A smile you can’t pry off

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 2004

There was a little spring in his step. A twinkle in his eye.

A look you don’t usually see in a ball coach this time of year.

When the excitement of the upcoming football season starts to wear off, crunch time begins.

The realization sets in that there’s only a handful of good practice days left … that once the ball gets rolling, there’s no turning back.

There will be no time for rest.

Behind each week’s Thursday corner, there waits a Friday night fight with a hungry opponent … for 10 straight weeks. It lasts even longer if you’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs, and the fights just get more intense while the opponents get even hungrier.

The stress gets hold of some coaches when they start to look down that gauntlet.

But with high school football just a couple of weeks away, Jerry Stearns has a lot to be excited about.

After competing against bigger schools for the last few years, Kingwood Christian School was finally reclassified.

They didn’t lose many players from last year’s team –

there wasn’t a senior on the 2003 squad – and after taking their share of licks the last couple of years, the Lions are ready to hand out a few of their own.

Stearns has installed a new offense during the spring and junior standout Lakin Spinks has gotten bigger, stronger and faster.

Stearns said some folks just might be a little surprised when they see the team in black and royal blue this fall.

But after we got done talking football, he had something else to show me.

A grin cut across his face as he opened the brand new doors.

Rows and rows of bleachers are supposed to take care of the standing-room-only problem experienced last year during the impressive run of the Kingwood girls basketball team.

A new hardwood floor suspended along a track of steel beams will ease the pains of shin splints caused by playing on carpeted concrete.

Stearns said you can lay a dime on the floor and bounce a ball next to it and ol’ Roosevelt will lay flat on his back the whole time.

A full set of powerful overheads and opaque skylights will clear up the confusion of &uot;Hannah Phillips shot the lights out.&uot; A statement which, by mistake, could have been taken literally last year.

The old gymnasium at Kingwood Christian School served those players well and was more than some schools are fortunate enough to have. But the new facility down the street is much more reflective of the pride of Kingwood.

It may have been the suspended flooring system that put the spring in his step. It could have been the row of skylights that put the twinkle in his eye.

But I suspect both came from the picture in his head, the one I couldn’t see.

I think Coach Stearns looked into those bleachers and saw them filled with fans cheering on the Kingwood Lions.

He turned and saw his girls dancing around on that shiny new floor, victorious, excited, happy.

You couldn’t have pried the smile off his face.

Ashley Vansant is the sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at mailto:ashley.vansant@shelbycountyreporter.com