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A Fond Farewell

This old cowboy rides away.

That, like a lot of other statements written for these pages since 2003, was a re-purposed bit, stolen from the king, George Strait.

After some long study, I have decided that it’s time to hang up the old word processor and pursue some different activities in the coming year.

Number one will be following the exploits of our Georgetown, Texas granddaughter who will be entering her senior season as a member of the Lady Eagles basketball team. With a late December tournament in Florida on the schedule it was not that tough a decision to make.

I could not go away from these pages without thanking all the coaches, parents and, most of all, the kids that made these 10 years so enjoyable.

I know we have had our share of mistakes and our readers have been very forgiving of those errors. I apologize for all the misspelled names and more egregious misplays over the years. The only time someone wants their name incorrect in print would be if it preceded the words “was indicted by the grand jury.”

I could not have accomplished our mission over the years without the help of the coaches and administrators at Van Alstyne and Howe high schools.

To Mikeal Miller and Zack Hudson, my thanks for giving us free rein to your facilities and access to any information requested to tell our stories.

The coaching life is pretty nomadic. Miller is the third athletic director-head football coach at Van Alstyne during my time with the paper and Hudson the fifth Howe Bulldog leader in that time frame.

Two who have been with us all the way, and two I want to pay a special thanks to are Howe’s Derek Lands and Jimmy Haynes of Van Alstyne.

Lands is the girls athletic coordinator at Howe, and he coaches JV volleyball, girls golf and he is the head girls basketball coach. Over the 10 years I have known Lands, the thing that impresses me the most is his steady demeanor.

Our first ever exchange occurred at a playoff basketball game in some long-forgotten gym, the opponent was Cooper and the Lady Bulldogs of Howe were up by three in the closing minutes of the contest. Lands comes over to the water cooler to get his ever-present cup of ice, looks at me and says “piece of cake.”

And it was. Howe, with daughter Andi running the point, pulled away for the win.

Every Lady Bulldog player we ever talked to would give the same explanation about playing for coach Lands.

“You know he cares about us.”

When his team failed to execute a defensive scheme or run the offense correctly, the girls would get the three-part lecture: stern observation about what they were doing wrong, concise corrective advice and a verbal pat on the back.

Good luck in the future.

If you wanted your son to play for a coach that not only passes on the X’s and O’s of high school baseball but who can also be called a role model, look no further than Van Alstyne’s Jimmy Haynes.

In addition to accumulating more than 400 wins and winning four district championships, Coach Haynes has done it with class and integrity. He has had to overcome some personal hardships over the past couple of years but that has not shaken the man’s deep faith.

I will always remember our time together.

In closing, if you ever need help, say a kidney or other vital organ, don’t hesitate to call.

If you ever need money, call my daughter Kelly at Independent Bank.

As they wrote in the newspaper business long ago —30—.