Monday, January 6, 2020
Retired Cherokee Hall of Fame football coach, activity director, principal and former player, shows off a framed Cherokee football jersey he received from an anonymous donor to honor all those players who didn’t see a lot of playing time. See accompanying End of the Bench for details.
Photo By Denny Holton

Cherokee’s own Neil Phipps, a Hall of Fame football coach in our state, is always helpful in supplying this corner with positive messages always worth sharing.

Near the west entrance to our Washington High School, Phipps has placed on the south wall a nicely framed, old football jersey, including a relevant message we all should take pause and read.

Phipper received the framed jersey and message from a former anonymous Cherokee football player who felt the need to share this appropriate message.

The message reads:

“This jersey bares no name.

The number is unimportant as is the time frame of those who wore it.

This jersey is dedicated to those who went out purely for the love of the game. It is dedicated to those who sweat, blistered, bruised, and sometimes bled through long hours of practice along with their fellow teammates but never got a starting position, a mention in the paper, or a scholarship.

Limited by physical size or ability, they more than made up for it in heart. They were and always will be the true heart of the team.””

A great message to our youth and members of all area teams.

So go along with the no name jersey, Phipps also shared a leadership story from the “Janssen Sports Leadership Center” about one of those bench players who had a big impact.

Here’s the story.

1997 Final Four

—Arizona’s ’97 final four run is the story we tell in our Team Captain’s Leadership manual and Leadership Academies to inspire leaders and show them that leadership can come from all levels, even the most unlikely.

Despite having such a young team, the 1997 Arizona men’s basketball team made an amazing run in winning the NCAA Championship. Along the way, the #4 seeded Wildcats beat three #1 seats (Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky) to stun the nation and win the championship. While Miles Simon was deservedly named to the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player and was pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the team’s key catalyst and leader was ironically a seldom-used, 5-11 walk-on freshman guard named Josh.

Since Josh knew that his playing time would be virtually non-existent, he focused on making sure his teammates were confident, focused, prepared, and mentally tough. He spent countless hours talking with and rebounding for freshman guard Mike Bibby to help him perfect his jumper. He put in many late nights breaking down tape with the coaches to pinpoint the weaknesses of their opponents so he could mentally prepare his teammates.

While he played only a few minutes during the entire season, Josh contributed to the team in so many critical ways that the players and coaches were convinced they would not have won the championship without his leadership.

Despite not playing a single second in the championship game against Kentucky, walk-on freshman Josh was instrumental in leading Arizona to a national championship, proving that leadership can come from a variety of levels on a team.

Josh, better known as Coach Josh Pastner, is now the head men’s basketball coach at Georgia Tech.


Tyus Adkins, Cherokee Washington High School’s strength and conditioning coach, is looking for some help to upgrade the safety and equipment of the schools weight room.

The fund raising has already begun as students are selling strength and conditional t-shirts. “Our students and athletes are asking if you would be able to help us reach our goal of $10,000 for our priority list to ensure that we are using the safest equipment to become bigger, faster, and stronger, mentally and physically,” said Adkins.

According to Adkins, the weight room immediate needs include barbells, bumper plates, and dumb bells. “Our initial goal is to reach $10,000 for those items before the August 2020 school year begins,” he said. “Our five-year goal is to have a professional company come in and help us renovate the entire facility. That goal is $200,000.”

As most all coaches will agree, success in all athletics starts in the weight room. We would concur with Adkins that our facility is due for a facelift. It’s a busy place for athletes and students who use the facilities for physical education. “Our students have had a lot of success in learning about the weight room and gaining knowledge of different types of lifts, as well as how to do them safely,” said Adkins.

“We are running into safety issues with some of our older equipment and some is unusable. Hopefully, we’ll get great community support on our funding needs.”

Please be generous in your donation to the students of WHS and help Adkins reach their goals.

Adkins can be reached via email at tadkins@ccsd.k12.ia.us.


As the prep sports schedule kicks off in 2020, a quick note to area coaches at Alta-Aurelia, Cherokee, MMCRU, Ridge View, River Valley and South O’Brien that we need game results and comments as soon as you can get them to us.

Also, our popular “Prep of the Week” feature that runs each Wednesday will resume when we received nominations from our basketball and wrestling coaches. We need nominations emailed to us by Tuesday noon of each week.

Thanks so much for all your cooperation.

My email address is sports@ctimes.biz

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