Magoffin County Sports

Journey Through Sports: Impactful Memories in Magoffin County.

I started thinking about all the memories I had in my head about sports in Magoffin County, I realized didn’t want to forget about them. So I guess it’s time to remember all that I can. This will be funny, and maybe a little heart warming. I was born in 1986 and I graduated from Magoffin County High-School in 2005. I’ve never been on a sports team again here are some of my memories. This is why its fun to coach, this is why sports is important.

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The Early Days of Magoffin County T-Ball

In my recollection of my earliest sporting experiences, T-Ball in Magoffin County holds a special place. It was the very first sport I ever played, and I have fond memories of Greg Helton, the father of my good friend Wes Helton, coaching our team. The Helton family has always been close to our hearts. In those formative years, Jerry and I had a unique way of approaching the game. Our enthusiastic hits on the tee were often so powerful that they would send the tee tumbling and the ball flopping to the ground, far from the intended target.

Reflecting on those T-Ball days, I vaguely recall that our team was known as the A’s. However, what’s most memorable is how, at that age, none of us had a deep understanding of the game. We were content to watch the ball with wide-eyed wonder whenever it was struck.

Magoffin County’s Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball marked a significant milestone in our baseball journey. It was here that we began to grasp the finer points of the game and improve our skills. This phase is also where I acquired my nickname, “Bigjohn,” thanks to the encouragement of Erick Arnett’s and Jason’s dad. They would always motivate me to give my best when I stepped up to the plate, shouting, “You can do it, Bigjohn!” Initially, I was a bit apprehensive and timid, especially when facing pitches from someone as formidable as Chad Marshall, who could really bring the heat.

I remember being part of the Reds during my time in Minor League Baseball. The names that stand out in my memories from that team include Jerry, Jerod Howard, Erick Arnett, and Dustin Brown. If I’ve overlooked anyone, please don’t hesitate to remind me. It’s important to note that these memories date back quite some time, and details may be a bit fuzzy.

Hoops and Hilarity: My Grade School Basketball Days at Middle Fork Elementary

Grade school basketball at Middle Fork Elementary holds a special place in my heart, filled with unforgettable memories. Our team was a mix of young talent, including Skyler Galbriath, Randall Craft, Jordan Montgomery, Rae Ann Rowe, Jonathan Rowe, Jerod Howard, and myself. Surprisingly, despite my height, I found myself as the team’s center, although Rae Ann was actually the tallest, which occasionally led to good-natured laughs. In fact, she probably scored more points than I did!

One vivid memory from those days is approaching our coach, Russell Howard, to ask for guidance on shooting a basketball. I’m sure those who attended Millard Hensley grade school might recall this story. I didn’t get the ball too often, so I made it a point to pay attention to the coach’s instructions. He taught us a play where you inbound the basketball whenever the opposing team scored, and then you sprint to your designated spot on the court.

Well, I followed the play to the letter. I passed in the ball and sprinted to my position, but little did I know that not everyone understood the play as well as I did. Skyler, thinking I was making a move toward the ball, passed it to me, and it ended up bouncing off my face. I believe David Elsea has the video footage of this amusing mishap.

Another memorable incident involved a nosebleed during free throw practice, resulting in a rather bizarre discovery. My nose started bleeding profusely, and I had to rush to the bathroom. There, I pulled out a massive blood clot from my nose, which resembled an eel in both size and appearance. It was a sight to behold.

And who could forget Jonathan Rowe’s jersey, a testament to the resourcefulness of our team despite financial constraints? Our team was called the Chiefs, but Jonathan’s jersey was affectionately known as the Chefs after the “I” fell off. It’s these quirky and endearing moments that make grade school basketball at Middle Fork Elementary a cherished part of my past.

