(KMAland) -- The KMA Sports Hall of Fame will welcome long-time Essex coach Allen Stuart with this year’s class.
Stuart arrived in Essex in the fall of 1980 and quickly built up a coaching resume that rivals any during that time period.
“I always loved sports,” Stuart told KMA Sports. “We played all the time as kids. Then when I was in high school, I coached Little League and Babe Ruth-aged kids. I just really loved that.”
Prior to a stint in the military, Stuart started teaching in Ohio.
“One of the things I had to do was coach junior high boys basketball,” he said. “I just loved it. When I came back to finish with the military and college, I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I guess I just always kind of considered (coaching) my main passion ever since I was 14 or 15 years old.”
Stuart had massive success over three decades in Essex, especially within the girls basketball program. He amassed over 500 wins while leading his 1991 and 1993 teams to state tournament appearances.
“You remember the kids and all the efforts that went into it,” he said. “Of course, you remember the community. They were overwhelmingly supportive. We sold over 600 tickets to the state tournament. Practically everybody in town that could go went.
Essex was in the final eight in each of the all-class tournaments, beating Newton in 1991 and Pella in 1993.
“You didn’t really worry about the size of the school you were playing at that time,” Stuart said. “You didn’t even think about it, because that’s just the way it was. You went in there to do your best, and that’s what everybody did.”
For someone that grew up in Tennessee, Stuart found a home in Essex and remains a coach in the athletic department to this day.
“My wife and I just loved the people,” he said. “She taught at Farragut for 34 years, and she met some wonderful people over there. I always thought the school at Essex was doing a great job. We developed some strong ties with the community and just liked everything about it.”
Stuart will be honored with the rest of this year’s Hall of Fame class at a date to be determined. Listen to the complete interview with Coach Stuart below.
2020 KMA SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS