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Robert Poole, Joey Batson Will Be Honored At TRHS Friday Night

As a 1971 graduate of Travelers Rest High School I've seen many excellent basketball players come and go. If you take into consideration that I have covered TR basketball since 1978 you could easily say I've seen a whole bunch of those fine athletes. But, I have always said my former classmate Robert Poole was the greatest. I've lobbied for Robert's induction into the school's athletic hall of fame for many years. Nobody listened. Now, as we enter a new decade, somebody listened to someone and Robert will finally be inducted on Friday January 31st.

Robert Poole joins Joey Batson as the newest Travelers Rest High School Athletic Hall of Fame inductees. An induction ceremony will be held on Friday January 31st in between the Travelers Rest Devildog girls and boys basketball games against Greer High School at Joe Small Gymnasium.

Robert didn't play high school basketball until his junior year which was also his first year as a student at Travelers Rest. He was a ground-breaking member of the Devildog basketball team. During the 1969-1970 season, he made Devildog athletic history by being the first African American student to ever start for a varsity basketball team at Travelers Rest. As a junior during that 1969-1970 season, Poole was named the basketball team MVP while leading the Devildogs in scoring. Poole averaged 18.5 points per game. He helped lead the Devildogs to the 1970 Greenville County Invitational Tournament Crown. He was also an All-Skyline Conference player and was an Honorable Mention in the Streets & Smith Yearbook.

During the 1970-1971 season, his senior year, Poole led his team to an undefeated regular season 21-0 record. He averaged over 25 points. His ppg average would have been much higher but coach Joe Small would put him on the bench in most of those games at halftime due to big leads over opponents. He also averaged 19 rebounds per game as a senior and was named MVP of the 1971 team and was named an All-Conference, All-State and All-South performer. He was also named the “Top Shooter” in the State in 1971. In the state playoff quarterfinal round in 1971 vs. York High School, Poole scored a career high 36 points. He was also named a team captain for the All-Conference game. He was selected to play in the North/South High School All-Star basketball game and was an Honorable Mention All-American. He was named to the Orlando Sentinel All-Southern Team made up of the top 60 high school basketball players in the south. He was sought by coaches from the ACC and SEC during his senior year. One of those coaches advised him to consider accepting a junior college and build two years of experience before stepping into the ACC or SEC arenas. So,after graduation, Poole earned a scholarship to play basketball at Anderson College, where he graduated in 1973. Rather than advance to a bigger school, he decided he could do more for the community by coming home to Travelers Rest and help teach youngsters the fine art of basketball.

Congratulations Robert, I'm glad the selection committee finally came to their senses.

Joey Batson (Class of 1979) was a three-year, two-way starter for the Devildog football team as a tight end and defensive end. During the 1977 season, Batson was an integral part of the Devildog football team that won the Peach Blossom Conference II Championship and earned a spot in the 3A State Football Playoffs.

In 1978, Batson was named the Greenville News Piedmont Player of the Week after a 22-0 upset victory over Woodmont High School. He was named a 1977 and 1978 All-Conference performer. He was named to the 1977 All-State team as well as the 1978 All-Greenville County team. He was a member of the Devildog track team in 1977 and 1978.

Joey made history in 1975 as part of the first group in the school’s history to be part of a formal Strength Training, Conditioning and Weightlifting program. He went on to be one of the elite drug-free powerlifters in the nation, placing in the top five in national meets in California and Illinois.

After graduation, Batson earned a scholarship to The Citadel, where he played football, and then transferred to Newberry College, where he was a two-year letterman and served as a co-captain his senior year. He is a 1985 graduate of Newberry College and later earned a Master’s degree from Clemson University in 1988.

Batson is currently the Director of Football Strength, Speed & Conditioning at Clemson University, where he earned the 2009 National Strength Coach of the Year honors. Before joining Clemson, Batson was Furman University's first ever Strength & Conditioning Coach.

Congratulations Joey, you have made TR proud.

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