That wasn’t the case on a picture that I was tagged in on facebook the other day. The picture was from 1982 and was of the Heavener Lightning, a pee-wee team I helped coach for three summers.
The picture was taken, I believe, in Ada, where the Lightning played in and won the district tournament to become the first Heavener youth team to ever advance to the state tournament.
It was some 28 years ago, but memories of those young boys will never go away.
In the district tournament, we played Preston, Byng (I believe, not sure) and beat Preston in the finals to advance to the state tournament. The state tournament was played at Moore and the Lightning played Coweta in the first round and lost by a couple of runs. Coweta eventually won the state tournament and nobody played them any closer than the Lightning did.
This was the second year I had helped coach the Lightning, along with David Grubbs Sr. and Mike Vickers. And yes, this was a special group of kids, now adults.
Many of them had started playing together in t-ball and then moved up to pee-wee. This was a time when Cameron and Spiro dominated pee-wee baseball in LeFlore County. But these boys quickly showed that was changing.
We had a lot of good players on that team, especially Joey Bradberry. He caught and pitched for us and I have not seen a player that young as good as Joey was. For those who did not remember, he played college ball and was a professional prospect until injuring his throwing arm.
Joey was also a heck of a football player at Talihina and is now coaching, like his brother and father.
Jared Muse was our shortstop and he was like a vacuum. David Grubbs Jr. played second base and was our leadoff hitter, a tough little sucker even then and is now on the Heavener School Board.
Dusty Alexander was the third baseman, a solid player and a good hitter after he was allowed to swing the bat instead of bunting. Dusty was not the swiftest of foot, but was another good player. Todd Vickers manned first base and did some pitching, along with being one of our best hitters.
A future candidate for the state representative position, James “Brother” Lockhart also played for the Lightning, along with Justin Frizzell, Russell Sanders, Cody Terry, Brandon Moody, Weldon Green and Shawn Ward. There were a couple of other players, but sadly I can’t remember their names.
One of my best memories of that year was the district finals. The winner of that game would make it to the state tournament. One problem, we were out of pitchers since we were playing the third game in that many days.
We talked it over and decided to give Shawn Ward a chance, even though he had not pitched for us that season. We worked with him during an earlier practice and found out that Shawn was definitely not overpowering, but could throw strikes.
Shawn threw a bunch of strikes that night and the Lightning won their biggest game ever to advance to the state tournament.
The kids had a blast that week and also at the state tournament, staying at hotels just like the big guys. And many of those same kids also were part of the first Heavener High School football team to win a playoff game since the early 1960s.