The Great Brooksvillian selection committee brought their top three candidates to the city council on Aug. 21, 2017. Coach Ernie Chatman (1949 - 2016), former Mayor and city councilman Joseph E. Johnston, III (1952 - 2015) and owner of Stewart Tree Service, Jimmy Stewart (1941- ) made the top three picks.
While each are deserving in their own right, the city council chose Ernie Chatman for the 2017 Great Brooksvillian. It is notable that Mr. Jimmy Stewart received 16 letters of support from outstanding community members, so it won’t be surprising if he is in the running for Great Brooksvillian again.
During an upcoming meeting, Mr. Chatman will be specially recognized by city council and his family will accept the 2017 Great Brooksvillian award on his behalf.
Here are some excerpts of Coach Ernie Chatman’s nomination:
Please describe the nominee’s overall contributions to the City of Brooksville. When and where were those contributions made? Was this person a resident of the City of Brooksville at the time of their contribution?
Mr. Chatman, a Brooksville resident from the age of 3, a 1967 Hernando High School Graduate; he was a teacher, mentor, coach, friend, a helping hand to all who knew him. Mr. Chatman was a dedicated volunteer to the City of Brooksville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board appointed August 17, 1998. Mr. Chatman served 18.6 years on the advisory board. Mr. Chatman was dedicated volunteer who went above and beyond the volunteer requirements to assist the Brooksville Parks & Recreation Department reach its highest potential. Mr. Chatman was at all fundraising events and department activities where staff needed an extra hand.
In 2004, Mr. Chatman received the Key to the City for his contributions to the youth and citizens of the City of Brooksville.
Mr. Chatman was known to most as “Coach Chatman,” having coached in Hernando County for over 40 years. He coached baseball for his alma mater, Hernando High, for 12 years, cross country for 28 years, softball for five, track and field for five, five as the boys’ basketball coach, and served nine years as athletic director. He led the Hernando boys season wins in basketball (25 in 1987), and softball (30 in 2001). Coach Chatman collected 21 conference championships, 18 district titles, and 11 regional titles. He was named Conference Coach of the Year three times in baseball (1982, 1992, 1993), 10 times in cross country (1979, 1980, 1982, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004,2005,2006), once in basketball (1987), three times in softball (1999, 2000, 2001), and twice in track (2005, 2007). The Tampa Tribune named Coach Chatman Baseball Coach of the Decade (1975-1985) and Coach of the Year eight times (Baseball 1979, 1982, 1983, 1992, 1993; Basketball, 1985, 1987; Cross Country, 1992). The St. Pete Times named him Coach of the Year nine times (Baseball, 1979, 1982; Cross Country, 1978, 1979, 1980, 2002, 2007: Softball, 2000, 2001) and the “Most Influential Person in Hernando County Sports” in 2002. While coaching multiple sports for the Leopards, Coach Chatman coached the Dixie Majors to three state championships and a World Championship in 1983, the Hernando Youth League Girls Fast-pitch Softball team to a State Championship and third place finish in the World Series in 1997, coached the Saint Leo University baseball team to a program record 46 wins in 1984, was the private pitching coach to hundreds of young Hernando, Citrus and Sumter County athletes, completed 104 marathons-at least one in all states and Washington D.C., and at least two in 46 states-and jogged every day for 8,814 consecutive days. He was given the Key to the City of Brooksville in 2004, inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004 and into the Hernando High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
Each one of these accomplishments is a testament to and recognition for his dedication and service to others.
“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.” Pete Carroll
e. Did the contributions of this nominee also benefit outside the City of Brooksville? If so, how?
As a founding member of the Red Mule Runners Club and the Red Mule Flatlanders Challenge, a 5K and 10K road race through the City of Brooksville. Mr. Chatman was influential in bringing internationally known road races to Brooksville; which in turn affected the tourism and economic vitality of the City and the County.
Over 50 athletes have received athletic scholarships that Coach Chatman has coached and 5 have played at the professional level. Those athletes include: Jerome Brown (Philadelphia Eagles), Mike Walker (Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs) Eddie Looper (St. Louis Cardinals), Bronson Arroyo (Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks), and Tim Sims (San Jose Bees).