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Saturday Sports Buffet: End of Story – Prayer led to right choice in June 1999

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, March 1, 2014

Back in June of 1999, Mark Jones served as part of the rushed search committee to find a new head football coach and athletic director.

Among the four finalists was an old college teammate, Jim Bob Puckett.’

“He was a friend of mine. But he wasn’t the choice of the committee or me. Kyle [Story] was.

“Prayerfully, he was the unanimous choice of all 12.”

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SAYING GOODBYE – Kyle Story talks to the crowd at the farewell reception Wednesday at Decatur High School. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Wednesday, Jones was one of the first to arrive to thank Story for his 15 years of service to Decatur during a reception for the departing football coach and athletic director. Story wrapped up his tenure in Decatur Friday and will start next week full time working to get ready to open Frisco Independence High School and serve as its first football coach and campus athletic coordinator.

“He did what he told us he would do when we interviewed him,” Jones said. “He was Johnny-on-the-spot at all the athletic events. His leadership is a big reason for all the success we’ve had.”

Alan White was the school board member who made the motion in 1999 to hire Story. He also made the motion last month to accept his resignation.

“In the end, what made Kyle stand out was his Christian character and beliefs,” White said. “No. 2 was the fact that he wanted to turn young men into positive role models and adults.

“His coaches became role models and father figures. He stressed that with his staff. They nurtured a lot of young men.”

When he came to Decatur in 1999, Story and his wife Teena hoped to find a small and welcoming community like Brownwood, where he played high school football for the legendary Gordon Wood, to raise his family.

“I didn’t know I’d stay 15 years,” he admitted. “It felt like home. It’s a great community. We have a great church. We wanted our kids to finish school here.”

There were a few phone calls over the years about openings, but Story said the timing was never right to leave Decatur – until now.

“I kept asking God to close doors, and doors kept swinging open to say this was the right place to go,” Story said.

He found another sign that he’s made the right decision this week when he was cleaning out his desk, running across a Fellowship of Christian Athletes coin.

“It was about putting on the total armor of God. At Independence we’re going to be the knights,” Story said.

Story now trades in his closet full of blue and white for purple, white and black at his new school.

When he broke the news to his current players last month, he said he saw all the faces of the athletes that have come through the Decatur program over the past 15 years.

“It was emotional. There’s so many good memories,” Story said.

“The best part of my job was, even on a bad day, I’ve got to work with kids that last period of the day.”

That was also the answer to Jones’ prayer all those years ago.

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Messenger photo by Richard Greene

SIDEDISHES

  • When asked about the success of some of his players in football and cross country helping the Eagles on the basketball court during the playoffs last week, Decatur coach Drew Coffman pointed out just how successful the entire athletic program at the school has been this year, calling it an amazing year. He’s right. In the fall, Decatur won the volleyball state title, finished second in girls cross country, and went three rounds deep in the football playoffs. This spring, both basketball teams made the third round of the playoffs. Just based off the fall, Decatur piled up 32 points in the Lone Star Cup race, good for second. You don’t have to go far to find first – Argyle. With the girls basketball team playing for a state title Saturday, they will be hard to catch
  • The Decatur head football coach/AD opening drew 144 applications. That’s up more than 100 from the last time the job was open in 1999. The district only drew 43 resumes then. It says a lot about how far the program has come in 15 years
  • Speaking of Argyle, the conclusion of their Class 3A Region II final game against 10-3A rival Celina created a huge buzz being discussed by media outlets everywhere. In overtime with Argyle leading by one, a Celina guard rushed into the front-court and took a running shot, apparently getting hacked by a Lady Eagle before the final buzzer. An official blew a whistle and made the motion to call a foul. As the Celina player went to the line, the officials briefly huddled and ran off the floor and provided no explanation. After watching the video multiple times, I still don’t understand why the officials ran off the floor. The whistle did blow with time left. Celina should have been shooting free throws to win the game. Can’t blame Celina players and fans for their frustration. There’s also a few local ties. Celina head coach Jordan Davis played at Slidell. Her assistant, Bobby Stastny, was also a former coach at Slidell
  • While at a track meet Thursday, I couldn’t believe the tweets I saw about Allen’s Eagle Stadium. The $60 million stadium is being closed because of extensive cracking and other potential problems in its structure. Not a great return on the investment the district’s taxpayers made in approving the stadium in 2009
  • Toured 31.1 miles of Fort Worth on Sunday. It was my first ultra-marathon and the first time to run past 26.2 miles. It took 5 hours and 13 minutes to reach the finish line, and every second was memorable, especially the final five-mile stretch. I also felt every minute and step Monday climbing stairs.

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