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Saturday Sports Buffet: Out of the heat – Former coach making sales pitches these days

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, August 2, 2014

For 24 years as a head coach, Danny Neighbors didn’t get much sleep on the August Sunday night before two-a-days started.

“The first thing you think about is what the weather will be like. How much you have to cover. You sleep, but subconsciously you start thinking: ‘Do we have this covered? Do we have personnel in the right place?’

“Until you walk in those shoes you don’t realize how much there is to consider. There’s so many variables.”

In a New Ballgame

IN A NEW BALLGAME – After 28 years of coaching and 24 as a head coach, the retired Danny Neighbors is selling cars at James Wood in his new career. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

But while there’s nervous energy, Neighbors points out there’s also genuine excitement.

“It’s sorta like the night before Christmas,” Neighbors said. “You’re anticipating seeing how much the kids have changed.

Instead of sweating on the practice field Monday, Neighbors will be on the sales floor or lot at James Wood Motors in Decatur.

As Wise County teams take the field for the start of fall workouts – what previously were two-a-days – the longtime coach, who retired after the 2012 season, will be selling cars.

“When you retire at 52, you’re really too young to retire,” Neighbors explained. “This is a good fit for me.

“It’s harder than I thought it would be. But this is fun.”

An Alvord native, Neighbors spent 28 years coaching in Wise County. He spent the early part of his career at Bridgeport and Decatur before going to Alvord as head coach for seven years. He was then on the Paradise sidelines for the remainder of his career.

“All the people in Wise County always treated me good,” he said.

In almost 30 years of coaching, Neighbors said the biggest thrill was helping young people.

“As a coach, it’s gratifying to see young people become successful,” Neighbors said.

Last year, in his first season out of the game, Neighbors admitted it was a bit strange when he attended his first pep rally and game.

“It gives you a different perspective,” he explained. “When you are coaching, you are wrapped up in it.

“You do miss the relationships with the kids and camaraderie with the coaches. Coaching is one big fraternity.”

His fraternity is now his fellow salespeople. There is a little competition to sell among the staff, but he credits Wood with setting up friendly workplace.

“He’s a good AD,” Neighbors jokes.

He also explained that selling and coaching are not much different.

“You’ve got to sell yourself in both worlds,” Neighbors said.

As players and coaches sweat through two-a-days, Neighbors appreciates his new life and opportunities.

“When I make a decision, I don’t look back. I don’t want to be a person who lives in the past,” he said.

He also will sleep a little better this Sunday night.

SIDEDISHES

  • Missing from this year’s football preview is a story about concerns over heat. With the unusually cool weather to start August, the deadly heat should not be a major worry for teams as they start work. Highs next week for the start of workouts are not expected to exceed the lower 90s. It’s a far cry from the usual triple-digit heat that welcomes teams back to the field
  • Traditional two-a-days are a thing of the past, which is good. With players able to work out all summer with their coaches and the start of school pushed back, there’s no need for the long twice-per-day workouts
  • Three new Wise County coaches will be leading their teams on the field – Decatur’s Mike Fuller, Alvord’s Pete Hart and Northwest’s Bill Poe. All three should make the playoffs in their new leagues
  • Visiting with former Alvord and Paradise head coach Danny Neighbors, he made the statement “There wasn’t a Wise County team that wasn’t helped in realignment.” It’s hard to argue. Alvord moved down to play against schools its size. Chico got away from Lindsay and Collinsville in a balanced district. Boyd and Paradise went west, away from Pilot Point and Whitesboro. Bridgeport moved into the smaller 4A division with other teams coming off tough seasons – Aubrey, Anna and Krum. Decatur stayed away from Argyle, Kennedale and Abilene Wylie in the bigger 4A classification. Northwest was put back in a league with a defending state champ but lost Southlake Carroll
  • Cross country teams start a new year with four teams from each region now qualifying for state. It’s a good move by the UIL. I would still like to see individuals qualify by beating a time standard. Next, let’s expand the state track and field meet. Why is it the lone championship meet of the year without prelims?
  • The Decatur Lady Eagles volleyball team will start the defense of their state crown with a dual match against Azle and Joshua at home Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. But one date everyone may be circling already is Sept. 23 when the Argyle Lady Eagles come to Decatur. With the two now in separate regions and with several starters back, they are favorites to be playing in 4A state tournament in Garland in November
  • Between Drew Jones’ final round in Memphis and keeping up with the trades in Major League Baseball Thursday, I nearly wore out the refresh button on my computer. Too bad the Rangers didn’t join the party. I had hoped to see them add a few more prospects to the talented crop that will arrive by 2016, when they will contend again.

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