Getting to the top never comes easy for anybody

Published 10:07 am Thursday, February 1, 2018

At this past Saturday’s Lanett High championship celebration, it was interesting to hear two of the coaches talk about how success with the program didn’t come overnight. Some comments by head coach Clifford Story and assistant coach Chip Seagle were particularly memorable.

In speaking to the crowd gathered inside the Lanett High gym, Seagle said lightheartedly that he’d cried a lot since Dec. 8, the day Lanett won the 2A state title. “I cry every time it’s mentioned,” he said.

A lot of really good coaches – high school, college and pro – never reach that pinnacle of success. Until this year, Seagle was with that group, and he’s been coaching for most of his adult life.

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He contrasted this year’s success with what happened in 2010. “Thank God my family showed up when we played Loachapoka when we were 0-9,” he joked. “We had 12 people in the stands.”

That’s what can happen when there are injuries and some of your best players are lured away to other schools.

He made the case that some situations are beyond divine intervention. Continuing in the kidding mode, Seagle talked about Jesus coming to the world and happening upon a man who was sitting beside the road and crying.  “Why are you sad?” Jesus asked him. “Because I’m blind,” the man told him. Jesus put his hand on him, his eyesight was restored, and he went away rejoicing.

Jesus came upon another man who was crying and asked him what was the matter. “I can’t walk,” he said. Jesus put his hand on him and he could walk. That man went away extremely happy.

There was a third man beside the road weeping uncontrollably. Jesus asked him what was wrong. “I coach football at Lanett High,” he said.

“Jesus sat down and cried with him,” the coach said.

Coach Story talked of how 2010 affected him. It was hard to prepare for games when there’s only 18 players for practice. Losses mount, and it takes a toll on everyone. Coach Story told the crowd of being as low as he’s ever been. “I was on the floor in the field house crying and asking God, ‘Why did you send me to Lanett High?’” he said.

He confided that moment of weakness to Jennifer Boyd, then a business teacher and now the school principal. “She told me to get off that floor and to walk the halls of the school with your head held high; God has something special for you. That changed my whole life.”

Mrs. Boyd was a prophet. Something special was in store for Clifford Story and not just for 2017. He’s gotten to coach two sons who are exceptional quarterbacks. The older one, Tre, is now in college after a terrific career at LHS, and the sky’s the limit for Ken Ken. Before he graduates in 2020 he may be the most celebrated football player in Lanett High history.