Kim Braswell, A UGA legend in our midst

Sports Reports Featured, Sports

When talking to former All-SEC great, Kim Braswell, you get several feelings right up front.  He’s a very humble and modest man who loves the Georgia Dogs.  The love he has for his newly found home in Madison is obvious.  The successful 67-year-old high school coach is looking for ways to give back to the games that have been so good to him.  And, he’s fallen in love with the Morgan County Bulldogs.

Head baseball Coach Merritt Ainslie has also found this to be true.  He said, “Kim is a man’s man and he’s a winner.  The former Athletic Director and head football coach at Henry County High School has offered to help us with our baseball field and wants to stay involved in local athletics.  He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t care what it takes to get the job done.  He just loves to win and will do anything to help out.  He has worked with me in the dugout during summer games, cuts grass at all the baseball and softball facilities at the Morgan County High School Complex, edges and drags the infield, and offers advice when needed.  Coach Braswell never wants credit.  He just wants the team and facilities to look their best for competitions so it looks good when people come to the park to watch the Diamond Dogs play.  He’s a winner at life and everything he does.  We are blessed to have him working with the Bulldog baseball team.”

Braswell commented, “I moved to Madison when my two sons, their wives, and grandkids became sold out on the Morgan County School System.  I wanted to be a part of their lives and Madison!  Every day has been a pleasure for all of us.  We are Bulldawgs at Georgia and Morgan County now.”

You don’t have to look far to find out how great he was at Georgia.  The last of the straight-on field goal and extra point kickers at UGA (before soccer style kickers began to dominate the sport) put his mark in the record books both at Avondale High School (under hall-of-fame head coach Calvin Ramsey) and in Athens.  His 134 consecutive extra points in high school stood as the National Record until 2015 when a kid from Colquitt County bested his record after 47 years.  It made National News.  His 14 field goals in 1972 for the Vince Dooley-led football program set the SEC record at the time.  Quite possibly his most memorable kick came in the 1972 Gator Bowl when he knocked one home with 37 seconds remaining in the contest to take down the vaunted Florida Gators 10-7.

To put his ability into perspective, a study was made that compared the best UGA kickers against other NCAA kickers of their time.  Braswell is only bested by Bob Etter in % increase over their adversaries.  Etter was well ahead of the field at +53.4 % while Braswell was second and just slightly ahead of the most famous of all kickers, Kevin Butler, at +21.8%. (Butler was listed at 21.7% in the poll)

Braswell spoke about his high school record, “I can’t tell you how my record was more about the team than me.  There’s more to place-kicking than just the kicker.  Number one, the offensive line has to block, somebody’s got to snap it 134 times, and the holder has got to put the ball down 134 times.  I was lucky on several occasions.  Once I hit the upright and it went through.  Another time a lineman tipped it and it still went through, and on another the ball squirted out of the holder’s grip.  I kicked that one when it was flat on the tee.  There’s always some luck involved when you set a record.”

His consistency on the gridiron as a placekicker came off the heels of being the number one rated kicker coming out of high school where he was recruited as a running back, defensive back, and kicker by the likes of Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, and many others.  He recalled meeting a pretty special coach at Alabama named Bear Bryant.  “One of my teammates and I flew out to Tuscaloosa to meet him.  He came in with his famous hat on, took it off, and asked us how the flight was.  I was in awe to be meeting him.  He was a living legend.  I decided that it wasn’t the place for me with them already having a senior and sophomore kicker that were ahead of me.  That’s when I decided to become a Bulldog.”

Braswell also found stardom on the baseball diamond as a lefty pitcher and centerfielder.  Not much can be found on his play for the Dogs during that era as football dominated the news in Athens.  He was kind enough to share a few photos and highlights with us that included winning games on the mound against Georgia Tech, Kentucky, and a few others.  Not only was he the winning pitcher in those games, but also hoisted a hefty bat, going 2-4 against Tech with a homerun to boot.

After college, the Coach spent 37 years coaching high school football with stints as the head coach at Harris County and Henry County.  He talked about his coaching days with these words, “I owe Billy Henderson a lot.  That’s where my coaching career started.  He allowed me to help him coach in the spring of 1973 when he first took over the program after integration.  It was at a time when Burney Harris and Athens High merged into Clarke Central and racial unrest was at a high.  Downtown Athens was burned during that time as a protest about the integration of the schools.”

One of his earliest assistant coaching jobs was at Briarwood in Eastpoint (under head coach Ted Misseldine) where they played for the 1975 State Championship against Commerce.  Three years later he took the head middle school football and AD job at Fayette County.  One of the best stories he shared went like this.  “We were the Hogs, and they had never won a game in the history of the school.  One night with a few friends we found a hog crossing the street.  We went out and caught us one and name him the Junkyard Hog after the Junkyard Dogs.  He was our mascot and the school loved it.”

His first head coaching job came a few years later at Harris County.  “When your resume has people like Vince Dooley and Erk Russel on it, that’s pretty strong.  When I got there, the superintendent had been telling everyone in Callaway Gardens that he had talked to Dooley about becoming the new head coach.  When I got there I told him ‘timeout’, I’m the coach wanting the job.  The team had gone 0-30 before I got there so I’m thinking there’s no way to go but up.  When I interviewed they brought the team to the gym for us to meet.  I looked at those guys, some of the linemen were 6-2, 6-3, and 285 pounds.  I’m thinking I can do something with them.  That first year after we won our first game, the town went crazy.  We went 5-5 and then 6-4 the next two seasons at a school that had never had a winning season.”

Another step in Braswell’s coaching life came when he was later approached by the AD at Henry County.  That team had also suffered similar losing seasons with a combined record of 1-29 over the past two years.  He took the job and spent the next 12 seasons there.  “Those were the kinds of programs I took over.  The first year at Henry we went .500, and the next year 6-4.  They told me when I got there if I beat Stockbridge and Jackson I’d be a hero.  We did that.”  After spending a couple of years being outclassed in AAAA and not winning a game, Henry moved back down to AAA to face Marist, Westminster, and Lovett.  His team began to gain some confidence.  “We went 7-3 and then 8-2 to win the Region by defeating Marist on the road.  It was a good time for us,” Braswell observed.

After his children graduated and the team lost 13 starters from that Region Championship team, the coach decided to get completely out of coaching.  He found himself still being recruited to continue his passion.  This time it was another Middle School that was looking for his services.  “I was just tired of the grind and burned out.  One of my best friends called me to be his coach, and I took it.  I was teaching two classes and getting paid a janitor’s and coaching salary.  After our Wednesday games, I was done.  There was no more weekend scouting, games, meetings, etc.  It was the most fun I ever had as a coach.  The school was winless in their history, so after we won three straight Clayton County Middle School Championships and coaching future greats like Cordy Glenn (All-American) I stayed there for 10 years.  I was getting to go to Georgia games, the Florida game, see my kids and grandkids more just to cut grass,” he laughed.  “That’s the way it all ended up.”

Braswell got married in college after the Georgia Tech game his junior year and has three children, Kim V, Kate, and Kristin along with six grandchildren.

There’s so much more to this man’s story that it would take 10 articles to tell his story.  We will continue this saga at a later date, that’s for sure.  Thank you, Coach, for your time and insight.  We’ll see you at the next baseball game and appreciate your work.  He ended our conversation with this, “I just went to the SEC Tournament, and I think our fields are just as pretty as theirs.”  We can’t help but agree.

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