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|Harrison left an impression|
Freddie Harrison has faced many challenges as a quarterback at Westlake, McNeese, Northwestern and for the Louisiana Swashbucklers, a professional indoor football team in Lake Charles. He faced even more as offensive coordinator at Lake Charles Boston and as head football coach at Ferriday High.
But it was a different kind of challenge he faced Monday. On the first day back from Easter break, Freddie Harrison had to tell members of the first football team he served as head coach that he was leaving to take a job at Washington-Marion High School in his hometown of Lake Charles.
When his team had gathered in the weight room, which was built before last season - Harrison's second at Ferriday - Harrison walked tentatively and quietly into the room.
Most of the players had heard the talk. And, if by some miracle some did not, they had to know something was up because they had never seen Harrison walk quietly and slowly anywhere at any time.
"All right fellas, y'all come get in a tight circle," Harrison said.
Harrison began by telling the team that he would no longer be their coach. But as his eyes met the eyes of his players, the words stopped coming and the tears began.
"This one is a tough one, fellas," Harrison said, as the words were unable to come out and the man who could stop practice in a millasecond when something went wrong, was unable to stop the emotions that gathered within.
The awkward silence did not last long as Ferriday assistant principal and assistant football coach James Davis, who was standing above Harrison on a wooden crate, took over.
"Coach Harrison has tried to instill into you guys to always work hard because somewhere down the line there may be a promotion waiting on you," Davis said. "That's possible if you do the things you are supposed to do. Fortunately, I was on the interview committe when Coach Harrison interviewed and I knew he would do a great job here. Situations arise. His hard work here has enabled him to be able to work somewhere else. This is an ideal situation for him. He would want the same for you guys."
Davis told the team this was also an opportunity for Harrison to visit his family in Lake Charles more.
"You guys know the only time he wasn't here was during breaks," Davis said. "Don't be selfish and hold this against him."
Harrison regained his composure and rallied the troops once again in the same way he has done on so many Friday nights. He used the motto the team has had since he arrived to get them through this difficult time.
"We All We Got," Harrison said. "However you take this is how you hurt yourself or help yourself. I don't want anybody quitting track because of this. You all have tests coming up and I want you to work hard to get ready for them. Take this adversity and make something positive of it. These three years here have been great and these are times I will always remember."
At that Harrison released the team, but not before each one stopped to give him one last hug.
That's when the tears started falling once again.
This one is indeed a tough one, fellas. But you'll get through it because the man who made it tough also pushed you through so much more adversity. He showed you how to overcome the odds on many a Friday night.
Not only did Freddie Harrison make better football players out of Ferriday High students, he made them better students and better young men.
Harrison said before the meeting that he was grateful to Ferriday High for taking a chance on him and giving him the opportunity to coach.
As one of several people who has watched you mature into a winning coach, a caring father figure and positive role model, the pleasure has been all ours, Coach.
Best of luck at Washington-Marion. And thanks for the memories.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|