Organizers for a surprise gathering Friday at Hillcrest High School were safe to spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and even the school’s website.
Because after 50 years of coaching at the north-side school, Jim Vaughan isn’t exactly the tweeting type.
But that doesn’t mean the longtime track and field coach hasn’t been reaching people.
Many of his former and current athletes, colleagues, rivals, family and friends showed up to honor the coach’s 50 years at The Hill on Friday afternoon at the school library.
And the surprise just about worked.
When Vaughan was walking into the library, a custodian stopped him and remarked how nice it was for the gathering to be put together for him.
So, as he walked in to a round of applause from the more than 100 in attendance, he might have had a minute or so to think about what he was going to say.
“You think 50 years is a long time, but I’ll tell you,” he said, “it really isn’t.”
Despite his assertion, Vaughan has managed to impact a lot of lives in the “short” time. He’s also raised the level of track and field in the region, describing Friday how he thought the standards for success just weren’t high enough when he arrived in the city.
He’s also helped turn Hillcrest athletes into year-round competitors, as evidenced by his coaching colleagues from nearly every Hillcrest sport in attendance Friday.
In 1963, Vaughan and his wife, Rita, moved to Springfield to the new school on the north side, Hillcrest, which opened in 1957. He coached at two other Missouri schools for another eight years before coming to The Hill, so he’s actually been coaching for 58 years.
Vaughan has also coached football and basketball in his time at Hillcrest, and was a basketball referee for decades. He still helps place officials in tournament such as the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
He says he’s taking it year by year and doesn’t know when he will hang up the whistle.
Two more years would be 60. Even Vaughan might consider that a long time.
Well, as of Sunday night, I hadn’t heard any complaints about our selections for the American Family Insurance All-Ozarks Basketball teams, which appeared in Sunday’s News-Leader.
We reserve the right to overrule voting from area coaches for the honor, but we didn’t need to use any veto power this year.
I thought the five selections were pretty straightforward for both the boys and girls sides.
As for next year, watch for players such as Mount Vernon’s Chandler Myers, Strafford’s Jacob Wade, Hillcrest’s Juwan Johnson, Marshfield’s Lauren Aldridge, Nixa’s Toshua Leavitt and Walnut Grove’s Lexi Harman to make a run for the teams.
Need your help
Coaches, on Friday we published the Prep Focus page for the first time this spring.
To make the page as inclusive as possible, I need your help.
I need updated top track and field times for Honor Roll, Performers of the Week nominations, and stats from baseball and soccer coaches emailed by Wednesday night each week.
The spring high school sports season always flies by, so please get them in this week so your athletes can be included.
Contact Matt Schoch at 417-836-1191 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MattSchochNL.