Cheatham County Remembers Longtime Coach - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Cheatham County Remembers Longtime Coach

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by Emily Luxen

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. - People across Cheatham County are remembering a longtime coach who influenced generations with his kindness, sense of humor and athletic knowledge.   

Former Cheatham County Central High School (CCCHS) coach Ralph Spangler passed away on Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 86 years old.

Spangler started coaching football at CCCHS in 1951.  Throughout his career, he led the Cubs to three undefeated seasons, he coached the school's boys and girls basketball teams, and started the baseball program in 1961. 

He also coached football at Sycamore Middle School from 1978 until his retirement in 1985.  One of his former players was legendary Tennessee Lady Vols Head Coach Pat Summit.

Prior to his coaching days, Spangler played football at the University of Alabama and was a member of the 1945 Rose Bowl championship team that went undefeated.

Spangler also made a lasting impact on the community.  He is credited with starting the Little League program in Ashland City in 1952, and helped build baseball and football fields across the city.

His former players, like John Pugh, remember Coach Spangler's sense of humor and the fact he held everyone to high standards.

"I learned integrity, discipline and self-respect," said Pugh.  "He taught us to do the right thing, no matter what."

He is still known as just "Coach" around the city, and even people who didn't play for him know his importance to the community.

"He's probably the most influential person in middle Tennessee in the last 50 years," said Ashland City Mayor Rick Johnson. " He means a lot to all of us."

On the field and off, Coach Spangler taught generations by leading by example.

"As simple as it is, I would like to tell him thanks," said Pugh. "I would tell him thanks, and hope I made him proud."

Monday, throughout Ashland City, and the Cheatham County school district, flags will be flown at half staff in honor of Coach Spangler. There will also be a moment of silence at 1 p.m.

Prior to his death, Coach Spangler had requested that there be no memorial service.


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