Abilene Christian College - Prickly Pear Yearbook (Abilene, TX)

 - Class of 1982

Page 125 of 424


Abilene Christian College - Prickly Pear Yearbook (Abilene, TX) online yearbook collection, 1982 Edition, Page 125
Page 125

Text from page 125:

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A. B. orri -fman ofthe centur in ACU athletics' All great men have their day. - For Asbury Bratten Morris, 0, 1982, was his day. A. B. Morris has served the thletic department for 58 years as oach of all sports, as athletic directo April ACU head r and n helping raise funds through the develop- nentoffice. However, Coach Morris' HC- omplishments cannot be measured in his oaching skills or how well he can in- luence donors. His accomplishments are greater than caching a young man how to shoot a iasketball, how to tackle a running back or .ow to turn a double play. Coach Morris has taught young athletes ow to play the game of life. On April 10, many of those athletes A .ow successful career men - and members of the ACU family gathered at a -100-a-plate dinner to honor Morris a nd to et up the A. B. Morris Endowed Coaching lcholarship to continue the training of Ihristian coaches and teachers. In conjunction with the appreci inner, Abilene Mayor Elbert ation Hall eclared April 10 "A. B. and Rebecca florris Appreciation Day." Chancellor John C. Stevens read the roclamation at the dinner and presented florris with a copy of the proclamation. Morris was born Friday, April 13, 1 DeSoto. By the time he graduated igh school in Wheatland, friends oaches knew that the scrappy little is was going to be a great athlete. 1900, from and Mor- I' hey were so impressed they persuaded Morris to enter Texas A8cM, where e was destined to become an athletic :gend as a shortstop and a quarterback. Before Morris graduated from A8c Min 923 with a bachelor's degree in griculture, he earned all-Southwest Con- erence honors in baseball and as quarter- ack, led the Aggies to victory in the first lpposite page: Coach A. B. Morris at- ands a reception in honor ofA CU em lorris has been associated with niversity since 1923. eriti. the Cotton Bowl game. Once the A 8: M yearbook referred to him as "the boy with the million-dollar toe" in respect for his place kicking abilities. After coaching and teaching on the high school level for a year, Morris came to ACU in 1924 at the invitation of ACU President Batsell Baxter. He brought one assistant coach, Guy Scruggs, with him, and together they began to build ACU's athletic department to national recogni- tion. Times were hard and sometimes even finding transportation to scheduled games was difficult, but Morris never quit, a fact his athletes took to heart. M orris coached football at ACU for 18 years before stepping down to con- centrate on baseball and basketball. In 1955 he retired from coaching completely to concentrate on the duties of athletic director, a position he kept until 1969. Morris is now in charge of the A. B. Morris Athletic Fund, the name given to the fund after he began his work as athletic director emeritus. At the dinner, Wally Bullington, athletic director, said one of his biggest concerns about the future of ACU was to keep producing coaches with "A. B. Mor- ris traits." Thus the idea of the A. B. Morris En- dowed Coaching Scholarship was created, and before the banquet began, nearly 560,000 had been collected for the fund surpassing the initial goal of 550,000 President William J. Teague said anyone involved with ACU will remember Morris "fondly, happily and because his influence will always be with us." S everal times during the evening Morris' ex-athletes paid tribute to the man known to them as "Coach": 0 Oliver Jackson, ACU track coach from 1948-63 and master of ceremonies for the dinner, called Morris' life "the brightest shing light in Texas." ' Lee Powell, an honorary co-chairman of the dinner and captain of the 1932 foot- ball squad, said Morris' influence has been "very, very great" on ACU and his former athletes. 0 Chesley McDonald, an honorary co- chairman of the dinner and member of the Board of Trustees, called Morris a "cham- pion ofthe little man." ' "Leaping" Leon Reese, representing Morris' athletes of the pre-World War ll era, said the greatest tribute paid to Mor- ris is the success of his athletes in life. He called Morris "a great teacher, not only of athletics but of life . . .a Christian in every way." Guest speaker Leeman Bennett, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, spoke about the influence a coach can have on young people. He said, "As a coach, 1 know how many hours Coach Morris put in working with youth. There is no way to calculate the hours in terms of what they meant to those young people. Coach Morris is a simple man, but what he did takes the greatest of abilities. He made boys into men." T oward the end of the evening, Jackson presented Morris and his wife, Rebec- ca, with a journal of the evening's events and the names of the contributors to the scholarship fund. Coach Morris stood and in a voice echo- ing the years of hard work, said, "You've all pretty much covered the waterfront, but I have a few things to say." "I came here in September 1924, and I started all this mess. We had three major sports, and we coached the best we knew how. Now, 58 years later, as I look out and see your faces, 1 talk to you, but l speak also to the countless others who have been in my life who could not be here or who have gone on." "And to that eternity of people I say, my wife, Rebecca, and 1 thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and you have our blessings. This period of my life, this time spent here on this campus, has been the most wonderful thing to ever happen to me. My blessings go to all of you." With those words, Morris sat beside his devoted wife, while the audience stood and applauded "the man of the century in ACU athletics." - Jay Friddell A. B. Morris

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