Before the start of the boys varsity game against East Carter County, former players, current and former coaches, school administrators and board members were asked to come forward and were acknowledged by the capacity crowd at Scott Central.
Cookson has coached some tremendous talent and 26 former players showed to support their coach. Among the notable players were Otto Porter, Terry Porter and Doug Blissett.
Several current and former coaches who had ties to Cookson showed also. Among them: brother Carroll Cookson, who was honored as being an assistant coach under Cookson; former Charleston coach Mitch Haskins; long-time rival Lennies McFerren of New Madrid County Central; former Charleston coach Bobby Spencer and Nate Crowder of Delta.
In addition to area coaches, coaches that were with Scott Central during the Cookson era were also in attendance. Former girls coach and now current Sikeston girls coach, Fred Johnson, Danny Farmer, who took over at Scott Central after Johnson and is currently boys coach at Charleston and long-time junior high coach at Scott Central, Larry Mosley, were all acknowledged.
During a school board meeting held by Scott Central this year, a unanimous vote was taken to name the new gym in honor of Cookson. Of his 31 years spent with Scott Central, the first 25 years were as boys head coach and physical education teacher. Cookson retired after 25 years in coaching but he spent another six years with Scott Central on the school board.
Cookson was elected to the Missouri State Hall of Fame in 1991 and had an 83 percent winning percentage during his time at Scott Central. Cookson won 636 games while losing only 132.
During his tenure as coach, Scott Central made 13 final fours, won 12 state titles and finished second on one occasion. The Braves won 20 regular season conference championships and won the conference tournament 19 times under Cookson.
The 12 state titles won by Scott Central is a state record and Vashon High School is the closest with 10. Charleston has nine state titles. Overall in state playoffs, Scott Central has an 88 percent winning percentage and has won 63 of 72 games played in the playoffs.
Five times Cookson was named coach of the year in the State of Missouri. The Standard Democrat voted Cookson as coach of the decade for the 1980s.
While Cookson has an impressive record, he gives all the credit to people around him.
"Success we had was a community effort," said Cookson. "Our boys gave 100 percent every time during practice and in the games. We had a great group of players during my time and I happened to be lucky enough to be the one that guided them."
When it was announced at the game that the new gym would be forever known as the Ronnie Cookson Gymnasium, Cookson looked sheepish as he walked on to the floor and spoke to the anxious crowd.
Not one to toot his own horn, Cookson thanked the administrators, former coaches and the fans for all the support that was given to the Scott Central program. After Cookson finished, the crowd gave him a five-minute standing ovation.
Overwhelmed by the entire situation, Cookson could barley muster the words to express how he felt on Saturday night.
"This whole thing means everything to me," said Cookson. "I just feel proud for the community, my family, myself and everyone who was involved. I just don't know what to say, it has been a great day for the Scott Central community."