It was the mid 1980s. I was pretty new to my job as head girls’ basketball coach. My coaching staff consisted of Rick Larson and Steve Dills. I can’t remember if Kevin Fox or Gary Mitchell were with that staff or not. Anyway, we were in a tough battle with the Lady Panthers. The game had gone back and forth all night. Steve Dills was actually my middle school coach. Dills was in his first year of helping me coach. Let me tell you a little about Coach Dills.
Dills came from a little town in Missouri. He went to Murray State, got his degree and then began managing a hog farm in Trigg County. His passion for basketball, however, led him to go back to school and get his teaching degree. His love for basketball also led him to me. Dills was one competitive dude. He wore thick eyeglasses with black rims. When he wasn’t reading, he would push his glasses down on his nose to look over them. Dills also loved to stay on the officials. Well, one particular night in Dawson Springs, he was on them bad. At the end of the game, we were down by one point and going for the winning bucket. Jennifer Butts was driving to the basket and she literally got mugged. The official right by the play simply swallowed his whistle and didn’t call anything. The horn sounded, ending the game with us one point short of victory. In a flash, Dills bounded off the bench and started chasing the official. (I am laughing out loud while I type as the image of that comes to mind.) He chased the official all the way down the court, up the stairs and all the way to the dressing room. He was sort of snipping at his heels the whole way. The official finally made it to the referees’ dressing room and closed the door just a moment before Dills got there. It was like a dog chasing a car. I am not sure what he would have done if he had caught the guy, but the whole scene was bizarre to watch. I guarantee you those reading this that were there are smiling as they think of Coach Dills. He was quite the character.
One more Dawson Springs memory. I was driving the bus for Coach Chumbler’s team to Dawson for the Class A tournament somewhere around 2005. My oldest son Zack was playing on that team. Well, Trigg County took the wrong color uniforms to the game that night. Trigg was to play the game after Fort Campbell. When the Fort Campbell game was over, Trigg County’s players had to put on their sweaty uniforms and play in them. I still remember Zack playing an entire game in a No. 10 Fort Campbell jersey.
Oh, how quickly time passes. I will miss the Cadiz-to-Wallonia-to-Cobb-to-Dawson trek. I will miss the smell of the smoke from the tobacco barns fire-curing their dark-fired tobacco. Also, I will miss the solitude of the 30-minute trip. I always count the cars we meet coming back from Dawson. Many times, we have traveled the 25 miles home at 10:30 p.m. on a weeknight with out meeting a single car. There are just not many individuals making that trip at that time on Tuesday nights in late November. This time next year, there will be one less.
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.