Questions & answers with the author, George M. Cate

1.What inspired you to write The Good Ground of Central High?

When I attended the 50th Class Reunion of the class of 1952, one of our activities was to visit the school. After the event, I drove to the faculty parking lot that overlooked the football practice field. When I did this, I had a flashback experience similar to Dean Jagger’s (Twelve O’Clock High). My flashback was to August 1949 and the opening day of practice. In my senior year, Coach Wilson Matthews gave me only a reserve letter for football, rather than the customary football jacket with the letter on it. For fifty years thereafter I resented not having received the regular letter, but I never thought about writing a book about it. I reflected on this story while on my tour, and I came to realize that it was my own fault that I did not receive the letter I really wanted. After the reunion was over, I returned home to Virginia and started writing.

2.What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?

The ultimate hope is that readers will be entertained. I also hope readers will be able to understand Coach Wilson Matthews and what he taught his students. People who were close friends of Matthews and who knew him well describe him variously as tough, complex, and a brilliant student of football and coaching. The most humorous label is that “Wilson was as mean as a snake.” Above all else, however, he was respected by his players and the members of the coaching profession. The credentials and accomplishments of Matthews are exemplary, and yet he has never been featured in a book. Good Ground is a modest first step in correcting this omission.