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Big game celebration slated Saturday in Lufkin

BY MATT WILLIAMS, Outdoor Writer

TBGA 25th logoDozens of heads representing some of top-scoring whitetail bucks taken by deer hunters across eastern Texas last season are headed to the Pitser Garrison Convention Center in Lufkin where they will be on display May 14 as the highlight attraction of the 2016 Texas Big Game Awards Sportsman’s Celebration.

Doors will open at 2 p.m for viewing of the trophy mounts, followed by seminars, a dinner and a 6:30 p.m. awards ceremony that will recognize some of the biggest bucks in the land and lucky hunters who brought them down.

The East Texas regional banquet is typically one of the organization’s best followed of the year. Last year’s celebration, also held in Lufkin, drew to close to 400 people, according to TBGA’s David Brimager. More than 300 people were already pre-registered for this year’s event with more than a week to go, he said.

As earlier mentioned, the event will showcase some of the biggest East Texas bucks entered in TBGA this year. The trophy display will include bucks from Region 5 (Post Oak Savannah), Region 6 (Pineywoods) and Region 7 (Coastal Prairies). The heads will be divided by region on rustic display walls and tagged with the hunter’s name, county of harvest, TBGA score and other pertinent data.

Each deer had to be scored by an official TBGA scorer and meet a minimum score criteria in order to qualify for TBGA entry. Minimum B&C scores for typical whitetails is 125 and 140 for non-typicals taken in the aforementioned regions.

If you enjoy deer hunting and can appreciate the majesty of a big whitetail rack, this is a gathering you won’t want to miss. There are going to be some big boys in the room, including several open range bruisers that scored high enough to earn spots in the Boone and Crockett record book. Some are new records for their respective county of harvest. There also will be some big bucks present that were taken behind high fence, if you go for that sort of thing.

One the most impressive bucks on the list is an outstanding Collin County non-typical taken by archer Cody Griffin of Anna. Located along the northwestern edge Region 5, Collin County is the virtual shadows of downtown Dallas. The county had its first ever deer season in 2012. Like nearby Grayson County, Collin County’s season is limited to hunters using legal archery gear and crossbows, only.

I was unable to hook up with Griffin to talk about his buck, but according to the recounts I’ve read the deer was arrowed on Oct. 9 on 200-acres of open range property his family owns near McKinney. The hunter reportedly nicknamed the big buck “Dream Maker” because of its outstanding set of antlers.

According to TBGA’s official category standings, the Griffin Buck grosses 210 3/8 and nets 195 4/8, which eclipses the 195 inch minimum required for entry into the B&C all-time record book.

Interestingly, another remarkable buck with an even higher gross score was shot in Collin County last season by Steve Purcell of Wylie. That deer, reportedly taken on Nov. 22 on an 84-acre tract of property 20 miles from downtown Dallas, grossed 214 B&C, had 48 inches of mass measurements and was 29 inches wide. You won’t see the buck at the upcoming TBGA gig in Lufkin, though. Purcell chose to enter it in the program.

A buck that will be getting a lot of looks on the Region 5 display wall is the outstanding 12 pointer shot in in Anderson County by Courtney Gehrmann, a Nacogdoches native who works as a nurse in Bryan/College Station. Gehrmann shot the deer in October during the early MLD season that allows for rifle hunting on well-managed properties by permit.

Gehrmann’s buck grosses 203 2/8 and nets 199 5/8. At first glance the buck looks like a typical, but it could not be classified as such because two of its points do not originate off the top of the main beam. At any rate, it is the highest scoring net non-typical reported from all of East Texas in TBGA’s low fence category this season.

There was some debate earlier in the year as to whether or not Gehrmann’s deer would be accepted into B&C’s all-time records book because the ranch where it was killed is partially bordered by high fence. Maps and pictures illustrating the ranch parameters were sent to B&C’s home office in Missoula, Mont., for review to settle the dispute.

