Paris police officer and school resource officer, Mike Haney, has been working almost everyday for the past ten years safeguarding the children and employees of the Paris School District. Having served as a Paris police officer for an additional ten years prior to that, anyone can easily see that Officer Haney has been and continues to be a valuable part of the entire Paris community. Officer Haney was the special guest on yesterday’s “Sports Brew Show” that included Haney and a group of other guests on the show.
If you have not listened to the show over the past two weeks, you will certainly want to mark your calendars for Tuesdays at 4 p.m. to catch the upcoming shows this summer on the internet at thesportsbrew.net. The show features people from the Paris community who are talking about their town, Eagles athletics, and all other aspects of life in the River Valley. Yesterday’s show included Paris baseball coaches Josh Hart and Joe Devine; Paris head football coach Tyler Clark, Paris community member and show sponsor, Steven Davenport; new Paris High School Class of 2020 graduates Paiton Forbis and Ciara Boswell, and as earlier mentioned, Officer Mike Haney. The show concluded with a final segment that included a round table discussion with the show hosts Tim Johns, Marvin Wiggins, myself, and guest, Steven Davenport on Razorbacks news. The show included a wide variety of interest that all listeners would enjoy, ranging from the most serious of topics, school safety, to the most light-hearted moments when Paiton Forbis and Ciara Boswell sang the Paris High School Alma Mater.
Everyone in the Paris community owes Mike Haney a moment of gratitude to say “thanks” for all he has done to protect the safety of everyone in the Paris school system. In our interview, I asked Officer Haney how much everything has changed with school security over the past ten years. Haney said, “Oh, it’s crazy! People, for instance, when I first started working for the sherriff’s department, I was also a full-time paramedic. I worked on the ambulance. So, we had to go to school to pick up kids who were injured on the football field, or the basketball court, or whatever, and, we would just walk in. You know, they would tell us they are in the gym and we would walk in right through the door without anyone there to let us in. But now, a case in point, down at the hospital, you know we had an incident. We met people standing at the door to let the EMS crew in, making sure that whenever the EMS crew came in, that door was closed. I mean, we can’t have an open door policy because of the current situation. People are just too mean. It’s a heart problem.”
Arkansas law requires school districts to conduct active shooter safety drills with local law enforcement agencies annually. When asked how seriously the employees of the Paris schools take these drills each year, Haney responded, “The very first drill that we did, we opened some eyes. I mean it was very attention-getting at the least. We had some people who actually hyperventilated. They thought it was the real thing. And that’s what we are striving for when we do these things. When we actually do a true live fire drill, we want it to be as life-like as possible. Because this is what we (law enforcement) are going to be rolling into. It’s not a matter anymore of “if” it is going to happen. We have got to be prepared for every single scenario. We have enough officers on duty during the school day that we can roll a three or four man crew from just about anywhere.”
Officer Haney offered words of comfort and security to the parents of students in the Paris schools. With the safeguards and procedures in place in the district, Haney stated that students are often safer at school now than when they are at home. I appreciated his comment. Schools, in my opinion, have been victimized by acts of violence over the past twenty-five years, but have received a negative image in the eyes of media and the general public with the respect to protecting the safety of everyone in school. Haney said, “You (parents) have to remember, these are my kids too.”
So, Officer Mike Haney, on behalf of Resident Press and “The Sports Brew Show”, thank you for your service and commitment to protecting the students and everyone in the Paris schools, as well as throughout our community. In this day of hatred and unfair treatment directed at law enforcement throughout our nation, we in Paris want you to know that we are both thankful and deeply appreciative of you and your fellow officers for all that they do for us.
On a much lighter note, perhaps the highlight of the show was the “2020 Spotlight” segment that included recent Paris High School graduates Paiton Forbis and Ciara Boswell. In a great moment on the show, both girls teamed up to sing the Paris High School Alma Mater.
Both girls were asked what they have been up to since their senior year ended abruptly in March. Paiton said, “It is really sad (the abrupt ending), but I am going to give a shout out to my family for keeping me busy at the house! They really are; anything they need, they know that Paiton has nothing else to do (kiddingly).” When asked if her parents were paying her for the work, Paiton said, “I get to live there.”
Paiton will be a freshman at the University of Arkansas this fall. She has two brothers and a sister that are enrolled there, as well. So, Paiton will be the fourth of the Forbis children who will be walking the Fayetteville campus this coming fall semester. Paiton plans to major in broadcast journalism. So, who knows? Perhaps Paiton will return in the next few years to continue the tradition of broadcasting Paris Eagles sports. But seriously, all of us at the show predict Paiton will be on to much bigger things in the media world.
Ciara and Paiton have been teammates and key players on state championship volleyball teams at Paris High School. Ciara said she had been painting a lot since school has been closed. “I just got a new puppy, a chocolate lab, and he is my baby. I get up at five every morning with him and we go to the park.” When asked about her volleyball career at Paris, Ciara said, “One of my most favorite memories over the past few years has been when we went to Springfield, Missouri, and we spent a week at the Missouri State campus and we played a lot of volleyball. It was so tiring, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Both Ciara and Paiton enjoyed great athletic success at Paris. Paiton said, “I got it (athletic ability) from my dad; that’s what he thinks (joking again), But, my siblings built a path for me, so they have always been there for me to look up to. So, I think I am just following them.”
Ciara spoke about her time at Girls State. “Girls State was amazing. It created so many opportunities and it was so fun to get to go. The people who put it on helped us so much, and all of us that got to go had a great time. It was really competitive too. It’s like a government simulation, a bunch of politics, and it is super competitive.”
