The Sports Trail: 'Thank you' to our county coaches; a pleasure to write

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This column is a heartfelt thanks from the bottom of my heart to the coaches at our county high schools that provide me with so much of what you readers find on these pages.

These men and women not only teach your kids during class periods, they spend endless hours with them after school, at night, and sometimes on weekends.

Then there's me. I start calling before 7 a.m. to hook up with the early risers before they begin those pre-school practices that last through first period.

"Hey coach. How' it going?" I start out, bright and cheery. Then I listen. Right off I can tell if they won the game last night, or whether it was a bad night and a dark day this time.

Amazingly, win or lose, the coaches shake off the early morning blahs and out pours the information that makes these sports pages. It's five or 10 minutes they could use to wake up, or fill out some paperwork, or maybe grade some papers.

But they want the kids to get credit for their efforts, and they know I want that too.

Then there's the short calls when the coaches have seven minutes between classes and my deadline is looming. They know the drill.

"Hey coach. Got time for the short version?" I ask, knowing I'm putting them on the spot. Usually you hear, "Sure. Here we go," and the information flows -- quickly.

They're great, even when they're worn out from late nights and too many games in a row. They even give me their cell phone numbers.

"Call me Sunday afternoon and I'll have that for you," the guys say, giving up a small slice of family time to help get the results into the sports section.

I couldn't work with a better group of people, people who have the interests of the young athletes they are responsible for at the forefront. I get to sit in their offices and listen to conversations that they know will never see the pages of the paper.

It's an honor to be trusted like that, so if I ever have a question about whether something is for print, I ask. The compliment that comes back is not getting a no.

Instead, I might hear, "Might not be helpful," or, "I'd wait a while first and see how things come out." The hint is clear, but the option is left to me to print or not to print. That's professional.

So here they are, some of the finest people I know and work with:

Eureka Springs- Aaron Hall, Daniel Cornelison, Ben Lairamore, Hassell Bell, and James McVey.

Berryville- Doug Scheel, Bobby Bishop, Mark Brigance, Josh Nation, Don Earnest, Ryan Whetham, Brent Compton, Nolan Helder, Kristin Smith, Jay Bullock, and Luther Roberts.

Green Forest- Bill Gotto, Tony Coffey, Jay Martin, Bill Niven, Kyle Farrar, Trista Killingsworth, David Joyce, Doug Owensby, Juan Zuazua, Brandon Stone, and Amber Watkins.

A last thanks to all the administrators who let me walk the halls, and who get kids out of class for pictures. Couldn't get it done without you.

To one and all, have a great summer!

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