By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
Apparently a two-week notice is not required, nor observed, when a football coach resigns his position.
Three years ago, Jay Cobb resigned without notice just a few days prior to the Briar Jumpers’ 2009 football season opener.
Three months ago, Dale Anderson resigned without notice four games into the Warriors’ 2011 season.
Heck last week, even longtime Penn State coach Joe Paterno tried to give notice — by wanting to finish out the 2011 season — but his board of trustees basically told him no notice was required and good bye.
For Jay Cobb and Dale Anderson, few really knew for sure why these two respected coaches abruptly left their positions as head football coaches. But what happened in the months to follow after their two resignations, was nothing short of a miracle for everyone to see.
Three years ago, the Somerset High School Briar Jumpers — led by, then interim coach, Robbie Lucas — went on a 14-game winning streak which landed them in the KHSAA Class AAA State Championship game at Western Kentucky University. Afterwards. Lucas was named the Jumpers’ new head coach and led the Somerset football program to three straight regional championships and a three-year record of 36-6.
Three months ago, Southwestern High School Warriors’ program was taken over by interim coach Andy Stephens, who has led his Warriors to nine straight victories and the program’s first-ever regional title.
In both cases, Lucas and Stephens had what it took to keep their young athletes focused on football and not on the negatives surrounding their respective programs at that time. Both men were able to trigger a nerve in each of his players, allowing them to excel beyond anyone’s expectations.
And in both cases, Lucas and Stephens never took credit for any of their team’s success, and gave all the accolades to the players and the other coaches around them.
No matter what the circumstances were around why these two men were thrown into their respective interim coaching situations — the two programs and the young men involved with these two programs were much better off because of the way they responded afterwards.
Ten years, 20 years or even 30 years from now; these young football players’ Friday night lights, homecoming games and regional championship post-game celebrations will soon be replaced with family obligations, job security and financial planning.
Their football cleats, newspaper clippings and athletic awards will one day be placed away in a cardboard box in a dark corner of their basement or garage.
But one day, without notice, something dramatic or live-changing may emerge in each one of these young men’s lives.
And each one of these young men will be much better prepared to take on and overcome these difficult life challenges, thanks to what they went through as young men on the prep football gridiron. And they might rely on motivational words they once heard from Coach Lucas at William Clark Field or from Coach Stephens at The Reservation.
It might just be those words or their memories of how they overcame challenges as young football players that will guide them through their adulthood challenges.
And just maybe, we can all learn from these young men that sometimes there are silver linings — even when we are faced with unexpected life challenges.
Thanks Coach Robbie Lucas, and thanks Somerset Briar Jumpers.
Thanks Coach Andy Stephens, and thanks Southwestern Warriors.