First Posted: 10/22/2009
Its funny how things work out sometimes.
Back in the early 1970s, a young Terry Pruett was living in Florida, hunting for a teaching/coaching gig. There were none available in the Sunshine State or in his hometown of Mount Airy. Pruett, who had worked a summer job for the Dade County Parks and Recreation Department, wound up at the Reeves Community Center in Mount Airy and the rest is history. Had that not happened, its possible to conceive Mayberry without its community center and the Surry County Sports Hall of Fame without Terry Pruett.
Reeves was struggling at the time, Pruett said. After a few shrewd moves getting, Some good people on board, as Pruett put it, Reeves slowly but surely became a city fixture. By the 1980s, a million dollars had been raised to give the building a renovation.
After that an indoor pool was added, the first of its kind in Surry County. The notion of an indoor pool wasnt a big hit initially because most people had not seen one before. Now it hosts everything from classes to high school competitions.
It was funny, Pruett said. You had to sell the idea first and that was difficult because there wasnt a big market. Eventually, they all came around and all the schools got excited about it and immediately the indoor pool filled up with activities.
In 2004, Pruett was instrumental in what he calls his greatest achievement, forming the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Department between the city and Reeves.
Nowadays, Reeves is a thriving staple of the city of Mount Airy, catering to young, old and everyone in between. Imagine if Pruett had not come back to his hometown 35 years ago and instead was teaching classes and coaching at a Florida high school.
You fall into it sometimes, he said. Thats kind of the way it worked.
Pruett landed in Florida after graduating from Mount Airy High School and lived with his brother. He attended Dade County Junior College for two years before being drafted into military service. Pruett spent four years in the Coast Guard as a Hospital Corpsman, but was never sent overseas, even during the height of the Vietnam War in the late 60s and early 70s.
After his four years were up, Pruett chose to keep serving his country in the Coast Guard reserve unit as he studied at Florida Atlantic University. When no teaching jobs were available, Pruett packed up and headed back home.
Behind the leadership of Pruett, Reeves hosts numerous activities for all ages. The youth basketball program had more than 350 participants this year. This winter, another trailblazing effort will be made with the addition of a womens adult basketball league.
Reeves packs people into its programs thanks to Pruetts philosophy that everyone should have fun, no matter their skill level. Sportsmanship and teamwork come first, then sports are taught.
I tell the kids in the basketball league, Youre going to learn a whole lot of things, you might even learn little bit of basketball, he said.
Pruett speaks with the enthusiasm of a youngster participating in the sports, not the guy organizing them. Its that youthful exuberance that helps him stay busy organizing numerous sports and keeping everyone satisfied.
Pruett said he was honored to be nominated and to receive his plaque destined for the Ring of Honor.
I was always expecting to get a headstone with my name on it some day, but I didnt know Id get it so soon, he cracked.
Contact Ed Phillipps at [email protected] or 719-1921.