, Port Arthur, Texas


May 24, 2014

Gary Hammond guest column: This athlete never forgot how special Smitty was to him

PORT ARTHUR —     All athletes have a favorite coach; the man that impacts their life and athletic career in a positive way. I have had a few more coaches than some.  From high school through the pros I’ve had 4 coaches, all of which were highly recognized and decorated. Starting with Hayden Fry at SMU to Webb Eubanks at the Jets and finishing with Don Coryell, aka Air Coryell, with the St. Louis Cardinals.  

     There is something about your high school coach that makes them special and I’m going to attempt to share why Francis Smitty Hill was my favorite coach.

    My experience tells me there is more to coaching than the game itself. When you sign up for the task you not only are expected to win games but you are called to shape the lives of the young men call the team.  I know now how blessed my mom and dad were to send me and my brothers out the door to be coached by Smitty Hill.

     What sets him apart in the field of coaches?   He made me feel as if I was special not just as an athlete, but as a young man. His first concern was not about how tight my spiral was or how accurate I was or how fast I could run, but my growth as a person. I was not just a player; I was one of his own.

    He was more interested in how I was doing in the classroom, how my family was doing, what my plans were for the summer and, of course, how I was doing in my other sports. He always wanted what was best for me. His job was to point me in the right direction and reinforce my dad’s teaching about discipline, preparation and the importance of having fun playing the game.  

    He taught me about rules, not only about football, but the rules of life.  He was a man in my eyes that had this life all figured out. His deep abiding love for Jesus was so obvious in his life and coaching style. You could sense it at every level, practice, game day, hunting or those special good ol man-to-man visits we used to have.

    You always knew where he stood. And he knew from whom he gained his success and strength. His subtle style made it very obvious that he really did love us as his own. We were his boys and he wanted to make us into the best football players and men we could be.

     He taught me about Team and how important the relationships with my teammates were, and yes, before we were done we would run through a wall for each other.  You were not only being responsible for your actions but those of your teammates as well.  He taught me it wasn’t just about QB’s, running backs and wide outs that make a good team, but every position plays an important role in a winning program.

    He taught me to respect my teammates and know their role as well as you do yours and never stop telling them how great they are doing. Team was family to coach Hill. One family working to WIN the game.  He expected every player to give it all up for the team.  

     It was so much fun that when I went off to college to play I was thinking one day I was going to be a Smitty Hill. Several of my teammates became little Smittys and I am very proud of them. I loved the game and, like him, I wanted  it to be my life profession — building character, self-esteem and training kids to use their God given talents to be the best they can be sounded like something I wanted to do.

    Well that did not happen but I did the next best thing. I started teaching Sunday school just like Smitty. What did he teach me besides how to play quarterback? He taught me how important it is to get in the game of pointing kids in the right direction.     

     Next time I sit down to write about my favorite coach I will touch on his competitive nature. The legacy he left with me and my teammates is incredible and one we will always cherish.  I was coached in high school by the best coach ever and the memories we made will never be forgotten.

    Every player he ever coached is reaping the benefits of having experienced a few hours on the gridiron with Coach Hill. I just hope someday it can be said of me like we say of  Coach, “That man loves his God, loves his wife and family, loves his country and made a difference for the good in this crazy world we live in.”  


Text Only
  • Trophy stab 1.jpg WEST COLUMN: Bum Phillips trophy an impressive piece of work

    There was lots of excitement around the Port Arthur News this week, with the long-awaited delivery of the magnificent Bum Phillips trophy that will be presented annually to the winner of the Nederland-Port Neches-Groves football game.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ned 13U Babe Ruth wins

    It was a much better day Saturday for the Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team compared to Friday.

    July 26, 2014

  • MOORE COLUMN: Flounder dream started in Bridge City

    The first flounder that grabbed my attention lived in what is now the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area in Bridge City. 

    July 26, 2014

  • ESTRADA COLUMN: PED update /Key injuries with contrasting outcomes

    The results of Saturday night’s UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. Brown event were not available as of the time of this writing. It will be covered in a future column.

    July 26, 2014

  • TODORA COLUMN: Hermsen rattles racks in Monday Seniors League at Max Bowl

    Mondays Seniors League had some nice scores this past week. Rick Hermsen started with a 263, finished with a 270 and fit in a 212 in the middle for a nice 745.

    July 26, 2014

  • Nederland 13U Babe Ruth loses 9-0

    The Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team lost 9-0 Friday to Bryant.

    July 25, 2014

  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

    July 23, 2014

  • Mid County knocked out of tournament

    The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.

    July 22, 2014

  • West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son

    July 22, 2014

  • Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County

    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

    July 21, 2014

From the Fieldhouse blog