By TODD LAMBERTH
For the first time in nearly 50 years, the Union High School Red Devilettes and Red Devils took to the basketball court on Tuesday night.
Gallatin High School rebranded as Union High School for their game on Tuesday against Hendersonville in recognition of the alumni of the former Union High.
Union High School was established in 1922 as an all-black high school in Gallatin. While it closed in 1970 and Union and Gallatin integrated, Union still has a large and proud alumni base. When Gallatin began their athletic Hall of Fame a year ago, they wanted to also include great athletes from Union.
“Although most never attended Gallatin High School, we feel they are an important piece of our past that needs to be included,” Gallatin athletic director Phillip Sanders said.
As Gallatin looked to continue to recognize Union alumni, they decided to dedicate an entire night to the school, allowing all Union alumni into the game for free and having a reception for them. The school fully committed to the rebrand, as the players wore special Union uniforms and were recognized as the Union Red Devilettes and Red Devils throughout the night. The only sign that they were playing at Gallatin was the traditional green and gold that surrounded the court.
“(Assistant Principal) Johnnie Anderson came up with the idea to have a throwback game like some of the Metro Nashville schools are doing,” Sanders said. “GHS admin and coaches approached the Union High representatives who keep up with their archives about the idea of having a throwback game, and they were very receptive to the idea.”
Gallatin High School was also able to use the game as an opportunity to teach the players about the history of Union. Along with wearing the Union uniforms, players visited the Gallatin Shalom Zone, which is located in the old Union High building, to learn about the school and hear from some of it’s former students and athletes.
“It was really a learning experience for the players, too,” Sanders said. “A lot of them didn’t know Union was a high school, they just knew the elementary school. They didn’t know the Shalom Center was in the old high school.”
Through a partnership with Wilson Bank & Trust, Gallatin was able to get special maroon and white Union uniforms for the players to wear, which included numbers selected by Union alumni to recognize great players in their history.
“We’re proud supporters of GHS,” Wilson Bank & Trust Vice-President Richie Harville said. “Growing up in Gallatin, I can remember Union and their proud alumni. We hope this continues their legacy.”
This won’t be a one-time occasion for Gallatin either, as Gallatin and Wilson Bank & Trust have agreed to do this again in five years.
“We would like to play Springfield in this game at some point, since they were the final team Union played,” Sanders said.
The night was capped off with both the Red Devilettes and the Red Devils picking up big district wins over the Commandos.