Coach Robert “Tony” Rhodes, Walnut Hill High School, Shreveport, LA
Coach Robert ”Tony” Rhodes
Coach Robert “Tony” Rhodes was born in Minden, Louisiana. Coach Rhodes attended Webster Elementary School prior to attending Webster High School, Minden, LA. At Webster High School, Tony was a member of the high school band, basketball team, and the football team. Tony , the leader, was captain of both the football team and the basketball team. The football team was where he truly excelled as an athlete. Tony graduated from Webster High School in 1958. His skills on the gridiron earned him a full athletic scholarship to Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. After attending Wiley for one year coach Rhodes transferred to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where his promising football career was cut short by a career ending knee injury. He continued his education at Southern and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Mathematics in 1962.
Coach Rhodes began his professional career as a mathematics teacher at DeSoto High School in Mansfield, Louisiana in the early 1960’s. He was also the assistant football coach and head baseball coach at DeSoto High School. While coaching at DeSoto Coach Rhodes helped develop two future major league pitchers, Vida Blue and Jesse Hudson. He was initially hired as an assistant football coach and subsequently promoted to head coach at Walnut Hill High School in Shreveport, La. He was employed at Walnut Hill High School for five years.
When Caddo Parish schools integrated in January of 1970 and Walnut Hill High School was phased out, Coach Rhodes became a football assistant coach and the head baseball coach at Southwood High School in Shreveport. As a result of integration, black head coaches who had moved to assistant coaching positions at previously all white schools were promised head coaching jobs whenever head coaching opportunities became available. This opportunity happened for Coach Rhodes in 1973 when Huntington High School opened in Shreveport. He became the Huntington High School Raiders’ first athletic director and head coach. He served in these roles for eighteen years.
Coach Rhodes’ “second job” as a basketball referee kept him on the road each winter from 1965 to 1997. At times he called games in the Metro Conference, the Southland Conference, The SWAC, TAAC, and the Big State (Texas Schools) Conference, plus games for smaller schools in East Texas.
Coach Rhodes officiated a thousand plus basketball games in 32 years; however, two games stand out. In March 1980, in Indianapolis, he was one of the officials in the NCAA Tournament’s Men’s Final Four. He was one of the three men calling the second semifinal between UCLA and Purdue. In 1969, he called his first NBA exhibition game. Both were highlights of his officiating career!
Tony Rhodes was affectionately called “Coach Rhodes” or just “Coach” by many. Tony took his duties as a coach and mentor very seriously and imparted to his student athletes that their wins in life were much more important than the wins on the field. His family’s motto was “faith, family, and football.” He taught all his students the value of hard work, discipline, and no regrets. He cherished a special relationship with each of his players and coaches. He was committed to high school athletics and often helped families from all over Shreveport and beyond.