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Remembering Bud Ewing, Atascadero High School coach

"Bud" Ewing helped organize the building of Atascadero Memorial Stadium and the 35 year veteran of the Atascadero School District was honored by having the high school gym named for him.
"Bud" Ewing helped organize the building of Atascadero Memorial Stadium and the 35 year veteran of the Atascadero School District was honored by having the high school gym named for him.

For some the season brings to mind family meals or the sound of carols.

For others it is the thud of basketballs and squeak of shoes on hardwood. High school basketball tournament season in full swing — here is the first of a two-part series on how two local gyms were named.

Dennis Howard Taylor wrote about the namesake of Atascadero's Ewing Gym on April 2, 1987:

North County gyms honor a pair of local legends Atascadero's Bud Ewing: Teacher, counselor, coach

ATASCADERO — When a new gym was built on the Atascadero High School campus in 1965, it was simply named after the school itself.

Six years later, it was renamed for a man who shaped the school — R.H. "Bud" Ewing, who taught at Atascadero from 1936 until he retired in 1971.

Now 77, Ewing spends a lot of time tending his garden and yard, which he says is no small matter.

"The garden is big," he said.

But in the late 1930s and 1940s, Ewing was a teacher, counselor and coach at Atascadero and that was no small matter either.

"In those days, teachers went where we were needed," he said. "I taught algebra, science and, at that time, I was the P.E. department."

The student body at Atascadero was 180 in the 1940s, and the Greyhounds were part of the San Luis Obispo League against bigger schools such as Lompoc, Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria.

Ewing coached football, basketball, track and baseball. Usually, it was the same athletes on all the teams. He recalled coaching a baseball game on Friday and a track meet on Saturday. Doubling-up was part of the program then, but Ewing thinks that because of it, the kids were always in good shape and were always competitive.

Basketball was the big sport for Atascadero. The hounds often won "C" division championships with Ewing at the helm.

Watching basketball at Atascadero could be a true challenge, however. Games were played in the multipurpose room — and on the stage at that. Ewing said that, depending on where you sat, you could see one basket but not the other, and the viewing angle was up at the action instead of down.

"Scheduling the use of the gym was rough, but necessary," Ewing said. Basketball wasn't always the No. 1 priority.

The small-town environment of Atascadero had some decided advantages, according to Ewing, who was very active in the community. The relationship he had with the town paid off often in his 3 1/2 decades at the school.

One of the big payoffs was after World War II when it came time to build a new football stadium.

"The people in the community were for it," Ewing said. "Every time we needed some help, we seemed to get it."

Current Atascadero athletic director Donn Clickard agreed, adding "to do what Bud did took a great effort, and he had to be the kind of person people responded to to get the stadium built.

The current stadium — appropriately named Atascadero Memorial Stadium — seats nearly 4,000 and has hosted three CIF champions in the last five years.

Ewing said that Atascadero is the kind of community where people stay to live after high school. Because of that, he found himself coaching and teaching the sons and daughters of former students.

"I saw a kid the other day and he told me he always thought I was the meanest son-of-a-gun there was," Ewing said, "but he also told me he didn't think that anymore since he has kids of his own."

Ewing feels that Helen, his wife of 50 years, has made him successful.

"Helen has kept me in line all this time," he said.

Clickard said that recognition of important contributors like Ewing is important to both the school and the community as a whole. Several years ago, Clickard helped form a committee that looks for those contributors.

On the Atascadero campus, there is a "Wall of Fame" that lists people who have made outstanding contribution over the years. Besides the Wall of Fame, rooms and buildings can be named — like Ewing Gym.

"The committee can take a look at people that made real contributions, and we want to avoid naming something after someone in haste," Clickard said. "People like bud and Gil (Asa) are people that continue to touch the lives of people long after they retire. That's who we look for."

They didn't have to look much farther than Ewing.

Ewing died in March 1990 at age 79; born in Pocatello, Idaho, he had been a resident of Atascadero for 54 years.

Next week, the story of Gil Asa, whose name is on the Paso Robles High School gym.