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Helms always has been an interesting interviewPosted Thursday, October 2, 2008, at 10:25 AM
One of the best benefits of my job as sports editor is the people you meet.
Although there have been many interesting coaches, players, fans and school administrators that I have encountered through the years, I consider it my pleasure to have known 1982 Bloomfield High School graduate Scotty Helms for the better part of the past two decades.
In the hustle and bustle of the fall sports season, I know that I will get to talk to Scotty at least twice -- before his North Daviess Cougars face the Union (Dugger) Bulldogs and prior to the Linton-Stockton game.
Helms, who never played high school football, personifies class. He always has went out of his way to accommodate the many whims of this scribe. He never pouts after losses and always goes out of his way to credit the opponents.
So it came as no surprise to learn that Helms, who is in his 14th season in charge of the North Daviess football fortunes, earlier this season was voted the Indiana High School Football Coach of the Week by the Indianapolis Colts.
"I was really surprised and overwhelmed," said Helms, whose Cougars have a 4-2 record entering Friday's game at Cougar Valley against Wood Memorial. "Paul Condry, who puts out the Indiana High School Football Guide and works on the Indiana Regional Radio Network called to say, 'I have some great news for you.
"I did not even know there was such a thing."
Former Indianapolis Colts defensive back Mike Prior, who now works in the Colts' front office, came to Elnora to make the presentation in front of the every student in the North Daviess School Corporation.
"Mike Prior came down the next Wednesday," said Helms. "He presented the athletic department a check for $2,000 to be earmarked for the football program."
Helms also will be able to attend a Colts' practice on Dec. 12 and meet Coach Tony Dungy.
He will get to stand on the sidelines for the game Dec. 14 against the Detroit Lions.
"I will be presented with a plaque at halftime of the Colts game against the Lions," said Helms, who played football at what is now known as the University of Indianapolis. "I guess I will be one of 12 to receive this award.
"But you can't win an award like this without having a very good coaching staff and excellent players."
Helms told his players the award was for them because players make coaches and coaches don't make players. Current player Dalton Sellers wanted to take that sentiment a step further.
"Dalton asked me for the Colts tickets. I will give you credit, but I will take the tickets," said Helms, who couldn't help but chuckle.
Helms, who is currently 69-74 at NDHS, said that he almost left North Daviess, but is glad he stayed.
"I am so thankful I did not leave here," he said. "I had an opportunity to move to the college level about four years ago.
"We were coming into a group of kids that were not that talented. I just have to thank God I didn't go."
The past three seasons, the Cougars went 1-9, 3-7 and 4-6, but are on the rebound. They will only graduate five seniors this year.
"The 1-9 and 3-7 years turned out to be two of the most rewarding seasons I've ever had as a coach," he said. "I learned so much about myself and learned so much about the kids.
"When things are tough, you find out about the character of players, people, the community and the character of the school board and teachers. It was really phenomenal to watch those kids grow as people, even if they didn't grow into great football players."
Helms hopes the impression he makes on the youth of his community extends far beyond the gridiron.
"As teachers, we are in position to make an impact on other people," he said. "I love coaching and what we can instill can hopefully last someone forever. Hopefully every player we've had has gained something positive.
"What thrills me most about football is practice. Game night is for the kids, but practice is where you make the most fondest memories. When I have former players stop by, it means more than any game."
Helms recalled a memorable evening with former Cougar Brian Crabtree, who is now the varsity coach at North Central High School.
"One night close to Christmas I get a phone call from Brian," said Helms. "It was a couple of years after he graduated.
"He asked me if I could meet him at the Christian Church in Odon, which is two blocks from our house. I went down there and he wanted me to be there when he got baptized. That was really something else."
Helms added you never know the things that will stick with players.
"Brian told me that something I said was literally engraved in his head," said Helms. "It was don't forget to tell the people you love how much you care about them every day."
Helms, who for the first seven seasons at North Daviess was offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator, and his coaches have a mentoring program for their players, all the way down to the youth league, where each coach meets with players on Saturday to discuss peer pressure, drugs, sex, love, bullying and other topics.
"Some of those kids don't have a father figure," he said. "This is our response to try and turn kids into men and show them what a real man is and what a real man does.
"It is not all about macho stuff on Friday night. It is about having character and caring about others. That is what our mentoring program is all about. I have the greatest coaching staff in the state. They genuinely care about the kids. We want them to be good football players, but we want them to be so much more than that."
Scotty has been married to Michelle for the past 15 years and they have three sons, Brady (seventh grade), Brittain (third grade) and Brooks (age 5).
B.J. Hargis is sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at email@example.com
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