B&C’s Justin Spring and Jack Reneau were not available for comment at press time. However, Brimager said he has spoken to the

B&C officials and has been told that the Gehrmann buck will qualify for B&C entry.

Several other outstanding bucks from Region 5 low fence properties should be present at the show if the respective hunters choose to attend. Among the remaining Top 5 non-typicals are Brandon Slater, Limestone County, 169 1/8 net; Kevin Ellis, Leon County, 160 net; and Tony Hayes, Rains Co., 158 7/8 net.

The top scoring low fence typicals from Region 5 include Danny Bentley, Leon Co., 161 6/8 net; Bud Ooton, Collin Co., 157 net; William Hale, Van Zandt Co., 149 2/8 net; James Hankins, Madison Co., 149 2/8 net; and Bert Richmond, Leon Co., 146 2/8 net.
Some outstanding bucks also were reported from low fence property in Region 6, but it was Jimmy Isaacs of Rusk who stole the show with an amazing main frame 12 point typical. Taken on Nov. 12 in Cherokee County, the whopper whitetail grosses 187 2/8 and nets 174 4/8, easily topping the 170 B&C book minimum for typical whitetails.

According to B&C records officials, the Isaacs bucks is the first all-time record book typical ever reported from Cherokee County.

Rounding out the Top 5 low fence typical entries from Region 6 are Chris Seidel, Houston Co., 167 net; Dyllon Pate, Trinity Co. 156 1/8 net (public land); Michael Barnes, Tyler Co., 155 6/8 net; and Dwayne Hossley, Nacogdoches Co., 151 3/8 net.

Region 6 also kicked out some whopper non-typicals on open range, including Scott Myers’ Trinity Co. 18 pointer that ranks as the biggest of the bunch. The Myers buck grosses 213 and 187 4/8 net - well short of the 195 minimum for B&C entry, but a dandy just the same.

Another outstanding buck was reported in Angelina County by crossbow hunter Steven Anderson of Hudson. The 22-point non-typical grosses 182 and 172 4/8. Other Top 5 Region 6 NT’s you can hope to see at the show are bucks shot by Bradley Newton, Trinity Co. 171 net; Jason Knighton, Houston Co. 168 1/8 net; and Johnell Walding, Polk Co., 167 6/8 net.

TBGA Region 7 entries were light in number in comparison to the Pineywoods and Post Oak, but there were some outstanding open range bucks taken just the same. The top scoring non-typical belongs to David Allen with a Gonzales Co. buck that nets 167 5/8. Justin Hartl sits No. 2 with a 165 1/8 net Wilson Co. bruiser.

Rounding out the Top 5 non-typicals are Kevin Dodson, Caldwell Co., 164 1/8 net; Will Slaid, Gonzales Co., 150 4/8 net; and Gary Prause, Fayette Co., 147 2/8 net.

Gary Rainwater took the top scoring Region 7 typical in Guadalupe Co., 157 7/8 net. Other Top 5 bucks include Jordon Hollub, Guadalupe Co., 154 3/8 net; Scott Blezinger, Austin Co., 150 1/8 net; Kevin Knebel, Washington Co., 149 5/ net; and Ross Butler, DeWitt Co., 149 1/8.

In addition to the trophy display, Brimager says there will be seminars on the Texas Youth Hunting Program and aging deer on the hoof. There will also be exhibits and raffles for a a number of cool items including a Polaris ATV.
Tickets are $20 for adults, and $15 for kids under 12. Reserved tables for 10 cost $300. For more info, contact TBGA at 210-236-9761.

Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be reached by e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Outdoors Briefs
Elite Series event coming to T-Bend
by Matt Williams
Outdoors Writer

The Bassmaster Elite Series will be on Toledo Bend May 12-15 for their fifth qualifying event of the current season. The field of 108 bass pros will compete for $100,000 cash and valuable points in the Angler of the Year race, which is currently lead by Louisiana’s Greg Hackney with 394 points.
Fresh off a win at Alabama’s Wheeler Lake, Emory angler Takahiro Omori is second in points with 368, followed by Randall Tharp, 365; Chris Zaldain, 365; and Gerald Swindle, 356.
Bass pundits believe Toledo Bend will kick out some big weights and some are calling for as much as 24 pounds per day to win. If that’s the case, somebody could bust the century mark because it is a four day event.
The full field will be cut to the Top 50 for Day 3 and the Top 12 will advance to the final round. Daily takeoffs will be held at 6:15 a.m. and weigh-ins at 3:15 p.m., both at Cypress Bend Park in Many, La.

Duncan wins KYKX with 8.02

Kyle Duncan of Marshall topped a field of 1,400 anglers to win the KYKX Big Bass Tournament held recently on Lake O’ The Pines near Longview.
Duncan’s bass, an 8.02 pounder, netted him $50,000. Robert Yeadon of Winona took second with a 7.63 pounder, $20,000; Tim McClure of Tyler, 7.22 pounder, $12,000; Stephen Metcalf of Harleton, 7.21 pounder, $10,000; Randal Davidson of Jefferson, 7.01 pounder, $8,000.

Emory’s Omori wins Wheeler Elite

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Takahiro Omori of Emory grabbed his sixth Bassmaster title with a convincing win in the Bassmaster Elite Series event held May 28 - April 1 on Lake Wheeler.
Omori weighed in 81 pounds, 6 ounces over four days, including a 25-pound sack in the final round that iced it. He earned $100,000. Texan Gary Klein also fished the final day and wound up 12th with 52-12. James Niggemeyer of Van finished 13th with 50-1.

Winged predators draw crowds at State Park

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Livingston State Park Interpreter Joel Janssen hit a grand slam when he was able to have the Earthquest Birds of Prey come up for two programs over the Easter weekend.

More than 450 adults and children attended the two shows and were thrilled by the large and fierce looking winged creatures. Earthquest is a non-profit educational program operated by Steve Hoddy, who has been featured along with the birds on Good Morning America and the David Lettermen Show.

Hoddy and a volunteer with the Friends of the Brazos Wildlife Management Center, Phil Huxford, were joined by Hoddy’s grandson and aspiring falconer, Tyler, for this program at no cost to the state park.

A main feature of the show is an Andean condor, a species found in South America and the national bird of several countries. These birds had an important role in helping to restore the California condor back from almost extinction in the late 60’s when it was determined that DDT was poisoning the eagles and condors on the Pacific coast.

The bird Hoddy has was surgically removed from an egg that would not open. She was then hand raised to see if she would live. At that point she became what they call an “imprinted bird” with no natural parents and she thinks to this day, some 20 years later, that Hoddy is her mate. He is the only one who handles her.

With a wingspan of some 10 foot and weighing about 25 pounds, she has a strong will to do her own program while ripping meat from chicken leg bones for a treat.

The fastest bird shown was the Peregrine Falcon, a high soaring, sharp-eyed hunter. These birds have been clocked as traveling at 100 mph on a dive after prey. The bird shown Saturday was named “Utah” and did his flying from a tether after he flew off the previous week and was gone for four days. Spring apparently also turns a falcons head to other things besides chicken. He did return home when hungry.

The Eurasian eagle owl is the largest in the owl family and has huge eyes, about twice the size of a humans. Hoddy pointed out when you see an owl with a clump of grass, don’t surmise they are building nest. Their food -- rabbits and field mice -- often hide in thick grass and the owl will swoop in and take dinner and grass in one huge claw full. They have the best hearing of the avian raptors and can even hear moles tunneling in the ground.

The Harris hawk Hoddy brought with him from Georgia where they are based, is a species which also populates East Texas. With large powerful talons they have the capability to lift a full grown rabbit from the ground and fly off, taking it to their eating spot and rip it to shreds.

