The first question anyone should have for me is “Why would anyone be interested in an autobiography about my life as a coach?” That would be a fair question, since I haven’t won any national championships nor have I been in demand for speaking engagements. If you compare my coaching record to others, my won-lost record doesn’t stand out. With that said, let me explained what I have to offer, and then you decide. This book is not just about my life as a coach, but rather, the lessons I have learned through my coaching career.
Old school is about coaching kids and young adults, not a particular sport, gender, age, or level of play. I have coached on every level of play that exists and coached both genders on those levels, along with almost every sport that a school offers.
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MY FIRST DAY IN A REAL SCHOOL TAUGHT ME I WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH-EVENTUALLY ATHLETICS TAUGHT ME I WAS GOOD ENOUGH
My grandparents on my mom's side of the family moved to West Texas by horse and wagon from Mississippi stopping along the way in cities such as Ft. Worth, Texas, Abilene, Texas, Pecos, Texas and eventually Kent, Texas. Since Kent had a population of less than sixty residents and the land was made up of mesquite trees, cactus, rocky soil, dry conditions, land was not hard to find or buy. My grandparents bought most of the land that surrounded Kent when they settled into that area. Kent had one post office, one railroad station, one mercantile, one café, one cattle guard and one small school house. The only reason Kent survived in those days was because of its location which was half way between Odessa, Texas and El Paso, Texas which was close to a three hundred mile tract. Most people had to stop somewhere and Kent was just about half way. Twenty houses were located in Kent and you had to cross a cattle guard on a dirt road to get to the residential area. The only paved road was highway eighty which ran across Texas to California. My grandparents settled into Kent and had thirteen children, six boys and seven girls. My mom, Minna Boyd was the third oldest.
Kent is located at the base of the Davis Mountains. Highway 118 runs right into the town of Kent and right by the Boyd house. If you go south, you will enter the Davis Mountains, Ft. Davis, Texas and McDonalds Observatory, Alpine, Texas and Big Bend National Park. Kent is fifty two miles west of Pecos, Texas and forty five miles east of Van Horn, Texas. Gomez Peak [6320'] can be seen with the naked eye and is nicknamed Chief Mountain. At certain points on old highway 80, which is now [I-20] Gomez peak looks like an Indian chief lying down.
I was lucky in the fact that I was partially raised by my grandparents including my uncles and aunts. My parent's first born died at Los Angeles Central Hospital a week after birth because my mother had RH negative blood and my father RH positive blood. Those two types of blood didn't mix well in those days because the medical world was still behind in that scientific area of medicine. My mom told me that I almost died also so having another child was out of the question. That being said, I was spoiled by everyone in the family.
We had no phone, no TV, no entertainment what-so-ever. We worked and cleaned the boarding house which was owned and operated by my grandparents. We mopped floors, cleaned the bathroom bone dry, made beds, gathered eggs from the chicken house, picked one chicken out [poor chicken] for the death penalty, walked to the post office to gather mail if needed, and washed clothes using the old time washer where you could get your hands caught in the roller blades of the washing machine. We would hang washed clothes on the fence and clothes line pole which was constructed of wire and poles held tight in the back yard. If there was any work to do in the yard, that would be another chore we had to do. Mornings would be geared for the lunch group that would eat at the Boyd House in Kent. That included construction workers along highway eighty, railroad attendants, mail clerks, grocery store workers and the highway patrol guys. My grandmother was also the "Justice of the Peace" in Culberson County which extended into Van Horn, Texas. Our major form of entertainment was watching her nail the drivers that received a ticket from the highway patrol who would bring the speeding driver to see her so they could plead their case. The speeding driver had a choice of paying the fine or going to the Justice of Peace and many would take the second choice. She had no mercy and the highway patrolmen loved her for it. My favorite entertainment was going to watch the trains pass Kent. A conductor on the train would throw a huge brown bag full of mail on the ground as the train sprinted past Kent and at the same time, pick up another mail bag hanging from a tall steel stand using their arm to pick up the mail bag while the train was moving. It was really neat to watch that happen.
