I don’t think I ever remember a colder night than the one back in 1992 in Crittenden County. Larson and I stood nearly frozen at 4 a.m. as we listened to the locals discuss how they thought the bus should be extracted from the guardrail. According to those guys, the bus was too big and heavy for them to remove. They were going to have to call in a heavy equipment wrecker and tow truck to get the job done. I remember asking them if there wasn’t some way they could jack the bus up and off of the rail and then we could pull it away from its sticking point. After much discussion and contemplation, the locals from Crittenden got the bus free by about 4:30 a.m. Larson and I had to then stop back by the police station, fill out a couple of reports, take the Crittenden County bus back to their school and then head for home in our slightly damaged snub nosed bus.
Speaking of heading for home. Coach Larson, myself, our snub nosed bus and the sun made it to Cadiz at about the same time that Saturday morning. As Larson pulled the bus into the bus garage parking lot, the sun was just making its way over the horizon. We looked at each other in relief as our long night and even longer ordeal had finally ended. We decided we might as well get some breakfast and then go to our radio show at 8 a.m. You see, back then our radioman Tom Rogers had a morning coaches show at Hardees every Saturday morning.
Larson and I pulled up to Hardees, met Tom and did the hour-long radio show. As you can guess, the bus story dominated the talk, even more so than our 6-0 girls team. We found out that Tom had sent the story to the Associated Press. The story went nation wide instantaneously. For weeks, Larson and I would get new articles sent to us from around the nation. I am talking about from coast to coast. The attention wasn’t just from the written media either. Sam Burage, the long-time news anchor for WPSD TV in Paducah, started his newscast Saturday night with these words, “What is Big and Yellow and the Trigg County Girls Basketball team Lost It Last Night?” Oh yeah, the Paducah Sun headline was “Trigg County Girls Basketball Team Wins One and Loses One.” Many folks have told me that they heard the story featured on Paul Harvey’s radio show. I must confess that I didn’t hear that one myself.
Regardless, our bus incident received a ton of attention in the press.
How did this all end, you might ask? Well, three or four guys from Crittenden County ranging in age from 18 to their early 20s were charged in the incident. Apparently, the guys were slightly intoxicated and thought it would be a great idea to steal our bus keys while we were in Druthers, come back later and drive our bus off into the rock quarry. Thank goodness for the guardrail is all I can say. From what I understand, most of the culprits got off with some community service. For the next several years, anytime Larson and I would take a basketball team to Crittenden County, the same scene would play out. In the waning seconds of any game, whether we (Trigg County) were ahead or behind, the Crittenden County students would start the following chant. “GO START THE BUS, WE GOT THE KEYS, GO START THE BUS, WE GOT THE KEYS!” They would do this over and over as they waved their keys in the air. The wonderful faculty at TCHS also presented Coach Larson and myself with miniature school busses on the last day of school that year.
To the best of my knowledge, the Druthers where all this took place is no longer standing. The memories of the night we lost our bus, however, will stand forever.
OT: Hall of Fame Banquet Feb. 9.
Double OT: Get your tickets from myself or the High School Office. $10 per person.
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.