Lady Buc Kathey Long
By Wayne Wood
As the 2019-2020 Hoover High School Basketball Season is well underway, it must be noted that there have been certain key supporters through the years. One of those is Kathey Long.
Kathey was a cheerleader at Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School years ago where she was a classmate of legendary Hover High School principal Gene Godwin. In time, she married Scott Long who played baseball & football at Auburn University in the early to mid-1960’s. After a period of time, living out of state, they returned to Alabama in the late 1980’s.
Kathey taught Science at Berry High School and then at Hoover High School before becoming an assistant principal for several years. During that time, her grandson, Scotty Long, played defensive tackle for the Hoover Bucs football team from 2006-2008.
Kathey proved to be one of the most constant & fervent supporters of Buccaneer Athletics along with others such as school secretaries Kay Kolb & Diane Myers (who both had children involved in sports at Berry High). There was also Jim & Nadine Hamilton who were very supportive having grandchildren go through Berry & Hoover along with the fact that their daughter, Paulette Pearson, was a longtime counselor at Berry & Hoover.
Here is Kathey reflecting on her time connecting with former Berry Buc Coach Bob Finley: “My husband and I moved from Illinois to Hoover in November of 1987. Our three daughters were in high school. Because of the location of our home in Hoover, our girls would attend Shades Valley High School for one year and would then change to Berry. (The city of Hoover had recently voted to form their own school system). Imagine our frustration when we realized our girls would have to change schools two times in two years.”
“Scott, my husband, sught Coach Finley’s advice and, with his help, we learned that we could request permission for our daughters to attend Berry. The Jefferson County Board of Education was very helpful & granted our request.”
“Our freshman daughter, Brandy, was a basketball player and the waiver of residence from Jefferson County impacted her eligibility. She would have to ‘sit out’ her freshman year. This was sad news, for basketball was her love.”
“Again, Coach Finley helped us out. He talked with Brandy and encouraged her to come to practices and get to know the team. He allowed her to practice with them, even though he knew she would not be able to compete when the season started. He even gave her rides home from practice and consoled her when she felt she ‘didn’t know anybody.’ Years later, he told me that those rides home had created a special bond between him and Brandy. He felt he got to know her first as a person and later as a player. After that first year, he continued to guide her and nurture her–and her family.”
“Brandy eventually got to play (legally, of course) on the 1988-89; 1989-90, and 1990-91 teams. The 1989-90 squad made it to the State Finals and the Final Four. Sadly, they were defeated by Decatur (a powerhouse team with Yolanda Watkins) in the final game.”
“The next year Brandy was named as an All-State Player. We bragged about the fact that Coach Finley referred to her as ‘…the best pure shooter in the state.’ The honor was awesome, but a comment like that from the guru of girls’ basketball was unbelievable! At every opportunity, I continued to thank him for his kind words and for his positive influence on Brandy. Of course, my accolades were met with his characteristic humble smile and few words.”
“As a new faculty member at Berry, I was lucky enough to share a lunch period with Coach Finley. He took me under his wing. He made sure I met other teachers and he never failed to brighten my day. He was easy to talk to and was a true ‘listener.’ We talked of games, life and people. He helped me through some family times, and I understood why his character was so admired by all. He had a gift for being able to make every person feel they were unique and very special. Perhaps that is because he was so unique and special himself.”
“The kindness and caring Coach Finley showed my family can never be repaid–though I would love to be able to ‘even the score.’ I wish I could tell him how all our family ‘issues’ have turned out. I wish I could let him know that things worked out just beautifully for the transplanted Illinois family he so graciously guided.”
Kathey added this from her time at Hoover High School. “I attended every Girls’ Basketball Big Orange Classic since 1988. We realized it during the year of 2001, when I was sick and unable to attend. I told folks I couldn’t understand why missing the games were upsetting me so much. After thinking about it, I realized it had become a traditional part of our families’ Christmas-time activities. It was like a Christmas dinner without the turkey!”
The many supporters of the Buc Athletics Program are what makes the Buc Nation great!