by Amber Adams
The late Humboldt Viking basketball coach Thomas Ray Boykin was memorialized Friday afternoon in front of a packed crowd during a ceremony held at the Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School gymnasium. The city and school board were both eager to make this happen after his passing earlier this year and name the gym in his honor The Thomas Ray Boykin Gymnasium.
Hundreds of friends, family, city officials, students, alumni and community members were all there for one reason, to honor the legendary man who was their coach, educator, mentor, husband, father, family member and friend.
Mayor Marvin Sikes opened the program saying what a special day it was. He shared the impact that Coach Boykin had on everyone he came in contact. Mayor Sikes said mentioned the program to a citizen earlier in the day, where they replied, “I just love Coach Boykin.” Mayor Sikes responded, “And that’s what most folks say and the ones who don’t, didn’t know him.”
Former colleague, Dorrington ‘Junior’ Reid Jr., said when he saw the sign, it gave him chills. Reid mentioned how no matter what Boykin was doing or involved in, he was always giving it everything he had. Reid said he would always treasure their friendship.
Former Humboldt alum, college and professional basketball player, Charles Dotson Jr., shared his feelings on Boykin, “Out of all the coaches I ever had, Coach Boykin impacted me the most. No one even compared to him and if anyone deserves this, it is him.”
Robyn Barnett shared her love for coach Boykin in song followed by Viking head basketball coach, Ron Abernathy, taking the podium to address the crowd.
“I was always taught that when anyone had done more than me or was better than me to listen and use their lessons in my everyday life,” coach Abernathy said. “Coach Boykin was one of those people. He was my mentor and I owe him a lot. He has had more influence on anyone that ever came through here and this building deserves his name.”
Before the unveiling, Dr. Versie Hamlett, director of schools, took to the podium stating,” Some people come into our lives and touch our hearts so deeply we will never be the same and it is with the highest honor that we honor our beloved colleague, who dedicated his life to coaching, teaching and service to the students and the Humboldt City School System.”
The crowd was asked to stand and the tarp covering the newly named gymnasium was removed unveiling the sign “Thomas Ray Boykin Gymnasium”. Cheers and joy reigned over the crowd. It was the same joy that Coach Boykin brought to the lives of so many during his life.