Kennesaw Mountain High School honored retired head basketball coach Jesse Bonner on Friday, January 10 by re-naming their basketball court, Jesse Bonner Court. An intimate banquet with friends and family preceded the official ceremony which took place between the girls and the boys basketball games against regional rival, McEachern.
More than a hundred of Coach Bonner’s former players, family members, friends, and Cobb County School District administrators assembled into an impromptu banquet hall to feast and honor Coach Bonner for a nearly 20-year coaching career at Kennesaw. Coach was the first coach when the school opened in 2000, and coached through the 2018-2019 season. In early 2018, Coach Bonner celebrated his 500th career win, having also earned his 300th and 400th during tenure at Kennesaw. Countless lives were affected during his long coaching career (37 years in total) and many were on hand to bear witness.
Kennesaw principal, Nathan Stark, got the evening underway and welcomed all attendees to the banquet. He then turned the mic over to Athletic Director Phillip Matthews, who hosted the rest of the banquet. A catered meal was enjoyed, while lots of laughs and memories were being shared.
Several people were given the opportunity to speak about Coach Bonner. Ryan Dyer, Athletic Director at North Paulding HS and former assistant to Coach Bonner mentioned several things that stood out to him. “Commitment in everything, pride in the little things, mottoes of the day, and honest feedback,” Dyer said, “are four things that will always stick in my mind when I think about Coach Bonner.” A former player said that “Coach prepared us for life by putting us through the fire.” Phil Matthews said, “he never lowered expectations. It didn’t matter who the opponent was; he was always striving for excellence.”
When given the opportunity to speak for himself, Coach was brief. “Coaching is a relationship business,” he said, “I didn’t coach for me, or to get honors like this. It was always about the kids, and I always tried to keep it that way.”
The banquet attendees were then asked to move to the gym, where the re-naming ceremony would take place. The girls team had just finished their game against the McEachern Indians (the Indians won 65-36), and Coach and his supporters took to the court. Along with the official announcement of the court’s name being Jesse Bonner Court, many pictures were taken and many handshakes were given. After the unveiling of the new name painted onto the court, it was time for the boys game to get started.
The Mustangs were able to play close with the Indians initially, leading by a point at the end of the first quarter, 17-18. The Indians would lead each of the remaining three quarters, however, and beat the Mustangs with a final score of 91-75.
The loss put the Mustangs at 4-12 overall (1-3 in the region), while the Indians improved to 12-4 overall (4-0 in the region). Both teams have more regional play coming up: Kennesaw hosts North Cobb, and McEachern hosts Hillgrove on Tuesday, January 14.