December 18, 2013 Edition

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Coach Watson's positive
impact will endure




Coach Bobby C. Watson of Hoxie, who served as a coach in different capacities for more than 40 years, died on Friday.

Andrea Allen
Contributing Writer

The final buzzer may have sounded for Bobby C. "Coach" Watson on Dec. 13, 2013, but his legacy is nothing short of a grand slam, slam dunk, touchdown or hole-in-one for our community.

Coach Watson influenced hundreds of local youth. At Hoxie High School, he coached football, basketball and track and field and taught world history until his retirement in 1989. He also directed the summer Walnut Ridge Little League baseball program for many years, where he built camaraderie between rival cities Hoxie and Walnut Ridge and taught boys how to behave like men. The field at Stewart Park is now named in his honor.

Legendary NBA Coach Phil Jackson once said, "Not only is there more to life than basketball, there's a lot more to basketball than basketball." This quote took on real meaning upon learning of Coach's passing and watching his former players take to Facebook to share their condolences and memories of him.

Frank Lee, who played baseball under Coach Watson's direction from age 6-11 and is now the head baseball coach at Williams Baptist College, wrote, "This man influenced more young people in a positive manner than anyone I have ever known. Growing up without a father around to help direct me, Coach Watson was my male North Star. I learned so much more than baseball from him. He taught me how to be a Godly man way before I knew who God was, and my family and I are truly indebted to him for this."

Glynda Glover Brinsfield, a former basketball player of Coach Watson's, wrote, "We all learned so much more than the game of basketball from Coach Watson. He invested deep and was able to pull out the best we had to offer. He helped us to believe in ourselves and taught us how to win. I know that we all mourn this loss, but we would honor him to continue his legacy of investing in youth."

Coach Watson forged lifelong friendships with his athletes through coaching the value of fundamentals, good sportsmanship and teamwork. "A team is only as strong as its weakest player," Coach would say, and the team would work together to make each player as strong as possible. He would encourage everyone to participate and always play their best regardless of talent or ability.

Granted, his coaching style was unique. I can remember Coach Watson telling my fellow teammate, Gwen Green, and me once that we should just "take up knitting" the way we were playing basketball. But never did he yell. With his glasses pushed down low, he would give his legendary look while muttering "butter, butter, butter" for sloppy ball handling, "dummy, dumb, dumb" about a mental mistake or "good gravy" for any multitude of errors. And that's all it would take to turn things around.

Dr. Bob Shackelford, who played quarterback for Coach Watson for six years at Hoxie, said, "Coach would be an anachronism in today's sports world of bending the rules and winning at all costs. He had a deep-down burning desire to win, but only by the rules. There was no victory if it was tainted or circumspect. Whether you were shooting a round of golf or playing for the district championship, the rules defined the game and were the only way to determine the true outcome.

"Integrity and sportsmanship define Coach Watson. He was much more interested in building good citizens than he was in simply having good teams. This is evident by the respect and admiration exhibited by those he coached. Men of his caliber are few, and he will be missed, but his legacy will live on as we pass down those life lessons to our children and grandchildren," Shackelford concluded.

While Coach Watson has gone on to be with the Great Statistician in the Sky, his impact on our community will continue. Renee Tucker, a former basketball player of Coach Watson's, says she can still hear him telling her to "follow through."

We can all strive to "follow through" and put on the full-court press to honor Coach Watson's legacy and make our community a better place by investing in our area youth.

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