“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
— George S. Patton
It was a moment I’ll not soon forget, not for a long time. At the time, I thought it was the end of the world. In retrospect, it couldn’t have worked out better.
I guess that’s what fate is all about.
To say that Lebanon Girls Softball Association league play is competitive would be a bit of an understatement, especially when it comes to the older leagues. A little more than a year ago, I was a first-year LGSA coach in the 10-under league. So was Curt Parsons.
Apparently by fortune of a coin toss of which I was not privy to witness, Parsons received the honor of going first in the draft. I told you it was competitive, but maybe it was just me.
Now, I had done my homework. I had it all planned out. The key was that first pick. If my plan was going to work to select the perfect team – at least in my mind at the time – I had to draft these twin sisters.
But Parsons went first. He picked those twins, and my season was shot before it even started.
Or so I thought.
My first pick just happened to be the best I could have ever made. She came with the dad who would become my assistant coach and eventually head coach I’m assisting this season. He’s also a friend. His daughter is a great player and a friend to my daughter.
And it didn’t stop there. Selection after selection proved to be the formation of a really great team. Sure, we didn’t win as many as we lost last season, but I wouldn’t trade any of those girls for anything in the world.
Parsons’ team went on to beat us twice in the regular season. He finished third last year. I wanted more than anything to beat him, but he got the best of me every time. It was what he wanted.
The fact is, and I have no regrets in saying this, I really disliked the guy on the field. He had an almost cocky confidence and seemed to make all the right moves.
But you know what? As that season went on, I got to know Parsons. I found out just enough about him to know that cockiness was really passion for a sport he loved.
I found a man who was loyal to the teams he supported, especially the University of Tennessee. I pull for another team, but I respect anyone who will stick by his team through thick and thin. I never thought I’d see it, but there’s a UT sticker emblazoned in orange on my car now, and it’s only there in honor of Parsons.
He was always complimentary of the girls, whether they were on his team or other teams. In all cases, the girls came first, and I appreciated that.
Parsons’ team is poised to have another successful season this year, but our team is poised to give him a run for his money. It’s what Parsons wants; I have no doubt.
As I sit here on the eve of another season’s start, I can’t help but think about how difficult it’s going to be for Parsons’ team without him on the field to guide them.
On March 27, Curt Parsons was at a coaches’ meeting when he suffered a heart attack and later died. He was 45. News of his untimely death sent the LGSA world, as well as anyone who knew him, into a state of disbelief.
Curt leaves to cherish his memory his wife, Kim Parsons; children, Hannah Brooke Parsons, Haley Nicole Parsons, Rusty Davidson, Kelsey Bryson, Wesley Kyle Parsons; father, Calvin “Pop” Parsons; mother, Tericia “Swanky” Neff; siblings, Timmy (Mary) Parsons, Debbie (John) Burnette, Travis Parsons, Carlos Mendoza, Mikel Gibson; nieces, Courtney Jennings, Sharly Burnette, Shelby Burnette and Rylynn Tate.
His twin daughters, Hannah and Haley, are keeping the torch of their father’s memory lit. At a time when they could have easily thrown their gloves in the closet, they will play this season. It makes my heart full, and I know it’s something Parsons would want.
And as it’s crossed mine, I’m sure it’s crossed the minds of the other coaches in the league. Do we take it easy, hold back even just a bit, have sympathy for Parsons’ team?
Well I don’t see our team doing that. I see my team going out there just as competitive as if they were playing against any other team.
I believe that’s what Curt Parsons would want, and I know he’ll be right there coaching his team.
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.