Members of the West Monroe community and high school faculty members have spent four days planning a football Friday night in March in Rebel Stadium.
It will have all the amenities, from football players to spirit groups to the public announcer in the press box. The only thing missing will be legendary West Monroe High School football coach Don Shows, and that is why the thousands expected will gather — to honor the memory of the coach who passed away Monday.
The program will begin with the voice of Mark Finn, alerting the crowd that, “The Rebels are approaching from the east,” a Friday night staple in Rebel Stadium since the ’90s, as the first notes of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” begin to play.
The former and current players who choose to participate will then make the walk two-by-two from the West Monroe Field House, clad in Rebel gear and lettermen jackets, as former and current spirit group members form a run-through line on the field.
The players will walk the length of the field and will be seated in Section B, which will be reserved for them as well as spirit group members.
There also will be a reserved section for West Monroe faculty in Section C with the same set up in Section A for members of the Rebel Club.
Several players through the Coach Don Shows Facebook fan page have already expressed their desire to make the trip back to Monroe since moving out of state, even those who weren’t the stars of the show.
“I remember my senior year ’97-98,” Loy Trauma Mack wrote. “One day after practice, coach came up to me and told me to keep going hard in practice. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter how much your teammates hate you or give you hell for it. We win Monday through Thursday. We just prove it on Friday.’ That’s why I had no problem running scout as a senior. Amazing, that year Rudy (Ruetigger of Notre Dame and movie fame) spoke at our banquet.”
Speakers will reflect on Shows and the impact that he had on the West Monroe community for the past 24 years and in young people’s lives for the49 years he spent in the profession.
There will be 13 speakers in all, including Connor Osborne, the quarterback from Shows’ last state championship team in 2011.
“This memory is priceless,” Osborne wrote on the Coach Don Shows Facebook page with a picture of the two of them after the state title game. “Everything he has taught me in life is described in one picture. Never give up on your dreams no matter how big the obstacle. He gave me the power to push myself to the extreme every day to attain every kids’ dream who grew up in the great town of West Monroe to win a championship.
“Now I take the same attitude and efforts in my life to work hard to be able to become hopefully even close of half the man Coach Shows was. He was a rare man to have around, and I’m blessed to say he was a big part of my life.”
Other speakers include Ouachita Parish School Superintendent Bob Webber, School Board member Jerry Hicks, former West Monroe offensive coordinator coach Scott Stone, team doctor Dr. Chico Rosales and team chaplain Mark Foster. Shows’ oldest daughter Stephanie will step to the podium last.
There will be a cannon and gun salute worked into the program, and the players and spirit group members will return to the field after a moment of silence to sing the school alma mater.
Current and former band members also expressed their desire to show their respect for Shows, but most of the current band and its administrators are participating in a competition out of state this week. Former band director Michael Spears has agreed to come back and organize the former band members, who will be positioned in the stands on the opposite side of the field in the visitor’s section so they can be heard.
“We saw Coach Shows in Wal-Mart one day, and we stopped to talk to him,” Ashlyn Paige Jackson wrote. “My poppa started telling him how I was in the band. Then he said something I’ll never forget. He said, ‘Well I’ll tell you one thing. We may have lost games in the past, but the band has never lost a game.’ I thought that was awesome because most coaches don’t respect the band like he did. I’ve held him to a higher level of respect since then. RIP Coach. We’ll miss you!”
The Shows family will be escorted out to signal the end the service. There will be private ceremonies on the campus of West Monroe High School for the family throughout the day leading up to the public memorial service. Therefore, it is asked that West Monroe fans do not tailgate or do other general pre-game routines.
Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. on the home side of the stadium only. There will be memory boxes at each entrance for fans to leave handwritten memories or notes for the family. The family will have the designated area on the track, and fans are asked to stay in the stands and not set up any personal seating around or near the track.
Former and current West Monroe players and coaches should meet at 6:30 p.m. and former and current West Monroe spirit group members should meet in the old gym no later than 6:15 p.m. All are encouraged to wear their letter jackets.
Those who are unable to attend the ceremony can watch a live stream on the school’s website at http://www.gorebs.org.