Hoddy explained the next two birds are called dirty birds, however they are very important to the environment in cleaning up the road kill as well as animals that get sick, die in the woods and might spread disease should the carcass just sit and rot. He has both a black and a turkey vulture.

They are not buzzards as some people call them; they are entirely a different bird. They are gregarious and will live in large colonies, while most birds of prey are territorial and prefer to live alone or just with a mate for procreating.

The good news at the end of the program is that the bird display will return to the state park next spring for another program.

[STORY BY LEW VAIL - Enterprise staff, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

birds-of-prey-1-640pWINGED PREDATOR -- A ferruginous hawk, commonly found in areas of West Texas, flaps its wings as handler Phil Huxford exhibits the raptor to a large crowd during the Birds of Prey program held Saturday at Lake Livingston State Park. The program is sponsored by Earthquest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public as to their impact on the natural world. According to founder Steve Hoddy (not pictured) the bird population is a good indicator to overall quality of the environment in many parts of the world. (ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY ALBERT TREVINO)

birds-of-prey-3-640pTAKING A WALK -- An Andean condor named Storm, handled by Steve Hoddy (not pictured) was by far the largest bird exhibited Saturday at Lake Livingston State Park. He is shown walking in front of some of the spectators at the end of a tether during the Earthquest Birds of Prey program. (ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY ALBERT TREVINO)

Birds---owl640pIN TRAINING -- The Eurasian eagle owl displayed during Saturday’s Birds of Prey show at the Lake Livingston State Park is young and in training. During the show he decided he would he would sit on the perch and not jump to the handler’s glove. He ate no snacks but went back to his cage willingly. (ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY LEW VAIL)

Birds---harris-hawk640pFAMILIAR BIRD – While this Harris hawk was originally from Georgia, birds of this type can be seen flying wild in Texas. This was among the masters of the sky displayed during the Earthquest Birds of Prey program presented Saturday at the state park. (ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY LEW VAIL)

Photos of Thursday's flooding in Polk County

Certain areas in Polk County were completley shut down Thursday due to the heavy flooding. (Thank you to our contributors for submitting their photos.)

Flood-Pedigo-Park-Complex-2

Flood-Pedigo-Park-Complex-6The Lions Baseball/Softball Complex transformed into a large pond Thursday morning as much of Pedigo Park was blocked off due to heavy flooding.

Flood-FM1988-Construction-6Construction on FM-1988 near Long King Creek was put on hold due to the heavy flooding in West Livingston on Thursday.

FM1988bridge-640pFlooding near the Tempe Creek area closed off part of FM-1988 Thursday after the heavy storms in Polk County. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY)

Flood-Menard-Creek-Kelly-RdSeveral inches of water covered part of Kelly Rd. near Menard Creek, which was blocked off Thursday morning after the heavy storms. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DANA BRYANT)

IMG 0574-640p(CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DANA BRYANT)

Big Sandy basketball teams had two legendary coaches

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In Dallardsville in the 1930s, a two-room school was built at the present school site near where the old cafeteria is located. A water well was present where the old oak tree now stands near the cafeteria. The superintendent was Proctor Galloway and there were two other teachers.

The school grew, and in 1939 the Works Progress Administration (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration or WPA) built the present junior high building. It was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects.

In the early ‘40s, the first gym was built near where the present new gym stands. A cafeteria was built in 1951 and was located behind the present junior high building. I.V. Burkett was the superintendent, W. Ford King was the high school principal, and Earl Jordan was the elementary school principal.

A new gym was built in 1953 and is still standing today. Today, they call it the “old gym.” During the 1970s, the agriculture building and a new cafeteria were built. In 1982, the new high school was built where grades 8-12 were located.

King is a member of the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame, inducted in 1992. He coached at Woden for five years before moving to Big Sandy where he stayed for 24 years. During the 1950s, he won two State Class B titles. His teams were state runner-up six times and he was named by sportswriters as the Texas Coach of the Year in 1957.

