James “Jimmy” Gladden Harrison, Jr
October 26, 1928-May 2, 1998
November 23, 2013 by Billy Crawford
In 1988 the Harrison family was named “Family of the Year “ by the Louisiana Tennis Association.
In 1999 Mr. Harrison was inducted into the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame
In 2000, he entered the Centenary Hall of Fame
Jimmy Harrison, Jr. was a lifelong resident of Shreveport, Louisiana. He graduated from C.E. Byrd High School in 1945 where he was an outstanding athlete. After high school he attended local Centenary College and played football before transferring to Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana. While at Tech he was named Best All-round Athlete, all-conference, and All–American as a running back for the Bulldog football team. He graduated in 1951 with a B.S. in Education.
1951 Plain Dealing High School
1960 Cotton Valley High School
1962 Head Coach Arcadia High School
1965 Coached Arcadia to a State Football Championship
1968 Returned to become head football and tennis coach at Byrd High School
At Byrd, his tennis teams won five state championships and three runners up in an eight-year span. These teams recorded 102 wins and seven losses.
Centenary Coaching Days
Coach Harrison coached the men and women’s tennis teams at Centenary from 1979-1997. He was the first full-time tennis coach in the College’s history. Harrison led the Ladies to numerous top ten finishes in the NAIA while upgrading the program and the facilities. In 1991 he was named NAIA National Women’s Coach of the Year.
He read books and taught himself to play tennis and then taught his five children to play. Vickie, the oldest, played at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana before tennis scholarships were given to women. Valerie, the second oldest, and her brother Mark, played at Louisiana Tech on full scholarships until their dad became the tennis coach at Centenary College. Both then transferred to Centenary. Valerie was an all-American in 1980. The twins, Pattie and Pat played two years at Ole Miss, then Pattie transferred to LSU in Baton Rouge and Pat played at Oklahoma State. After college, turned professional in 1984 and played on the tour
Pat has two sons that are professional tennis players. Ryan Harrison is 21 years of age and is ranked #98 in the world and his younger brother Christian Harrison is 19 years old and is ranked #345 in the world. They played doubles in the U.S. Open last year and got to the quarterfinals.
Of Ryan and Christian, Valerie Woolbert, who is now the assistant tennis coach at her alma mater, said, “These are Dad’s grandchildren. He would be so proud of them.” “We have all enjoyed this wonderful lifetime sport.”