Former Pioneer basketball star Russ Spivey is being inducted to the Warren County Sports Hall of Fame. He is one of 12 individuals to be inducted later this month with the Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
“It’s thrilling and it’s a blessing. I’m honored to be mentioned and be remembered as one of the greats of Warren County,” said Spivey.
Spivey is one of the top scorers in Warren County basketball history and was a three time all-district player. During his three years as a varsity Pioneer, he became a 1,300-point scorer and led the region in scoring as a senior which earned him an all-state honorable mention.
“It was an honor and a thrill of a lifetime to wear that Pioneer jersey with great pride. My parents and family were certainly at every game and that’s what I remember most,” he said.
His favorite memory playing for Warren County happened on his senior night. They went into overtime against Cookeville and Spivey was fouled. He had to make both free throws to win the game – and he did.
“To end it like that was just special,” Spivey said.
His hard work on the court as a Pioneer led to Spivey playing for the University of Tennessee and he even started in the first game at Thompson-Boling Arena.
“Obviously it was a great honor to play for Tennessee if you grew up in the state and were a longtime Tennessee fan like myself. It was special to wear the orange and represent your state and Warren County. It was a dream of mine. I had a great experience there,” he said.
Even though he continued his basketball career at the University of Tennessee, his time as a Warren County Pioneer was the highlight of his career.
“The best part of my basketball career was spent right there in Warren County,” he said.
His basketball journey started all the way back when he was around 3 or 4 years old when he would dribble a basketball around, but things really changed when his family moved to McMinnville.
“The best thing that ever happened to us was moving to McMinnville. And when we moved to McMinnville we moved right across from the Civic Center,” said Spivey.
Spivey says he lived in a house closest to the Civic Center and had easy access to the basketball court and believes it had a lot to do with his success.
“I literally had to walk a few steps and I had an indoor gym. It was quite the situation. I spent a lot of time in that gym shooting and practicing,” he said.
In November of 2017, his jersey was retired and hung from the rafters at Charlie Dalton Gym signifying the mark he left on Warren County basketball.
“I got recognized, but there were so many people who went into helping me, particularly my parents. My story started at home for me. I had great support there,” he said.
Spivey acknowledges his teammates and former coaches, Mike Jacobs, Gary Rankin, Charlie Dalton and Andy Jacobs helped him tremendously.
“You don’t do it alone. I had a great team of support and I also worked really hard. I played a lot, but I played because I loved it and liked being a part of the team,” said Spivey.
After basketball was over for him, he attended pharmacy school at Stanford University. He now is married with three daughters and is living in Murfreesboro. He continues to practice pharmacy and run a business, but does miss playing basketball.
“I miss the comradery with my teammates. I miss the competition the trying to figure out what it’s going to take to beat the other teams. I miss being coached and being pushed. I miss the great fans,” he said.
Basketball and the lessons he learned from it remain a big part of his life and a fond memory.
“What I learned on that court and from coaches and teammates, I still carry those lessons with me today,” said Spivey.
The Hall of Fame Class of 2021 will be recognized at a banquet on Thursday, Aug. 26 and honored at the Pioneer football game on Friday, Aug. 27.