Ed Holder was the assistant coach from 1964-1968. He was a classroom teacher 1949-1963. Holder was superintendent from 1968-1988 and coached from 1968 until he retired in 1988. He coached the B-team and junior high in 1950-64.
Mickey Battise, who represented Big Sandy in the Texas High School Coach Basketball Association’s game tells me that the most memorable game was in 1959 at the state tournament.

“They played against East Mountain in northeast Texas. The score was 43-42 with three seconds left to play. Coach King called time out. Then, when they resumed play, Eddie Jo Cylestine ran down the side of the court to the East Mountain end of the court as two of their players were talking and didn’t see Eddie Jo throw the ball to Edwin Battise. Edwin made a jump shot and scored. So we won by one basket! Then they were able to continue on to the state meet.”

Ed Holder and his family have lived on family land for seven generations in Big Sandy.

“Big Sandy went to the State meet from 1949-1957, seven times,” Ed said. “They won second place in ‘49,’51,’53,’54 and ‘55.

King coached from the late 1930s to 1964.

“The Alabama-Coushatta students were good ball players,” Battise said. “The boys played all night and all day. We ran through the woods as we would go from one house to the other to play ball. We had no more than three or four cars on the reservation at that time.”

As we finished our interview, Battise said, “We would brag about all of us being in the top 10 of our class. What other teams didn’t know was that there was only 65 students in our high school.”

“Kids need goals to achieve what these teams did all those years,” Battise continued. “We all played ball on Sunday afternoons. Church was our best social and even the grandparents were playing ball with the younger players.”

Writing one of these articles, I earn more of a respect for our communities and citizens. This article has given me an understanding of the importance of integrity. This word occurred recently in the article about Jack Moseley. Mark Moseley said, “Mom and dad’s biggest contribution to those who knew them was their integrity.”

Kevin Hendrix, principal of Big Sandy Junior High, said coach Thomas Foster’s coaching reputation was his integrity.
“His team didn’t play dirty; they don’t backtalk the referees or talk back to persons in authority.”

Integrity is something taught but it is also something modeled. I have heard from all those I interviewed about the coaches’ integrity. I have to say that I’ve heard the same comment for years about the Big Sandy community and school. That’s a legacy that the school, community and parents can have ownership in having a part of with the team and community.

Hendrix continues to tell me that W. Foster, Sr. was his high school principal and that he was intelligent and serious about his responsibility to the kids.
Thomas Foster had a great sense of humor!

Iona Tolar Barrett was one of the coach’s girl basketball players that went to state in 1961. She tells a story about Thomas Foster losing his temper and kicking the bleachers. When he kicked the bleachers, his teeth fell out.

“He just picked them up and stuck them right back in his mouth,” Iona said.

She also said that he never wore matching socks.

“It seems like he just reached in the drawer and took what he put his hands on! So when they went to state, the girls’ team pitched in and bought him a pair of matching socks!” Iona said.

“When he took the girls off on a road trip, the parents didn’t have to worry about them. He expected them to be in the bed at 9 p.m. and when he checked the girls’ room, he wanted them to show their face at the door so that he could be accountable for each girl.”

The girls on this team were Jennie Williams, Ida Tolar, Peggy Sue Jones, Carol Wagnon, Carol Kervin, Jeanette Cylestine, Bobbie Hendrix, and Betty Sue Smith The team was the first and only girls team from Big Sandy that went to state. Jennie Williams and Jeanette Cylestine made All-State and Peggy Sue Jones, Bobbie Hendrix and Carol Wagnon were honorable mention.

Thomas never married. He took care of his parents in his home, his brother and raised his brother’s two children, Roland and Kevin.
Iona said, “Coach Foster knew what he was talking about and if you paid attention, you would learn what you needed to learn.”

