Jewel “Ruby” Rhea, a 1969 graduate of Emory & Henry, was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. His freshman year of college, Rhea attended University of Richmond on a full athletic scholarship. He soon transferred to Emory & Henry, where he started at defensive tackle in all thirty games during his sophomore through senior years.
Rhea earned All-Area and All-State honorable mention his junior year. His senior year the team went 9-1 and finished the season ranked tenth nationally. Rhea received a number of honors, including First Team All-District Six, Associated Press All-State, Knoxville-News All-Area, and the Small College All-State Team. During Rhea’s three-year career, the team amassed a 24-6 cumulative record. This record and Rhea’s accompanying recognitions are made all the more impressive by the fact that Emory & Henry was up against teams from large schools such as Appalachian State, Wofford College, and South Carolina State within District Six.
After graduating, Rhea became a teacher and a coach in Southwest Virginia. While an assistant football coach at Castlewood High School, his team won the district title in 1969 and 1971. As an assistant coach at George Wythe High School, in 1983 the football team were district and regional champions and state runners-up. He has also coached track and wrestling teams that have won district championships.
Rhea also worked for several years as a foster care social worker, placing children in foster homes and handling adoptions. His civic activities have included coaching and officiating youth sports.