JIM SMELCHER ATHLETIC COMPLEX (JSAC)
For many years, Bearden High School Athletics has aspired to build an Athletic Complex to house its football program. Thanks to the many generous donors of the Bearden High School family, Bearden and Knoxville business community, this dream has become a reality.
The Athletic Complex has been named in honor of former Bearden Coach Jim Smelcher. Jim, a native of Lake City, Tennessee, was All-State in football in 1953 and 1954, and continued his football career at the University of Tennessee from 1955-1958. After his college career, he began his coaching career. Jim was named head coach at Bearden in 1964. He coached the Bulldogs from 1964-1973. After his time at Bearden, Coach Smelcher opened and maintains Jim Smelcher Insurance, a successful insurance business in Knoxville.
There were many generous donors who participated in the project, most notably James C. (Jim) Bruner. Jim graduated from Bearden High School in1967, where he was a three year letterman in football and a four year letterman in baseball. Jim was Second Team All KIL in football 1966 – 1967and KIL Football Co-Champions in 1966. Jim entered Emory and Henry College where he was a member of both the football and baseball teams. He later graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS Degree in 1972. In 1999, Jim formed New River Energy, a venture involved in oil and natural gas research, exploration and drilling. Jim was named the Oilman of the Year by the Tennessee Oil and Gas Association in 2009.
Joseph C. (Joe) Bruner, a graduate of Bearden High School in 1966 and the brother of Jim, has been instrumental in overseeing this project. While at Bearden, Joe played basketball, was Sports Editor for the Yearbook staff and served as Junior and Senior Class President. He received a BS Degree from the University of Tennessee in Communications. Joe operates Bruner & Sons Builders, a residential construction company in Knoxville. Joe is very proud of his brother, Jim, whose overwhelming generosity made this project possible.