Legendary Manchester basketball coach Joel Vinson, 84, passes away

Joel Vinson

Joel Vinson – the architect of many successful Westwood Lady Rocket basketball teams across parts of five decades and the patriarch of a great Coffee County basketball family – passed away Friday morning, December 8. He was 84 years old.

Retired from coaching for nearly 20 years now, Vinson’s name is still proudly displayed on the gymnasium at Westwood Middle School – The Joel Vinson Gymnasium.

“Coach Joel Vinson will always be a treasure to Manchester and to Manchester City Schools,” said Manchester Director of Schools Dr. Joey Vaughn. “Coach Vinson impacted the lives of many young people throughout his career. Manchester City Schools expresses our deepest condolences to the family of Coach Vinson.”

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Born on March 12, 1939, Vinson was a 1957 graduate at DuPont High School and a 1962 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.

Vinson first took over the Westwood Lady Rocket basketball program in 1962, coaching until 1979 before taking a six year break. He returned to the bench in 1985 and continued coaching what was then Westwood Junior High School until permanently retiring in 2004.

Between his two stints at Westwood, Vinson amassed a 350-148 win-loss record and impacted hundreds of student athletes.

Vinson was also heavily involved in golf. Playing collegiately at Middle Tennessee State University and he continued to play up until his passing. He could still be found regularly watching Coffee Middle and Coffee County Central games on the front row of the bleachers.

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Joel’s two sons currently coach basketball. David Vinson is the head coach at Coffee Middle, where the Lady Raiders are 15-0 this year. Matt Vinson has been an assistant for the Coffee County Central Lady Raiders for the past 7 years. His granddaughters are also heavily involved in basketball and golf: Bella Vinson is currently a junior starting for the Lipscomb Bison, while Olivia is a junior starter for the CHS Lady Raiders. Joel’s oldest granddaughter, Sophie, carried on his golf legacy, playing for Trevecca Nazarene University in college.

Visitation with the family will be held from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Tuesday, December 12. Graveside services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rose Hill Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Dream for Weave Foundation: 1030 Oakdale St. Manchester, TN. or by clicking here.

From left: David Vinson, Joel Vinson and Nancye Vinson watching a Lady Raider basketball game at Joe Frank Patch Memorial Gymnasium. — Photo by Holly Peterson, THUNDER RADIO WMSR
From left: Sophie Vinson, Olivia Vinson, Joel Vinson, Bella Vinson and Nancye Vinson.

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