YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS: Terry Postell
This is one of an occasional series of articles that draws attention to ordinary Cherokee County residents and their extraordinary lives.
Andrews – Local native Terry Postell has had a legendary football career.
Postell went from being a former Andrews High School football player, captain and star, to playing football at Lees-McRae and Mars Hill colleges, to eventually coaching the Murphy High School football team through several state and conference championships. He also coached at Andrews High School.
When asked how he began playing the sport, Postell said, “In the sixth grade, we had a music teacher who would go around and listen to you. She got to me and evidently didn’t like my voice. She got me by the ear and pulled me to the door.
“We had about an hour and a half of playtime in school. I began running, kicking and throwing a football, and eventually fell in love with it. The whole thing just happened from there.”
During his high school football career, Postell experienced successes like leading the Wildcats to a state title by scoring three touchdowns against Southern Pines. This brought western North Carolina its first state class A football championship.
Postell scored 18 points during this game, which pushed his total for the season to 158, the highest accumulated that fall by a running back in western North Carolina. The final score was 33-9.
“John Ellis had gone to Lees-McCrae and told me about their football program for junior college. He took me up there, and we talked to the coaches,” Postell said.
“I didn’t have enough money to go to college, but they had a work program. I got into the work program that summer.
“The coaches said OK, and things worked out for those two years. I was elected to the National Junior College Athletic Association All-American Football squad in 1960.”
Postell not only was picked in 1960, he also was elected the year before. In ’60, he turned in runs of 70 and 62 yards for touchdowns as well as being the leading ground gainer for the Bobcats. He was noted for his broken field running and given the nickname “Terrible Terry” by his conference rivals.
“There were a lot of people that helped me along the way, such as John Ellis and my high school coach Frank Maennle,” Postell said.
“Coach Maennle has shaped me into who I am today. He never gave up on me, and he gave me a chance.”
After spending two years at Lees-McCrae, Postell graduated, then went to Gastonia and worked for a year. Eventually the phone rang.
“I got a call from one of the assistant coaches at Lees-McCrae, who told me Mars Hill was looking for me. I drove over there, and things worked out. I played for Mars Hill and finished my other two years,” Postell said.
“After I graduated, I was hired at the old Silver Web High School, which is Smoky Mountain now. My high school coach was the head coach over there, and he got me the job. After a year, I came home.
“I wasn’t looking for a job. I forget who called me, but someone called me and told me that coach McConnell had resigned, and they were looking for a coach in Murphy. They were taking applications for jobs.
“The principal at that time was John Thompson. He was the best man I have ever worked for. He and Jim McCombs came by my house, and they told me that if I took the (junior varsity) program for a year, then they’d move me up to varsity as the head coach next year. And that’s what
That year, the JV boys went undefeated. The first year Postell coached varsity, the Bulldogs went 9-1.
“In 1970, we won the AA Western North Carolina championship and were Smoky Mountain Conference champions for the third consecutive year. At that time, they didn’t play a state championship, but we went as far as we could,” Postell said.
“Then in ’74 we won state, and at that time we played 2A, whereas now Murphy plays 1A. It was a lot tougher back then.”
Postell was named Coach of the Year by the Smoky Mountain Conference for class AA. Nine Murphy players were selected to the All-Smoky Mountain Conference team.
“There were so many good kids, and I’d like to mention two of them – Johnny Queen and Jeff Jackson,” Postell said. “They were probably two of the best kids I have ever coached on offense and defense. Johnny Queen was something else. He was just a coach out on that field.”
After leaving Murphy, Postell went to coach at Andrews High for about five years.
“It got to the point to where I would come home every night and my kids would be in bed. I told myself it wasn’t worth it if I never saw my family,” Postell said.
“That was when I realized there was other things I could do besides coach football. I would like to be known for being a good husband and good father.”
Postell has a wife, Laura, and two children, Jennifer and JT. Jennifer lives in Sevierville, Tenn., while JT coaches football at Tuscola. Postell also has two grandchildren, Ella Grace and Braydon.
The retired coach enjoys gardening, mowing and lots of fishing.
When asked how he’d made his mark on the people around him, Postell said, “Oh, I think that they have made a mark on me. I mean, the kids taught me a lot more than I could have ever taught them.
“I have someone always looking over me, and everything worked out fine. I know all the guidance came from God. I never would have made it without Him. We have a good church, First Baptist in Andrews, with pastor Calvin. We made food bags for children at school, and we take them down and deliver them. There’s some kids who would probably not get a single meal on the weekend.
“After all I’ve gone through, I know somebody was taking care of this ol’ boy,” Postell added.
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