A firestorm of outrage has emerged in the Overton High family.
It’s come from a large number of Bobcats supporters over the controversial attempt to rename Coutras Stadium, its football facility, after a retired band director at the school, Jo Ann Hood.
The Bobcats won their only state football championship in 1981. The following year, the field was named after Nick Coutras, the long-time and legendary coach at the school. Coutras, who passed away in 2003, guided the Bobcats to a 14-0 record in their title run.
In 2006, retiring principal Monica Dillard made a recommendation to the Metro School Board to rename the football field the Jo Ann Hood field after the school’s highly regarded band director.
Neither the Coutras family nor athletics department was notified.
Upon reporting the story recently, WSMV-TV made attempts to contact the three members of the school board who voted for the name change, and none responded. The station reported that the renaming had been scheduled for a final vote but that the recommendation had been pulled from the agenda “for further discussion.”
Last Wednesday, in a strongly worded email on the NIL website, addressed to “Friends of the NIL and athletic community at Overton,’’ John Griffin wrote, in part, “I am not sure that that you are aware of the injustice that has been done to Coach Coutras and his family by the Board with the renaming of the football field after a retired band director at Overton, Jo Ann Hood.
“A select group, led by then principal at Overton (Dillard), petitioned the Board to name the field after Ms. Hood. This decision was hidden from the Overton athletic committee until 2011 when it was announced at a band competition at Overton.
“Rest assured, we are not saying that Ms. Hood is not deserving of some recognition, but it is unacceptable to re-name the field that Coach Coutras poured his heart and soul into after Ms. Hood! Name the band room, the section of stands where the band sits during games, but not the field.”
Griffin then wrote the email addresses of the school board members at the bottom of his letter and urged people to write them and express their concerns.
“You’re naming an athletic field for somebody and nobody in the athletic department knows it’s going on [for five years],” current Overton football coach Terry Anderson said.
The online discussion brought forth a wide range of opinions.
“Coach Coutras may have built the stadium, but he and his family don’t maintain it,” one response said. “The hard-working teachers, not all the coaches, help keep the field in good shape. Some people come to see the game, some come to watch their kid march. Both teachers brought recognition through state championships: Coutras 1, Hood 6, both on that field. Sharing the recognition seems appropriate. Anything less — petty.”
Another wrote: Name “the band practice field after the lady.”
And still another wrote: “Who travels to watch the band play on Friday night except their parents?”
Finally, one suggested: “Why don’t they rename it the Coutras-Hood field?”