Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Coach Vandiver visits Chile

-click to enlarge-

This letter from Coach Vandiver to Johnny Massengill was written, as shown, during a visit to Chile. The reason for that trip has been explained by daughter Mary Evelyn (Vandiver) Swords:

The coach had a cousin who married a Chilean and they lived in Chile. Both were enthusiastic basketball fans and when word got around that the wife had a cousin in the United States who was a basketball coach, Mr. Vandiver was issued an invitation of an all-expenses-paid trip for the summer (winter there) to come to Chile and coach a team ( or as the letter states, at least six teams). He writes that the teams are much different, and he must have coached boy and girl teams both and traveled extensively to play games, all the way to the "H.S." tournaments that would start within two weeks of the writing of the letter.

The letter details what his trip was like. Mary Evelyn said when he returned home and got off the plane, he was wearing a big cowboy hat and a colorful vest, both gifts from his friends in Chile. She remembers him bringing home souvenirs and gifts for the family, in particular some fine wool fabric that Chile was famous for.

Maybe it will stir some memories and someone else can add details.

Mary also said someone (probably from Chile) gave her dad a scrapbook/photo album bound in leather with photos from his trip. Unfortunately, she hasn't seen the album since her mother died. But she promised to ask her sister, Golda, if she has the album. If found, we will add more details.

Thanks to Mary Evelyn and Cynthia Mink for obtaining and sending the information. Letter courtesy of Betty Massengill.


  1. Nice letter to one of his really good basketball players who was one of the leaders on the team which went to State Tournament in 1958.

    Coach V. got out of coaching about this time, 1959, and came back to win the overall grand slam in 1964.

    He won a lot of games in MS but Sam Richey, originally from Wheeler, leads MS in wins and is still adding to the total at Mantachie or some place.

  2. Coach Richey retired about two years ago and ha d a major stroke last year, but is improving.

  3. I think Coach Vandiver is in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame but am not sure.

  4. I remember that Coach Vandiver's 1959 Lady Bearcat team went to the state championship playoffs in Jackson.

    Seniors that year were Glenda Rowan, Lunelle Young, Irene Cheatham, Gloria Bishop, Rachael Christian and Peggy Pannell.

  5. Two girls teams and six boys teams that he coached went to state tournament. The l964 team won the Grand Slam and the l968 teams won their classification and were beaten in the Grand Slam.