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BENNETT: Springston had dreams come true

It’s not every day of the week one gets a chance to listen to someone like Mike Springston.

However, such was the case on Tuesday for the Parkersburg High School football team of head man Mike Byus.

Springston, who coached for more than four decades which included a stop at Glenville State College as the offensive coordinator in 1991 with Rich Rodriguez, would’ve been worth the price of admission to listen to even if one had to pay.

At the age of 63 and now retired, Springston impressed upon the young Big Reds about dreaming and taking personal responsibility on a daily basis.

There’s not enough adjectives to even properly begin to describe Springston and what he’s experienced in life and meant to so many other people.

Although he didn’t graduate from PHS, he was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital and at the age of 7 he found himself in love with the game of football after going to watch the Big Reds practice.

“I’ll never forget how big those guys were,” Springston said. “I’d come and watch their practice and mill around.”

It was at that point in his young life he knew what he wanted to become.

“When I was 7 I had a dream, but I wasn’t ready for it,” he said.

Springston talked about a player he coached at Homewood Flossmore High School in Illinois and how he literally grew into his dreams.

The player was James Williams, who as a freshman in high school was so small the coaches were afraid he might get hurt in practice.

By the time he became a junior and grew to be 6-feet tall, Springston said he was a “great player” and then he ended up growing two more inches before his senior year. He had a solid 195-pound frame and the coach told the Big Red players how Williams had “become the quintessential high school athlete. Where did it all start? It was because he had a dream.”

That dream eventually led to Williams receiving a full scholarship to the University of Illinois where he starred as a defensive back.

“There is no question that Parkersburg is the place that has had and left an indelible print upon my life and upon what I would later do for a profession,” Springston said. “This program way back to the Russ Parsons and the Buddy James days and right into coach Byus, a guy I’ve known for years, has just been something I’ve had ultimate pride in. Obviously, the whole purpose of life period is to be able to help other people. We spend so much time trying to make sure we’ve helped ourselves and our family.

“But I learned, I have learned, that coaching is a means to get other people to realize their dreams and to realize the possibilities of their dreams. As I come and talk to young people around the country, whether I’m speaking like this motivationally or preaching, I’m simply sharing the message that your dream can be a reality and I am the reality of my dreams. It’s a blast to do. I watched their faces and they are so engaged with what I’m saying.”

Before his family moved to North Carolina when he was 9, Springston vividly recalled climbing up behind the scoreboard to watch games.

“It was a great seat because it was higher than anybody else and we weren’t very big then,” he said.

Springston, who had copies of his first published book on hand to sign, said he sent coach Byus the first five chapters to look over. After Byus read it he invited Springston to come talk to the Big Reds, which actually had been set up since May.

“My original intent with the book “I Surrender” was to do this very thing with colleges and high schools and then of course COVID-19 hit,” Springston added. “I think having this particular situation with what you are doing and what Mark (Martin) is doing and the word of mouth that will get out the more of these will come about.

“That was my goal when I wrote the book. The book wasn’t necessarily written to just be a book. It was meant for me to go into these type of settings, give a motivational talk and then share the book.”

If you get a chance to hear Springston talk, I’d suggest taking advantage of it.

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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