Little League Major League Baseball: A Season to Remember in Magoffin

The transition to Major League baseball was a significant step in my sports journey. This time, I found myself playing for the A’s, and this season is etched in my memory, especially as it marked the period just before entering Middle School. I made some lasting friendships during this time. On our team, Jerry and I were joined by fellow players like Robert Bailey, Adam Smith (Chill), Chad Marshall, Brandon Caldwell, and a few others whose names I can’t quite recall.

It was also around this time that Eminem began to rise to fame, and Jerry and I couldn’t resist practicing and belting out “My Name Is.” Jerry knew every verse, flawlessly reciting the lyrics of Slim Shady. It was quite a sight – a couple of Eastern Kentucky white rappers! Who would’ve thought?

Our team that year was exceptional, but time has blurred some of the faces on the roster. Despite my best efforts, I can’t recall everyone who played alongside us so many years ago. I do remember, though, that we faced Pete’s for the championship. It was a memorable match for all the wrong reasons. Our best pitcher, Chad, was only allowed to pitch for three innings, and Robert was unavailable to pitch due to prior games. We had played so many games in a row that we were left without any pitchers to face formidable opponents like Brad Marshall, Courtney Conley, and Shane Howard. Ultimately, we lost that crucial game.

Our coach, an older and genuinely great guy whose name escapes me now, had requested a day off for our team, given our extensive schedule. Regrettably, our plea wasn’t granted, and the conditions were set: we could have the day off if we didn’t use Chad for pitching. This, however, left Robert as the only available pitcher. The coach decided to go with allowing Chad to pitch as much as he could and then the subs started to role in. I think even myself or Jerry had to try to pitch a few and was the first time we had even took a pitch on the mound.

It was a season filled with camaraderie, music, and a hard-fought championship game, and it’s one that still lingers in my memories.

My Journey Into Football: From Ignorance to Brotherhood

Magoffin County Middle School 2009 Football
HWMS Football 2009

Magoffin County Middle School Football marked a significant shift in my sporting journey. Back then, I had no idea what football even was – it was all about baseball and basketball for me. I vividly recall the moment when my friends from Middle School, Jason O and Jacob Allen, approached me while I was sitting at a lunch table at Middle Fork School. They asked if I’d be in middle school next year and suggested I join the football team. “What’s that?” I replied, utterly clueless.

Up to that point, football had never entered my realm of understanding. It prompted me to do some homework – I rushed home that evening to figure out what in the world the Super Bowl was. Ultimately, I was grateful that they asked me to join the football team. We started practicing a few weeks before school started, and I began to see familiar faces from different teams around the county. It was a revelation – all these guys I had competed against for years were going to be my teammates. Names like Brad Marshall, Randall Craft, Chad Marshall, Jacob Allen, Jason O, Chill (Adam Smith), Jesse Moreno, Jason Jarrell, Jerod Howard, Jarod Nicely, and, of course, Jerry, to name just a few.

Our coaches were Pup (Steve Miller) and Robbie Hoskins. Initially, it took me a while to grasp the nuances of football and understand my role on the team. I was assigned as a tackle, which means I was a heavier set guy responsible for protecting the quarterback, Jeremy Daughter. I remember asking one of my best buddies, Cody Allen, for guidance on what I was supposed to do in football, and he simply said, “Tackle the guy!”

I can’t forget the first scrimmage game, where my inexperience led to a humorous incident. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I tackled the guy in front of me, much to the bewilderment of the other players. They were like, “What are you doing?” It was only after talking to the coach that I realized I wasn’t allowed to do that. I don’t remember much about that 7th-grade season, except that it was a completely new game to me, and I struggled to grasp its nuances.

When 8th grade came along, I had a better understanding of the game, and we had new teammates join the squad. These were people I had competed against in various sports, and it was incredible to see how former opponents had become friends, working together as a team. The atmosphere was different – people were older, and football was unlike any other sport, especially on the line. Unless you’ve been in the trenches, you can’t truly understand what goes on. There’s eye-gouging, punching, cursing, ‘yo mama’ jokes, slapping, and even the occasional biting if you could get away with it. It’s the uncelebrated support system for the other players, but it sure was a lot of fun.

