I miss my friends

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

I miss my friend. I can see her and feel her hug. She was a wonderful woman. She was full of life and had a hug that made everyone feel special. She also had a way of motivating everyone around her to strive to be special. My friend was Coach Dottie Kelsoe.

She left this world too early. She was a gift, an angel from above and yet a woman. I loved her. She loved me back, and countless others, because she knew nothing but love.

Coach K, as we called her, met her fianc/ while driving on the interstate. They made eye contact, pulled over, talked and were engaged a few months later. She was that special.

I remember the first time I met her. I was just a college student, one of thousands at the University of Alabama, but we shared a connection. A roommate introduced me to her and she hugged me. No handshake, no "Hello nice to meet you" -- she hugged me.

She had taught and coached in Decatur at the middle school. I was a Red Raider, a Decatur High School graduate, who attended high school with a student she once taught -- that was enough for her. She hugged me, didn't know me, and yet hugged me.

She asked about my classes. She told me to attend class, to make good grades, everything you would expect from a successful woman. Yet, it did not feel or seem like nagging because she truly cared. She loved life and would not stand for anyone who took it for granted. I was blessed to attend college, to receive a higher education and she was always there to make sure I did not waste the opportunity. I know I was blessed to know her.

She died before I could say "Thank You," before she could see me graduate from college, before I could have her hug me one last time.

A tree is planted in her memory in front of Coleman Coliseum by a few people who knew her because we knew she was special. She died of a brain aneurysm and the women's basketball team she had coached, made up of players she recruited, made it to the Final Four. They will honor her and the members of that team in February.

We will all cry tears of sadness because she is gone and tears of joy because we were fortunate to know her.

Coach K is not the only person I have met in sports who has left an impression.

Late Red Level Assistant Football Coach Bobby Dye was a wonderful man, according to everyone who ever met him. I knew who he was, but did not know him very well. The most I ever heard him talk was at the softball and baseball banquet earlier this year.

He was hilarious. He had everyone rolling. It was not just that he was funny, but he had perfect timing and an exceptional delivery. His sing-song voice was like almost all things Cajun -- it just had a little extra kick.

Coach Dye was a great man. I know because he was a coach and he cared about his players and their families. I know he is missed. I just wish I would have taken the opportunity to get to know him better.

Many people will miss him, but they are the lucky ones. At least they got to know him.

I did not fully realize how much I missed Coach Dye until the Red Level football banquet. I wish he could have been there. I know he was proud of the players. They worked so hard and accomplished so much. It would have been wonderful to hear him talk about the 2003 Tigers, especially since he would definitely have started his speech with a joke.

I also miss Michael Couch. I could not help but miss him at the 2003 Andalusia High School Fall Sports Banquet. He was a great athlete. He would have received at least one, if not many, awards at the banquet if he were not in Heaven looking down on us.

I miss Michael because he was always so relaxed. He was confident and humble at the same time. He talked to me as if I were an adult and a friend at the same time.

He always showed respect and actually made me feel old when he would say, "Yes sir" or "No sir." Yet, he would talk about anything with me and not just put on his "responsible" face because an adult was around. He was sincere and he was one

heck of a guy.

He was never worried about getting his picture taken or getting his name in the paper. If he were, he sure did hide it well. I can't recall a time when he uttered the annoying words "Take my picture" spoken to me by so many students.

I miss Michael because he had so much potential and not just in sports. He was a leader and would have been a great businessman, salesman, coach or even President of the United States.

Yes, I miss my friends but I will never forget them.

As we approach a new year, I hope to remember their good qualities and try to be more like them.