If you've entered the gymnasium on the East Memphis campus of St. Agnes Academy and St. Dominic School, you have walked into the world where James W. Mathis has devoted nearly all of his working life.
Mathis, 77, has served as a coach on the staff of the private Catholic schools located on Walnut Grove Road at Mendenhall since 1962.
"Some of his original players came to drink coffee with him at Panera Bread at Laurelwood this week and I felt like I was in the presence of a rock star," said Jay Mathis, the coach's son who followed in his father's footsteps.
"Six week ago, Coach Mathis was bench pressing 260 pounds, " said Jim Lassandrello, Athletic Director of St. Agnes-St. Dominic, "but now he's in a wheelchair. It's shaken all of us."