Goss' Coaching Career Leaves Lasting Legacy
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Mar 28, 2014, 19:47
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
CHESTER — It's Friday afternoon and the news of Thomas Dale head coach Eddie Goss retiring at semester's end has spread and thus the inevitable speaking to the media ensues. After all, Goss is currently ranked third among all active coaches with 557 career wins. And following a second period class, Goss entered the the school's main office and walked into a small conference room where the sounds of students changing classes don't exist.
Goss sits down and slowly leans back in his chair with a sense of peace in his decision. In this moment, the Knights' coach for the last 26 years allows himself to reflect on the entirety of his 44-year career in the coaching ranks.
As he does so, he thinks about his parents who paved the way with their involvement as educators and he also thinks about the game which stole his heart while growing up. Goss remembers a time when he began to play basketball and immediately fell for it. He was a 5-foot-8 point guard — admittedly undersized for his position — but he had a tenacity about the way he played.
It's that passion he had to strive to be the best which has led him through three different stops in the coaching ranks starting by being named head coach at Floyd County in 1970. But still, even with his retirement just a few months from being official, he can remember vividly the point in which he knew coaching would be his dream.
The memories he has built up can fill a novel as he's built himself a track record of success while leaving a mark wherever he's been, starting with playing basketball at Bluefield College.
"I started playing in the fifth grade and I loved it. Then, I had an opportunity after high school to go to Bluefield College," Goss said. "I just fell in love with the game. I started out as engineering, but it just wasn't what I wanted, so I told my parents that, 'hey, I want to be a coach and a teacher.' That was a passion I had from about '68, so I just continued it."
And his journey took him to Floyd County High School as a head coach. It was there where Goss acknowledged his teams did not achieve much success because of extenuating circumstances. Floyd County was a single A school which played in a double A league, putting his team on an uphill path.
However, Goss was still able to make enough of an impression on those around the coaching ranks to be looked upon as a new coach for Gill High School — now known as Richmond Christian. The high school had been looking for a football and basketball coach, zeroing in on Allen Wiley, a championship-winning coach at Blacksburg.
Instead of accepting the offer, Wiley offered the school advice on where to turn to fill the vacant position.
"He said I know a young man who you will really like and really fits what you want because he does a great job with nothing," Goss remembers Wiley saying.
It was all Goss needed to be hired as coach where he stayed on for six seasons before moving to Colonial Heights. It was there Goss captured three separate championships while establishing a winning tradition with the Colonials over nine seasons.
After 18 years of coaching, Goss had proved Wiley correct in his assessment before even stepping foot at Thomas Dale.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
"You have two coaches in 52 years and I think the first coach did all he could to take Thomas Dale to a certain level," Thomas Dale activities director Steve Davies said. "Eddie has just taken it to another level which wasn't even imaginable. Getting to the state tournament twice? That's something that may have never been done if it wasn't for him."
But when discussing the success he's had at all of his stops, including the 26 years at Thomas Dale, Goss hesitates in applauding himself. Thinking deeply, he exhales quickly and notes the wins came courtesy of his players. But the reason why they were so successful is simple — he put them in position to be.
Goss does not have a set offensive or defensive system. Instead, he adapts his system from season-to-season or even game-by-game to the type of players he has and the opponent they are playing. It's why the Knights, even during a down season like they had this year while finishing 9-11, were always a tough team to play.
They take on the fighting spirit of their coach who got all he could out of his slight frame to play college basketball before instilling the same work ethic in the students he's both coached and educated.
In fact, it's the impact he's had on the students — many of whom have reached out to him to thank him for all he's done over the years — that Goss wants to be remembered for.
"I always did the best I could, I was a good guy and I worked hard," Goss said humbly. "I helped kids go on and become successful ... the respect for the success people have given us for all we've done and the support we we've had for all these years."
Added Davies on what he'll remember, "The lives he touched and everywhere he went, he won and that's something to be said. From Gill to Colonial Heights, that's remarkable for where he's won."
Forty-four years ago, Goss had no idea where his life would take him. But as he stood up from his chair and walked out of the main office, even he had to crack a smile as he remembered all the lives he touched and the legacy he left behind on every stop along the way.