The first time I used a phone, I was at the service station in Kent at the pay phone when I talked with my mom who was in Odessa, Texas at the time. We really didn't even know what a TV was at that time nor did we care. Our play ground was simple and fun. In the afternoons after nap, sometimes we would play card games or board games. My problem was I always tried to cheat to win and my grandmother would get after me hard. She made it clear that my behavior was not acceptable but she never made me feel like I was a loser.
What made me so lucky was that in the Boyd's house, there was love, compassion, caring, and truth but never did I ever feel out of place or inferior about myself. I was raised with a naïve attitude that all things are good and that we all should seek the best in each other. I loved my aunts and uncles like brothers and sisters. We would get so excited when one of the older uncles or aunts was coming to Kent to visit the family. We knew watermelon or home-made ice cream would be on the plate soon. We never talked about anyone in a bad way or even remotely questioned people of different color. After all, we were in the minority being Anglo in Kent because most of Kent was made up of the Hispanic culture. Matter of fact, my best friend who was Hispanic was our neighbor. He had a sister that I thought was beautiful.
You are what you live for most part and I was lucky because I lived a wonderful childhood life. Of course, the bad part was that Kent couldn't provide a good education with the resources it had. The school house was a one room school with six grades. The first row was the first- grade, the second row the second-grade and so on for six rows of grades. My favorite aunts were the Boyd twin sisters Joy and Jolly and they were in the fifth grade. I was in heaven with all of us being in the same school. I thought my aunts were the greatest and I tried to be just like them. Little did I know they were teaching me about love, acceptance, discipline, work ethic, pride and most important just having fun being me. Needless to say, I was the lucky one because I received positive peer learning in the best way possible. On the other hand my education book-wise was not too swift.
My dad signed a professional baseball contract with the Los Angeles Dodger organization out of high school. World War II stopped his baseball career because he enlisted in the Navy. When he was released from the Navy he signed a baseball contract to play for the Odessa Oilers a professional baseball team located in Odessa, Texas. Soon my mom and I followed him to Odessa where they bought a home using the GI Bill that my dad received from his Navy duty. They both got jobs, my dad with a few dentists in town as a dental technician and my mom at Smith and Quicksilver, a clothing department store. I wish I had a dollar for every baseball I chased that was hit out of the Oiler baseball park. They would give me a nickel for every ball I returned so I stayed very busy and I didn't miss many games. We were very happy and I felt very good about myself feeling like I was on top of the world. We had a phone but not a TV. Our entertainment was listening to the radio and playing music. I was so excited about school because I was going to be able to meet new students my age and have a wonderful teacher with a desk all to my own. Matter of fact, that summer I met a girl name Susan Elliot who was in the second grade that lived a few blocks from me. Not only that, I made friends with two boys that lived in my neighborhood and they were in the second grade.
I will remember my first day of school in Odessa, Texas for the rest of my life. Since I didn't finish the school year at Kent in the second grade my parents enrolled me as a second grader. Before school, I visited with Susan and she told me that she hoped we would get in the same classroom. I remember she had this pretty pink dress with a pink bow tied around her ponytail. There was no doubt in my mind that she was the prettiest girl in the school, much less the second grade. I was so excited. Finally the bell rang and we all went to our respective rooms. The tardy bell rang and the announcements began with the Principal welcoming us to school that morning. After the announcements and the pledge, our teacher, Mrs. Reynolds assigned me a desk to sit in. I had a brand-new desk that smelled of cleaned fresh wood; it was shinny like the surface had just been varnished. I loved my new desk and I kept thinking about how lucky I was to be here. After we were settled in and Mrs. Reynolds had taken roll, our class and the other two second grade classes assembled in a large room where chairs were placed into three distinct sections of the room. I noticed that all the seats were set in semi-circles segregated from each other. Then someone started calling out names and placing students in different seats in different circles. My name was finally called out and I had to take a seat in one of the outside semi-circles. Once we were all settled, I remember to this day what happened next. The lead teacher began "Now students, this will be your seat for this semester in reading." She went on, "This group [pointing to the middle circle where Susan was sitting] will be called the blue birds; they are the fastest readers. The group in the outside circle on the left will be referred to as the red birds; they are the next-fastest readers. The boys in my neighborhood were in that group. Then she pointed toward our group and said, "The group on the outside circle on the right will be referred to as the yellow birds. They are the slowest readers."
