City to rename NE 28th St to honor late basketball coach behind ‘Kingdom of the Sun’

The city of Ocala will soon look to rename a portion of NE 28th Street in honor of a late basketball coach that left a lasting mark on generations of students and players in the community.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the city council, city staff and council members heard a request from Franklin Rich Jr., Vanguard High School Lead Assistant Principal Colleen Wade, and Assistant Football Coach Jody Drane to amend the name of a portion of NE 28th Street to honor late Coach Jim Haley, who passed away this past November at the age of 74.

Vanguard High School
Vanguard High School

“On behalf of myself, an alumni, [who] played on the 1982 state championship basketball team, Dale Osbourne, who is an assistant coach with the Portland Trailblazers, [and] Travis May, who is the head coach of SMU’s women’s basketball program, we are all in support of naming 28th Street from 441 to Jacksonville Road ‘Jim Haley Way,'” said Rich.

The stretch of the street in consideration includes the campus of Vanguard High School, where Haley coached for near four decades.

City council members made a motion to approve the request and seemed ready to make the change, but before doing so, they were instructed by City Manager John Zobler and City Attorney Patrick Gilligan that the appropriate application process would have to be followed.

“We will fill out the application and bring it back to you, and at that point you will decide what you’d like to do,” said Zobler to council members.

Coach Haley, who was beloved by players and members of the community for his impact on the young men he coached, led Vanguard High School’s varsity basketball team to three State Championships and was the founder of the Kingdom of the Sun Tournament. In 2005, Haley was inducted into The Florida Athletic Coaches association Hall of Fame, the highest honor bestowed to a high school coach in the state of Florida.

The Kingdom of the Sun tournament is set for its 46th installment later this year. In 2016, the court where tournament games are played was renamed after Haley, honoring his efforts to turn the tournament into one of biggest high school basketball events in the southern United States.