Once again, outstanding youth of Winn Parish was the focus of attention at Winnfield Rotary’s meeting on April 12, 2022. Compliments of Rotarian of the day, Mickey Simmons, Rotary’s guests included the principal of Calvin High School, Justin Tinsley, the coach of Calvin’s boys’ basketball team, David Huckaby, and three members of Calvin’s 1st Runnerup basketball team in the Class C Louisiana High School Athletics playoffs: John Bradley Griffin, a junior, Wayne Curtis Huckaby, a senior, and Dylan Kyle, also a senior. They also brought along the silver 1st Runnerup trophy and the gold trophy from 1939 when Calvin won the state championship.
As anyone who has been paying attention to Winn Parish or boys’ basketball in recent months knows, Calvin’s boys’ basketball team was ranked #1 going into the state playoffs and missed winning the championship game by only two points. It was a stellar year for the team, the school and the parish. Not since 1939 has Calvin’s boys’ basketball team had such a good year.
Well, it was a great year for Mr. Tinsley as well, because he is not only the current principal of Calvin High, he was previously the basketball coach and coached the boys on this year’s team when they were in junior high school. As he helped lay the foundation for this outstanding team, he is justifiably proud of their accomplishments. In those earlier years, Coach Tinsley instilled in his team members three principles: 1) play hard—ALL the time, in practice as well as games; 2) do your job—the game is about each person on the team doing his best at his job, and 3) be a good sport. Tinsley says the coach must demonstrate good sportsmanship to his players, and the team learns from that example. He also pointed out that, while it went largely unnoticed by the community, this team went undefeated in their 8th grade year, and he was confident in their first high school year of basketball they could be district champions.
Coach David Huckaby shared one of the secrets of the team’s success this year—conditioning! He started the year’s practices out with weightlifting and running, and he kept it up day after day after day. Because the team members were rather small compared with other teams, he wanted them to be very fit and strong, so bigger teams could not bully them. Of course, the boys wanted to play more basketball at practice, but Coach Huckaby stuck with the fitness and weight training and had the team lifting weights all year long to maintain their strength. The boys stuck with it, and their efforts were rewarded with a great season in which they beat many teams that were much larger than they.
This conditioning began paying off almost immediately, and the team went undefeated in the Northwestern basketball camp, the Caldwell team camp, the Calvin tournament and the Cedar Creek tournament. When other teams were tiring out, Calvin was still going strong. During the regular season, they lost only to Choudrant, and that was only by two points.
Going into the playoffs ranked Number 1, the team remained ranked Number 1 as they beat Hicks in the quarter finals, and the Simpson Broncos, whose team had just moved into Class C from Class B, in the semis. Coach Huckaby was not exactly “worried” about the final game against Gibsland-Coleman, but it was cause for some concern that Gibsland-Coleman had beat Choudrant, the only team to beat Calvin, by 40 points. Half-way through the fourth quarter, the game was tied, but unfortunately, Gibsland-Coleman was up by two points at the end of a nailbiter of a game.
Ending the season with a 36-2 record was very satisfying, as was receiving the district champion T-shirts. According to Huckaby who has coached teams in eleven state championship games, the community support for the team this year was the best ever! He particularly expressed appreciation to the Bank of Winnfield, the Sheriff, Winn Parish Journal and for many private donations, which they needed to cover the team’s travel expenses, as well as food provided by Bill and Jennifer Griffin.
John Bradley Griffin, when asked about the highlights of the year for him said it was the biscuits the coach brought them, and the district championship. Wayne Curtis Huckaby identified his season highlights as winning district and spending time with “him” (his dad and coach) and the guys. Dylan Griffin’s season highlights included the district championship and “getting closer to all the guys.”
Coach Huckaby said he was blessed with all good students on this team, who exhibited good conduct as well as good grades. None of his players was ever in the principal’s office, skipping school, in academic difficulty or other problems. The team will lose five graduating seniors, but John Bradley Griffin, whom Huckaby calls the “redheaded nightmare,” will lead the team next year, and he expects the team to do well.
Upon completion of a lively question and answer session, the meeting was adjourned, as always, with the Rotary motto: “Service above self!”
Pictured above: from left are Justin Tinsley, Dylan Kyle, Wayne Curtis Huckaby, Rotarian Mickey Simmons, John Bradley Griffin, David Lee Huckaby