Bus trips can lead to adventures

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2000

Sit around coaches long enough and eventually you’ll start hearing some wild stories about bus rides and the things that go on during a short trip across town to a voyage to the state borders. The trouble is, you would have to write a book to tell all of the stories.

Since there wasn’t enough room in today’s feature for all of the good stories, I decided to tell my favorite here.

Of course any humorous story is going to start with a Dee Faircloth tale. The longtime Vidalia coach has seen his share of bus trips. And wild adventures.

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Vidalia High has long competed against district teams who were known for their unruly manner.

&uot;We went to Ridgewood (Monroe, La.) to play their last homecoming game and they had a reputation as being very hostile,&uot;&160;Faircloth said. &uot;We had a kid in the band fall through the bleachers and I called for an ambulance and the driver told me we had to hold on because they were not supposed to come out to the school after dark.&uot;

Faircloth soon found out why.

&uot;We won the game and the Ridgewood band was playing and somebody told us we better get out quick because they were known for throwing rocks at cars when they were leaving,&uot; Faircloth said. &uot;I looked up and (then assistant coach) Fred Marsalis was on top of the bus tying down the equipment. I said, ‘Hurry up, Fred so we can make our break.’ Fred said just a minute. So here they came and I told the bus driver to take off. Fred was surfing. We stopped at the first red light and Fred came on board.&uot;

Actually, I didn’t really realize how important a role school buses play until one Friday night when I was going to an out of town playoff game and I must have passed about 15 high school buses, some carrying players, others band members and still others pep squads.

It would probably be mind boggling to find the number of school buses on the road on an average Friday night.

And with that many buses, everything is not always going to go smoothly, as Cathedral coach Ken Beesley can attest to after a baseball game at Bogue Chitto in 1986.

&uot;After the game I drove ahead of the bus to call in the game,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;I went down to the store and kept waiting for the bus to come by. About that time, some police cars flew past me toward Bogue Chitto and I was wondering where they were headed. I found out when Coach (Roy) Garcia was pulling out on the highway some guy ran into him. It tore up that bus, but we were lucky nobody was hurt. We had to go back to Natchez and get some bans to get all of the players hurt. My heart just dropped when I came upon the bus wreck.&uot;

But all in all, bus trips are usually a special time for players and coaches to bond. Any player will tell you there’s nothing like a bus ride back home after a big win. No matter what kind of shape the bus is in.

&uot;I had Coach Brown (Vidalia High principal Rick Brown) fill in for me once to go to Jonesboro-Hodge to a softball game,&uot; said Faircloth, who is an assistant softball coach for Gary Paul Parnham. &uot;He told me that was the last time he would every ride a bus because Coach Parnham hit every bump up there.&uot;

But you can rest assured when coaches look back at their coaching days after they hang up their whistles, some of the rides will be forever etched in the minds.

&uot;Bus trips are something else,&uot; Faircloth said. &uot;They really can be enjoyable. And the kids can be something else when you get them all together like that.&uot;&160; Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.