Like Father, Like Son

Passing Down a Lifelong Love of the Game

The following sons have embraced the athletic legacies of their fathers – both in sport and at their alma maters. Here, father and son discuss how the love of the game has helped define their relationship on and off the field.

By Mary Beth Wallace / Photography by Rich Smith

Cross-Country & Track

Mickey & Chris Haddock

 

Mickey Haddock, whose name is synonymous with East Ridge’s cross-country and track program, spent three years dominating track meets and crushing school records as a high school athlete … but his legacy doesn’t stop there. Returning to East Ridge as a coach in the 1970s, Haddock spent the next few decades transforming hundreds of students into great runners. However, if you ask Haddock, his most important legacy doesn’t involve awards or accomplishments. It’s his son Chris, who carried on the running tradition at East Ridge. 

What inspired you to start running? 

MH: Like every kid growing up in the ‘50s, I always aspired to be a baseball player. Unfortunately, I wasn’t great at it. One of the neighborhood boys encouraged me to go out for the track team my sophomore year, and I discovered I was really good at something for the first time.  

CH: When you’re the son of the greatest runner and coach in your school’s history, you don’t really get a choice (laughs). 

Chris, how did your dad help instill a love of running in you?

CH: I’m told I attended my first cross-country meet when I was 2 weeks old. Dad brought me along to afternoon practices, to state meets, you name it. I was constantly around it. Then, when I got to high school and joined the team, Dad was no longer the head coach. He did a great job of just being my dad and not the coach during those years, and he was always there to cheer me on.

Are there any special memories surrounding track that come to mind?

MH: I remember when he was just a little kid, Chris would start running laps around the track the minute he arrived at one of my practices. My athletes were amazed at his energy! We knew then that he had a talent for it.

What values has running impressed on each of you?

MH: I had spinal cancer in my early 50s, which involved a lot of pain and other difficulties. But with the discipline I learned being a distance runner, as well as my faith, I was able to accept what was happening to me, push through the pain, and ultimately get better. The best runners train themselves to reach deep inside and find another gear – another burst of energy they didn’t know they had – and keep going. 

CH: I think the value of hard work has made the biggest impression on me. Running is an endurance sport – the person who works the hardest is going to be the most successful. That mindset has been applicable in many areas of my life, and I especially relied on it during my medical training. 

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Tennis

Jack & Parker Webb

 

For the Webbs, tennis truly is a family affair. Along with his sister Whitney, Parker is part of the third generation to pick up the racket, making a splash during his tennis career at McCallie School in the early 2000s. His father, Jack, is a highly accomplished tennis player who’s earned numerous accolades during his time at McCallie and later the University of Kentucky. While Jack and Parker have always enjoyed the competition, it’s the relationships – with friends, family, and especially each other – that make this sport so special to them.

How has tennis been a part of your relationship over the years?

JW: Because of tennis, we were able to spend a lot of quality time together as a family – traveling the Southeast together with my wife, Sue, and attending lots of fun tennis tournaments. We have so many great memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

PW: I think my dad knows the location of every tennis court in Tennessee and Georgia (laughs). For me, I loved the feeling of looking over at the bleachers during a match and seeing both my dad and my mom supporting me. 

Jack, what makes you proudest of Parker when it comes to his tennis career?

JW: By the end of his sophomore year of high school, I could tell that Parker wasn’t enjoying playing tennis competitively quite as much as I had. So, I took him down by the riverbank, and we had this great conversation about his life and personal goals. I let him know that it was fine if he didn’t want to pursue tennis any longer. And ultimately, he chose not to, choosing instead to forge his own path. I was so proud that he had the courage to make that decision.

Parker, how did your dad help instill a love of tennis in you?

PW: For the Webb family, tennis is such a big part of our lives. It doesn’t mean you have to play, but it is a mechanism that brings us all together. My dad really introduced me to the fellowship, the camaraderie, and the challenges that make tennis so unique. 

What values has tennis impressed on each of you?

JW: My tennis coach at McCallie, Coach John “Yo” Strang, had a tremendous impact on my life. I was very fortunate to be one of the many recipients of his unwavering positivity and encouragement, and he instilled in me values such as sportsmanship and having respect for my opponents.

