It had been nearly four years since Eddie Lee Ivery had graced the sidelines of The Brickyard in Thomson. Actually, the last time was August 2004 when his famed No. 44 jersey was retired at Thomson High School - making him only the second player to ever have his black and gold jersey retired there. The first player was Ray Guy, who ironically wore the same number as an outstanding quarterback, kicker/punter and baseball player. After Thomson High School, Coach Ivery went on to be a college standout at Georgia Tech and a star for the Green Bay Packers for eight years.
That's just one of the reasons last Friday night was special for Coach Ivery, who is now an assistant coach for the Thomson High School Bulldogs. After serving as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech for several years, he reached a point in his life where he wanted to return to the prep level.
"In my wildest dreams, I never thought I'd ever coach at Thomson High School again," said Ivery during a Monday night interview with The McDuffie Mirror. "It was God's plan for me to return to Thomson High School That's how I see it."
Thomson, Coach Ivery said, "is a special place to live; it was a great place to grow up and play football, and it's now a special, special place to coach football."
This marks the second stint at prep football coaching for Coach Ivery under legendary Georgia prep Coach Luther Welsh - one of the most highly-respected football coaches in the Southeast. The first time Coach Ivery coached on the high school level was back in 1990. Under Coach Welsh's overall leadership, Coach Ivery and other assistant coaches helped the Bulldogs achieve a bit of glory that year, as Thomson captured the Region 2-AAA Championship.
Coach Ivery left his alma mater - a place where he graduated in 1975 - and returned to Georgia Tech to get his degree.
Assigned to coach quarterbacks and running backs now, Coach Ivery said last Friday night was another emotional night, but nothing like it was for him when his jersey was retired and so many friends and longtime supporters came out to special ceremony at The Brickyard.
"I was very emotional that night," said Coach Ivery. "I was at a total loss for words. It was so special to me. I wasn't that emotional last Friday night. It was in the back of my mind. But in the forefront, I just wanted our players to go out and work hard like they had done in practice and win the game over Hart County."
His wish came true: The end result was Thomson winning the game 19-3.
One of Coach Ivery's strength is player motivation, and no one knows that any better than his boss - Coach Welsh.
"Eddie Lee is a great addition to our coaching staff," said Coach Welsh. "He's very knowledgeable about the game, a great motivator and a hard worker."
Coach Ivery said his goal is to continue to work hard with players so that they give their best to the school, community and county.
"That spells success on and off the football field, as well as carrying on the rich tradition of pride at Thomson High School," said Coach Ivery.