Coach teaches life, leadership (and a little football)

Sandra ClarkGossip and Lies, Halls

Scott Cummings should have made an altar call. Halls High’s new football coach would have found converts with remaining eligibility to suit up for the fall season. This guy is a winner. He spoke June 18 to the Halls Business and Professional Association at Beaver Brook Country Club.

“People on the outside don’t think Halls can win (football games) anymore. I’ve been brutally honest with people since I’ve been here. Halls High has gotten stagnant, old in some ways. But we’ve got the people to make Halls fresh again.

“I’m not smart enough to out-think (the other great teams in Knox County), but I can and will outwork them.”

Cummings is not patient. He’s already gutted the weight room, adding new carpet and building stadium seating for 60 players to meet and watch film. Regal Entertainment donated used theater chairs. Tindell’s helped with lumber, and he got donations from Home Depot and Lowe’s. “We’ve got $300 in the whole project.”

Cummings didn’t like the mashed-down grass from the fieldhouse to the football field. He talked to David Hurst, Halls guy and president of Hurst Excavating, who installed a 12-foot walkway. “We are repainting the stadium and the football on the hill.”

Scott Cummings grew up here, graduating from West High School. He says he had bad influences at a young age, but he gravitated toward sports. “I was that guy who sat on the fence. Could have gone either way.” Luckily, sports prevailed. He played junior college baseball and then transferred to the University of Tennessee, where he graduated in 1994. He jumped right back into school for two more years and was certified to teach special education.

He married in 1999, returned to Knoxville and spent three years as an assistant football coach at West. He was named head coach in 2002. “We were the absolute doormat of high school football – that 1-9 or 2-8 team. We had no facilities and no culture.

“I started building a brand; working with youth leagues. It started with our own kids. We kept them (playing at West).”

Cummings went 101-58 at West over 13 seasons. West made the state semifinals in 2010 and 2011, made the finals in 2013 and won the school’s first Class 5A championship in 2014.

After the championship, he was recruited by Cleveland High School, where he and his wife would make a combined $16,000 more per year. They relocated, but it never felt like home. When the job at Halls opened, Cummings was ready to return to Knox County.

His family, which now includes two sons, will live in Halls. The boys, a rising eighth-grader and a sophomore, will play for Halls. And Halls High School will win football games again. I believe!


Two members of Superintendent Bob Thomas’s executive team of 13 have retired. Knox County Commissioner Randy Smith recognized the two at this week’s commission workshop.

Clifford Davis

Dr. Clifford Davis Jr. was chief of staff for the superintendent’s office. He previously was principal at Karns High School and moved to the central office to oversee secondary education.

Davis received a Milken Educator Award in 2001 while principal of Cedar Bluff Middle School. He was recognized for improving writing performance to 91 percent proficiency by introducing a program that incorporated writing across the curriculum. He has lectured at the University of Tennessee on the principal’s role as leader.

Melissa Massie Drinnon

Melissa Massie Drinnon retired after 30 years as a teacher and special-education supervisor for Knox County Schools. In 2009, she became executive director of student support services, overseeing special education, health and psychological services, school counselors, social services, alternative programs and community schools.

Drinnon will join Johnson University on July 1 as director of undergraduate and special education at the school’s Templar School of Education. Johnson University will launch a K-8 special-education interventionist undergraduate degree this fall, under her direction.

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