Remembering Calvin Short – A Sports Inspiration

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Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Hall of Fame Football Coach Calvin Short passed peacefully from this earth on December 19, 2023. He was 82 years old.

He was an inspiration to generations of young athletes in Sumner County and beyond. During his 17 years coaching the Gallatin Green Wave, he won 205 games out of 235. He led his team to three Class AAA championships, in 1978, 1989 and 1992, and three state runner-up trophies. His team went to the district and regional championships every year of his tenure except two, winning 16 district or region championships during the regular season.  

“Coach Short inspired generations of athletes with his passion for the sport teaching not only the fundamentals of football, but also the values of perseverance, teamwork and integrity,” said Gallatin High School (GHS) in a statement to WKRN. “His unwavering dedication to the game and his players has left an indelible mark on our community.”

“Calvin was a legend in this town,” said one friend online.  “He guided and raised so many young men in his career. He was feared by his opponents and respected throughout the southeast.”  

He also inspired other award-winning TSSAA Hall of Fame Coaches who came after him, including Gary Rankin. Rankin is noted as saying that Short’s process was what he patterned his own programs after as he was the “standard bearer” when Rankin was first starting his career. Rankin is currently ranked number five in the state in career coaching victories.

While Short was known as having a highly trained and fierce team on the field, and demanding the absolute best of his players, off the field he was a genuinely kind person, well-loved by his friends, colleagues and family. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

After leaving coaching, Short went on to become the principal at Portland High School (PHS). While at PHS, athletic success was at an all-time high there. During Short’s tenure, under the coaching of Roger Perry, the PHS football team came in as a TSSAA State Champion runner-up for the first time in 1994, and went to the championships every year of his tenure. Just two years after he retired as principal, PHS won the State Championship.

Short was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2000, the Tennessee Football Coaches Association in 2014, and the Gallatin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017. Gallatin High School’s football field was named in Short’s honor in 2012.

Born in Nashville in 1941, he went to Joelton High School where he played both football and basketball. He played college ball at both University of Tennessee Knoxville and Middle Tennessee State University. Graduating from MTSU in 1959, he became the assistant coach of girl’s basketball at GHS as a first job.

Soon after taking the job at GHS, he was recruited by longtime friend Chad Choate to assist with rebuilding the football program at Manatee High School in Florida. While in Florida, he held the positions of assistant football coach, head football coach, Dean of Boys, head track coach, and assistant baseball coach. He stayed in Florida until 1976, when he returned to Gallatin. 

“Rest in Peace, Calvin Short,” said a long-time fan of the coach online. “[Calvin Short is a] name that has never been forgotten around here, and never will be. He played a big role in a lot of lives through the years. A true Tennessee high school football legend.” 

Celebration of Life Service will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, January 6, 2024 at First Baptist Church Gallatin, 205 East Main Street Gallatin, TN 37066 with Rev. John Penfield officiating. Visitation will be at the church on Friday, January 5, 2024 from 3:00-7:00 p.m. and Saturday, January 6, 2024 from 9:00 a.m. until time of service.