Some athletes’ parents are more than just causal observers
NATCHEZ — Mark Stockstill isn’t the kind of parent that simply sits in the stands and watches his children play sports.
Though some parents are content with simply serving as spectators, at least a handful of local moms and dads have chosen to be more hands-on with their children’s athletics. Whether it’s working the concession stands, taking pictures or treating injuries, a select few go the extra mile to help out,
In Stockstill’s case, it’s coaching his two boys, Tyler and Wes, outside of their regular practice schedules.
“My parents were behind my brother and I in athletics, and they helped in any way they could, so it’s just a way for me to stay involved in (my children’s) lives as much as my parents did mine,” Mark said.
The elder Stockstill will also help clean the gymnasium at Adams County Christian School, where his boys attend.
“You have to instill values in them, life lessons,” Mark said. “Ninety-nine percent of kids will never play college sports, but they do learn other things playing sports that are valuable in life.”
Mark said the most difficult thing is separating being a coach from being a dad, which is often what causes his children to lose their temper with him. Tyler said he likes have his dad challenge him, but it does have its rough moments.
“He’s always coming over and correcting me during games,” Tyler said. “Sometimes, it’s really overbearing, especially in tense situations, but at the same time, I can understand what he’s saying. It helps me go out there and do a lot better.”
Wes also said his dad frustrates him occasionally, but he appreciates the attention Mark gives him.
“He talks about a lot of stuff on the ride home, and he’s pointing out my mistakes,” Wes said. “Sometimes I get angry, but sometimes I like it. It depends on what kind of mood I’m in.”
Five athletic children have given Wendy White plenty of opportunities to watch sports during the past two decades.
But White is not the kind of mom that just sits in the stands and cheers on her children. She prefers to be on the sidelines with a camera in her hands.
When she was young and playing sports, her father would photograph her feats, and that tradition seemed to pass on to Wendy, she said.
“I’ve been taking pictures as long as I can remember,” White said. “I never really thought about it that way, but I guess it is (kind of a tradition).”
White’s five children, Cap, Forrest, Semmes, JEB and Grace Anne all participated in prep sports. It started with Cap at Trinity Episcopal Day School and continued over to Cathedral School with the other four children. Now White can be found at almost every Green Wave sporting event with her camera in tow.
“I’m a fan of my child,” White said about her allegiances. “I guess I’m just a cheerleader of everybody.”
But White’s love of sports and her children does put her in danger from time to time.
“It’s very exciting to be on the sidelines, but occasionally I will get tackled or spit on,” she said.
All of White’s children are accomplished athletes, and she attributes much of that to good genes and a competitive spirit.
“I attribute the competitiveness to their dad and having so many brothers,” she said. “They make each other compete. We can’t play board games at home, because there will be blood.”
All of White’s sons are out of high school, but Grace Anne still has a few years left for White to enjoy.
“I’ve always been focused on football, but now Grace Anne is letting me learn about other sports other than football,” White said.
White said she is not sure what she will do when Grace Anne graduates, but she thinks she will still stay involved with Cathedral sports.
“You kind of adopt these boys as they come through,” she said.
Dorothy Garrity got into sports medicine long before she had any children, but being in the athletic trainer business does have its advantages when it comes to their athletics.
Garrity is employed by Mississippi Sports Medicine and is constantly traveling to games in southwest Mississippi as part of work. But whenever one of her children is playing, Garrity said she’s able to attend their sporting events.
“As long as my kids are playing, they’ll assign me those games, because we cover Cathedral so heavily anyway,” Garrity said.
Garrity’s oldest son, Derek, has already graduated from Cathedral, and her daughter, Sarah, is a senior who’s not currently playing any sports. Her youngest three sons, Thomas, Daniel and Joseph, all play sports.
“I really love being around my kids,” Garrity said. “I have a hard time sitting in the stands watching any kind of game. When I’m down on the field, I can focus on the game. Being in the stands for too long gets distracting with all the people.”
It’s not uncommon for her children to come to her to examine aches and pains even if its not at a game.
“They come to me in the house and ask me about every little thing,” Garrity said.
Natchez High School not only got an outstanding athlete when Derrian Johnson started playing sports for the Bulldogs, it also got a mom that would provide a lot of athletic support.
Shawnette Cheatham undertook a variety of responsibilities when Johnson started playing sports. She is the assistant secretary for the Natchez Touchdown Club, the secretary for the Hardwood Club and the secretary/treasurer/scorekeeper for the Diamond Dolls.
“I am just one of his biggest fans,” Cheatham said. “I want to be supportive of him in all the sports he plays. I do that by making sure I’m at every game, and one way to assure that is I can help the team. I like to be involved in whatever he’s doing.”
For basketball, that means working in the concession stands during girls’ games and watching Johnson’s game later that night. For baseball, Cheatham is a fixture in the press box as the official scorekeeper.
But Cheatham’s devotion to her son’s athletic career did not start at the high school level.
“I actually worked the concession stands for T.M. Jennings baseball,” she said.
Johnson said he enjoys having his mother do so much for him and his school.
“A lot of parents don’t really support their kids, so it’s nice having a mother who cares,” Johnson said.
Cheatham said her role in Natchez High athletics will diminish after Johnson graduates, but she will still try to stay involved. But it would be harder when her favorite athlete is playing in college.
“I’m D.J.’s No. 1 fan,” she said. “I am extremely proud of him. I think now that his senior season is over with, I’ll just have to catch college games and pretty much just travel with him during his college years and thereafter.”