Two hall of fame coaches are synonymous with Snead State basketball — Emmett Plunkett and John Kitchens.
The Parsons’ gymnasium bears the late Plunkett’s name, along with the late Lurleen B. Wallace.
On Saturday morning, the court at Plunkett-Wallace Gymnasium officially became Coach John Kitchens Court. The Snead State family joined with Kitchens’ family and several of his friends, former players and former managers to celebrate the occasion with a reception in the SSCC Administration Building.
Snead State’s games against Gadsden State on Saturday were canceled due to the threat of severe weather.
Last October, the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution honoring Kitchens for his years of service and his coaching accomplishments, in addition to approving the naming of the court.
Kitchens became men’s head coach at Snead State in 1970. From 1970-88, his teams posted a 201-161 record and won a Northern Division championship.
He coached the Lady Parsons from 1986-2000, winning three state championships. Two of those squads went on to finish seventh and 12th in the NJCAA Tournament.
A member of both the Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame and the Alabama Community College Conference Hall of Fame, Kitchens compiled a 640-415 overall record.
“I want to thank the board of trustees who supported [Snead State President] Dr. [Robert] Exley in his efforts to get this done,” Kitchens said during Saturday’s reception. “I want to thank Dr. Exley for the hard work he put in to see to it that it was done.
“I really want to thank every man or woman who played for me from 1970 to 2000. There’s a lot of guys out there, and girls. I love every one of them, and I look forward to seeing them. I follow their careers.
“I’ve got to tell you this. One night we were playing and one of our girls made a mistake on the court. And my wife [Sue], sitting right behind me, she said, ‘That’s OK, that’s OK.’ And I turned around and hollered to her, ‘That’s not OK.’ She was very supportive.
“In the 30 years I was at Snead, I enjoyed my time. I never wanted to leave. I looked forward every day coming to that gym.
“I’m very grateful and humbled they decided to name that court after me. I did put a lot of time down there up and down that court. It’s just an honor, and I appreciate it very much.”
Kitchens’ sons, Brad and Lance, followed their father into the teaching and coaching profession. Lance currently serves as principal of Albertville Middle School while Brad works in the central office for Arab City Schools and also coaches the Knights’ junior varsity boys basketball team.
“It’s very special as a player that played for him and as his son, because you see the hours that he poured in and the love he has for Snead,” Brad Kitchens said. “It’s just hard to put into words what it really means to him and our family, but it’s just a great honor.”
Chris Parker serves as president and chief executive officer of the NJCAA, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. Parker attended Saturday’s reception.
Exley and Parker are friends, and Exley serves on the NJCAA Presidential Advisory Council.
“Nothing can stand in the way of your legacy right here in this community for all of the individuals, male and female, who followed your lead, and you’ve made a lasting impact on their lives,” Parker said during the reception. “Congratulations, Coach Kitchens, on behalf of the NJCAA for this legacy of having your name on Snead State’s court.”