1101 Charlie Bibbs gym.jpg

Former Olive Branch coach Charlie Bibbs (center) is flanked by (from left) current basketball coaches Eric Rombaugh and Jason Thompson inside the school gymnasium. A ceremony Saturday night at halftime of the Conquistadors’ game with Byhalia will officially name the gymnasium in Bibbs’ honor.

When the Olive Branch High School basketball teams hit the floor against Byhalia Saturday in the Quistors’ and Lady Quistors’ home openers, the evening will be a trip back in time for fans of the Olive Branch hoops program. 

They will see on one wall nearly 60 signs representing the successes of the school’s basketball teams and volleyball teams over the years.

The most recent item will be the one that represents the state 5A boys’ basketball title won by the Conquistadors last March in Jackson.

But the highlight of the evening will be the sign on the wall at the end of the gymnasium opposite the stage near the visitors’ bench.

That sign will be unveiled at halftime of the boys’ game to officially rename the facility in honor of longtime Olive Branch coach Charlie Bibbs.

“I am really, really honored to have the name bestowed on me,” Bibbs said Tuesday. “I’m probably going to be speechless Saturday night. When I come in here with all of the people that I know, it’s not going to be a surprise but it’s going to be an honor.”

The group behind the work is the Olive Branch Alumni Athletic Association (OBAAA), volunteers that want to support current student athletes at Olive Branch while also preserving its storied athletic history.

Many of the reminders of past Olive Branch sports glory seen around the school are thanks to the work of the OBAAA.

But the highlight of Saturday evening is the recognition of what Bibbs did for Olive Branch, and before that, East Side High.

The Winona native played football his freshman year at Jackson State but turned to basketball after a broken nose and series of knee injuries curtailed his football career.

Bibbs, now age 78, came to East Side High first as a substitute teacher after his marriage to his wife Alyce, who was a home economics teacher there. A year later Bibbs was hired full time and started to coach the boys’ junior varsity basketball team.

Bibbs continued in that position when East Side and Olive Branch integrated and over his time amassed a 104-3 record, including 77 straight victories.

In 1972, Bibbs started as an offensive assistant coach for the football team and was also the school’s track coach, adding to his duties the post of head boys’ basketball coach in 1975 and head girls’ coach in 1977.

At one time, Bibbs was coached seven different teams at Olive Branch High School.

Saturday’s halftime program will include a proclamation from Mayor Scott Phillips, the unveiling of the sign and comments from Bibbs.

The Bibbs family, who lives in the Whitehaven neighborhood of Memphis, will be taken by limousine and with police escort brought to the game Saturday night.

“I think it’s going to be real special for the community,” said Quistors boys’ coach Eric Rombaugh. “A lot of the players that I’m coaching now had parents coached by Coach Bibbs. Mr. Bibbs laid the foundation for what we are today.”

“I’m familiar with Coach Bibbs at Olive Branch because when I played at (H.W.) Byers, I played against Coach Bibbs,” said girls’ coach Jason Thompson. “I’ve heard great stories and great things and I think it’s a great honor for him to receive that.”

Mark Guy with the OBAAA, whose athletic career after high school included a Grey Cup championship in the Canadian Football League and a brief time in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs, researched all of the school’s championships and felt it was important that it all be honored in a tangible way.

“This history would be lost forever if you just let it go,” said Guy. “We created bylaws and a mission statement for the OBAAA. There are 19 different sports here and we’re trying to service all of them.”

Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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