Luther Myers and his wife, Billie, were both taught by Coach Foster, but Luther was also coached by Coach King.

“Coach King was very serious, no joking in any way,” Luther said.

Then he tells of a bus trip to Nacogdoches for a basketball tournament.

“We were country boys and we got real excited when one of those big trucks would pass us.”

A problem arose when Johnny Williams, one of the players, stood up and motioned to the truck driver to blow his horn. The driver of the truck ignored Johnny’s request to blow his horn. So Johnny yelled to the truck driver, “Blow your d--- horn!”

Coach King called Johnny up to the front of the bus and said, “If you do that again, you won’t ride this bus!”

Luther wanted to give junior high coach Ed Holder credit for being the coach responsible for teaching the team how to play with Ed’s great basketball skills. He then said,

“Coach King just advanced us.”

I remember Coach King’s daughter, Sherry. She was a very pretty girl. Her mother, Gladys, died when Sherry was 11 years old. Big Sandy dedicated the school yearbook to Gladys that year. Sherry would ride the bus with the team to games.

Sherry asked me if I had heard about “Bigfoot.” (I thought she meant the other Bigfoot that is believed to roam the woods around Big Sandy).
She actually was referring to her dad! She says, “He is 6 foot 6½ inches tall and wears size 15½ shoe.”

Battise told me, as I was interviewing him, that Ford bought himself two pair of wingtip shoes on the annual trips to Austin (he may have had trouble finding size 15½ shoes).

Sherry has fond memories about looking out the back of the bus window and seeing a “long train of car lights” as they followed Big Sandy to the ball games.
Everybody could hear King coming down the hall. He carried keys in his pocket and would jingle them so students could hear him coming and many would straighten up before he got there!

Sherry’s brother, Ford King Jr., also coached in Woden, near Nacogdoches. When her father died in 2007, the gym was dedicated to him.

Kevin Hendrix’s father, Edwin Hendrix, can be classified as a teller of big stories! I had to pick just one of his three whoppers. One was about a “hoop snake,” another about a tarantula spider (loose in chemistry class). I chose to tell you about the “rotten egg smell.”

Mr. Foster was holding a jar out the window mixing Hydrogen Sulfide. It smelled like rotten eggs.

Edwin said, “Mr. Foster, I can’t take it!”

Then Mr. Foster said, “if you can’t take it, go down to Mr. Burkett’s office (the principal).”

Edwin and Larry Williford left the room, but stopped for an extended time by the restroom to avoid Mr. Burkett. When they returned to the class, Foster asked them for their excuse from Mr. Burkett (Larry Williford’s dad and my granddad, Lemuel Williford were brothers).

They went to Burkett’s office. When they told him why they needed an excuse, Burkett said, “I don’t blame you! The smell was getting to me!”
He wrote the note, “Please admit Edwin Hendrix and Larry Williford back to your class.”

Gary Hendrix said if you weren’t in bed by 10 p.m., Coach Ford King would pick on you until you confessed why you were not in bed on time. Then, he’d have you sit out for two or three games. You could suit up and sit on the bench during your punishment.

Iona Crewl, a student at Big Sandy, tells me that her brother, Oscar Smith, played basketball under Ford. It was known that he would go to the player’s home to see if they were in the bed at 10 p.m.

“Coach caught Oscar in the corn patch,” Crewl said. “Oscar’s dad had him there to keep the raccoons from eating the corn. Coach let him suit up, but he had to sit on the bench for not being in the bed by 10 p.m.

Gary Hendrix had let his hair grow out for the summer. Gary said, “If you are going to play ball for coach, you’d better have short hair! Here comes Coach King and he ‘rared’ (chewed) me out.”

“I told him, ‘Coach, I respect you and I’m intending on cutting my hair, but is there any way I can just once have long hair for my picture?’”
King replied, “We’re going to let it slip this time, but get that hair cut!”

