Chuck Perry's passion for BA athletics started at home
First in a six-part series on 2020 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees
Two 1950 Broken Arrow High School diplomas – Virginia Lee Fulps and Bob Perry – rest on a mahogany-colored credenza in Chuck Perry’s office. Inches away, is a typewritten letter from then-BAHS principal H.K. Ragsdale to Perry’s brother, Bob, wishing him success after his final game as a Tiger football player.
Adorning the opposite wall is a silver, narrow-block letter sign Perry rescued from the façade of Oak Crest Elementary, where his BA education started, before that school’s remodel began seven years ago.
In a book shelf is the 1987 Arrow Life. The name on the cover, “Monica Pingelton” is a misspelling of the first name of the senior coed who would become Monaca Perry just a year later.
For Chuck Perry, reminiscing over Broken Arrow school days are synonymous with family memories. His parents were BAHS graduates. The same can be said of his brother (Bobby, 1970) and sister (Sandy, 1975).
The Perry family lived on First Street, across the street from Oak Crest Elementary.
“My dad and I were probably up there at least two days a week walking and running on the track,” Perry said of his elementary school’s playground. “Throwing and kicking the football. Kicking the soccer ball. I used to kick field goals through the swing set posts.
“That’s what my dad and I’s relationship was…soccer or throwing the football.”
Perry understated the relationship, perhaps to conceal emotions of the day. In fact, one could surmise that Perry, on this day could easily start nearly all of his sentences with those four words… “My dad and I…”
Nearly a month after he shared the Hall-of-Fame news with his father, and hours after he completed his interview for this story, Chuck’s father Bob, the patriarch of the family, succumbed to struggling health on June 11. He was 88. Virginia, Chuck’s mother preceded her husband in death in 2014. Sadly, at the age of 51, Perry is the last surviving member of the Bob and Virginia Perry family, as his siblings also have passed away.
The youngest Perry and his dad bonded over Broken Arrow – the school more than the town. Athletics was the fast-tightening agent to their close connection.
“I grew up hearing BA athletic stories,” Perry said. “I’d hear about Coach Ragsdale when I was a little kid. How he would walk in the gym and everybody would get quiet because of his presence and the respect people had for him.
“I grew up with my dad telling me about all these great athletes that went through BA. It means so much to me just to be included in the athletic department in that connection. It’s not just like getting into any hall of fame. It’s the one I grew up always hearing about.”
Perry’s eyes shined as moisture swelled evenly and gradually from the lower lid toward the upper.
“This was actually very emotional for me,” Perry said, gathering a breath and calming his thoughts as he explained receiving the news that he was voted into the Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame. “My dad had mentioned before he would love to see me as a part of that because he has so much respect for it. I was able to share that with him, so it was emotional to get that news. That was the exciting part to me.”
The two Bobs in the Perry family both played football for the Tigers. Chuck went on to play soccer. In 1977, as a second grader, at the request of a friend in the neighborhood, Chuck signed up to play youth soccer. He never played football. His dad never pushed him to take up the game.
“My dad kind of clicked with it,” Perry said. “He enjoyed it. I just kind of connected with soccer and stayed with it my entire life.
“He’s always been part of my athletic life. Looking back, I probably didn’t realize what a big deal it was.”
The Perry parents attended every BA soccer game – home or away. Perry even mentioned that they also traveled to all University of Tulsa away games where he played on the backline for the Golden Hurricane.
It took nearly a year for the University of Tulsa graduate to get his first full-time, professional job. In 1992, Broken Arrow Athletic Director Ken Ellett offered the Perry his first chance to be a head coach.
“As excited as I was to get that job back when I was 23 years old…they might as well have named me the coach of the U.S. National Team,” Perry said. “That’s the way I felt about being the Broken Arrow Head Soccer Coach. I thought it was the biggest deal in the world. That’s the way I feel about being named to the Hall of Fame right now.
“I can remember vividly going to the first football game that fall, wearing a Broken Arrow shirt and thinking ‘I’m the high school soccer coach.’ I just couldn’t believe it. I was so proud to represent BA and be a part of the athletic department.”
In his second year, Perry coached the 1994 BA boys soccer program to its first-ever state championships appearance where they narrowly lost to Edmond Memorial 1-0 in sudden death overtime. He did the same in 1997 when the Tigers narrowly lost to undefeated Norman 2-1.
“The best memories are definitely coaching,” said Perry, who started as a sophomore for the Tigers the first year (1985) soccer became a sanctioned Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association sport. “The kids, the players, mean a lot more to you looking back. All I wanted to do was bring back a state championship for Broken Arrow High School. I was blessed with incredibly great players and outstanding young men. I will always be grateful that I was able to coach such talented players. I give them all the credit for the success we had.”
Expecting their first child in 1997, Chuck left coaching and education for a job in private business. He returned to the soccer sidelines in 2003 as head coach of the Union Redskins. In his third and final year as a coach, he won a state title. School administration followed. Perry served as a high school assistant principal and athletic director which eventually led to him becoming Broken Arrow’s Associate Superintendent of Student Services.
“For some reason I always wanted to be a coach,” Perry said. “I kind of grew up thinking that is what I wanted to be. In my high school years, I had already started thinking about coaching.”
With nine years of experience, he fulfilled that goal. The first Friday night in September, with emotional reflections of his father basting his every thought, Perry will smile, his eyes will glisten and he will be introduced as member of the Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame. His Hall of Fame plaque will soon be added to his treasured collection of Broken Arrow and family memorabilia that adorn his office.
The BA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is scheduled for halftime of the Sept. 4 Tiger football home-opener against the Union Redskins.