Roger Pierce has always credited his playing and coaching success on one simple thing — the good Lord’s grace.
The 1970 Good Hope alum excelled on the basketball court before taking up the game of tennis shortly after graduation.
Following his playing career, Pierce started his coaching career at John Carroll Junior High, eventually making stops at Cold Springs and St. Bernard, where he currently presides over the varsity girls basketball and tennis programs.
With such an established career, it shouldn’t surprise anyone Pierce is one of 11 inductees in this year’s class of the Cullman County Sports Hall of Fame. He will be honored in a ceremony at the Civic Center on Saturday.
“It’s a great privilege,” Pierce said. “I know that my eight grandkids are really excited about it.”
As a player, Pierce was a marvel on the basketball court, earning All-County and All-Area honors his junior and senior seasons. He won a county championship in 1970 under coach Bill Lay, defeating Fairview in the semifinals and Holly Pond in the title game and securing leading scorer and rebounder awards along the way.
But it’s not the county championship Pierce recalls as his most memorable moment from his old playing days.
His comes in the form of a junior high championship game while playing at Vinemont under fellow HOF inductee Huelee Adams.
“It brings back such wonderful memories,” Pierce said of the game. “It was a great time in my life, and Coach Adams really inspired me and became a great influence in my life.”
After his team cut into a 14-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter against Baileyton, Pierce proceeded to score 10 consecutive points for the Eagles before dishing the ball to teammate Buddy Kelly, who layed the ball off the glass and into the net to secure the victory.
“Coach Adams tells me to this day he’s never forgotten that game,” Pierce said.
It was after high school Pierce became quite the tennis player, securing several singles and doubles titles at St. Bernard Tennis Club and other tournaments put on by the Cullman City Parks and Recreation Department.
“I really liked the game,” he said. “I played it until I was almost 40 before injuring my ACL.”
He loved tennis so much, in fact, he ended up in the hospital over it.
Pierce took on former Cullman tennis player, Tim Kite, in a grueling three-hour match while in his 30s. It was the championship match of a Parks and Rec tournament that ended with Pierce holding the trophy, albeit in the hospital with severe heat exhaustion.
“I was determined to finish that match,” Pierce said with a laugh. “That was very memorable to me.”
The two-sport athlete cites sports with providing him a great joy in his life.
“Sports has given me the opportunity to show the love of Christ to others and influence their lives,” he said. “I love coaching and being able to watch my grandkids play.”
After a short coaching stint at John Carroll, Pierce found his way to Cold Springs High in 1975, taking over both junior high basketball programs.
The following year, he introduced and became the first tennis coach at the school, where he remained until 1985 before accepting a job at Jones Chapel.
As mentioned previously, Pierce is now coaching at St. Bernard, where he helps develop the skills of basketball and tennis players alike.
“I just enjoy being an influence on peoples’ lives,” he said. “It’s by the Lord’s grace that I’m able to do it.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.