In visiting with Jennie Williams Battise, she tells me that when Foster began to teach, he was only 21 or 22 years of age. She also tells me that even after he retired from teaching, he came back and worked full time. He worked at the school in whatever way he was needed. Jennie tells me that she has three grandchildren (Edward, Matthew and Misty) and that Foster, a very dedicated teacher, would meet Misty at 7 a.m. before school and tutor her before class began.

She says, “You’d have to hear Mr. Foster say this so it would sound right … ‘What’s your problem?”

Mickey Battise said that housing was hard to find during those days. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Council met and voted for King to live on the reservation (he lived there for eight years).

Ford King Jr. and Mickey Battise became best friends. Mickey said that Gladys, the mother of Ford King Jr., would have him a present as well when they celebrated Ford King Jr.’s birthday.

Keep in mind that Big Sandy had only 65 students in high school and half of those were girls.

“There were only 10 in our class.” Mickey said, “Coach put up three basketball goals for us to practice and one of those was in front of his house. He got us rubber balls so we could practice outside.”

Mickey was upset that only five years ago he was talking about King and no one knew who he was.

Mickey said, “He was a legendary coach, he was a young coach and King said he could see our potential. He gave credit to the Alabama-Coushatta students for their part in the success of his coaching.”

Milton Redd Williams was one of the boys that help put Big Sandy on the map. He then he went to play ball for Tyler Junior College, making All-State three times. Redd played for The Centenary University basketball team in Shreveport, La. He received the All-American recognition while there.

Ford’s teams won tournaments at Sam Houston six years in a row. When Mickey Battise was in King’s home, he noticed that the coach had six watches scattered around his home. These were his “trophies” for the accomplishments.

While Ford King Jr. was living on the reservation with his family, he actually learned the Alabama-Coushatta language, because his Indian friends spoke only the Indian dialect and very little English.

In visiting with Oscar Williams, he mainly wanted to talk about his grandson, Angel Bullock, who is now playing basketball for Big Sandy. Oscar did tell me that he was an All-State player in 1957 when they played in the state tournament in Austin.

Oscar said he has two grandsons that play basketball, but that he is currently working with his granddaughter and teaching her to play basketball. Basketball is a favorite sport for this family and it goes on for generations to come. Oscar’s brother was Redd Williams, who also played under Ford King.

Pauline, Redd’s wife, tells me that Redd was a preacher for 45 years and died at age 70. Pauline helped me get my information from Oscar. Oscar has problems, like I do, hearing over the phone!

A coach named Cotton Robison from Buna had six championships in the 1950s. When he was interviewed by the press, he was asked to name the five top high school coaches. He named Ford King as the best!

Big Sandy Superintendent Arvis Rogers was showing a “UIL Sports Book” to Mickey with a full page in it about Coach Ford King. Shelby Metcalf, coach at Texas A&M University, would open the college for the Big Sandy players to practice on their way to the Austin meet. Coach Ford King and his team were welcomed to the “training table” and they ate all the food they could hold!

Jenny Battise shared her 1961 Big Sandy annual with me. As I was looking at the picture of these basketball players, I recognized two boys that I knew during that time: Dudley Dickens and Harvey Glen Jones.

“He’d rattled his keys in his pocket like a cowbell and we would scatter like ducks,” Dickens said of King. “He used to smoke and coach King decided to quit. So, he bought two boxes of toothpicks. After a game, we would see at least two full boxes of toothpicks chewed up and scattered on the floor where he was sitting on the bleachers. He never smoked again!”

As I was thumbing through the annual, I noticed that Harvey Glen Jones received the award for “Most Athletic” and Dudley Dickens received the recognition as “Senior Best Lookers.”

