Gary Kellough was surprised by how many people said it to him Saturday.
“A lot of people came up to me, more than I expected, and said, ‘Boy, I’m glad you’re back,” Kellough said. “Really, I didn’t think I went anywhere. I just went to Chillicothe.”
But in the big picture, Kellough knows it was more than that. And that’s why Saturday’s induction into the Tip-Off Classic Hall of Fame at Zane Trace was so special.
Kellough made his name as a coach for the Pioneers, and started the Classic, along with legendary former Southeastern coach Larry Jordan, more than 25 years ago. At the end of the 2004-05 season, Kellough was cut loose by Zane Trace in an ugly divorce that left a coach with 299 career wins looking for a new sideline to stomp.
But that’s all ancient history now — memories now washed away by time and by Saturday’s ceremony.
“In a career like mine, 20 years at Zane Trace kind of falls on three things, like I said (in the ceremony),” Kellough said. “First of all, my family has always been there to support me. No. 2, I’ve always had good coaches there to help me. But the biggest thing, I had outstanding young men around me. I’ve been blessed my entire career, everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve worked with some outstanding people.”
Saturday was a time of reflection for Kellough, who has a pretty grounded belief in why things work out a certain way.
“I’ve always said that if you let things fall into line, and you don’t panic, then God is going to let things go according to the plan,” he said. “That’s why it was such a huge moment for me at Zane Trace (Saturday). It was like going back home. It’s amazing — and I want you to understand what I mean by this — but I kind of forgot how much I missed it there. There were so many good people who always treated me with respect, and I really miss them to this day.”
Kellough also had a lot of support from his former players.
“Of everything that happened out there (Saturday), that was one of the coolest,” he said. “There was a real neat mix of Zane Trace people, and people from Chillicothe that were there to support me. That was touching.
“The thing is, whether you’re a coach or an administrator or a cheerleading advisor or whatever, it’s not about what you do. It’s all about the kids. Sometimes we tend to get so tied up in everything else that it’s easy to forget that. But it’s never about individual egos, it’s about these kids and how they develop as people. It’s not about teaching how to play a sport. It’s about trying to teach how to live a life.”