Call to build youth brings four pillars to Waxahachie High School
Dr. Tony Evans, pastor and founder of Oak Cliff Bible Church, Jon Kitna, the Waxahachie Indians head football coach, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary met in a setting, usually reserved for violent hits, to talk about something far more important.
The role of the modern coach, their role as father figures and the overall affect on student-athletes.
The four men met, in coordination with the Urban Alternative, on Wednesday at Lumpkins Stadium to film Evans new inspirational video “Coaching with Integrity” and to discuss the similarity of the modern-day coach and the traditional father role.
“Coaches have become the surrogate fathers for an increasingly fatherless generation,” Evans said during the taping for the Urban Alternative’s video. The Urban Alternative is a Christian Bible teaching and resource ministry founded more than 30 years ago by Evans, which offers sermons, sermon outlines, books, prayers, and Bible studies on topics such as Christian living, marriage, discipleship and spiritual growth.
The likelihood of a black or Hispanic child being raised in a single parent home has risen in the last two decades, according to a 2011 census report from the household relationship module of the Survey of Income and Program Participation collected in 2009 and published in the report Living Arrangements of Children in 2009.
Between 1991 and 2009, children living with only their mothers increased from 21 percent to 24 percent.
The percentage of children living with their mother without a father present varied widely among race and origin groups in 2009, from eight percent for Asian children to 50 percent for blacks. Seventeen percent of non-Hispanic white children and 26 percent of Hispanic children also lived with their mothers only.
“Their influence can’t be overstated in the lives of their student-athletes,” he continued. “If they can begin to view themselves as dominant mentors we can impact a generation for good, God and others.”
That need for strong leader coaches is what drew Singletary, a Houston native and a Baylor University graduate, to Waxahachie at the behest of Evans.
His life experiences, connection to Evans and the opportunity to build the spiritual well-being of WHS’ students and student-athletes were the biggest reasons he made the trip, Singletary said.
Singletary, the youngest child of 10 of a Pentecostal pastor, watched his parents split when he was 12. His brother Dale died in his sleep when Mike was just 5 and his brother Grady was killed by a drunk driver — the only person to survive the six-car accident — seven years later.
“When pastor Evans called, I knew it was a worthy cause. I didn’t even ask what it was about, I just came. I knew if he was involved, it was important,” he continued. “Building the character at the high school level is the ultimate point before a kid steps into life. Once you get out of high school, it’s new territory that you have to discover.
“You don’t have to go to school. You don’t have to do anything. If I can get a young man before he steps out of that door and help him understand what influence he can have and help him understand who he is and where he came from, we have a chance to help build a man.”
If you’ve been in Waxahachie more than six months or have a son or daughter playing one of the many sports at the high school, Evans’ and Singletary’s narratives smack of Kitna’s R.E.A.L. Leaders leadership factory and urge to create men who succeed past the game of football and are valuable assets to the communities where they live and thrive.
Kitna said though they haven’t reached the goal of holding themselves accountable, the students and student-athletes of WHS have come a long way in the year they’ve been together.
“We’re getting closer,” he continued, leaning back in his leather office chair and placing serious thought into the words that would follow. “It’s a different deal. We always say, ‘Real men are a real win.’ Not just when they’re in front of us, their parents or granparents or at church.
“They’re getting there. They’re starting to hear the vernacular. You can hear it come up in everyday conversation with them and hear them begin to hold each other accountable. Last year, it was coaches holding players accountable, that was the start. Where we’re at now is players holding players accountable. Though that’s better, they’ll really get it when players are holding themselves accountable.”
All the forward progression instituted by Kitna, preached by Evans and held dear by Singletary, has one single purpose: create a better generation that will shape the community’s future, Kitna said.
He’s seen it happen before, in Washington’s Lincoln High School and the inner city of Tacoma.
Kitna said one of the first events he and his coaching staff had —not a single parent attended — was the Abes 7-on-7 tournament an hour away. When they returned to Tacoma at 11:30 p.m. no athletes had a ride home.
“None of the kids drove, the buses are done running and there’s not a parent there to pick them up,” he continued. “I’ve got 42 kids that are in the middle of the inner city that have no way home. How are they getting home? They’re going to have to walk. There’s gangs, drugs, all that stuff.
‘The coaches loaded four or five in each car and drove them home. My first year there we had less than 300 people in the stands — apathetic at best. My last year, we drove two hours away to play a football game and we had 600 to 700 people come to the game, would play home games in front of 5,000 people and have 35-40 cars waiting to pick their sons’ up.
“We are not a football program, we’re a leadership factory. When you train real manhood, it impacts the community. The impact on that one individual begins to impact his family which impacts their surroundings.”
Singletary added while that level of compassion and connection with coaches and players is rare in any sport on any level, it is no less needed, noting his impression of Kitna being one of profound respect.
“The students should be very, very thankful they have a coach like Jon,” he said. “Coaches like him are rare simply because, in today’s, times we’re selfish. I don’t care if we have a pure heart, we’re selfish. There’s things we want to do and want to accomplish. I know Jon has to listen to the Lord first and allow the Lord to direct his steps. I’d much rather have a man — I don’t care how much he wins — that leads men and women while God leads him.
“I hope they listen to every word he says, because he loves and cares about them. If I lived anywhere near Waxahachie, I’d have had my son come here. Coaches like that on the high school level are worth their weight in gold.”