My journey into football was a rollercoaster of ignorance, growth, and camaraderie, and it remains a cherished part of my past.

Middle School Basketball: Laughter and Lessons on the Court

In my 8th-grade year, I decided to give basketball another shot. Our team, I always thought, was pretty good, featuring talented players like Courtney Conley, Adam Smith, Clifton Barker, Randall Craft, Jarod Nicely, David Elsea, Joshua Back, Brad Marshall, Chad Marshall, Shane Arnett, Brandon Shepard, and me. Our coach was Johnny Johnson, our science teacher, and this season brought about some unforgettable moments.

One of those moments that has stayed with me to this day was Josh Back blocking a shot and coming back to the bench with a grin, proclaiming, “NO SOUP FOR YOU.” I have no idea why that phrase stuck with me, but I still use it from time to time.

On the court, I never considered myself particularly skilled, aside from taking up space and not hesitating to commit fouls. My role was to foul and shoot free throws, which I did with determination.

One classic moment from my middle school basketball days involved a game against Johnson’s Central. We narrowly lost the game, and Adam Smith, who we fondly called Chill, and I were seething with disappointment. We marched into the locker room, brimming with adrenaline. That’s when Chill unleashed his frustration and punched a locker as hard as he could, leaving a noticeable dent. Coach caught this in the act and started shouting at us to stop and calm down. As the room fell silent, he turned to Chill and demanded, “Why did you punch that locker? You apologize to that locker right now.”

What followed was both hilarious and surreal. My buddy Chill put his hand on the locker, looked it in the “eyes,” and sincerely said, “I’m sorry, Locker.” I struggled to stifle my laughter, but I couldn’t contain it once Coach left the room.

Chill and I weren’t exactly the most skilled dribblers on the team. Our strategy mainly involved posting up down low and attempting to score, which I rarely succeeded in doing during middle school. Coach decided to help us improve our dribbling by introducing dribbling goggles, which covered the lower part of our eyes. He set up a row of chairs on the sides, and our task was to dribble through the chairs, make a lay-up, and return. Chill and I were lined up together, and someone in the crowd quipped, “This is going to be a train wreck.” They weren’t wrong. I collided with chairs, fell over them, got back up, tried to go for a lay-up, and, yes, Chill and I collided once again. It was a comical train wreck, to say the least.

Before a game against Wolf County, Clifton and I decided to goof around near a volleyball net, attempting to take the ball from each other. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a brilliant idea. I slipped, almost breaking my ankle. As I lay there in pain and groaning, Shane Arnett, always the joker, made me laugh. He said something funny, and there I was, on the ground, simultaneously groaning and laughing. It was an odd and memorable moment, and it marked the end of my middle school basketball career.

Middle school basketball was more than just a sport; it was a series of humorous and enlightening experiences that have stayed with me over the years.

Junior League Baseball: A Journey Beyond High School Tryouts

In middle school, I had dreams of joining the high school baseball team, but fate had other plans. I fell ill during tryouts, leading to a dismal performance and the heart-wrenching news that I didn’t make the team. It’s a story that truly epitomizes a sports star’s journey, doesn’t it?

But as they say, when one door closes, another one opens. For me, that door led to county baseball, specifically, the Junior League. Here, I had the opportunity to play against teams from other counties, all without the intense competitive atmosphere of high school sports. It was a chance to compete with players my age, rather than facing the older high school athletes.

I believe we were called the Braves during this time. My memories are filled with visions of blue uniforms, which seems to confirm it. I wish I had pictures to commemorate those days, but regrettably, I don’t have them readily available. Perhaps I’ll share some when I get the chance.

