Chance meeting led Georgia boy Adcock to become ‘Mr. Wellborn’
by Joe Medley
Jun 10, 2012 | 5032 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WELLBORN — One might ask how a Georgia boy becomes “Mr. Wellborn.”

Well, beyond his nearly 50 years of service to Wellborn High School, which he continues to this day as a substitute teacher and volunteer, the answer is, quite by chance.

If John Adcock hadn’t happened up to the pool tables in the University of Alabama student union near the end of his senior year, well, who knows where he might have ended up?

It was there that he had a chance meeting with a coach from Calhoun County who happened to know that Wellborn had a coaching opening.

“I was very fortunate I got the job,” Adock said. “I really was.”

The rest is history, and Adcock’s long history of success as a coach and service as a Panther supporter won him selection into the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame.

Adcock will be inducted along with former Oxford High coach Robert Herring, Jacksonville High running back David Luttrell, Saks football coach Jack Stewart, Anniston High standout Vaughn Stewart and Anniston athlete/coach Ernest Washington.

The ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Anniston City Meeting Center.

Adcock — who played in basketball at East Coweta (Ga.) High School, Young Harris Junior College and Alabama — arrived at Wellborn in 1963 as the Panthers’ head basketball coach.

The Panthers won an area championship in the first of his 15 seasons, and he was chosen Calhoun County coach of the year by his peers three times.

Wellborn reached the Calhoun County championship game once and semifinals seven times on his watch. His 1970 team finished 20-8 and led the county in scoring defense, holding opponents to 55.3 points a game.

He also served as an assistant varsity football coach, junior high football coach, varsity baseball coach and varsity track coach.

He coached the varsity “B” team from 1978-96 and again from 1998-2000, a total of 20 years.

He finished with a career record of 408-218.

“He was a great coach,” said Johnny Prater, who played for Adcock’s first Wellborn team. “He knew what he was doing. He just didn’t always have the material to work with, but he knew what he was doing and knew how to coach.

“He wouldn’t have the record that he did have if he didn’t know how to coach, because we wasn’t no good.”

Prater called playing for Adcock “an experience” and said his teams always believed they could win.

“You had to watch out for Wellborn and their basketball,” Prater said. “One time, you might beat them 30 points, and the next time you might get beat 10 points.”

Prater recalled Adcock’s signature towel throws, and Prater said he was responsible for a few of those outbursts. Prater recalled disagreeing about a play, leaving the bench and walking toward the locker room.

As the game went on, Adcock followed him and gave him a stern talk, the content of which is best left out of a family paper.

“He was more like a daddy to me because my daddy died when I was 10,” Prater said. “Coach Adcock would come by the house and take me back to school. He’s a great guy.”

Adcock is still around as a substitute teacher, and he works the pass gate at Wellborn sporting events. It’s hard to imagine Wellborn without him.

Then again, it’s not so hard, when one considers the pure happenstance involved in his coming there.

It all started toward the end of his senior year.

He was about to get married, which might not have happened if friends and roommates like Leroy Jordan hadn’t let him borrow their cars for dates.

Adcock was about to graduate and wondering how he was going to support his family.

Maybe looking to forget his worries for a time, he wondered up to the area in the old student union that contained pool and ping-pong tables.

“I had never been in there in all the years I was at Alabama,” he said.

Adcock came across one man who was playing pool by himself. The man invited him to play.

“I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll play,’” Adcock said. “I was playing, and he said he was a football coach at Ohatchee High School, Grover Whaley. I said I needed a basketball job, and he said the Wellborn job was open.

“I said, ‘Where’s Wellborn?’ He said in Anniston.”

Talk about light-bulb moments. His bride to be, the former Sue Hollingsworth, was from Anniston.

“So, Grover was going to Ohatchee that weekend,” Adcock said. “I rode down there with him, and I got hired on the spot.”

His 50 years of service to Wellborn, which continues today, helped him win the nickname “Mr. Wellborn” from a former Panthers quarterback, Dennis Dunaway.

Adcock is also a member of the Cowet Sports Hall of Fame but calls Wellborn his “second family” and says, “It’s just home to me.”

“My wife told me that I married Wellborn on a Monday and married her on Friday, and she didn’t know which rates first,” he said.

And to think, what if he hadn’t wondered up into the student union that day in Tuscaloosa.

“I often wonder, if I hadn’t have gone up there and met Grover,” Adcock said, “I would have never known anything about Wellborn.

“So, I’ve been very fortunate and very fortunate to be in Calhoun County, too. The 50 years I’ve been here have been great. I’ve got great friends at all the other schools I coached against.”

Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.

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