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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Stovall Tiger Trio Is One For The Books

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Most dads who played football in school end up teaching their kids about football. Every dad longs to sit in the stands and watch their kids play their beloved sport. A few dads are even blessed enough to coach their kids’ Little League team for a couple of years. But on the other hand, Mansfield Assistant Football Coach, Keith Stovall, has successfully achieved what some would consider “The Dad Dream Job.” For almost 14 years, Coach Stovall has been coaching his two sons in the game of football. Back when the boys were still teetering around in the front yard, he was working with them on the basics of throwing and catching. Fast forward to now and both boys are getting ready to hit the field for another season of football with their dad.

“Having my dad as a coach is amazing,” says oldest, Ethan Stovall, who is in his senior year of high school. “He pushes me to be a leader and to take control of a game when necessary. From day one, he has always been there coaching and supporting me. I’m glad he is my coach.” Youngest son, Clint Stovall, is entering his freshman year of high school and for the first time in their educational careers, all three Stovalls are under the same roof.

“Sometimes, it can be tough having my dad as a coach because I feel like he can be harder on me at times but I enjoy the challenge,” explains Clint. “I have never wished that he wasn’t one of my coaches.” The only downfall that Coach Stovall has experienced in coaching his boys is that “Sometimes I get caught up watching them instead of doing my job as a coach.”

“The first time I coached a football team was when Ethan was in 5th grade. The lack of experience in football had lent itself to those kinds of mistakes. Since I focus on the offensive and defensive lines in games, it is usually not until I review the game footage that I see individual performances of the boys. I’m sure at times it is a little more difficult on them as they have to go home with the coach. I grew up in a time where participation trophies were unheard of so I take losing a game quite hard. I have always believed that if you put everything you have into a game then you can find a way to secure the W.”

When it comes to the team as a whole, there are no playing favorites or special privileges given. Coach Stovall uses the same amount of intensity with every athlete across the board. And his fellow coaches have the same approach. “My dad isn’t harder on me than the other players,” says Ethan. “But he definitely expects more out of me and pushes me to be the best that I can possibly be. He doesn’t get on to me during practice or games. I mainly just hear about it as soon as I get home.”

Clint explains that although his dad is sometimes harder on him than his fellow teammates, having him as a coach “makes it easier for me to ask questions” and to get a better understanding of the plays. For Coach Stovall, the best things about sharing a field with his boys is the quality time he gets to spend with them. It means being the first one to shake their hand after a big game. To never have to miss a practice. To being able to kick back and laugh with them and the other players in the locker room. “Those are the moments that you can never get back.”

There’s going to come a day when Coach is the only Stovall standing on the field. And unless his hunting and fishing hobbies start putting more money in his hand than his coaching does, he’s going to stay right where he’s at with his dream job. After high school, what Ethan is going to miss most about working with his dad is “being able to hug my father immediately following a big win.” For Clint, it will be the “challenges he always gives me to push more and harder.”

Every day, Coach Stovall is thankful for this special time he gets to spend coaching his boys. When asked if he would have been happier with the view from the stands, Coach Stovall replied, “I hate sitting in the stands! Right now I have a ticket to the best seat in the house. Besides, I have been thrown out of more games as a parent then I have as a coach. Apparently, my voice has certain amplification qualities.”

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