Suddenly, it hit me like a rock to the head: I was dumb. It had never entered my mind until that very moment. I looked over at the two groups and it seemed as though my group had a dark cloud over us, it was raining, with storms all around us. Their group had clear skies, the sun was out and there were no clouds. Susan was a blue bird and my two friends were red birds. I felt embarrassed and didn't want Susan to see me in the yellow bird group. I wanted to like Susan but now that wasn't possible. I felt inferior for the first time in my life. The desk that I loved so much turned stale, the teacher Mrs. Reynolds was mean and I was a yellow bird. My first day in a real school "taught" me that I wasn't good enough.
Not only did I find out I was a yellow bird but I had to repeat the second grade. Now I had two strikes and I admit I felt inferior to almost everyone in my age group. Because of that complex, often I would isolate myself away from other children playing because I felt I didn't belong. The only place I felt comfortable was in my house with my family or when we would visit my grandparents in Kent, Texas.
Lucy Boyd, my mother's younger sister moved in with us her senior year in High School. My parents convinced her that she would get a better education in Odessa, Texas than Van Horn, Texas. Lucy was the best kind of person in life that exists. She was kind, sweet, beautiful inside and outside but most important she spread her love to all of us equally. I know I loved her so much I thought she was an angel from heaven. When I was around her, I never thought about being a yellow bird. Her boy friend, Duncan Freeman would come to our house when he was in Odessa every chance he had. He drove an eighteen wheeler transferring cattle between Ft. Worth, Texas and El Paso, Texas. Duncan was a real cowboy and I along with the neighborhood boys were in owe with his presents. It was neat for me because it gave me some swagger in my neighborhood. Every boy needs swagger in some shape or form because it gives them a since of being special. It wasn't long after Lucy graduated from Odessa High School she married Duncan and soon they had they had two children and I gained two cousins.
I never talked to my parents or Lucy about how I felt about being named a yellow bird. I wasn't sure exactly what it meant nor did I know how to go about talking about it. All I knew is that it made me feel dumb but the best thing was that I didn't worry about it away from school. Next, Howard Boyd, the youngest brother in the family came to live with us. With the success that Lucy had going to school at Odessa High School, my parents talked Howard into moving in with us and attending Odessa High School. We spent a lot of time together and I felt safe and secure when I was with Howard. Howard was going to be a sophomore and he was a very good athlete that wanted to play football for the Odessa High Broncos. Odessa had won a state championship in football in 1948 and football was big in Odessa. He did play for the JV team and he ran track for the Varsity team. He would run to school and run home every day regardless of the weather. In my mind, Howard was tough. All he knew was work and that work ethic was a tremendous asset in sports. He put me in a garbage container hanging me by my feet one day because he was mad at me about my work ethic. I didn't work at picking up weeds in the yard like I was supposed to do and he made me pay for it. Howard became my role model, I admired him a great deal and wanted to be just like him. I was lucky again because I had a positive role model.
