On Dec. 11, 1973, then Hopkinsville boys' basketball assistant William Falls was introduced during a pep rally as the Tigers were playing rival Christian County that evening.

Hoptown coach Carl Yahnig said it was an odd sight because he wasn't sure why Falls was being introduced, but when he was, he received a standing ovation.

The Tigers fell to the Colonels that night and two days later Falls and one of his players were killed in a tragic accident when their car was hit by a train.

"For some reason, he was introduced and he got a standing ovation and it was almost providential," Yahnig said. "It's really weird, like that was his last hoorah but nobody thought anything about it at the time. But in retrospect, I certainly thought a lot about it. I just thought that was something he was honored like that."

"We got beat that night and I thought that was bad, but nothing like life or death," Yahnig said. "Sports is just a part of it. It's not life itself."

Today in Elizabethtown, Falls will likely receive another standing ovation as he's being inducted into the KHSAA Basketball Hall of Fame.

"I believe he was a man that was ahead of his time," Yahnig said of his former assistant. "He was a very wise man, a very successful man."

Falls coached at Attucks 1935-1967 and compiled a record of 663-233. Falls achieved at least 20 wins in his first 21 years of coaching, including 30 wins in 1937 and 1947.

Falls was Yahnig's assistant at Hopkinsville for three years before his death in 1973.

"He had intelligence," Yahnig said. "He knew how to use his intelligence with common sense. He was a very good role model and at that time when he died, people would never know how much he's meant to the community over the years."

Eldridge Rogers was the athletic director at Christian County in the 1960s and he said Falls was instrumental in the integration of the schools.

He said they were sitting on the back steps of Attucks and Falls had made a list of every student-athlete at Attucks who was eligible to attend CCHS and included their skills as well.

See Falls/Page B6

"They knew that coach Falls was behind them," Rogers said.

Rogers said that was just the type of person Falls was.

"He was interested in his kids but he wasn't selfish," he said. "He looked at the big picture and the future of those kids. That had a tremendous impact on integration at Christian County High School."

Larry Lynch graduated from Attucks in 1967, the final year the school was open. Lynch played basketball for Falls his senior year and was named the team's MVP.

But Lynch didn't remember the man that led Attucks to more than 600 wins as coach Falls, he knew him by another name.

"Chief was mostly a quiet man until he got in practice," he said. "Everybody called him Chief, all the players that came through school from seventh grade, that's what they called him. Nobody ever called him coach Falls. If you called him coach Falls, he may think you're trying to be a little funny or something.

"If you made a mistake, Chief would stop the scrimmage right then and there and correct it," Lynch said. "He would never get very loud unless you made the mistake two or three times. He had his way of getting across to you."

Lynch said one of the best qualities about Falls was his fairness. He said it's something that players throughout Falls' tenure respected about him.

It's also something Lynch needed to figure out on his own.

During his junior year, Lynch was on the junior varsity squad. He felt like he was good enough to make the jump to varsity, but Falls picked two sophomores to move to varsity.

"I was pretty disappointed about that because I felt like I could play," he said. "But, I understood later on the next year why he did that because the two sophomores he put on that team, never got on the floor, never played. I played every minute of JV ball, he wanted me to play. The next year I was his point guard."

Yahnig will be present for the induction of his friend to the hall of fame. Yahnig said the impact Falls had on his players and the community still lives on to this day.

"To come out of Tuskegee to a place for his first job and stay there all his life, speaks pretty well I think," Yahnig said.

Falls will be inducted into the KHSAA Basketball Hall of Fame at noon today inside the State Theatre in Elizabethtown.

(1) comment


About time, well deserved for this great man

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