Calvin Head is a man who is happy with his work.
I met with Coach Head and asked him about is first year as Athletic Director at Russellville High School.
After a deep sigh and smile, he said, “It’s been busy.”
Coach Head told me about the camps that he had recently attended with his Lady Panthers basketball team. The squad had played 30 games against quality competition at three different camps in a three-week period. He spoke with pride how his team endured gyms with no air conditioning and competed at times with less than a full roster. He was able to play his whole bench, getting some of his youngest players valuable practice time with kids much older than they were.
He was in the spotlight the most this past year as he coached the Lady Panthers basketball team to a 5-20 overall record in his first year as head coach. That record doesn’t do a good job of relating the excitement that was abuzz all last season in Lady Panther Nation. The Lady Panthers opened the season (and Head’s first game as Head Coach) with a win—that was the first time that had happened for a while. The RHS team was very competitive, in most games they were a few plays, calls or bounces of the ball away from a win. And in the games that they were overpowered, the coach kept his girls focused and took advantage of the playing time to teach his team.
Meanwhile, Head was also the RHS Athletic Director and his duties there kept him busy as well. He would help to oversee and organize several RHS student/athletes’’ commitment signings. His first year would also be the first year for RHS Baseball Head Coach Blake Crabtree and the second year as Head Coach for RHS Softball’s Brandy Trimble. He would witness the rise in interest and popularity of the Archery programs in the area. This would be the first year that Russellville Middle School organized a baseball team. As his first year wound down, the re-alignment of Class A football would create excitement in Panther Nation.
Some recent excitement was the decision by Brandy Trimble to leave the RHS Softball Program to Coach at Logan County High School. “We were disappointed for losing her,” Coach Head said. “But in no way at all (do we) have any kind of bad feelings. She did a remarkable job of getting (the RHS) program turned around and in going in the right direction.”
He went on the comment that he expects Coach Trimble to have success at Logan County High School. Highly regarded from her playing days at LCHS, Coach Head spoke for the RHS staff when he said, “She had to make a decision based on her heart.”
For the juniors on the softball squad, the new hire will be the fifth head coach they have had. The difference this time is that the program is in a good spot; past changes were made when the team was not having success. Having watched several players leave the RHS school district and now playing for the Logan County team, many of the girls feel that,
“They have something to prove,” according to Head. “It’s going to make that game (Clash of Cats) even more exciting.”
The RHS softball coaching position is an attractive one, largely due to the hard work and success of the girls under Coach Trimble’s tutelage. While he has been looking into options, Head is not able to make any announcement as to a replacement for Trimble.
“We have a plan” he said, “the program will still be in good hands.”
Coach Head has good feelings about his Lady Panthers this coming season. The workouts they received at the camps attended this summer helped them to gel even more as a team and to mature as players.
The boys’ basketball team has had some success in games this summer as well. Coach Phil Todd will be back at the helm this year. Last year’s strong sophomore class will now be juniors. After heartbreaking losses in their last two games last year, the Panthers will have something to prove too.
Coach Crabtree has done a terrific job with an under-manned and often injured Panther Baseball team. With a one-run loss to Logan County in the District playoffs, the Panthers were just a pitch away from the Regional Tournament, in spite of the odds against them. Head and Crabtree have been brainstorming ways to get kids involved and a part of the team and the plan for Panther baseball.
The Panther Football team held a mini-camp just before school got out. “Coach Myers is very excited the season and their chances with the re-alinement. The kids are excited.”
The Russellville soccer program is a coed. An advantage of being a small close-knit school community is that the players and coaches have opportunity to get to know each other; a disadvantage is that often there are not enough bodies to fill all the teams that could be.
Russellville High School will be looking for new hires for Archery Coach and Track Coach. AD Head’s excitement for his work is infectious. While the openings are posted in the usual ways, he prefers to go out and look for the candidates for these positions as well.
He tells us to look for success this year from the Volleyball program, as new coach Jennifer Dyson will have the girls working hard. There are hopes to host an Archery meet this year.
AD Head has some admirable goals in site. He has reached out to former RHS students and/or Athletes that are now successful persons in the community and is organizing a Mentor Program for the kids. Another project that he plans to be putting some energy into during the upcoming down-time for the rest of the summer is SALT. That is, Student Athlete Leadership Team. SALT will, among other things, visit underclassmen and elementary and middle schools and offer programs highlighting leadership skills and academic success.
The AD that brought Media Day to Russellville has many plans for fund-raising activities this coming year. One of the highlights is the ABA professional basketball team The Bowling Green Bandits to play at least one home game at Jim Young Gym this fall. The Bandits team members will also participate in the Mentor Program coach head is organizing.
Head is working with a committee to bring back “Panther Party.” The tentative date for “Meet the Panthers” is August 7. This is just after the return to school and just before the kick-off of football season.
And exciting news for the Panther Nation is the likely hood of the addition to Jim Young Gym of an 11×7-foot big screen video scoreboard. Just a couple more sponsors are needed to make that happen.
All in all it has been a very good year for RHS and its Athletic Department. Coach Head has made strides to build on the foundation he inherited when he took the job. Head is, I think, an eternal optimist. But his optimism and hope for our community’s young people is genuine and well-grounded.