In the past few months, former Holly Springs High School head football coach Sammie Greer has stopped by the office to share his writings with me.
It was leading up to the release of his autobiography.
A few weeks ago he brought a final draft by for me to look over before he went to press with it.
When he picked it up after a few days, I said, “Coach, I could have done some editing on it, but I think it needs to be your work – I don’t really need to touch it.”
And then last week he brought me a newly-published, autographed copy.
It’s not just about football. It includes blues, his raising, old photographs, and some inspirational words. It’s titled, “North Mississippi Cotton Patch Soul Blues” with a section about Junior Kimbrough.
I first met Coach Greer in the summer of 2001 – shortly after moving to Holly Springs. I was making my rounds, getting to know the people of the community, and that included the coaches at all of our high schools in the county.
I soon learned about the losing streak, 54 straight, from 1985 to 1992.
In 1993, the Hawks beat Tunica 26-18.
Linda Jones, a longtime member of The South Reporter staff, told me, “When they broke the streak, we put it on the front page.”
In his book, Coach Greer wrote, “The gridiron was immediately swarmed by celebrating Hawks supporters. The Hawks were winless no longer.”
Then on the next few pages, Coach Greer reminded me a lot of the old days and helped me learn more of the intricacies of football. He included 20 pages or so of offensive and defensive formations sketched out on paper – like the “Full House Wing T” formation and the “44 Blitz Defense.”
I enjoyed reading the football portion of Coach Greer’s book.
But even more so, I liked this personal life story.
Here are some excerpts.
• In 1958, all seventh grade boys went out for high school football. Only six made it and I was one of them. We had to line up with the high school players and run into them.”
• “In our house, we killed a snake every day or night during the summer.”
• “Mother started cooking breakfast around 4 a.m. Mother baked three to five pans of biscuits, cooked a dozen eggs and cut meat from the smokehouse. Then she would go milk the cows and get the eggs from the chicken coop. Daddy would get up at the same time to go feed the mules, dogs and cows.”
• “There was an old Indian graveyard across the creek from the Lunati Farm. Grandma Sarah and Uncle Joe would go visit that site. Grandma told me not to play in the graveyard because there were spirits on the hilltop.”
When Coach Greer autographed my book, he wrote, “Be your best today.”
Coach Greer has been battling health issues – “my life is struggling,” he wrote in his book – but still each time I see him he brightens my day. He always greets with a smile. handshake and words of encouragement.
I appreciate Coach for letting me play a small part in his book. The relationships I’ve built as a community newspaper editor mean the most to me.