A couple of tidbits from the Spring Fling:
After staying away from her husband’s softball team during most of its tournament run, Tabitha Sheppard watched Wilson Central play at Starplex this week.
Tabitha Sheppard coaches Donelson Christian’s middle school team, keeping her from watching husband Michael’s Lady Wildcats as they made their run to Murfreesboro.
Even after her schedule cleared up somewhat, she stayed away while the Lady Wildcats won until Wednesday’s evening game against Soddy-Daisy. Central lost that game, but Michael, who hadn’t seen his wife’s team play either, said she would be back the next day.
I think I saw her from across the field at the start of the Thursday game with Gibbs. I didn’t see her the rest of the game, one in which Central led until the final strike beckoned when the Lady Eagles came off the deck and eventually stunned the Lady Wildcats in eight innings 4-3.
The jinx wasn’t broken. Not that there ever was one to begin with. Her presence had nothing to do with Central’s back-to-back misfortunes. I’m sure the players even appreciated her being there.
But sports are full of superstitions, which are the only form of control we think we have over events of we have no control.
I recall a Mt. Juliet girls’ basketball game in the mid-1990s. The Lady Bears were leading by double figures in the second quarter with everything going their way.
Rick Martin, whose brother Tommy coached the Lady Bears then, was the principal at nearby West Elementary and received a call about an alarm going off at the school. After getting the alarm taken care of, he came to MJHS and watched the double-figure lead slowly dwindle into a loss.
Tommy could only look across the court at his brother with a “this is all your fault” look.
The most superstitious coach I’ve ever met is Mark Medley, Lebanon’s winningest football coach with 64 in seven seasons.
For a couple of seasons every Saturday morning, I hosted the “Mark Medley Show” on Dr. Joe Bryant’s channel 11/66 and he sat in the same chair each week. One week, volunteer Raymond Lasater [the Lasater in Nokes-Lasater Field] came with Medley and we decided he would appear with us on the show.
Problem was, his presence changed our normal sitting arrangements, which prompted Medley to do a bit of a double take before taking his new seat.
The change in seating didn’t affect the show.
Medley wore coaching shorts at every practice. That’s to be expected in the dog days of August and even through the cool of October.
But preparing his Blue Devils for a second-round playoff trip to Rhea County in November, he and assistant Bob Dillard were still wearing shorts on a Thursday afternoon when snow was flying through the air. They were just flurries. Nothing stuck to the ground, but it looked like a blizzard in the air.
They should have gone ahead and worn parkas. The Blue Devils lost at Rhea County the next night.
New Central hoops coach led FCS softball to first state tournament
He was only hired last week, but new Wilson Central basketball coach John Wild was decked out in his Lady Wildcat attire at the state softball game Wednesday night.
Starting on the ground floor of the coaching profession at Friendship Christian in 1990-92, he coached middle school basketball and was Keith Edwards’ varsity assistant. He also coached the softball team, taking the Lady Commanders to the first of many state tournaments under at least four coaches over the next couple of decades.
“I was a manager,” Wild said, noting it was pitcher Dana Taylor who carried the Lady Commanders then.
Wild was one of several FCS coaches of the era whose basketball philosophies came from legendary Lipscomb coach Don Meyer, who lost his battle with cancer last Sunday morning.
Wild and Edwards played for Meyer. Future Friendship coaches Greg Brown [Wild’s boss the last couple of years with Lipscomb’s women’s team], Jason Piercey and Jonathan Hemingway worked under Meyer as either student assistant coaches or managers.
Other FCS coaches like Don Walker and Steve Hawley had worked Meyer’s legendary camps and drew a lot of their philosophies from him.
When Meyer left Lipscomb, he moved his summer camp to Cumberland where Brown, then at FCS, was his local point man.
I only spoke with Meyer on a handful of occasions and knew more of him second-hand than personally. I don’t know if he was superstitious or not. But his faith was much stronger than any superstition.
And I can definitely say the same for Medley.