Our Junior League baseball team was a unique collection of individuals. I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan and Scott Garland, two older individuals who were undoubtedly talented athletes. They were also known for their no-nonsense approach – they didn’t care about referees, coaches, or anyone who got in their way. They were known for their fiery behavior, which sometimes included arguing with officials and even on-field scuffles. It was indeed a wild time.

I, too, was not immune to getting caught up in the drama. In one particular game against the Paintsville Reds, the pitcher had hit two of my teammates before targeting me. Anger got the best of me, and I let loose, throwing my baseball bat at the pitcher. As a result, I was called out and had no one to take my place, which ultimately cost us the game, 11-12 to the Paintsville Reds. I look back on it now with a mix of regret and humor. In the heat of the moment, I made an all-star blunder, but it’s a story that still brings a smile to my face.

Junior League baseball was a rollercoaster of emotions and a break from the disappointment of high school tryouts. It allowed me to embrace the love of the game and learn from both my successes and, well, my rather spectacular failures.

A Short-Lived Stint in High School Basketball: Lessons from a Freshman

Though my primary sports interests lay elsewhere, I decided to try out for the high school basketball team during my freshman year. It was an experience I wouldn’t forget.

The tryouts progressed through the week, and I managed to endure the running and the various conditioning exercises. But it was on the last day of conditioning that my adventure took an unexpected turn. The coaches lined up a row of chairs and instructed us to hurdle them. Now, considering my size at the time—close to 260-280 pounds—I was well aware that I wasn’t the most agile athlete. However, I was determined to give it my all.

As I attempted to clear those chairs, I had a few stumbles, and I even managed to hurt myself in the process. Despite the challenges, I persevered and made it to the end. After the exhausting exercise, I found myself sitting next to Brad Ison, taking a breather.

That’s when Coach Watson, with a keen eye for talent, approached me. He asked about my shoe size, a question that carried a specific meaning within the realm of high school basketball – it indicated that I had made the team. However, I quickly responded, “Woah, don’t even bother.” I recognized that my skills and physical abilities were better suited for other sports, and high school basketball wasn’t the right fit for me.

High School Football Memories: The Journey of a Freshman to Senior Year

Freshman year, the initiation into high school, often marked by its challenges, and I wasn’t an exception. Being a freshman meant you were at the bottom of the high school food chain, with tasks like packing water, carrying pads, and hauling footballs. It was the way of the freshman, a rite of passage as we worked our way up the ranks.

While our record wasn’t stellar, the Magoffin County High School football team held a special place in my heart. We were young and inexperienced, starting with 0-10 in our freshman year and repeating the score in our sophomore year. Our Head Coach was Dayne Brown, supported by Assistant Coaches Neil Howard, Grayson Smith, Matthew Allen, Jarrod Howard, and Coach Diabo. Despite our less-than-stellar record, I always believed we had something special. We had tough tackles, reliable guards, and speedy running backs.

But high school football wasn’t just about the game. It was a realm of pranks, camaraderie, and the occasional good-natured chaos. We were always trying to outwit each other, watch each other’s backs, and occasionally, get one over on someone. De-pantsing was a classic move, and I can’t forget the time when Chris Craft gave Sam Lovely and Jeremy Oliver an experience they wouldn’t forget.

Jason Jarell and Dustin Rowe/Risner were always game for a challenge, and they’d often engage in playful fights, chasing each other across the field. Miguel Rivas and Donny had their fair share of disagreements, and it seemed like every day there was a locker room brawl brewing.

This was also the era when Xbox was all the rage, with games like Halo and Madden taking center stage. Countless hours were spent at Brandon Shepard’s house, where we’d watch him and Emu (Wes Helton) engage in constant battles, whether it was in a video game or a friendly scuffle. I’m sure everyone remembers the day we were all late because of Madden, and how Coach responded by running us into the ground. The classic line from Coach Brown that evening still echoes in my memory.

“Here’s the keys to my truck. Go up there, search until you find a flashlight, come back down here and see if you can find someone who gives a F&%!.”

