In the fall of 1962 Terry Rouse walked into the office of J. Harley Chapman, then president of Birdwood Junior College, now known as Thomas University. The student’s goal was simple: He wanted to start a basketball team. That team was the first athletics team in the college’s history.
Rouse’s interest in basketball went back to his high school days in Anderson, S.C., where he was part of the Class AAAA state championship team during his senior year. After high school, Rouse moved to Atlanta, where he worked full-time while attending Georgia Tech at night.
While in Atlanta, one of Rouse’s roommates, Keith Russell from Thomasville, told him about Birdwood Junior College, including the school’s affordable tuition. Rouse wanted to be a full-time student so he could graduate sooner, and Birdwood Junior College seemed to be the answer.
“I came down here and loved it,” Rouse said. “It was a small school, and it was very friendly.”
While he left behind his home in South Carolina, Rouse couldn’t leave behind his enthusiasm for basketball.
For two seasons the Birdwood team played teams around Thomasville, including high school teams and adult recreation teams as well as Norman Junior College in Norman Park and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. Rouse scheduled games and coordinated trips. He found the task difficult because most college basketball teams already had set schedules back when the team was still forming.
See Wednesday's edition for more details