I’d like to thank all the “Big Sandy alumni” who contributed to this article. Jennie Battise and Margie Cain (my cousin) for their extra help and pictures. The history of the school came from the Big Sandy School website.

big-sandy-team-640pBIG SANDY’S 1961 BASKETBALL TEAM — Led by Hall of Fame Coach Ford King, Big Sandy High School’s basketball teams made it to the state finals seven times from 1949-1957, winning two championships along the way. Above is a photo of the 1961 boys team that included (kneeling, L-R) Herbert Johnson, Marvin Lilley, Gary Hendrix, John Davis, Robert Burbank, (standing, L-R) Edward Holder, Lowell Sylestine, Harvey Jones, Larry Wagnon, Dudley Dickens, Cecil Alec and Coach Ford King.

Childrens Pow Wow Action

Tiny-Tots-Childrens-Pow-Wow TSS

CHILDREN’S POW WOW ACTION -- “Tiny Tots” boys and girls, those who are six years old and younger, exhibit their tribal dancing skills during the 18th Annual Children’s Pow Wow sponsored by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. The event was held Saturday in the Tribe’s Multipurpose Center east of Livingston.

Couple recognized for service

Hendrixes

LIVINGSTON -- The future of Polk County is always on the hearts and minds of Greg and Amy Hendrix.
Whether for children or friends, the two have contributed endless hours to help create a better tomorrow.

They were honored Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce with a community service award at its 80th annual Chamber Banquet that begins at 6 p.m. in the Polk County Commerce Center.

Amy is originally from Palestine and moved to the area when she and Greg married.

Greg grew up attending school at Big Sandy and is part of four generations that have lived in Polk County. He has established Hendrix Machinery and Hendrix Equipment Rentals, as well as Texas Slam Academy.

The latter is a state-of-the-art facility where small children up to high school seniors can sharpen their knowledge of baseball and softball through camps and clinics.

"Texas Slam is a three-year-old business. It is loaded up with kids all the time, and it has been great for the kids in the community," Greg said. "We have had kids playing with our teams from Seguin to Louisiana, and Dallas to the Houston area. There are over 25 different schools represented with Texas Slam. With the camps, I believe there have been over 20 kids who have signed college scholarships through there. There are been over 500 kids who have come through the camps at Texas Slam. We hosted the first ever East Texas All-Star Game and we'll be doing it again, along with softball this year."

An activity that Greg has passed down to his three children is involvement in the Trinity-Neches Livestock Show.

"We have purchased animals and donated to it ever since I have been in business," Greg said. "We grew up doing the shows in Big Sandy. All three kids have been involved with TNLS as well."

At least two days of the week, the couple oversees a group of high school teens at Livingston's First Baptist Church, where they have been members for 20 years.

"Our main thing now is with the youth in our church. We meet twice weekly with those kids," Amy said. "We have a small group at our house every weekend and in church every Wednesday. We have the juniors and seniors, and that's what we focus in on. There are about 150 kids in the church, but about 30 that come to our house every Sunday night. That is what we love."

One more spring activity the family takes part in is Relay for Life, where Greg and Amy created a team.

"We are on the 'Believers Team' and have been raising money for cancer for about 10 years," Amy said. "We started it for our good friend who was diagnosed with cancer that year. We have been raising money since then. We are usually one of the top teams every year. We also give scholarships now to kids whose parents have been affected by cancer."

The two have similar reasons for involving themselves in community activities, especially for children.

"I really have a passion for the youth and absolutely love sports," Greg said. "I have coached the kids in youth sports from soccer, baseball, and basketball for about 15 years now. Just having roots here you want to see the community thrive. We're raising what's going to be here for the future, so you give as much as you can."

"It's just that the kids of Polk County are our future and I want to invest in them because I want to share what changed my life — and that was Jesus. That's why I do it," Amy said. "I want them to know that's where I get my peace, love and hope, and they can have the same thing."

Both have participated in the Livingston ISD mentor program, and Amy was involved with the schools as a second grade teacher and PTO board member. She also volunteered at a food bank until dedicating additional time to Texas Slam.