WHITMIRE — If you are from Whitmire, you know that being a Wolverine is more than just a common alliance to a school mascot. Being a Whitmire Wolverine means being a part of a family. The Whitmire Wolverines lost a dear member of that family this month. He was a mentor, a teacher, a coach, and a friend. Irby Raines, a Wolverine Patriarch, truly left his legacy.
Raines, head basketball coach for 13 years, had an overall record of 209 to 82. His 1969-70 season racked up 24 wins, giving him the record for most wins per season. He led his team to conference championships in 1968-69, 1969-70, 1972-73, 1974-75, 1975-76, and 1979-80. In 1969-70 he led his team to secure the AA state championship and the A state championship in 1979-80. Rightfully so, Raines was inducted into the Whitmire High School Hall of Fame in 1978.
Raines was far more than a basketball coach. He loved teaching.
As WCS teacher and coach Jarrod King remembers Raines saying, “I’m not gonna become a millionaire by teaching, but I don’t dread getting up and going to work everyday.”
He loved getting up and coming to work everyday. He cared about every person who entered the hallowed halls of the school. He made it a point to encourage every person he met to be better, to be successful, to be positive.
Teacher and coach Chris Martin says, “It seemed that no one loved Whitmire, the High School, and the history of the town more than coach.”
If you were a Whitmire High School alumnus, Raines had your back.
As alumnus Paige Cromer recalls, “I remember him stopping by my room to speak on a regular basis when I worked with him at WHS. He would always say to me… ‘You go ahead and get that master’s degree. You hear me? There’s no sense in you working that hard and not getting the money you deserve.’”
After Raines retired, he became a substitute teacher. I remember Raines always going the extra mile. One time I had a sick child and had to be out several days. I called Raines to substitute for me that first day I was out. That evening he called me.
The conversation went something like, “Hey gal. Everything went fine today. I knew you had a lot on your mind, so I went ahead and did you some lesson plans for tomorrow. Now I can’t sub tomorrow, but I’ve already got Lefty coming in for you. Now don’t you worry about a thing. You just take care of that baby, we’ve got you covered.”
Yes, this town, this school, this Whitmire Wolverine family lost a loved one, but he left a legacy. You could do worse than following in those footsteps. You will have to look hard for them though because they are actually paw prints—Wolverine paw prints.