BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
It took four years for Stephenville senior Kyle Lindsey to become a state champion jumper as he got top-notch coaching and the unique support system generated by his coaches who taught him to believe in himself.
Wednesday at Stephenville High School Lindsey’s accomplishments was recognized in a ceremony in front of his fellow students.
The spotlight may be on that shiny gold medal hanging around Lindsey’s neck and his school record jump of 6-10 1/4, but he will be the first one to tell you he didn’t get there on his own.
Coach Jeremiah Butchee explained there was much more than the eight seconds it takes a jumper to approach and jump over a bar. He talked about how Lindsey had set a goal four years ago of being a state champion and how the core values of people like his friend Blake Aaragon who was also a state champion high jumper and the previous school record holder.
“I flashed my eyes over after Kyle had made his jump and there was Blake with both fists pumped into the air, a huge smile on his face and screaming because his best friend had just beaten his record,” Butchee said. “It wasn’t about him. It was about relationships. It was about integrity. It was all about the support and core values we hold so dear. All of those things were in action that day! Meaning it’s not about you — it’s about us.
The reaction of Lindsey’s high-jump coach Shay Douglas after he won his gold medal was as if she had made the jump herself and when she retold the story of his success, she was beaming with a smile.
“I went nuts when he landed,” Douglas laughed. “I was doing the video, and suddenly, it is just bouncing all over the place, and you can hear me screaming.”
With this being the first year Douglas has coached at SHS it was also the first time she and Lindsey teamed up for high jump where Kyle had topped 6-4 as a personal best.
Things started great on a coaching-and-athlete plain but Lindsey bombed his event at the Stephenville Optimist Relays and he was nowhere near his personal best.
Douglas continued her fine-tuning of Lindsey who by what is his admission is “Not the easiest athlete to work with” and concentrated on Lindsey’s “fidgety” approach, and he positioned his body when crossing over the bar.
Instead of facing off like battering rams (Douglas can be stubborn too) they worked together.
“I wanted Kyle to work on just being himself. Not to worry about what he saw other athletes doing in warmups,” Douglas. “We talked about different scenarios and what to expect so we didn’t walk in wide-eyed. Trust the process!”
Not everything worked and then one day as Douglas describes, “It clicked!” Along the way, Lindsey also lost a little of his football weight (He has signed to play at Cisco Junior College) and got into better “track form.”
The “click” Douglas talked about clicked and clicked and clicked some more as Lindsey hauled away the gold medals from the district, area, regionals and state meets.
While Lindsey plans on playing football in college, he has also drawn the attention of major track and field programs with Baylor University among schools expressing interest.
When it came to taking his shot at Aaragon’s record, Lindsey already had the gold medal in his pocket, but the pressure was still on.
“Coach Douglas told me that the jump coming up was just like any other jump and any other place,” Lindsey. “She said I just needed to go out there and be myself.
Since Aaragon set the record two years ago, it has been Lindsey’s goal to break it and while there may have been a little “trash talk” he admits it meant the world to him to have Aaragon in the crowd.