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Some things stay with you forever.
How can I overlook the night against Elizabethton, when 'Pookie' caught a pass and outran the entire Elizabethton secondary. At the 50-yard line, he made an abrupt left turn toward the sidelines and stepped out of bounds and handed the football to Mr. Deering. He admitted afterwards--and Mr. Deering concurred--that Mr. Deering wanted to let some of the younger fellows play if we got the ball to midfield. 'Pookie' was merely following instructions. The younger players played and scored. That story can be found in a Times-News article if you don't believe my account.
How can I forget that first year players had to demonstrate their toughness and desire to play football, by lining up in front of guys like Doug Releford, Ruben Adams, Clifford Lewis and Harry Truelove. Doug is a really nice guy.. always has been. But, boy how his demeanor changed in a football uniform! I suppose that's one reason why he was always a leader of our team. Poor Butch Hendricks was salivated during one of these drills. But he never quit... I always admired him for that.
We often scrimmaged against the 'old Douglass vets' who would come by practice from time to time. I hated playing against those ole timers. They didn't have to prove anything to us. We already admired most of them. All that stopped in about 1964, when Varley Hickman hit one of the old timers and broke the guy's leg (even Skip's dad, Mr. Simp Brown would be out there giving advice. Thank goodness he was too old to line up against us. Many of the ole timers told us that Simp Brown may have been one of the best to ever wear a Douglass uniform. No doubt he passed that on to Skip.)
DON HICKMAN'S TEAM BASKETBALL PICTURE, 1964
Mr. Deering allowed me to play quarterback for almost two years. It was a humbling experience. One I did not seek. He made sure that I knew he selected me, not because of my ability. He jokingly told me I was the only one scared enough to do what I was told and I could remember the plays he called. I believe I can still tell you how to run a T-3, T-4 pass... and a T-7, T-8, H & E pass.... and an F-2-at-8 from the Douglass playbook.
I guess you've figured out from my early comments... Mr. Deering hated losing! He tried to instill that in us, too. I'll admit that he did other things while he was our coach---but coaches are supposed to be legendary, aren't they?
As the years have passed, I realize he really impacted my life and the lives of many of my teammates and friends in a positive way. He taught us how to compete. He taught us how to respect the game. He made us tougher men. He made us better people---more caring and more respectful of others. Mr. Deering and 'Fess' were rough on all of us, but they were firm and fair. Mr. Deering didn't have kids, so I guess that's why he treated us like we were all his children. My teammates and friends loved and respected him and Fess.
I hope someone in the community is doing that same thing for this generation of young people in Kingsport.