This week’s feature is with Savannah High School athletics director and head boys basketball coach Timothy Jordan.
Jordan recently won his 500th game as a head coach when his Blue Jackets defeated. McIntosh County Academy 71-51 in the Ron Love Athletic Center on December 14.
A native of Wrens, Georgia, Jordan came to Savannah in 1978 to attend Savannah State. “ I had other football and basketball scholarship offers. I chose Savannah State because, it was the only school that offered me the opportunity to play football and basketball,” he said.
He did not receive much playing time on the basketball court but he was on one of the greatest teams Savannah State produced during the 1980-81 season. That team won the SIAC championship, NCAA South Regional Championship. They lost in the NCAA Quarterfinals by one point and narrowly missed going to the Division III Final Four.
Jordan shined on the gridiron for the Tigers and made the all conference team in 1979, 1980 and 1981. He finished his career with 112 receptions for 1,708 yards and nine touchdowns. In addition to being a All-SIAC player, he earned All-American honors and had a tryout with several professional teams.
“I was a Black College All-American wide-receiver. I played in the All-Star game in Jackson, Mississippi in January 1982. We had scouts from all the NFL teams there, however we didn’t get to do many individual workouts because there was ten inches of snow on the ground.”
After his dreams of playing professional football fell through, Jordan used his degree in physical education to stay involved in athletics. This was also a way for him to give back to the community.
Jordan spent time as a basketball assistant at Savannah State before he took over the Savannah High program. He also had a chance to run his own programs at Liberty County High in Hinesville, Ga. And Thomas County Central High in Thomasville, Ga. “It was a challenge working at both schools. Liberty County was just starting a program and Thomas county was truly a football town. However, I did coach football and we won the Class AAA State Championship.”
His first job after college was teaching and coaching at Savannah High. “Coach Ron Love gave me my first basketball high school coaching job. He taught me the importance of running your program with integrity and discipline. He dressed and ran his program in a very professional manner. I still try to continue those principles.’
Jordan also remembers the teachings he learned from Russell Ellington, his college basketball coach. “Coach Ellington was a strict disciplinarian. He made you know, that the only way to win and be successful is to always work hard and don’t try to take short cuts.”
One of his highlights as a Blue Jacket assistant was coaching a future number one NBA Draft pick. “I did have a chance to coach Pervis Ellison during his senior season. We advanced to the Final Four and had record of 25-2. That was my first season as an assistant coach.”
In 1995, Jordan took over the Blue Jackets program. His first win was November 21, 1995 against Effingham County by a score of 90-33, during the Joe Greene Tournament.
In his time of leading Savannah High, his 1998 team won the AAAA state title, his 2001 and 2012 squads were the AAAAA state runner-up, his 2003 and 2008 teams were in the AAAAA Final Four while his 2013 team was the AAA state runner-up.
In addition to being a teacher, basketball coach and athletic director at SHS, Jordan has also worn hats as track coach and football coach.
Death has hit Jordan hard within the past year. He lost his moth as well as several college teammates and fraternity brothers. “Losing my mother is still exceptionally hard. Because mothers and sons have very special relationships. But she prepared me for life after her death. So I’ll keep pressing on. Losing three team mates and a fraternity brother, just makes me realize even more that life is short, so I must continue try and live every day to the fullest,” were Jordan’s comments when asked if those events made him look at life more differently or change his approach to coaching.
About 20 years ago Jordan found out he was a diabetic but being the competitor that he is, he says he has the situation under control. “Being a diabetic has it’s challenges sometimes. However, if you can control your diet and exercise, you live a pretty normal life.”
Jordan admits that the local basketball landscape has changed since he started coaching. “Savannah still has some of most competitive basketball in the state. However, the biggest change is the athletes of today are more of a ‘ME’ generation rather than a ‘WE’ generation. AAU has had a major influence, Athletes now prefer to go play with the ‘MAN’ rather than to play against the ‘MAN’. A lot of toady’s athletes are also no longer ‘loyal to their team’.”
Jordan believes one of his greatest accomplishments in life was not on the basketball court. “My greatest accomplishment was being able to perform CPR and a life on the tennis court back in March 2017.”
A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Jordan is in his 34th year teaching and coaching and his 24th year as head basketball coach. When asked how much longer will he coach he replied “I can see myself working in some other capacity in the educational field for a couple more years. I have been in a gym and had a whistle for more 50 years of my life, so those are probably two things that will always be a part of my life.”
Considered the dean of basketball coaches in Savannah as well as the best dressed, Jordan offered some advice for the young coaches in this area that he learned from his high school and college coaches. “You got to have discipline. Don’t cheat the game by trying to take short cuts. Work hard and good things will happen for you.”
Jordan attends St. Paul C.M.E. Church where he is active with the men’s ministry and sings in the male choir.