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Monday, February 11th, 2008 by

Auburn University Montgomery Professor Alan Gribben has reviewed Bill Elder’s sports memoir All Guts and No Glory in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper. In All Guts and No Glory, Elder tells of his work desegregating the Northeast State Junior College basketball team in 1965, and the challenges he and his players faced during that difficult time. Writes Gribben, “Elder’s All Guts and No Glory deserves a place on the short shelf of highly readable coaches’ memoirs as well as (on a higher shelf) inclusion in the stack of titles recording the toll of breaking down color barriers to create the New South.”

From the review:

Initially Elder abided by stipulated racial restrictions in recruiting his players, but in his fourth season, the college president gave Elder the green light to racially integrate his basketball team. Elder began rounding up prospective black players, hoping to emulate Vanderbilt’s decision three years earlier to abandon athletic segregation. However, he soon found that while “Scottsboro was only about a 150 miles from Nashville,” in terms of the citizens’ willingness to accept change “it might as well have been in another country.”

Two of Elder’s black signees and their white teammates were immediately taunted and assaulted with fists outside a campus-area restaurant, and a mob stormed the school looking for black basketball players. Intruders broke into the black players’ house and turned on the gas stove. Members of the Klan became so increasingly bold in their attacks that the school’s registrar suggested, “as a friend,” that Elder tell the black athletes “it would better for them to go home before someone gets seriously hurt.”

Shunned at the faculty table in the school cafeteria, Elder found that his applications for other coaching jobs brought no responses. Reluctantly he gave up his coaching job and left for Tuscaloosa to study for a doctorate to qualify himself for athletic administration. Nevertheless, “I am convinced now,” writes Elder, “that one reason God placed me on earth was to coach at Northeast State Junior College and provide an opportunity for black athletes to get a college education.”

Read the full article from the Montgomery Advertiser.

All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon.com, or your favorite online and local booksellers.

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