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Letter from the Editor

The Ultimate in Adversity
by: Rex Lardner
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According to Webster, the word ‘adversity’ means ‘a state of wretchedness or misfortune, poverty and trouble… or an instance of misfortune or calamity.’ When applied to the sports world, we often hear the term ‘overcoming adversity’ when referred to players. You can debate whether it’s an overused phrase or not but three instances come to mind:

• Lance Armstrong: Arguably the athlete of this decade, Armstrong overcame cancer to win seven consecutive races of the Tour de France.

• Kirk Gibson: World Series announcer Vin Scully said Dodger outfielder Kirk Gibson couldn’t pinch hit in the late innings of the first game of the 1988 World Series because of a severe thigh injury. Gibson walked to the plate later in the game and hit a home run off of Dennis Eckersley to win the game. That was his only at bat in the Series and he was named MVP.

• Willis Reed: The Knick captain’s knee was in excruciating pain before game seven of the NBA finals in 1970. Not scheduled to play against Wilt Chamberlain and the Lakers, Reed walked out just before tip-off. Playing only part of the first quarter, he set the tone hitting the first two shots for the Knicks as they won their first World Championship.

But the ultimate in overcoming adversity has to be that of a high school coach: Canton High School (TX) Coach Gary Joe Kinne. Canton is a town east of Dallas with a population of 3,300. And a community, locals say, where everyone knows each other. What happened on April 7th of last year is right out of a Hollywood script.

You may remember that day, when, according to prosecutors, a man barged into Kinne’s office that morning and fired a single shot from a large caliber handgun into his abdomen. The man then fled from the school campus in his pickup before being arrested. Jeffrey Dale Robertson was allegedly upset by his son’s treatment on the team and came into school that day to confront Kinne. Officials locked down the school for hours immediately after the incident. Kinne was alone in the field house and screamed “It’s burning, help me!” when a student found him lying on the floor, according to police records. After his treatment and recuperation, Kinne and the Canton team responded last fall. Before the team’s first home game in September, Kinne received both a standing ovation from the crowd and the Baylor Legend Award from Grant Teaff, Executive Director of the AFCA. Teaff was Kinne’s coach when he played in Waco as an outstanding linebacker from 1985-1989.

Oh, yes. The Canton team responded that night as well. They beat Grand Saline 34-7 and went on to a 12-2 record and the Class 3A state quarterfinals. It was the best season in the school’s history. Kinne was selected as the 2005 Adams USA National Head Coach of the Year. Almost ironically, a coaching vacancy developed at Baylor after the season and Kinne recently joined Coach Guy Morriss’ staff as Linebackers Coach for the Bears.

Closure was also brought to the shooting incident, as well. An East Texas jury found Robertson guilty in late February of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting of Coach Kinne. He faces a prison sentence of two to 20 years. “I’m now looking forward to a normal life,” said Kinne who lost 80 percent of his liver in the shooting, “This is the last step.” Let’s hope so.


Rex Lardner
Managing Editor
American Football Monthly


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