Blast from the Past: Scotty Bunton

Published 3:44 pm Friday, October 6, 2023

BY C.Y. Peters

Coach Scotty Bunton is a legend in Elizabethton. He is a hometown hero who had attended E.T.S.U. college and returned to his roots to make a lasting impact on the community. Coach Bunton is a man of many talents and a dedicated teacher at Unaka Elementary, where he not only educated young minds but also molded aspiring athletes.

Coaching girls’ basketball, and he has a remarkable track record to show for it. Season after season, he led his team to victory, and one year, they achieved the unthinkable—an undefeated season. The girls played their hearts out, giving their all in every game. The entire town rallied behind them, and their success was a source of immense pride.

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However, fate had a cruel twist in store. When the regional championship arrived, it was a game they would never forget. Despite their tremendous efforts, they ended up losing their only game of the season. It was a tough pill to swallow, but Coach Bunton reminded his girls that they were still champions in his eyes. The life lessons they learned on that court would stay with them forever.

Scotty Bunton’s love for sports has deep roots. He played in the local pony leagues and Little League during his formative years in Elizabethton. In high school, he played basketball, football, baseball and track. He briefly veered into the world of real estate for a year before realizing that teaching and coaching were his true callings. His return to education led to a memorable chapter in the history of Johnson County. He was a fast-pitch softball catcher who caught for Jarfly Dugger and played with great players like Jimmy Ensor, Willie Malone, Ken Dugger and Sam Bradshaw.

He took charge of the high school girls’ basketball team and transformed them into one of Mountain City’s best-ever squads. Alisha Milan, one of his star players, made All-State and ranked second in the state in scoring. Under Coach Bunton’s guidance, the team made history by securing Johnson County’s first regional appearance.

After eight fulfilling years with the Longhorns, Bunton felt a strong pull to return home. He joined Hampton High as a junior varsity football coach, mentoring young athletes just as he had been mentored years ago. His dedication to sports knew no bounds.

In addition to coaching, Bunton was a respected TSSAA baseball official for fourteen years. His knowledge of the game and fair judgment made him a sought-after umpire. His favorite moments were sharing the field with old friends like Billy Bob Garrison, where they both reveled in the thrill of the game. Remarkably, neither he nor any of his players were ever ejected from a game, a testament to his sportsmanship and the values he instilled in his athletes.

Scotty isn’t just a coach; he is a living legend in Elizabethton. His journey from a young boy playing in local leagues to becoming a revered teacher, coach, and umpire is a testament to his love for sports and his unwavering dedication to his community. His legacy extends far beyond the wins and losses, touching the lives of countless individuals who have the privilege of knowing him.