I spent many hours in my house by myself because my parents worked all the time. Lucy and Howard did a good job of keeping me in line but when they left I had lots of time by myself in our new house. I loved my mother very much and often did not understand my father. My father worked hard at being a professional baseball player and a Dental Technician. He was busy all the time and had little time for me. The only time we had to connect was at the baseball games and I loved every moment of it. My mother worked six days a week at Smith and Quick Silver department store, which was an exclusive men's store. She made sure that I was outfitted in the best clothes each and every day. Sunday was the only day that I really had the chance to visit with them other than dinner time. My mom always cooked a meal for us at dinner time regardless of her work schedule. She was an amazing person. She would always give me ten cents to put into the plate at church on Sunday morning. She would drive me to church and drop me off in front and then pick me up right after church. They never went to church with me. They were too tired to attend church but I never felt they were bad people but rather good people. My mom could quote scriptures from the Bible and she lived her life helping other people. She had so many friends and people just loved her. My dad was a piece of work but I never thought he wasn't a Christian. He always looked out for other people and he had a huge heart for the poor and the needy.
I didn't know it at the time but I did have an outstanding imagination. That imagination is still one of my assets in my life. Since I was a baseball nut, I developed a baseball game inside my house. I collected ball point pens and marbles. My collection was good and I had a great variety of pens and marbles. I would gather up eighteen pens, then name them according to the batting averages listed in the sports page for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Each pen was different and using my imagination, I would give a certain looking pen the name of certain baseball player. I knew the batting averages of all the Dodgers and many of the Yankee players by memory. Then I would gather shoes from the closets and create a baseball park with a fence, back stop and even out of bounds. The pitcher was my right wrist using my thumb and a finger. My left wrist using a golf grip on one of the pens became the hitter. Using only my right wrist and fingers, I could pitch a marble like a real pitcher does in baseball. I would hit the marble with my left wrist and finger combined using a pen. After playing for hours, I started getting pretty good at pitching and batting. Then I would take my mother's house shoes and put one between first base and second base and the other between second base and third base. If I hit the marble into my mother's house shoes it was an out. The only open area would be down the middle which would be a "Texas League Single" or down the first base line or the third base line. To make the outfield real I added three of my mom's cooking pans. I would place one in each outfield then if I hit the marble into one of the pans it would be an out. If I hit the marble into the outfield and it didn't go into the pans it was a hit or a double depending on whether the marble went all the way to the fence line which was made up of shoes. I could also strike out but didn't very often. I didn't know it at the time but I was having fun with statistics. I would make sure that the biggest pens were the players that had the highest batting averages and the smallest pens were the ones were associated with the weakest batting average. I knew most all of their batting averages, home run count, runs' batted in count, and getting on base count. I kept a note book and kept up with my pens batting averages, home runs, doubles and RBI's. I found this to be fun and I played this game for many hours at a time. I learned about strategy playing the highest percentage player in order to win. I couldn't have had any better training for my coaching career but in school I felt like a yellow bird.
Excerpted from "Principles of Successful Coaching by an Old School Coach — Ron Mayberry"
Copyright © 2017 Ron Mayberry.
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Table of Contents
1. My First Day Of School Taught Me I Wasn't Good Enough-Then Athletics Taught Me I Was Good Enough, 1,
2. A Yellow Bird Attends Tcu And Then Decides To Coach, 28,
3. You Never Forget Your First Coaching Job, 51,
4. A Yellow Bird Advances To A High Level Of Teaching And Learns To Coach Football, 73,
5. A Yellow Bird Learns A Huge Lesson About Coaching Then Gets An Opportunity To Return To His Home Area As A Coach, 98,
6. A Yellow Bird Learns What Makes "Friday Night Lights" So Special Then Takes His Career To Another Level, 125,
7. A Yellow Bird Becomes A Head College Basketball Coach Then Becomes An Athletic Director, Learns How To Win, Then Learns How To Win Big, 153,
8. A Yellow Bird Comes Home To Coach, 200,
9. A Yellow Bird Begins A Different Type Of Journey For A Different Reason, 234,
10. A Yellow Bird Retires After 53 Years Following His Passion, 260,