was a lot of fundamentals and teaching and not a lot of contact.
“Now if you give the option to young men of playing baseball or putting on the pads for spring football, you know what the answer’s going to be. Those days were fun. I can’t say enough about that and the great atmosphere.
“I was truly blessed to have great support, great administration, and great athletes that overcame bad coaching,” Flowers concluded with a laugh.
Not only did Flowers coach successful student-athletes on the field, he created a long list of successful students and leaders off the field as well. Many of them have carried on principles Flowers taught them in starting their own legacies and putting their stamp on students throughout the area.
Twenty-five of Flowers’ former athletes, including current Carver head coach Calvin Arnold, now have coaching positions in Muscogee County.
“A lot of those guys and the role models they have become is such a good thing to see,” Flowers said. “It shows the impact we had on them goes beyond the athletic field.”
Former players such as Damian Daniels, who went on to become the career leader in interceptions in indoor football as a star defensive back for the Columbus Lions and Albany Panthers, is now at Hardaway as an assistant coach.
“The best thing about Coach Flowers is that the lessons he taught us on the field, we could carry them off the field and into our normal lives with us,” Daniels said. “He not only expected greatness from us, but he demanded it. I can guarantee that most guys I played with at Shaw still live by some of the same morals, little things like ‘being on time is late.’
“I’ve had to speak to groups of kids many times, and much of what I tell them is what I learned from Coach Flowers. The last time I spoke, I told the kids the story of how Coach Flowers always told me the company I kept would affect me later on in life. Even though I had a great father in my life, I’m proud to say that he was my father away from home that I could depend on just the same.”
Daniels and Anthony Merritt, another member of the 2000 state championship team who made a name for himself with the Lions and also at the University of North Alabama, helped coin the phrase “Shaw U” for the Raiders football program, akin to the 1980s and 1990s at the University of Miami.
“Coach Flowers was hands down the best coach I ever played for, and outside of my pops, the greatest male influence in my life,” Merritt said.
“It means a lot because those guys played the game hard,” Flowers said of the “Shaw U” moniker.
In 2006, Flowers left Shaw to take the role of the first countywide athletic director in the MCSD, taking his years of experience on the field to facilitate the experience with those off the field.
“I embraced that role, because I knew from a coaching perspective the challenges the schools had, and I tried to represent the position well as well as the administration, the chain of command, doing things the right way,” Flowers said. “Being in the Georgia High School Association as a coach as many years as I had, I knew exactly what was required. I embraced the role and I went from coaching players to coaching coaches.”
The West Point, Ga., native who started teaching at the old West Point High School in 1983 prior to its consolidation with Troup High, has come full circle in his career, returning to his hometown to take the helm at Point University as athletic director in charge of the football and baseball programs.