Warren Junior will bid farewell to 43-year coaching veteran today

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2005

[1/13/05]Today at Warren Junior High School, Martha Pharr will coach the last regular season game of a 43-year career.

She’ll lead her team of junior high girls against Clinton, trying to improve the team’s record to 10 wins, 2 losses.

A ceremony in her honor is planned, although she said she was told a sign is the only thing that will be presented. When asked what tomorrow means for her, Pharr paused for a second and said, “Oh, you mean Clinton. That’s a big game.”

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She then quickly said that this really isn’t her last game, because the team still has a couple tournaments. This is, though, her last season. She made the decision to retire at the end of the 2003-2004 season, and said she has had few second thoughts.

“I told them last year that I would go one more,” Pharr said. “I’ll be 65 years old in the summer and have more than 30 years in. I just felt like it was time.”

Pharr began her career in Philadelphia, Miss., 43 years ago. When Warren Junior was built, she applied for the job and became the school’s head girls coach.

“This is home. This is where my family is,” Pharr said. “They kept trying to get me to come home. They kept saying, there are kids here, just like up there.'”

Her love of teaching the game is the reason she never became a varsity coach.

“Martha was always happy with teaching the kids the basics,” Warren Central High School girls’ coach Donny Fuller said. “That job also afforded her the opportunity to spend time at her church.”

On Wednesday night, like so many Wednesdays before, Pharr spent the evening at church. She’ll be there again on Sunday.

“We will certainly miss her,” Fuller said. “Martha did everything we asked. She’d come in and watch what we were doing, then go down and teach her kids the same thing. They are running the same inbounds play in the junior high as we do now.”

This afternoon, she’ll walk on the court with her clipboard to diagnose plays. She’ll write the starting lineup in the scorebook and have 28 minutes of game time left.

Coaches like Martha Pharr are hard to come by.

They’re even harder to replace.

Sean P. Murphy is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail him at smurphy@vicksburgpost.com.

Sean P. Murphy is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail him at smurphy@vicksburgpost.com.