Patterson overcame adversity
By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
Adversity is no match for Bonnie (Hoover) Patterson.
Patterson has endured her fair share of hardship and she has seemingly overcome every obstacle and become a stronger person for fighting through the difficult times.
Patterson, the daughter of Dean and Robert Hoover, is one of six individuals who will be inducted into the Cannon Courier Sports Hall of Fame at the Arts Center of Cannon County, May 15, at 6:30 p.m. Doors open at 6.
"I am honored just to be on a short list with the amazing people that have been inducted," Patterson said. "I don't think I could ever be on the level of a Robert A. Harris or a Julie Powell or any of the people who have been inducted. That is what shocks me. I am truly honored."
Robert A. Harris, Patterson's former high school coach and a member of the TSSAA and Cannon Courier Halls of Fame, said humility and being a team player come to mind when discussing her.
"I don't know of any words to give (Patterson) justice for what she's done in her span from playing basketball to where she is now," said Harris, her former coach at Woodbury Central. "She is so outstanding in whatever she does. That lady has been through so much it's just out of this world."
Patterson's career covers about every category of the Hall of Fame - player, coach and administrator.
If not for surgeries on both knees during her high school career, Patterson may have been viewed as one of the most outstanding players in program history. On bad knees she still managed to score more than 1,200 points and help lead Woodbury Central to three district championships in a four-year span.
When she graduated in 1977, Patterson was sixth on the career scoring list. She was a two-time All-District and All-Midstate performer.
"She could play with more pain than anybody I have ever seen in my life," Harris said. "She had operations on both knees during the time she played. They told her if she could take the pain then she could play. One season she played with the pain and then had the surgery after the season.
"I will never forget the last time she had it operated on. The season was over so (Patterson) had the surgery. Back then you could still have spring scrimmages so we went over the Tennessee line into Kentucky for a scrimmage. Bonnie just had the surgery and she rode all the way up there in the back of the van just to be with her teammates. She couldn't play, but she rode that van to be there. She was a team player."
Patterson was an outstanding coach, winning back-to-back state titles at Woodland and helping prepare future stars such as Julie Powell, Catherine Reed and Reggie King, among others, for prep success. They would go on to win a state championship at CCHS, too. Patterson also coached at Woodbury Grammar.
The hard-working Patterson received a great opportunity in 1990 when she was named Harris' successor at CCHS following his retirement. During the summer prior to her first season as head coach, Patterson was struck with a medical condition and ultimately resigned as head coach.
"I always say God sees the whole picture of your life," Patterson said. "At that time, I had worked so hard and I wanted to follow in Mr. Harris' footsteps. We did so well in camp and we were winning. Then, I had a medical issue. Now, I look back and see everything happened for a reason."
Harris says if not for more misfortune, Patterson would have enjoyed tremendous success as Cannon County's girls basketball coach.
"There is no doubt in my mind," Harris said. "I'm sure she would have had great success. Nothing Bonnie does surprises me. It is just the way she was in basketball. She did her job. She was right there and did what she was supposed to do. She does the job and she does it well."
Patterson, who played grammar school basketball at Short Mountain, has spent 33 years in education. She currently is currently director of coordinated school health and supervisor of attendance for Cannon County Schools. She also served as assistant principal at Cannon County High School and principal at Woodbury Grammar for the previous four years.
Director of Schools Barbara Parker says Parker was a strong administrator at WGS.
"Bonnie was an excellent principal," Parker said. "She is a genuine person. She is one of the hardest workers that I have seen. It doesn't matter the task, she is willing to contribute her part to getting the task done and completed correctly. She bends over backwards to help people who need help. She is a quick learner. That was evident on the ball court and in every job she has had since high school."
Parker said Patterson was the ideal candidate for the principal's position at WGS when it became open following the 2009-10 school year.
"Her work ethic, her desire to help all kids, and her love for all kids, plus her skills to manage people are the traits that made Bonnie the ideal candidate for that position," Parker said.
During Patterson's tenure, WGS showed tremendous growth in achievement scores and culture. She made contacts with Apple Corporation and MTSU to start an after-school program for her school, Parker said. Patterson also applied for and received numerous grants so the playground area could be improved for safety and added a concrete walking track. She also received grants for purchase technology for the school.
"That building is full of technology," Patterson said. "The students are using technology every day. I'm really proud of the after-school program. We have teachers presenting at colleges for technology. I am thankful I was part of that but the big thing is the relationships. It's all about the relationships. If you don't touch somebody's heart you will never get to their head."
Patterson began facing adversity at an early age as a youngster growing up on Short Mountain as Bonnie Hoover. Her father, Robert, only saw her play one game and it was during her eighth-grade year at Short Mountain.
"That's the only time dad saw me play, but he's the reason I played," Patterson said. "Soon after he saw me play, he died. He must have known something was going to happen because before he died he went to Mr. Joe Daniel Davenport and asked him to please make sure I got signed up for basketball. Mr. Davenport did and that's how I got into ball."
Patterson stayed in ball because she wanted to help others.
"If it had not been for basketball and that team camaraderie and Mr. Harris, I don't know where I would have been," Patterson said. "There were so many people that helped me to be the person I am. I wanted to give back. I felt I needed to give back. My mother taught me that. She always said try to help everybody you can so that's what I try to do. I look back at coach Harris and the things he did. We grew up poor, but proud. We didn't have much, but when I needed something I had it. If I needed shoes they were there. I received a lettermen sweater, and I knew he had something to do with that.
"I would have missed out on so many opportunities without basketball."
And Cannon County basketball would have missed out on one of its all-time greats.
"Bonnie was an outstanding player as far as I am concerned," Harris said. "She always had a good attitude. She always did a good job. She was always ready to do anything you asked her to do. She was unselfish and team always came first."
Patterson was not boastful. Humility was one of her greatest characteristics. Bonnie's mother complained because she wouldn't allow her to brag. When she scored 45 points in a game, Patterson didn't realize it until her photo ran in the Tennessean the following day.
"My mom would get onto me because I would never let her brag on me," Patterson said. "Coach Harris always said if you know how many points you have then you are not concentrating on the game. I took that to mean you shouldn't keep up with your points. One night I had (40-plus), and I had no clue until the next day when it came out in the Tennessean. For someone from Short Mountain to be on the front page of the Tennessean sports section was pretty amazing, but I never kept up with points or what I did. I just wanted the team to win."
Patterson doesn't think about the career she may have had if not for the multiple knee surgeries. She is thankful for the career she did have.
She didn't become bitter when health robbed her of an opportunity she wanted, and deserved, as head coach of the Lionettes. Instead, she assisted four different head coaches in future years after she battled illness, and won.
Patterson has received many accolades as a player, coach and educator.
She can soon add Hall of Fame to the list.