By A.J. Crispemail@example.com
The night couldn’t have gone any better. The support and respect shown was immense. The Yellow Jackets beat a rival. And a legendary coach will forever be remembered as his name will be seen by all who enter the Jeff D. Cody Gymnasium.
On Friday night, Cleburne ISD and the city of Cleburne honored the longtime coach by renaming the Cleburne High School Gym in his name with a ceremony prior to the Yellow Jackets’ District 8-4A match-up against Joshua, a game Cleburne won, 47-40.
Friends, family and peers traveled many miles to share this special night with Cody, who compiled more than 800 wins in his many years of coaching and teaching.
“It was a great night,” Cody said. “It’s quite an honor, not just for me but my family and all these kids that played for me and all of these men that worked with me. I was blessed. I had a great situation. Like I’ve said before, this isn’t something I’ve done by myself. I had so many wonderful people on my side.”
A special pre-game reception was held prior to the ceremony and game, where friends and family greeted Cody. An entire wing of the Cleburne High School was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with former colleagues, players and family in support of Cody.
“He’s a great man,” said Dominique Calhoun, a 2008 Cleburne graduate who played for Cody. “Coach was more than just a coach. He was a friend, a mentor and a family man. The biggest memory we have is that they always had the players over to their house for a pancake breakfast during the wintertime, and it was the biggest thing. We always looked forward to those things. And that’s the kind of man he was. He was more than just X’s and O’s on the basketball court, he taught us about life and opened up his home to us. I love that man.
“It’s a long time coming in my opinion. I really believe in Coach Cody and all the things he did for us as young men, pushing us in the right path. I’m honored to be here to celebrate it with him and glad I had the opportunity to experience this with him.”
After the reception, family and friends filed into the newly named gymnasium, where CISD Superintendent Dr. Tim Miller welcomed everyone and said a few words about Cody, before handing the microphone over to Cody himself. More than 50 former players and coaches stood at half court as Cody spoke.
During Cody’s speech, he opened by joking that he didn’t think very many people would show up, but he was grateful to the large number of supporters who were in attendance. He thanked all of his family, players and their parents, his assistant coaches, his fellow teachers, the administrative staff and the entire community of Cleburne.
Cody mentioned several times how receiving this honor wasn’t achieved by one man, but that it was a team and community effort. He encouraged the community to support Coach Jimmy Littleton and the current Yellow Jacket basketball program the way they encouraged and supported him.
“I was totally surprised,” Cody said of the number of people who showed up. “One of my players flew in from New England. I had cousins here, I had my 86-year old aunt from Kaufman here, college teammates, high school classmates. That’s real friends. It’s such a tremendous honor. I thank the board and Dr. Miller for this. Lisa Magers worked hard on this. There were so many people that made this a very special night for everybody.”
After Cody finished speaking, he removed a cover to unveil the black and gold “Jeff D. Cody Gymnasium” sign inside the gym to roaring applause.
There is also a sign on the outside of the building and there will be a trophy case inside the foyer of the gym. Miller also said Cody’s name will be painted on the gym floor. Cody also received a plaque and the city of Cleburne declared Dec. 21 as Jeff Cody Day.
Cody’s numerous achievements include nine district coach of the year awards, four Fellowship of Christian Athlete coach of the year recogitions and he was honored as the citizen of the year by the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce.
In 2009, Cody, who coached at Granbury, Andrews and Boswell prior to Cleburne, was inducted into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame. He was honored by his high school alma mater this year as an inductee into For Worth’s C.F. Brewer High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Cody lettered in basketball, baseball and football at Brewer and received a four-year scholarship to Midwestern State University. He retired from coaching and teaching in 2008 with more than 45 years of service and a 805-506 career record. He led the Yellow Jackets to the playoffs 24 times, including six trips to the regional tournament, a state semi-finalist title in 1984 and state 4A runner-up in 1987.
Cody took pictures with family and friends after the ceremony wrapped up. He spoke to everyone in attendance throughout the game.
And as the night came to an end, and the clock showed all zeroes with the Jackets on top on the scoreboard, Cody couldn’t have been more happy.
“That’s the big thing. They got a win,” he said. “I’m a Coach Littleton fan. He’s got things going in the right way. He’ll get them there. Sometimes when things are not good, you’ve got to crawl before you walk and walk before you run, and that’s sort of where we’re at right now.
“But this was a great night. I was in awe.”