PW: I’m now serving as an officer in the Army, and I cannot stress enough the importance of discipline and mental toughness. There is no substitute for hard work, and you get what you earn. Tennis really taught me those values from a very young age. 

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Basketball

Sam & Jeulian High

Brainerd High School alums Sam and Jeulian High love a little friendly competition. Whether battling it out in a family ping-pong tournament or shooting hoops in the backyard, these two are driven by a need to be No. 1. It’s probably why they’ve seen so much success on the basketball court – Sam as a 1992 state champ for Brainerd, and Jeulian as an All-Region player who took his talents to Hiwassee College, where they won the regional tournament for the first time in school history. Father and son continue to credit basketball for their success in life, even today.

What inspired you to start playing basketball? 

SH: My uncle, Robert High, was the coach at Brainerd for years, and when I was little, he would take me to the practices and games. Being able to watch the team interact and compete made me want to play ball when I got older. 

JH: Most everyone in my family played basketball for Coach High. I think it was important to me to keep that tradition going, to be a part of that family history. In the Brainerd gym – now named after my uncle – there are photos hanging of all the state champion teams, including my dad’s, and that really inspired me to compete on the same level he did.

Are there any special memories surrounding basketball that come to mind?

SH: When Jeulian was in college, we went to Glenwood Center to play a pickup game with some family. It was the first time I actually got to play a game with my son where we were on the same team. I’m very grateful for that memory.

JH: I started to develop an interest in basketball in the sixth grade. So, my dad started waking me up early to work out. He showed me how to shoot a ball and how to jump, just all the fundamentals. When it was time to play competitively, I made the team.

Sam, what makes you proudest of Jeulian when it comes to his basketball career?

SH: What makes me proudest is the fact that he was able to sign a scholarship to play collegiate basketball. For Jeulian to be able to continue his career was very rewarding.

What values has basketball impressed on each of you?

SH: Basketball teaches teamwork, teaches you to never give up. And I think just watching my uncle coach, it gave me a desire to give back to a sport that has given me so much. Over the years, I’ve coached many youth teams as a way to give back.

JH: I’ve done some coaching as well. A lot of the kids I work with don’t really believe in themselves, so it’s been my goal to give them hope. Competitive sports like basketball create so many opportunities for these kids who otherwise wouldn’t have them.

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Football

 Jay, Colton, & Will Jumper

In the Jumper family, fall is football season. This family tree has produced three generations of football standouts, beginning with Red Bank great Jim Jumper. Jim’s son, Jay, and Jay’s two sons, Colton and Will, made names for themselves while playing at Baylor School, with Colton and Will later competing at the collegiate level at the University of Tennessee. While football has always provided its fair share of memories and fun, it’s the life lessons learned that have made the greatest impact on each of them.

Jay, what makes you proudest of Colton and Will when it comes to their football careers?

JJ: One of the most special things is seeing them play on the same team together, first at Baylor, and then at an SEC school. Not many dads get the chance to see their kids do that. I’m also proud of all the hard work Colton and Will put in through the years. 

Colton and Will, how did your dad help instill a love of  football in you?

CJ: It’s hard to think about football without thinking about my dad – the two are so intertwined. 

WJ: Exactly. It was the glue of our father/son bond. Football was what we talked about when we got home from school. Seeing our dad’s passion for our development on the field made our progress feel that much more rewarding.

Are there any special memories surrounding football that come to mind?

JJ: When they were kids, we used to take Colton and Will up to Knoxville for UT games. We would wait around outside after the games, hoping that we could get some of the players to autograph their gear. Years later, it was Colton and Will signing the autographs. Even if they had a bad game, they were always gracious and took the time for their fans.

CJ: For me, it was the little things, like knowing your dad was going to be waiting for you in the locker room after a game, win or lose, to give you a hug. It really brought me back to center and reminded me that at the end of the day, it’s just a game.

What values has football impressed on each of you?

CJ: It taught me how to deal with failure, because once you’re playing at a certain level, you have a failure on almost every single play. There is always room for improvement. 

WJ: I think about never giving up, despite physical disadvantages. You might not be the biggest, strongest, fastest guy on the team, but you can outwork someone else. 

JJ: I agree – football really teaches you how to compete in life. In the workplace, you will always have competition, and there will arguably always be someone better equipped or trained than you. But that can’t be an excuse not to work your hardest.

