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Basketball court named after legendary former coach and his wife

The court in Memphis University School’s Ross Lynn Arena was recently named for former Basketball Coach Jerry Peters and his wife, Ruth. PICTURED: From left are Ruth and Jerry Peters, former basketball standout Jim Barton, Class of 1985, and MUS Headmaster Ellis Haguewood.

Memphis University School Names Court in Honor of Ruth and Jerry Peters

Family, former players and fans gathered on June 2 to see the Memphis University School community dedicate the basketball court in Ross Lynn Arena to legendary former Head Coach Jerry Peters and his wife, Ruth.

Ruth covered her face in disbelief when the couple’s five grandsons unveiled the words Ruth and Jerry Peters Court on the gym floor, as she was expecting it to bear only her husband’s name.

“You don’t catch me off guard very often,” she said. “The mother of four boys is usually ready for anything. But this caught me. Thank you so much.”

Coach Peters also expressed his gratitude. “It means so much to have you all here. Not only people from MUS but people from other schools. That really says a lot to me.”

Among the supporters was Bubba Luckett, head basketball coach at rival Christian Brothers High School.

Luckett described how Peters gave him guidance during a tough season early in his career, “Go to practice tomorrow like you’re a champion,” Peters said. “Your players will start acting like they are better.” He took that advice, and he said it helped turn the Brothers’ season around.

“[Coach Peters] had an influence on a CBHS basketball year and never knew it.”

Luckett predicted that in a future game, one of his players might see the words on the court and ask him, “Coach, who is this Jerry Peters guy?”

“And what I’m going to say is, ‘the best high school basketball coach Memphis has ever had.’”

MUS alumni led the effort to commemorate Coach Peters’ 52-year career at MUS, naming the court and the school’s history award and endowing a school scholarship fund for the sons of faculty and staff. Arriving in 1960, Peters became varsity basketball head coach in 1964, a title he retained until his retirement in 2012.

Under his leadership the program was one of the best in the state, and Peters crowned his career with more than 1,000 wins – more than any coach in the Shelby-Metro area – and the 2007 state championship. Peters also served as an instructor of history and government, an administrator, and from 1960-1978, varsity track and cross-country coach. Along the way the couple’s four sons – Jeff, Judd, Jon, and Jason – graduated from MUS.

The court in Memphis University School’s Ross Lynn Arena was recently named for former Basketball Coach Jerry Peters and his wife, Ruth. PICTURED: From left are Ruth and Jerry Peters, former basketball standout Jim Barton, Class of 1985, and MUS Headmaster Ellis Haguewood.

The court in Memphis University School’s Ross Lynn Arena was recently named for former Basketball Coach Jerry Peters and his wife, Ruth. PICTURED: From left are Ruth and Jerry Peters, former basketball standout Jim Barton, Class of 1985, and MUS Headmaster Ellis Haguewood.

Ruth, called “Mrs. Coach” by the players, was a constant source of support for the team. She tutored students, supervised cheerleaders, oversaw laundry detail, organized tournament hospitality rooms, and served as the program’s biggest fan.

“Everybody had a role,” said former MUS basketball great Jim Barton ‘85, who led the fundraising effort and served as master of ceremonies for the dedication. “Coach Peters coached, the players played, and Ruth managed everything else.”

Barton spoke of Coach Peters’ exemplary preparation, from washing uniforms to compiling pregame scouting reports. “He was a data guy before data was cool. He kept stats on everything…he knew where everybody stood. On the sidelines Coach always seemed to be in control. No matter how intense the game, he had an eerie calm about him because he was ready for the moment.”

Headmaster Ellis Haguewood thanked the Peters family for their dedication to the MUS community and paid tribute to Jerry Peters for inspiring excellence both on the court and in the classroom.

“For me, Coach Peters always epitomized the ideal teacher and coach in an independent school for boys – tough but fair in the classroom, demanding on the playing fields, and unyielding in his efforts to make boys ‘do things right.’ Punctuality, attention to details, responsibility, preparation, unselfishness, patience, focus, perseverance, discipline, organization – he set the very highest standards for himself, and he did things right.”

Over the years Coach Peters has received various teaching awards and coaching honors, including the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools’ Hubert Smothers Award for Distinguished Teaching. He was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame, the Rhodes Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame.

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