Randy Smith: Coach Kirk And His Pacemaker

Friday, May 17, 2013 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

I don’t have a pacemaker. I have no idea what one does, other than fire electrical impulses into your heart, to provide a steady heartbeat. My good friend John Ward has had one since 1992. Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law had one, and my old softball coaching buddy Clifford Kirk has one as well. It appears now that when Coach Kirk collapsed on the field Wednesday, with the Region Title on the line, in a 1-1 game with Whitwell, it was a supposed misfire from his pacemaker, rather than a full-blown heart attack. Either way, when he dropped like a rock on top of third base, he needed help and several people, who are now my heroes, ran to his side and administered aid.

It was called a cardiac event by the doctors who treated him at Erlanger. I even thought it could have been diabetic shock; where your blood-sugar drops to an alarming rate. Warm weather can also help trigger that problem.

An excitingly tight girls’ softball game will do that to a much younger man, but to men who are like Coach Kirk and myself; a little long in the tooth if you will, it comes as no surprise. I’m just happy he’s okay and hopefully will get to coach again.

When the game was resumed on Thursday, the Whitwell Lady Tigers defeated Coach Kirk’s Sale Creek team 5-1, to claim the Region Championship. Both teams play sub-state or sectional games today for the right to advance to the TSSAA Spring Fling next week.

Before the season started, Clifford Kirk was talked out of retirement by Sale Creek Principal Tobin Davidson. Kirk had won eight state titles at Soddy-Daisy as well as two at Hixson. He retired last year after more than 900 career wins, ten championship rings, and a stadium at Soddy-Daisy named for him. He is the guru of softball coaches in the tradition rich Chattanooga area.

He was not ready to retire when he announced he was stepping down last summer but he did, so that his heir-apparent, Wes Skiles could move in.  It didn’t take long at all for Tobin Davidson to talk Cliff into taking over the reins at Sale Creek, and the job he has done with the help of assistant coach Kendra Goforth has been absolutely amazing. Sale Creek posted just one victory in 2012 BC (Before Clifford).The turnaround is nothing short of a miracle.  The Lady Panthers are just one win away from a trip to the Spring Fling, with a lot of freshmen and eighth graders carrying the load.

Sale Creek plays at Gordonsville today, while Whitwell hosts Trousdale County tomorrow night. The winners advance to next week’s State Tournament, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if both teams are in Murfreesboro when first round play begins on Tuesday.

Coach Kirk has received a new pacemaker; one that hopefully will not misfire on him like the old one did. If Sale Creek can win just more game, I look for him to be in the dugout next week. Being around the young ladies you love and who also love you can do more for a coach than anything else; even a brand new pacemaker. 

rsmithsports@comcast.net

---

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).



Chattanooga Steam AAU Team Sweeps Nashville Tournament

The Chattanooga Steam Varsity High School AAU Boys Basketball Team swept the MSYS MidState Hoop Fest Tournament  in Nashville this weekend. The Steam went through the tournament unbeaten. The Chattanooga Steam is led by KT Webb from Signal Mountain High School, Jason Holland and Winston Tullis from Sale Creek High School, Jon Wood and Gage Henry from Dade County High ... (click for more)

Dalton State's Lee Named 1st Team All-American

PING First-Team All-America honorees for NAIA were announced by the GCAA following the NAIA Championships.   First-Team All-Americans   Alec Dutkowski, Taylor Jack Dyer, Keiser Mark David Johnson, Coastal Georgia Rupert Kaminski, Oklahoma City Newport Laparojkit, South Carolina Beaufort SM Lee, Dalton State Rowan Lester, ... (click for more)

Man And Woman Killed In Sunday Morning Murder/Suicide At Hixson Gas Station

A man and a woman were killed in a Sunday morning murder/homicide at a gas station in Hixson. The shooting was shortly after 10 a.m. at a Shell station at Hixson Pike and Brookaire.  Upon arrival, police located Kimberly Phillips, 48, lying in the parking lot from an apparent gunshot wound.  Also in the same parking lot, officers located Frederick Tragresser, 47, ... (click for more)

$2,060,705 Tennessee Cash Jackpot Won In South Pittsburg Friday Night

A Tennessee Cash player in South Pittsburg won a near-record jackpot of $2,060,705 on  Friday  night. A Knoxville Powerball player won $50,000  Saturday  night by matching four of the five white numbers drawn plus the red Powerball. No information is available about the winners until the prizes are claimed. The  $315.3 million ... (click for more)

Brown V. Board (1954) 64 Years Late: Our Schools At A Crossroads

May 17, 1954 is a date forever etched upon the annals of American history because on that pivotal day the Supreme Court would affirm in the decision of Brown v. Board (1954). “We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This ruling overturned the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Words For The Ages

I was probably one of few people in the entire world who didn’t get caught up in the Royal Marriage of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry this weekend. I got over having any semblance of ‘pomp and circumstance’ a long time ago and, as a rule, studiously avoid those apt to ‘put on airs and graces.’ By ignoring the magnificent occasion, I made a big mistake and today it is with delight ... (click for more)