Most high school football fans in Georgia already knew Thomson Coach Luther Welsh was a part of the coaching elite in the state. But the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association solidified that belief with a recent honor.
Coach Welsh will be inducted into the GACA Circle of Achievement at a reception and ceremony in Dalton, Ga. on June 1 and 2. The induction is in tribute to his 300th career victory that came last season.
"It's based on coaching record and contribution made to the coaching profession," said GACA Executive Director Ray Broadway. "Coach Welsh falls right in line with all the other people that have received that particular award. He's done it all."
Previous recipients of the award include such coaching legends as Dan Pitts, Nick Hyder, Larry Campbell, Robert Davis and Thomson Baseball Coach Terry Holder. Since the award's inception in 1996, Coach Welsh becomes the 13th recipient.
Induction into the Circle of Achievement was a pleasant surprise to the understated Coach Welsh who said he has never been worried about rewards and honors, just coaching.
"I never dreamed of nothing like that happening to me when I started coaching in 1955," he said. "I was just trying to win a game each Friday."
And he did a lot of winning through the years. Coach Welsh owns a record of 307-162-5 and oversaw three state and 12 region championships during his career. He said, however, that the players and assistant coaches were paramount in those accomplishments.
"They had as much to do with it as I did. In fact they had more to do with it than I did, if you want to know the truth," Coach Welsh said.
The Circle of Achievement induction has not gone unnoticed by the assistant coaches who helped him get there, either.
"I'm obviously thrilled for Coach Welsh and delighted that his success and longevity are being recognized by his peers," said longtime Thomson Defensive Coordinator John Barnett. "Also, the fact that Coach is so modest and unassuming makes this even more special. In other words, he doesn't campaign for personal accolades. He just does his job the best way he knows how and tries to do the best he can for his players and the community which he works for."
And the one person probably most responsible for Coach Welsh's success on the gridiron is equally delighted at the honor he continues to receive. Anne Welsh, his wife, is taking the lead on providing information to the GACA for the induction ceremony.
She even sent the coach to a local jeweler to get an accurate ring size for the event. Coach Welsh will receive a ring recognizing his induction into the Circle of Achievement.