Eddie Lee Ivery said he is thankful for life’s experiences that have led to many of his successes.
Ivery was among those who will be inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame next year. He was among those named last month for induction in the hall.
Ivery, who is a teacher in the McDuffie County School System, will be inducted in February.
Ivery was a standout football player at Thomson High School 1972-75, and went on to excel at Georgia Tech and with the Green Bay Packers.
“I am humble and grateful that the committee at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame made the decision to induct me,” he said. “It’s such a great honor to be in the company of another Bulldog, Ray Guy, and Luther Welsh, a former coach at Thomson.
Ivery is first to point to God as being the source of his gifts and accomplishments. From his family as he grew up to his family now, coaches, teachers and other influences, Ivery knows that it all combines to make him who he is.
“They taught me things I needed to know so that I could get a scholarship, and move on through the levels of my life,” he said, citing Calvin Sampson and Red Bulloch, who helped in life lessons, math and other studies.
After retiring after eight seasons at Green Bay in 1988, because of knee problems, Ivery came to Thomson in 1990 as an assistant coach to Welsh.
It was during that time that he decided to return to Georgia Tech to get his degree in 1992, He also worked as a strength coach at Georgia Tech.
“Coach Dick Bestwick told me I had to get back and graduate, which I did,” he said. “I came back after being a strength and conditioning coach at Georgia Tech for eight years. I was looking at getting in high school coaching and I got a call from Coach Welsh, and it was a no-brainer to come back again and give back in service to the community.”
Ivery, a parent involvement coordinator at Thomson High School, said he is glad to be able to help students relate to issues today, which were much the same as his were growing up. He is also on the board of directors for MANNA, a local non-profit that helps the less fortunate.
Having a recent health situation has slowed him down a bit, as he became dehydrated after a busy week at Green Bay, coaching JV and then varsity football in Thomson’s game in Norcross.
“I wasn’t taking care, and wore a monitor, and I am doing much better now,” the Bulldog running back coach said Sunday.
John Barnett, Thomson High School football historian, played alongside Ivery at THS and later coached with him.
“In school, he was a great teammate and worked every day in practice like he was trying to earn playing time,” Barnett said. “For someone with his ability, that’s not always true. He never acted like he was a superstar.”
Barnett said Ivery played offense, defense, and special teams.
“He rarely left the field and I can remember him doing some kicking off,” said Barnett. “He played year-around, with being a great basketball player and great track athlete.
Ivery and Barnett were on the B-team in 1972, and they dressed the B-team against Warrenton, which was the first for the two players.
“The next week, he returned the opening kickoff against Bradwell for a touchdown and that was the end of his B-team career,” Barnett said. “The next week, he took the opening kickoff against Swainsboro for a touchdown and before the end of the season, he was starting.”
Ivery’s jersey No.44 was retired at THS in 2004.
At Georgia Tech, he played in 44 games, rushing for 3,517 yards and 22 touchdowns. He won several honors in 1978, and finished eighth in Heisman voting that year.
He once held the NCAA single-game rushing record for his 356-yard performance against Air Force in 1978 on a frozen field with 20 mile-per-hour winds on Falcon Field in Colorado Springs, Colorado in a game Tech won 42-21. That same year, he set a single season rushing that still stands at 1,562 yards.
He was drafted in the first round, 15th overall in the 1979 NFL Draft.
He played eight years with the Green Bay Packers at running back and wide receiver and battled two knee surgeries.
He was inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame in 1983 and to the Georgia Tech All-Time Team in 1991.
“Everything I have achieved is God-given, and I thank my family and friends who have given me such support in what I do,” Ivery said. “I have been truly blessed and I want to keep helping people.”