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Wrestling

David & Grayson Mullin

It’s not a stretch to say that wrestling is in the Mullin family’s DNA. Father and son duo David and Grayson are a part of the strong wrestling tradition at Notre Dame High School, where they each spent four years on the mat battling their teammates and opponents from across the state. Their passion for wrestling extends well beyond their high school years, with both finding ways to give back to the sport through refereeing jobs and volunteer coaching opportunities. Most of all, David and Grayson are grateful to have found a pursuit that brings them closer together.

What inspired you to start wrestling? 

DM: Our family had three boys who were all close in age. As brothers, we were constantly roughhousing and rolling around, so when wrestling was introduced to us in school, it seemed like a natural fit. And, of course, the great coaches and wrestlers at Notre Dame were an inspiration.

GM: When I was a kid, my parents did a good job of introducing me to various sports; I tried baseball, soccer, football, and basketball, but I ended up liking wrestling the most – the competitiveness of it, the one-on-one aspect, the community. Fortunately, it was also the sport I was most talented at.

How has wrestling been a part of your relationship over the years?

DM: The sport drew us closer. We spent a lot of quality time as a family over the years with the practices, participation, and travel associated with wrestling. I also assisted with coaching during Grayson’s elementary and junior high years, until my body began to protest being twisted like a pretzel (laughs).

GM: We had a travel team in middle school, so we spent a lot of time on the road going to wrestling tournaments all over the Southeast. I have so many great memories of those trips – all of us hanging out, laughing, and having a great time.

David, what makes you proudest of Grayson when it comes to his
wrestling career?

DM: I was obviously pleased when he chose the sport. I’ve enjoyed watching him set goals and work hard to consistently attain them, especially his Tennessee State Wrestling individual title. Wrestling is often considered an individual sport, but it has a team component as well. Grayson was always a team player, leading his team as captain and developing lasting friendships with his teammates and participants from other teams.

Grayson, how did your dad help instill a love of wrestling in you?

GM: My dad supported me in every way growing up. He was always at my matches and offered a different perspective on my wrestling style without overstepping. His advice really helped me throughout my wrestling career.

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Baseball

Joe & Travis Adams

Bradley Central baseball coach Travis Adams always knew he would follow in the footsteps of his father, Joe. A dynamite shortstop, Travis was practically raised on the baseball field and played the sport all throughout high school and college. But following his father’s illustrious coaching career, also at Bradley Central High School – which included nine district titles, four state tournament-eligible teams, and nearly 400 wins over 18 years – has been an entirely different, albeit fun, ballgame. One thing’s for sure: Joe and Travis will never stop talking shop. 

Joe, what makes you proudest of Travis when it comes to his baseball career?

JA: Travis played football and wrestled in addition to baseball when he was in high school. No matter which sport he was participating in, he worked hard and was successful. 

Travis, how did your dad help instill a love of baseball in you?

TA: Baseball was our common thread and what we always did together. Growing up, Dad would hit ground balls to me, and we’d get in batting practice together. When he’d come home from one of his games, we’d rehash everything – the personnel, lineup, how different situations were handled – for hours. My love for baseball grew very easily because of my father’s love for baseball.

Are there any special memories surrounding baseball that come to mind?

JA: It was the time spent together, including all of our experiences, the successes we celebrated, and our shared enjoyment of the game, that is most special to me. Now that Travis is a baseball coach, we have this mutual understanding of the profession as well as the game, and we’re able to enjoy a different level of conversation than before. 

TA: One of my favorite memories was my sophomore year at Bradley Central, when my team won the Class AAA state championship in Chattanooga at Engel Stadium. Dad was the assistant coach that year. That’s something I’ll never forget.

What values has baseball impressed on each of you?

JA: Although I naturally loved everything about baseball growing up, from the physicality and strategy to the competitiveness, it wasn’t until I was older that I truly understood all that baseball can instill in you. The values of hard work, patience, persistence, respect, and loyalty are all part of the game.

TA: I don’t mean to sound cliché, but baseball really is a metaphor for life. Things won’t always go your way – you’ll strike out or miss a ground ball – but you can’t sit and dwell on that. You have to move forward and be ready for the next play. Baseball also taught me that it takes hard work to be successful.

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