We went all the way to Rupp Arena, becoming only the second team in school history to make the state tournament. There were many good players on that team. There was one, however who, on occasion was just short of electrifying. That one individual could, as the old saying goes, “jump out of the gym.” That player was none other than Kris Alexander. The only thing more noteworthy than his leaping ability was the fact that he was a free spirit to the max.
Let me describe Kris to you. Kris stood 6-foot-2 and weighed about 175 pounds. He could stand flat-footed, jump and dunk a basketball with ease. Blocking shots was also a forte of his.
Now to that free spirit thing. We had three guys on the team that year with a first name that sounded the same. We had Chris Sparks, Chris Scott and Kris Alexander. One day, the coaches and players were discussing what we could do to improve communication with those three guys. All kinds of suggestions were being offered up and then Kris Alexander spoke. Kris said, “The simplest thing to do would be to cut the other two guys and keep me. Then you would have only one Kris.” That was Kris and his way of kidding around. He didn’t say much, but when he did, it was usually funny or profound. Or both.
Every year when Kris played, my least favorite day was picture day. Trying to get all the players in uniform with the proper expression was usually tough. We decided to always take one serious picture and one where each player could make the craziest, silliest most distorted face they wanted. In other words, this was a chance for them to express themselves. What did Kris do? While others were making their silly faces, he simply turned around backwards.
Now for my favorite Kris Alexander story. The more we won that year, the more our boosters fed us. It is a wonder that we didn’t get too fat to play as much as super booster Ben Cundiff fed us. Larry Boyd also contributed to feedings for our team. The most memorable restaurant stop was coming back from a win over Reidland. We stopped at the McDonald’s in Eddyville. There was a “Help Wanted” message on their sign out front. That should have been an omen. We went inside only to find one 15-year-old girl at the register and one 16-year-old boy doing all the cooking. Bless their hearts. Neither one seemed to be exactly driven in their pursuit of serving our bus. They were overwhelmed in the worst way. The two young employees even asked our players to help them in distributing the food. Before quick could get ready, our Trigg County basketball players were pouring Cokes, bagging fries and serving up burgers at McDonald’s. It was like a self-serve McDonald’s. Then the unbelievable happened. I turned to around to see that Kris Alexander was taking orders and waiting on folks at the drive-up window. Now all this happened very quickly. It was also ended as quickly as it started by the coaches and adults present. The whole scene was bizarre to say the least.
Well, ole Kris is in town for a few days and I had the chance to catch up with him. Kris served in the U.S. Navy for 12 years. He achieved the rank of E5 while serving. He was stationed in Groton, Conn., Norfolk, Va., Japan and Guantanamo, Cuba. He currently lives in Norfolk. Due to downsizing in the Navy, Kris is now in the Navy Reserves. He is on the verge of opening his own barber shop in Norfolk. Kris played competitive basketball for about five years in the Navy while on the USS Kittyhawk. He said he has not played much basketball in the last few years. I asked him if he could still muster up a slam-dunk if needed. Kris replied, “Give me about five tries and I can still give you at least one good dunk.”
The moral of this story is that it is always good to see a former player doing well. Kris had a good career in the military and seems to be on the right track. He is also a proud father to his eight-year-old son Elijah. He said Elijah plays basketball and practices Tae Kwon Do.
It was good to see you Kris. Take care.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.