'Coach A' is a 'Champion'
Mayor Ken Shetter can remember the first speech he heard Phil Anderson give his first basketball team at Burleson High School.
"He was determined to get us into shape," Shetter recalls.
Anderson opened his dictionary to the letter "I" and found the word "Intensity," Shetter said, and it was intense.
"We didn't touch a basketball for the first full week," he said. "It was all outside running in 105-degree heat. We were running 440s, 880s, about anything he could dream up. I was just thankful to get through each day."
One student brought a dictionary to Anderson's office and opened it to the letter "Q," Shetter recalls, and found the word "quit," but Anderson ended up making the student a team trainer.
"No one has cared for Burleson youth the way he has for so many years," Shetter said. "Everyone knows Phil for athletics and the great job that he does, but what I've always admired is what a tremendous advocate he is for kids."
Anderson will be honored Oct. 6 as a Champion of Education during the Burleson Opportunity Fund's Breakfast of Champions at 7 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 590 NE McAlister Road.
He was Burleson's head baseball coach for eight seasons, and head basketball coach for 10 seasons. Anderson was encouraged to get involved in sports by his father, John, a semi-pro baseball player. He ended up being selected to Kansas' all-state basketball team and went to college on a basketball scholarship. After finishing his education at Kansas University, he eventually ended up in Burleson with his wife, Teresa, and sons, Rhyan and Corey.
Anderson is now serving as Burleson's athletics director. He has 45 years in the education field.
"When you love what you are doing, you just keep doing it," Rhyan said. "He loves coaching and being around kids. He's known by just about everyone in the state."
Rhyan, generally about the tallest in any crowd, recalls the experience playing basketball for his father.
"It was interesting playing for dad," Rhyan said. "It was awkward, too. Did I call him 'Coach A' or dad? He had moments where he was very intense. I can say he never yelled at me."
Rhyan ended up becoming a banker, but his brother, Corey, followed in his father's footsteps in coaching. He is presently coaching strength and conditioning at Midlothian.
"He showed us the patience you had to have with young people and kids," Rhyan said. "Maybe that's why I chose banking."
Rhyan was the third academic all-state selection on the Burleson basketball team, and picked up his father's personality traits and for singing in church choirs, he said.
In 2003-04, Anderson, who had taught economics, history and psychology, was named a Newspapers in Education Exemplary Teacher of the Year by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Students in his classes knew he also had a passion for that subject matter, Shetter said.
The implementation of the Burleson ISD Sports Hall of Fame was a "dream" that Anderson saw through, Rhyan said.
"He thought we better start memorializing Burleson history, or we were going to lose it," he said. "I don't think we realized how much history we had until he got started and we uncovered so many who had played sports at higher levels."
Shetter can recall Anderson being a mentor in his youth program at FUMC. He also was provided the chance to coach Anderson's sons in "Little Dribblers."
"It is no secret I wasn't the best on his team," Shetter said. "I certainly tried hard and provided comic relief. I had a little broadcast I called 'Phil's Bench.' When you came off the floor, I'd interview you about your performance. I think its a good thing Phil didn't know about that at the time."
Those selected to be honored with the Champion of Education award come from various aspects of society, and Anderson is as deserving as all of them, Shetter said.
"He's been one of my favorite mentors," he said. "No one has been as proud and giving to Burleson as has Coach A."