By Dixie Black
Boyd Anderson High School’s retired Coach Eugene “Georgia Boy” Richardson has been making history most of his life. From Moultrie, Georgia where he and his twelve brothers and sisters picked watermelon, cotton, and tobacco in the fields, to Bethune Cookman, and on to the NBA, Coach has left greatness in his wake. He has traveled the world playing basketball and has been inducted in the Hall of Fame in Santa Domingo. When he chose Broward County, he brought that greatness with him. He married Ms. Mary Bines and they settled in as he coached at Coconut Creek High School for many years before settling at Boyd Anderson High School for the rest of his career.
“Coach helped so many kids get to college. Not just Boyd Anderson students. He would even go to court and speak on behalf of other kids.” Attorney Johnny McCray, explained as he touched on the coach’s legacy.
The story that will become legend involved one of Coach’s trip to Florida State University with his players. He was so impressed with the FSU basketball players’ locker room that he decided he was going to find a way to get an impressive locker room for his Boyd Anderson players. That was about four years ago. Coach made efforts to put a locker room in place but in the end, it was the legacy of his character that brought his dream to fruition.
Coach has recently retired, but over the years he and Boyd Anderson have turned out many phenomenal players. Mitch Richmond, NBA All Star, Asante Samuel, NFL, born in Accra, Ghana and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, to name a few. There is diversity and a focus on education. In fact, BA’s athletic program boasts an average of four out of every five players going on to college.
One of Coach’s former players, an Alum of BA, T’Vaughn Ferguson learned of the coach’s vision and jumped in to help. Ferguson recalled that before this project he felt “the kids weren’t excited, the culture was low. There was a sense that this was a Title 1 school, it was hard to get donations to motivate or show vision.”
T’Vaughn laughed as he recalled his years playing for Boyd Anderson “We had to change in the Health & Wellness Hallway where we got our ankles taped. I didn’t know people had locker rooms until I went to college.”
But Principal James Griffin gave them an opportunity with the understanding that fundraising was key. Recognizing that this was an opportunity to bring back morale to the school, T’Vaughn and his partner Bryan Bynes set to work. Ferguson used the graphic design skills he acquired at FAMU to draw up the current design. He took the vision of Coach Richardson, tweaking what started as a $5,000 project until he arrived at what we have today.
“For every five seniors, four always go to college” he said, “and everybody wants to give back to Coach.” All he had to do was find both groups and put them together on a common cause.
He and Bynes created a Booster Account, an Instagram page, sold school merchandise, had concession stands opened on the weekends, and kicked off a “sponsor a locker” drive. In the end they raised over $20,000. Fifteen lockers were secured. The value of these lockers has escalated with the addition of names plates, quality material and design.
Johnny McCray, Esq., has been a supporter of Boyd Anderson and donor to the BA basketball program, since 2005. He is one of the top criminal attorneys in Broward County. McCray is the recipient of the 2018 prestigious Harry Gulkin Award, the highest honor presented by the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (BACDL). His accolades are many but for him supporting Boyd Anderson and their athletic department is a ministry. McCray and many educators and alumni exemplified the kind of support Ferguson needed to bring this vision into reality.
“I’m the hand in the middle. This is a team effort.” With all this activity, there was only one thing left, to keep the full extent of the project a secret from the man who had dared to conceive it. Finally, on July 27, 2022 the locker room was ready, the supporters were in place.
Boyd Anderson’s principal, James Griffin, understood the odds well. He had opened the door, he intrinsically understood that this would create a higher level of accountability for his students.
“Players look up to folks who come back and give back. When such young people like T’Vaughn come and give back, they hold the players accountable and do more than a person or School Board can do. My job was easy, I just opened the door.” But the principal intends to do more; he intends to propose to the School Board that the locker room remain forever dedicated to the coach.
At the dedication event on Thursday, the Cobras were standing high. Point guard Will Gray offered his reaction to the dedication, “To be honest, it felt like a family, like meeting family members you didn’t know. I felt loved. I felt noticed. That’s the good thing about BA, you feel loved and noticed. Even the staff stayed around for the dedication.” His reaction to the locker room itself was just as powerful,
“Not a lot of us thought of even having a locker room. In person it’s something you can’t forget.”
The Assistant coach, Cedric Smith, remembers when the players had to change in the hallways. He has been with BA for twenty years. He and Coach Admore White, the current coach, couldn’t be more pleased. Coach White added, “The team is awesome,” so with the energy of this new locker room, “they will have a rock star season.”
Coach Richardson was out of town when he got the call. “I had no idea that they were going to dedicate it to me.” Coach reported getting a call saying, “We need you at the school.” He headed home to find a limousine waiting to pick him up. He realized what was happening when he found himself walking through confetti to get to the school gym. “They tried to make me cry, but I’m a big boy.” Coach laughed.
Over two hundred people were gathering in BA’s gym to honor the coach and celebrate the opening of the new locker room. There were players, alums, supporters, school administrators and politicians. There was a 360-degree camera, a DJ, popcorn and candy machines.
“When I walked in, I could not BELIEVE the job they’ve done!” Along with students and supporters, the decorated gym was stacked with a delectable spread of food and drinks.
The new locker room did not disappoint. It displayed state-of-the-arts LED lighting, 15 brand new lockers, oakwood floor, a flatscreen TV, a white board, reclining massage chairs, and a trophy wall to show off state championships trophies from 1991 to present. Every player has a locker with his name and number on it along with its sponsor’s information.