I REALLY DIDN'T want to do it, but I had no choice. It was my job.
Five years ago, during the days of the great coaching purge at Capital High School, Jack Woolwine was actually an innocent bystander, but got pulled into the storm.
Clinton Giles, the principal at Capital, had just made a shocking request, asking for the resignations of successful basketball coaches Carl Clark (boys) and Steve Freeman (girls).
Clark was about five years removed from leading the Cougars to back-to-back Class AAA state championships and Freeman carried an 82-12 record with four straight appearances in the regional finals. Freeman stepped down as requested, but Clark decided to file a grievance (and eventually kept his job).
If those coaches' positions were in peril at the time, one could only assume that Woolwine, coming off a 5-5 season and a rare miss of the Class AAA football playoffs for Capital, would also be in hot water. As a reporter, it was my duty to call him and see if he felt any undue pressure.
As I said, I hated doing it. Woolwine was such a rare man - a gentleman's gentleman, as I like to say - that to drag him into that mess was a real disservice to him.
That's one of the emotions I was left with last week when I received word that Woolwine had died on July 3 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He stepped down as Cougars coach shortly after the 2009 season, going 57-42 with six playoff berths in nine years.
At the time of the coaching unrest in 2007, Woolwine handled the topic with grace and ease, just like he always did.
"Where I stand is where I feel like I always stand,'' he told me that day. "I've always had a good relationship with the administration as far as that goes. They've always supported me and what I've done - and that's all I can go on. I never had any reason to feel anything different. But just like any job, you never know what's going to happen.''
Woolwine's job was never in jeopardy.
Giles later said his requests about Freeman and Clark were made in part because of trends off the court and not entirely those on the court. He also said that Woolwine's position was "his for as long as he wants. He does it the right way.''
Fans mostly noticed only the program's won-lost record and not the behind-the-scenes contributions Woolwine made to keep Capital's football team solvent. He never hesitated to meet with a player after hours - sometimes well after midnight - if the young man was in a tough spot.
"Jack was all about his players,'' said John Vencill, who worked with Woolwine for 33 years at Capital and Charleston High. "But he was also a disciplinarian. I think those go hand in hand.
"There were some times I'd go with him [late at night] when you had a kid with a home situation, a tough situation. We'd go and meet him someplace and feed him and have a good talk with him. Talk him through the situation.''