Monday, March 25, 2013

The End of an Era

Yesterday Coach Holcomb held his last football banquet at the Breathitt High School Cafeteria, as he will be moving to Letcher Central effective April 1.  I hate to see this era end, and wish him much luck as he continues on with his career, one which holds three state football championships.  I was blessed to be a cheerleader for two of those teams, and Coach feels like a part of my family.  Thanks for all the memories, Coach Holcomb!


I would start this out with dear, but you always scared me just a tad when I was little, and I thought you far too gruff to call Dear.

Mom gave me this assignment to write you a note. How do I cram thirty years into one small letter? I'm glad Mom has her Kleenex out as she reads these, because I know she'll need them. You'll probably just smile and shrug, because you never really liked the attention. And Deb, she'll have her camera out...

As long as I can remember, I've spent Friday nights in the stands or on the football field, except for a couple of years after I graduated, because it hurt too much. So many memories took place on that field, or around it. As a little girl, crouched in the gravel underneath the bleachers and kicking the metal during close games, of "Who are we? Breathitt" echoing across the dying grass. Of the old den and the Lift a Thon and you crouching on the sideline, hat on your head, hands clasped in front of you as you called whatever play you were calling.

I was a student of the game before I even knew it. I had no choice. It's what my Mom raised me to be.

Billy packing up nasty shoulder pads in the van. Sitting through rain and snow. Trodding in mud across football fields on away games. Sitting in Wendy's and throwing yellow napkins when you and the team walked in because of all the flags the refs through. You using some colorful language to make your point. Me yelling at refs... and I still yell at refs.

Of trips to Death Valley and getting bus sick, and of catching a ride back with the team when someone dropped whatever they dropped on the pep bus and cracked a windshield on the way home from Leslie County.

Of starving to death in Montgomery County and you not realizing the cheerleaders hadn't eaten, and you buying us pizza the next day because we were all mad at you. You making us a part of that first championship team. Those were the days. Biting my fingernails during those games and just knowing... knowing that we'd pull it off. My sweet 16 birthday party was spent on that sideline, in the rain, and we pulled off a big win against Powell County.

Of practice, only on the sideline, because the grass was new, but it was so hot in July. "Let's go run through the sprinklers," someone said. "He'll never know. He won't be in the den on a Sunday evening."

But you were. We had no more stepped on the field than around the corner you came. "Girls, get off that field!"

Of hanging signs and putting cups in the fence, and feeding ravenous teenage boys. And you there, loving those boys.

Oh, sure, you were gruff... but you had to be. I also saw you love on the unloveable, and believe in guys who had never had anyone believe in them. I saw how you and Deb loved your boys, and when I married a coach, I knew I wanted to be a Coach's Wife... just like Deb.

I still can't process that next year you won't be on that sideline. You've been there as long as I can remember. You will be missed. I know I don't have the same type of memories as your guys... and that's ok, too. You'll never know what you mean to so many of us. We love you, Coach. Best wishes and God bless!


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