Monday, July 16, 2012

Remembering Coach "Fuzz" Watts

GORDON “FUZZ” WATTS was one of those rare individuals who seemed endowed with natural talent for just about anything he pursued. 

A group of Watts' students, led by John McDowell, organized a tribute gathering to Coach Watts on Saturday, July 14, 2012, at the American Legion Club in Chadron.  More than 50 people attended the event and shared some moving stories.  We'll have a bit more about that event in the next few days.

Born in Denver in 1928, “Fuzz” Watts grew up in Sheridan, Wyoming, where he graduated from high school. After a tour in the Pacific as an Air Force cryptographer, he went to college at the University of Wyoming, but soon transferred to NSTC at Chadron, where he was a three-year football letterman.

He married Bonnie Haun in 1951; they had four children: #1-Patti; #2-Debbie; #3-Mike; and #4-Bill. After graduating from college in 1952, Watts signed a contract with Chadron schools and would change the fortunes of Cardinal football – leading the 1954 team to the first undefeated season for Chadron High since 1927. During his 11 years at the helm of the football program, his teams racked up a 79-17-4 record. They won conference crowns nine times and were undefeated in 1954, 1956, 1960 and 1962.

As Athletic Director, “Fuzz” Watts was credited with initiating a very successful high school wrestling program and a popular elementary grade school basketball program. Many players on the 1961 Class B Championship team began playing together in the 3rd and 4th Grades.

For the thousands of students whose lives he touched, “Coach Watts” was a master at motivation. He left CHS in 1965 and worked as a construction boss for several projects and was also Superintendent of Buildings & Grounds at CSC.

Watts died of natural causes on June 18, 1984. He was just 55 years old. Shortly after his death, veteran writer Con Marshall penned this poignant piece about Gordon “Fuzz” Watts for the Chadron Record.

These fellows were a few the athletes at Chadron High School who played for Coach Gordon "Fuzz" Watts.  They were among the crowd of men and women who gathered at the American Legion Club last weekend (7/14/12) to pay tribute to the talented coach. For another shot of this group -- and names -- visit our Chadron Schools Gallery.