And we still managed to win the game that followed, an unforgettable experience. I believe it was against Pike County Central, and it was their homecoming. They were confident they’d win, even flying the game ball in via helicopter. But as we huddled together, Coach Brown uttered the unforgettable words, “Holy sh*t, we can win this game!”

The experience of high school football was filled with memorable moments. There was the classic “goose feed the dogs” and the humorous “what comes after 3rd down” confusion. Goose, even though he only played for two years, gave his all every time he was on the field.

From the hard hits from players like Adam and Jerry to the time I attempted to juke Adam, only for him to leap over the pads and knock me down, it was a test of strength and endurance. Belfry, the champions for two years running, presented a tough challenge, with Coach Brown’s belief that we could beat them proving to be overly optimistic. Belfry’s sideline, overflowing with players, stood in stark contrast to our modest numbers.

In practice, when the offense had to run downfield, it often resulted in a collaborative effort to give someone a memorable hit. Brad Ison was the frequent target, and he even managed to dodge us a few times. But sometimes, he got us, like in a string-out drill, where he gave his all to put me on the ground.

Senior year brought a tradition known as the “beatdown,” an activity where no one got hurt, but it was all about surrounding someone and giving them a rough time. Brad Marshall, our captain, was typically the mastermind behind these events, and he was mostly spared. However, one day, we decided it was time to turn the tables, and Brad unsuspectingly became the target.

I’m sure everyone, from seniors to freshmen, remembers “Biscuit.” Without going into detail, “Biscuit” had the power to send freshmen running in fear from the locker room. We even took “Biscuit” on the road once, with Brad Marshall carrying it in, causing freshman players to flee the scene in a hurry.

Remembering all those bear crawls, particularly the sideways ones, under the watchful eye of Grayson, made me realize their significance. Those drills were more than just exercises; they instilled discipline and preparation that would serve me well in the future. From the gauntlets to the fun runs, high school football became a vital chapter in my life.

However, all great journeys must come to an end. Our last game didn’t lead to the playoffs; we were defeated by Sheldon Clark, and it marked the end of an era. Standing on that rainy field, with the realization that it was all over, brought mixed emotions. The bear crawls, films, sprints, tackles, and countless practices had come to a close. It was a feeling I’d never experience again, and it was a bittersweet farewell to high school football.

Conclusion: A Journey of Impactful Memories

As I revisit these memories, it’s a mix of nostalgia and reflection. It’s poignant to think that those years are now behind us, and we’ve all moved on to various aspects of our adult lives. We’ve left behind the days when we were just kids with dreams and endless energy. The practices, the games, and the bonds we formed have become cherished parts of our past.

In retrospect, it was all worth it. Even during those grueling practices and the occasional complaints, there was a sense of joy and fulfillment that came from giving it our all every time we stepped onto the field. These memories have brought me many a laugh, especially when I recall the humorous moments and pranks that were a regular part of our journey.

It’s only as I’ve put these memories into words that I’ve truly grasped the profound impact that sports had on my life as I grew up. The lessons learned, the values instilled, and the friendships formed have left an indelible mark on who I am today. I may not have become an NFL superstar, but the experiences and relationships from those years will last a lifetime.

Now, as a coach for Little League, coaching my son, and coaching Middle School Football, I see the cycle come full circle. The experiences, both the struggles and the victories, that I gained as a young athlete have become the foundation for what I can now share with the next generation. I look forward to passing on these lessons to my son, as well as the other athletes I’ve had the privilege of coaching recently. It’s an opportunity to impart the values of teamwork, discipline, and the enduring camaraderie that I was fortunate to experience.

Magoffin County Middle School Football 2023
HWMS Champions 2023

As we transition from players to coaches and from youth to adulthood, the memories of those high school football days remain a testament to the enduring power of sports in shaping our lives. I look forward to passing on these lessons to my son and the other athletes, helping them create their own set of unforgettable memories, just as I did during those days on the field.

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