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Remembering Coach J

by Heather Huber, Courier staff

The Courier
Fort Campbell | April 20, 2017

Fryar Stadium was brimming with athletes and Families from 14 different schools as the Falcons hosted their first and only home meet for the year, the Coach Johnson Memorial Classic. The meet has been held for the past six years in memory of Fort Campbell High School track coach Tyrone Johnson, who passed away in December 2011.

“Outstanding meet, I’m very proud of the effort that each kid put in and what these coaches have done for the athletes,” said Tavis Kennedy, head coach for the Falcons track team.

Kennedy said he is always nervous before the meet since he has to coordinate so many teams, but there is always someone willing to help make sure the meet runs smoothly.

 

Local teams from Hopkinsville, Trigg County, Clarksville and Bowling Green even as far away as Louisville came to celebrate the memory of the influential coach.

“To me, Coach Johnson was the ideal image of a coach. He went above and beyond to see them do well,” Kennedy said. “He would actually support athletes from other schools. Coach them – it did not matter to him. If you were an athlete and you needed help, he would reach out. And we don’t want to lose that image of what a coach should stand for.”

Seniors Deonte Mayfield and his brother Desmond are the only Falcons runners left at the school who played under the late Johnson’s leadership.

“He was a very inspirational man. I remember my first year of track he was going to be the head coach actually but he passed away that year,” Deonte said. “He was one of the football coaches at one point in time, so I was under him for a little bit. But not a long period of time like I desired to be.”

Deonte also knew Johnson through his sisters, who ran track throughout high school when he was assistant coach.

“He was a good man. He had very good morals and values,” he said. “He just wanted everyone to do their best, whatever event, whatever you were doing, just do your best.”

Deonte said Johnson took the time to cultivate relationships not just with is athletes, but with the Family members and other students at the high school.

“He was a huge impact on Fort Campbell High School and Fort Campbell in general,” he said. “He not only helped the athletes, but the students at Fort Campbell and those in the community throughout Fort Campbell. He just helped everyone.”

The Lady Falcons took seventh place overall while the boys walked away with the third place trophy. Kortez Hale and Dylan Edwards were the only Falcons to take first place slots, in 100-meter dash and pole vault respectively.

Kennedy said he thought his students performed well overall at the memorial meet, even if they were not all pleased with their own performances.

“To me, I think they did well,” he said. “I’ve watched them grow … every day you come out I don’t expect to create a personal record for yourself, but you should find something that you like that you did to actually make you improve on what you do.”

Kennedy said he has an awesome team because he sees his students pushing themselves and each other every day.

“I would go to battle for these kids any day because they will come out here every day and bust their butts and do what’s right,” he said. “That’s the kind of team I like.”

Deonte was less than thrilled with his performance at the meet. Although he placed seventh overall in the 100-meter dash, he dropped to 25th place in the 200-meter dash.

“I think that this is going to help me build improvement for my 100 time. I did not [personal record] but I do plan to progress further and to improve in my form and my speed – everything to just help me get my goal which is to get a 10-8 at least before Kentucky State which is May 19.”

Ayonna Daniels, sophomore, was not pleased with her performance either. She took 10th place in the 100 meter dash, but did better on the relay teams.

“I could have pushed myself more in certain events, and just worked better in general,” Ayonna said.

Jahlyn Mincey, eighth grade, took fourth place for the individual 100-meter dash and helped her relay team take fourth in the 4x10-meter relay.

“The 100 is my key event, but it wouldn’t be anything without my relay team because they really help push everything together,” Jahlyn said. “Without them there’s no me, so I think we all did really well.” Jahlyn said she felt like running at Fryar caused her to push herself more, but also honoring Coach Johnson.

“As you’re running you have to keep in mind, this is your home, you’ve got to represent, but also you have somebody that you’re trying to live up to,” Jahlyn said.

Although she never got to meet Johnson, she has heard wonderful things about him.

“He was a very very good man, and he sounded like a very awesome coach and I wish I’d gotten the chance to meet him,” she said.

Ayonna said that she performed better in the team events than individually.

“I’ll just prepare myself better in down time, like after practice do stuff on my own instead of just going home and doing nothing,” she said.

Jahlyn said she wants to work on herself as well because racing is not all about who she is running against.

 

“You’re building this competition with yourself, so you have to work on yourself outside of practice because at the end of the day you’re beating your own challenge,” she said.

Kyla Thompson, junior, was pleased to place fourth in her events because she took the entire week of spring break off from running.

“Everybody congratulated me and told me I did good for someone who didn’t go to practice all week, so I was kind of happy. Especially from my coach,” she said.

Kyla said that she was so nervous before each event she was physically shaking, despite her friends reassurances.

“There were girls out here that I’ve never raced against, but you look at their times and they have 15s where I have 17s,” she said. “I’d say a little prayer and [after] I’d be like it wasn’t that bad as I thought it was.”

Although most of her races were individual, Kyla said she was most impressed with her relay teams’ performance.

“I just wanted to PR today and that’s what I did,” she said.

Atta Anzoua, junior, said he did better than last week, but he is trying not to focus on the big image, instead taking meets each race at a time.

He said he took the opportunity over spring break to spend extra time preparing for the meet and was ready to showoff how he’d improved.

“This team is like my family, that’s why I like this team,” he said. “My friends push me to work hard and I’m slower than my team, so during this meet, I showed them what I can do. Next time I’ll do better.”

He was also excited to get to run on his own track because

his Family can’t always travel to the meets.

“You have to show your mother what you do,” Atta said.

Kennedy said they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing for the next meet.

“Focus on the small things and the big things can happen,” he said. “What is it you didn’t like about your last meet or your last race … how can you fix it to make you better? That’s what our focus will be at and I think we’ll be OK.”


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