You will never mistake me for a participant on TV's "Dancing With The Stars". I can two-step, waltz a little bit, and even do a fair "white man's dance." But I've never done the "Dougie". Soddy-Daisy's legendary softball coach Clifford Kirk can do the "Dougie". In fact, I've seen it in person, on the softball field named in his honor in Soddy-Daisy.
Coach Kirk announced his retirement this past spring, just before his team won another TSSAA State Championship. After all, he retired from teaching several years ago, and has been coaching softball as a hobby for the last several years. He has coached it very well; the Lady Trojans have given Coach Kirk eight of his ten state titles,(the first two were at Hixson in 1987 and 1988). Even though he has retired from coaching varsity softball, he was back in the third base coach's box this season as coach of the Soddy-Daisy Middle School squad. It was at a Soddy-Daisy versus Loftis Middle School game that I witnessed his "Dougie" performance.
I was umpiring the bases while my partner, Charles Lawson called balls and strikes. The game was a typical Soddy-Daisy versus Loftis affair; very close early, then Soddy-Daisy had a couple of big innings and took what appeared to be a commanding 11-6 lead. Loftis rallied for five runs in the top of the seventh and final inning to tie the score at 11-11. The Lady Twins failed to score in the bottom of the seventh, so we went into extra innings. Soddy-Daisy shut out the visiting Lady Cougars in the top of the eighth inning, and scored the winning run in their half of the eighth. 12-11 was the final score in a game that lasted more than three hours. It was by far the longest fast pitch softball game I have ever umpired.
As my partner and I were leaving, both teams were on the field; Loftis was being consoled by Coach Wes Skiles, (the man who will try to replace Coach Kirk at Soddy-Daisy next spring), while Clifford Kirk was busy celebrating with his team. As I was loading my equipment bag, I heard someone start to play music from a big boom-box. The SDMS team was in a line surrounding their coach, when they started to dance. After a few seconds, Coach Kirk joined in, and performed the "Dougie". He displayed moves that I have never seen him do before, even to get out of the way of a hard-hit ball. The entire performance lasted less than a minute, but it gave me literally hours worth of enjoyment. I laughed as hard as I have in a long time, and so did his players.
When he finally gave up, he limped his way back to the dugout at third base. He had obviously promised his team, that if they beat their bitter rivals from Loftis, he would dance with them, on the field, after the game. He kept his word; he did the "Dougie" and quite possibly another dance or two that I didn't recognize.
It's really heart warming to see a legendary coaching figure like Clifford Kirk still doing things to make his team happy. When you look at his entire body of work, over a 26 year career as a head coach, you may wonder, how has he been able to win ten state titles in 26 years? There is an easy answer; he is good to his players.
I don't know if Coach Kirk will be coaching again for SDMS next season or not. Even he doesn't know right now. But if he ever decides to give dance lessons in the Soddy-Daisy area, he won't have any problem filling up his classes.
Randy Smith email@example.com
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).