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Coach Ridley's Basketball Glory

About the Book

The game was basketball. The issue was equality. The Nashville community was victorious. It was a time of Basketball Glory.



One man's passion for basketball catalyzed a movement that could not be contained within the parquet court. The game was basketball. The issue was equality. The entire community was victorious. It was a time of Basketball Glory. The full account of Pearl High Basketball from 1960-1982 spans the career of my dad, Coach Cornelius Ridley, head basketball coach. It contains two volumes:

– First Half: Pearl High School and Basketball Highlights 1960-1969
– Second Half: Basketball Highlights 1970-1982

First Half highlights the centerpiece of Pearl's history, which was made by the 1965-66 basketball team. In this era, Tennessee High Schools were segregated. Schools like Pearl were "All Negro" until 1967 when the first Caucasian teacher arrived. First Half highlights that the centerpiece of Pearl's history was made by the 1965-66 basketball team. That team won the TSSAA State Championship in the first year that Negroes were allowed to play in it. The historical account of that event is contained in this book, "First Half."


Constance Ridley Smith is an American resident of the lovely island of Bermuda.

Constance Ridley Smith
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Constance Ridley Smith is an American resident of the lovely island of Bermuda. She enjoys a refreshing walk on the beach and hiking nature trails; a good laugh with friends; entertaining; teapots and china; playing classical piano; and creating things. She likes to see ideas come together. She spices up the mundane with frequent travel and enjoys "bailler la Salsa."

Constance's professional career has been divided equally between teaching music and training/curriculum design at Detroit Public Schools, Metro Nashville Public Schools, The University of Tennessee Center for Government Training, and most recently, Bermuda College, a community college on the island of Bermuda.


— Tennessee State University, Music Education, Piano Concentration with Distinction and University Honors, 1979

— Tennessee State University, Masters in Public Administration, 1985

— San Diego State University, Graduate Certificate in Instructional Technology, 2005


Constance Ridley Smith
CEO, Founder
BreakThrough Communications
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What's Inside the Book?

— View great candid photos from Coach Ridley's collection

— Learn the secrets of his coaching success

— Discover anew the contributions of Coaches Armstrong, BlackTisdale, Tribue,
    Gupton, and Bell

— See the Original Halftimers, cheerleaders, and team pictures of each year

— Read what it was like to be a Pearl High Tiger

— Read teacher interviews and student recollections

— 244 pages of Pearl High History and Basketball History


"Constance, you nailed it. This is just the right mix--thoroughly researched, analytically sound, but with a special personal touch that just couldn't be added by others. This is going to be a very important book." — Attorney Perry Wallace, 2010 Co-Captain of the PHS 1966 Basketball Team; Current Professor of Law and Director of the JD/MBA Program, Washington College of Law, American University


"Coach Ridley made the difference. It was a volatile time. No two people felt the same about things right through that gap. It was not easy, but Ridley, because of the kind of man he was, helped make it easier. He really helped in bridging the gap." — Former TSSAA Vice President Don Edwards, The Nashville Tennessean, 1991


"Nashville Pearl had physically the finest high school basketball team we have ever seen." — Sports Editor Jack Hilliard, The Jackson Sun, 1965


"For the record, Ridley's Pearl team won four straight state championships: 1963 and 1964 Tennessee High School Athletic Association tournaments, 1965 TSSAA Affiliate tournament, and the 1966 TSSAA championship."   Author/Historian Gene Pearce, 1996


"He won three state championships and one national title before the state schools were integrated. His 1966 team is regarded as one of the finest teams ever assembled." — Sports Journalist Tom Squires, The Nashville Tennessean, 1973


"Gosh, what a big strong basketball team.... The way those Pearl boys jumped, we just quit trying to do anything, but slap the ball away from the back board." — Coach Bill Derrick, The Nashville Tennessean, 1966


"We were no match for them the last quarter," he said. "They're a tremendous team. I don't know when I've seen one that's more overpowering." — Coach Buck Van Huss, The Nashville Banner, March 1966


"He had himself and his team under control." "Cornelius had some outstanding athletes and did a great job with them.....If there had been 50 more Cornelius Ridleys, we would have had no problems. He had his teams under control." — Coach Charlie Anderson, The Nashville Tennessean, 1991

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Who is Coach Cornelius Ridley? Photos of Coach Ridley and Pearl High School, Nashville, Tennessee.

Photos from the 1960's


Visit the photo gallery for a sneak peek » View Gallery


Read about other products by Constance Ridley Smith.

Greg Ridley,
Master of Copper Tooling

A biography written by Kate Ridley Jackson and Constance Ridley Smith

Greg Ridley yearned to express drama in his artwork. In the manner of Hale Woodruff, he sought to achieve it through the manipulation of color. Like Aaron Douglas, he experimented with composition, using distortion and abstraction. But it was only when Greg changed his medium, opting for metal instead of canvas, that he achieved the height of dramatic expression in his art.

Color. Composition. Medium. Hale Woodruff. Aaron Douglas. Greg Ridley.


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