Tucker's Turf

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As we roll in to spring break, activities in local school districts reach a uniquely busy level. Teachers, coaches, sponsors and parents do their best to keep up with students who are involved in multiple activities. In small school districts from Class 3A down to Class A, the rush of activities usually takes hold after the winter break and goes non-stop until school is out for the summer.

When I left teaching in the Dallas ISD at Samuell High School in 2002, I went from a 2,300 student body population to a high school enrollment of about 110 at Yantis High School. The kids at Samuell were pretty active in the many organizations there, but there were no agriculture classes, FFA and 4-H.

I found out real quick in a small district, you had to be able to share your students for their various activities. When I took the job at Yantis, I was excited about being the head baseball coach; along with being the coach, part of my new job included being the one act play (OAP)director. My principal assured me it would be easy to do, just make sure I used good time management practices.

I learned real quickly about time management that year. I had several athletes, boys and girls, who participated in Ag projects, UIL, track, golf, tennis and OAP. It was almost impossible to have a complete practice in any sport because somebody was always missing because they were in another activity. After going to watch some of my students at the Fort Worth Livestock Show I became a big fan. I had some great parents and ag teachers along the way who worked with me to get kids to and from events, sometimes traveling many miles multiple times in one day to get someone to a game so we would have enough to play.

In the spring of 2003, I would practice baseball until 5 p.m. each day and have games on Tuesdays and Fridays. We would have OAP practice from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and sometimes 10 p.m. and had it not been for moms and grandmas, I would have never survived that spring. As my luck would have it, the Yantis OAP had won the Class A State Championship the previous year. Because of a senior class with the likes of Chris Rowback, Billy Stullenburger and Rush McJilton and the passion of Rush’s mom, Lisa Apel, we all survived, and made it to the region finals at Stephen F. Austin. Our OAP season ended there, but we were the alternate to state, quite an accomplishment considering the kids and many others did all of the work. I basically drove the bus. I have coached baseball and golf (bus driver) at the same time too, which brings a whole other set of stories and difficulties concerning practice and games.

The thing is, I wasn’t nearly the busiest one. To this day, I don’t know how some students and their families make it to all the events and activities. When I was at North Hopkins, I had a great student athlete, Baile Gamille, who was an all state softball player as a freshman and sophomore. We were getting started with the softball playoffs and Baille was pitching at the time. She also made the region finals in golf and in three events in track. Add to that, she was a smart kid and involved in UIL competition. We were set to play Sulphur Bluff in a softball game that had playoff ramifications the day the region golf was wrapping up in Nacogdoches. Thank goodness, the Bluff pitcher had made the region finals in golf too, so we waited at the field for both girls to make it to the game before we started.

We did make the playoffs in softball, and Baile somehow made it to our games and to the region track finals in Abilene.

Just remember at this time of year, our students at each one of our schools are very busy. Not only do they have athletic games and numerous other activities, these students still have to go to class, make the grades and prepare for the annual test of the year (STARR) which brings about a whole other series of emotions and expectations.

I wish all our area students and their families the best of luck in all they do. Don’t forget to slow down at some point, smell those roses and breathe deep. Tomorrow will come.

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