By Tracy Hammond of Liberal
I’m very appalled about the termination of a great coach and person named Cliff Abbott. What he has done in our community is very promising even though there are some that say different.
I have never seen such a dedicated coach that will take the time to get up and be at the weight room at 6:30 each morning and earlier during summer workouts; also maintains a 40-plus hour job that he owns and then comes out and coaches a game and still is dedicated to his family.
How many people can say that they could do this on a daily basis?
Cliff Abbott is a great mentor for all the boys that have been around him throughout the years that he has coached and–or made a home for them. Some examples are Kids Inc. football, MAYB basketball, coaching middle school football and basketball and also being on the USD No. 480 Board in the early years. He has done it all.
To just dismiss him like he is everyday trash leaves a bad taste in my mouth and, even more, the way it was done by the superintendent and athletic director.
Yes, there are many critics out there that trashed him and also some assistant coaches on his staff. One thing I need to mention again – the Cornelsen-era is done. There will never be another Cornelsen or the high school teams back in the ’90s.
Every coach that has come across the Burial Grounds have been talked about and driven out of Liberal because they can’t be like Cornelsen, not have “that” undefeated team year after year.
These coaches in the past have tried but ended up quitting and moving on because of the way they were treated – not only by the community of Liberal – but, ultimately, by USD 480.
Mr. Van Whye states in his article “Numbers.” He said, “What I mean is the number of participants out for the sport. Do we have a sub-varsity, freshmen, JV? Are they are developing, more importantly, is the character of the team, of the program disciplined?”
Well I would like to address this as a person that has lived in Liberal all my life. My son has been blessed to have participated in great coaching by coach Abbott and through the years of Kids Inc. and at West Middle School. Also, I would like to mention coach Stanley his freshman year as a varsity player.
It seems that coaching that starts in middle schools is very lack luster. West Middle School seems to always strive to win and to get the numbers to participate. But when you look at South Middle School, it seems the coaching staff – I believe – tries their best, but I feel at times throughout each year, they seem to not have the advantage that West has for coaches.
These are your “future LHS athletes.”
Back in the ’90s, when I attended Liberal High School, we didn’t have a soccer program that was a standout then, and it has matured and progressed over the years. Lori Navarro has taken soccer and put us on the map, and I commend her for that.
The student who is a participant in sports wants to be on a winning team, and soccer, at this time, is the winning sport.
There are not the numbers for football because most participate in soccer and/or the bickering amongst coaching staff makes a kid not want to be a part of a team that shows no support for their coach and doesn’t get support themselves.
Building back an “era” – a winning tradition amongst a football team – there has to be a sense of repetition and commitment, and when you constantly dismiss these coaches that are trying to build back an “era” Redskin tradition, how do you expect to achieve anything higher and have consistency when you are constantly building from scratch every time you hire new?
Yes I was one of many people that couldn’t understand why the onside kick was used every time, but I tell myself how can I tell a coach how to coach.
This goes back to having the numbers to have an efficient football team. You don’t have the big boys like we did in the ’90s, but one thing I can say about this past season, all of the team was focused on one thing and that was to win.
They were committed to the summer sessions and there was so many that took the time to attend camps in the summer to be better themselves – not just for the LHS football team but for themselves.
Unfortunately, you have many seniors that are on this team that will not be back next year. There won’t be the impressive wide receiver that carried more than 1,400 yards, and you won’t have the exquisite quarterback that put up more than 3,000 passing yards or many other seniors that made attributions to the team.
There was also impressive leadership from these seniors and I’m sorry, I believe it will take time to see this type of talent again come across the Burial Grounds.
It all starts with the youth and having the commitment to make them succeed as these seniors have had.
I thank Mr. Abbott for all that he has done for the sport of football throughout these years. I hope the next coach that is hired for football – or any coach that is hired for any sport at LHS – that there is support and encouragement from all or we will constantly struggle in building a promising LHS “era” of a winning tradition.
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