Former Player Speaks About the Legacy of Coach Ellington - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/01/07

Former Player Speaks About the Legacy of Coach Ellington

A Coastal Empire coach, who played an important part in Savannah's sports history, has lost his battle with Cancer.

Russell Ellington died this morning at the age of 69. He was a member of the 1967 state championship team from Beach High, the first year black players were allowed into the Georgia High School Association.

He also went on to coach at Savannah State, with the Harlem Globe Trotters and at Beach High School.

One of his former players spoke out about the impact Ellington made on so many lives.

Ronald Booker sees Russell Ellington's face every time he enters the gym at Beach High School

"It just reminds me of an important time in my life and it reminds me how much I admired Coach Ellington," said Booker.

Ellington not only coached the school to four state titles in the 60's and 70's, he was a major influence on Booker, who now serves as Beach High School's athletic director. He even bought him his first pair of basketball shoes.

"I don't know if it was a conscience thing but I just wanted to be around coach that much because I admired him that much," said Booker.

This morning, Booker's friend and role model passed away.

"Certainly we mourn a great person but we need to celebrate the time we had with a great person," said Booker.

A man who's winning touch sparked years of awards for Beach High School. But this wasn't the only mark he left.

Coach Booker says coach Ellington teachings transcend the game of basketball.

"Coach Ellington was always teaching, anytime we go out into the community he was always trying to do good and motivate young people, men and women. The legacy he left us as coaches motivates us to try and do the same," said Booker.

It's this legacy that will keep coach Ellington in the hearts and minds of those who knew him best.

"Right now the only coach for Beach High School is Russell Ellington," said Booker.

Coach Ellington racked up nearly 900 wins in his lifetime. He also played professional football for the New York Giants and is honored in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the Morris Brown College Hall of Fame and the Beach High School Hall of Fame.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

Reported by: David Hall, dhall@wtoc.com

 

 

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