Garry Patterson has been elected to the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame class of 2016.
Garry began his sports career with a couple of advantages over the other boys in Fannin
County. First, he experienced the inevitable growth spurt in youngsters very early in life. As a result, when he entered Epworth Elementary School in the fall of 1962, he was a head or more taller than all of the other kids. Second and more importantly, his athletic skills were considerably more proficient than those of his contemporaries. Garry was not big and clumsy, Garry was big, strong, agile and fast.
Garry was a dominant force in local athletics during his grade school years. He was a perennial winner in the local punt, pass and kick contests and the best player around in the Dixie League baseball competition. He gained local and area notoriety as an 11 year old in 1967 when he pitched a perfect game for his American League all-star team against the Copper Basin National League all-star team in a tournament in Cleveland, Tennessee.
Lots of other boys caught up with Garry in size by the time high school rolled around. Garry stabilized at about 6’ 2”, 185 pounds making him a shade above average in the size department. His athletic skills, however, continued to outpace most of the other kids against whom he competed at West Fannin High School. He capped his first year of high school athletics with an outstanding performance in the Region 6A West basketball tournament held at Murray County High School in Chatsworth in February, 1971. Garry was named to the all-tournament team and as the Most Valuable Player in the tourney, leading the Yellow Jackets to a 54-51 victory over homestanding Murray County in the championship game.
Injuries plagued Garry during the remainder of his career at West Fannin. He suffered a broken ankle in a football game vs Pickens County in 1971 and also suffered a rotator cuff tear. Undaunted, he persevered and continued to shine in athletics. His basketball teams at West Fannin posted a 75-24 record during his four years, including a sterling mark of 22-2 in his junior season of 1972-73. Garry was the leading scorer for that team with an average of 15.75 points per game. His classmates recognized his abilities and voted Garry as the Most Athletic senior boy in 1974.
As high school graduation approached, Garry knew that he wanted to continue to compete in athletics. Several possibilities were available to him. He attended an Atlanta Braves tryout camp in Gainesville. His rotator cuff injury had taken its toll, however, and Garry had lost an estimated 10 mph from his once dominating fast ball. He was not offered a contract by the Braves so then Garry’s search began for a college to attend. T.J. Thompson, one of Garry’s high school coaches, felt that he was good enough to play basketball at the college level, so he arranged for Garry to try out for the Lagrange College team. Garry was offered a full basketball scholarship and the most productive chapter of his athletic career began at Lagrange.
Garry Patterson was a 4-year basketball starting guard at Lagrange College. He played in 122 games and scored 1,095 points during his career, ranking him 7th on the school’s all-time scoring list when he graduated. He ranked 12th nationally in free throw shooting during his senior year, hitting 85% from the foul line. He led the team in scoring as a senior averaging 12.9 points per game and was named to both the GIAC All-Conference and to the NAIA All-District teams. He received the Delma Fowler Alumni Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player as a senior.
Garry also won four letters in tennis while at Lagrange. He had taken lessons and played as much as possible growing up in Epworth at the Sugar Creek Tennis Courts. He was active in campus affairs and was named as one of the school’s Outstanding Seniors in his final year there. His athletic accomplishments resulted in Garry Patterson’s election to the Lagrange College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.
Local sports observers, coaches and players, are quick to say that Garry Patterson was one of the most talented natural athletes in the history of Fannin County and the Copper Basin area. His natural talent was so dominant in athletics that was able to succeed without always bringing his ‘A’ game to the table. Garry himself admits that from his earliest recollections, he had a ‘knack’ for athletics. Achieving excellence at the college level was another matter entirely. The competition was tough and mental and physical preparation was necessary to excel. Garry was pushed to succeed at that level and he responded with a Hall of Fame worthy career.
Garry graduated from Lagrange College in 1978 with a degree in Health and Physical Education and a minor in Business. Initially his goal was a career in coaching. He began that career at West Point, Georgia High School serving as head baseball coach, assistant football coach and as a mathematics teacher. After a year at West Point, he returned home to coach and teach at Fannin County High School. It was at Fannin County High that Garry met his wife, Pam. They tied the knot in 1982 and remain happily married 33 years later.
After coaching for 10 years or so, Garry and Pam recognized that the demands of the coaching profession made achieving a normal family life difficult at best. Garry went back to school and earned his Master’s degree from the University of Georgia in 1994. He graduated with a degree in Instructional Technology and soon began his career as a Library Media Specialist. He and Pam settled in the community of Ball Ground, in Cherokee County and began raising their two children, Timothy and Laura.
Both of the Patterson offspring are grown now and Garry retired a couple of years ago. He and Pam stay busy traveling, walking and enjoying the outdoors. Garry was a formidable amateur tennis player for years, but gave up the game a while back. He now stays fit and trim with hiking and lifting weights three times per week. Garry Patterson looks as though he could lead a fast break as he nears the landmark age of 60.