Ciara will be a freshman at University of the Ozarks and will major in psychology. Both Ciara and Paiton have bright futures ahead of them, and the town of Paris and all of its alumni can be very proud of both of these outstanding students. We wish Paiton and Ciara the very best of everything as they embark on this new chapter of their lives.
In the coaches segments of the show, Paris head baseball coach Josh Hart and his assistant, Joe Devine, were the first coaches interviewed in yesterday’s show. Both coaches are new to the Paris baseball program, and they have brought a renewed sense of optimism and energy to the program. Both coaches having collegiate baseball experience has brought legitimacy to the program in the eyes of their players. As the spring 2020 season began, the program rushed out to a four game winning streak to start the season. Inclusive in that streak was a big opening day win at Class 4A Dardanelle. When the season came to an abrupt end on March 12, the team had lost a two run game to conference foe Perryville and had an overall record of four wins and two losses. Little did either coach know that the remainder of the season would be cancelled due to COVID-19, and the short season that started with so much promise would come to a screeching halt. And like so many stories of the senior class and athletes in the spring sports, March 12 marked a dark day in which so many hopes, dreams, and hard work that had been invested was suddenly all for nothing.
Coach Hart said at the time of the suspension of the season, you could start to see the development in the team’s performance. “You could really see it in the Two Rivers games. They became harder games than we originally thought they would be, and I think our guys were a little overconfident, and saw that Two Rivers was not going away. So, we were able to come back and sweep them in a double-header. We had some “fireworks” after the game, but I think that spoke a little to the confidence of our players. I thought the confidence was still riding high through the Lamar and Perryville games. There were lessons learned at Lamar, and I think that lesson was still being learned half way through the Perryville game when we got down to a ten run deficit and then decided to start playing some ball.”
In talking about his players, Coach Hart added, “there are several kids on the team that you can put anywhere and they can play there. It was nice to have those kids; you can kind of plug them in. It is nice to have those kids that you can plug into several positions and then just let them roll.”
Assistant coach, Joe Devine commented on the collegiate experience as players that he and Coach Hart have as part of their coaching backgrounds. Coach Devine said, “Well, certainly, in itself, the knowledge of the game that the two of us have between our years of playing the game and as coaching, I try to do everything I can to help Josh run this team. Of course, he has his way of doing things and he is doing a great job with. Only occasionally Josh will ask for a little bit of advice, but he knows what he is doing and he knows how to run a team, and you are seeing the evidence of that.”
So, as disappointing as it was to see the season abbreviated after such a short time, the future of Paris baseball is certainly bright under the leadership of two good, and young coaches. In fact, the Paris athletic coaching staff has decreased in its average age, and the theme of bringing in good, young, energetic coaches seems to be paying off across the entire department. In next week’s show, the crew at the Sports Brew Show will interview athletic director Casey Mainer and we will ask him about the administrative decision to go with a younger coaching staff in the department.
And speaking of young coaches, Paris head football coach Tyler Clark, who will be entering his third year as head football coach, was the final coach interviewed on the day.
Since his arrival from Marion as the former defensive coordinator, Coach Tyler Clark has steadily re-built the Paris football program in his first two years. And now, the Eagles return experience, talent, size, and numbers into the 2020 season. This could be the year when Paris will return to the playoffs.
But as good as all of that seems to Eagles fans, Coach Clark is a believer in “process” and not necessarily in “outcomes” that Eagles fans may tend to focus upon. Certainly, Coach Clark is all about winning, but he knows that he and everyone connected to the program must focus on the process of building a winning program. A winning program will produce wins. As the Eagles begin to win games this year, it will be critical for the team to continue to focus on the process that got them there, and not forget the investment in every aspect of winning that each coach and player must do to be successful.
Coach Clark is excited about this football team. “We are all real excited. That comes from the confidence we have in our kids. They work their tails off everyday and do exactly what we ask them to do. But more than any of that, our kids have a really solid understanding of what we are trying to do. And when that happens, they become very coachable. When they understand the larger concepts, then we can really begin to coach the little things that are very important. They are actively trying to get better and better everyday.”
Considering all of the distractions during the spring off-season, the team has continued to make progress despite the layoff from the dead period. “We were really rolling, which I guess, everyone (other schools’ coaches) would tell you that. Our maxes (maximum weight lifts) were going up, our speed and agility times were going up, and we were just really looking good all across the board. When we got them back (when the restrictions were lessened), we scaled back a little bit. We weren’t as strong as we were when we stopped, and we were not in as good of shape as we were when we stopped. And that’s really what this month has been about. From easing kids back into the grind that is football.”
I asked Coach Clark if he thought this would be the year that the program turns the corner and returns to the playoffs. Coach Clark said, “I think our kids have confidence and I think that sometimes we might be quick to get a little too over-confident. I have no problem reminding our kids that two years ago we were the “kicking dog” for everyone in this state. And even last year we got a lot better. But it was still one of those deals where we still had to play well to compete with folks. So, we still have a lot of work to do ourselves.”
Both football and volleyball seasons could be fast starts for Paris in the fall. The winning feeling produced by both of those programs could easily overflow to the winter program of girls and boys basketball. And with strong spring teams in softball and baseball, Eagles fans could have an entire school year of great teams to cheer for in 2020-21. As the summer nears the start of the fall seasons, Resident Press will publish special preseason editions for Paris volleyball and football. You will not want to miss these special editions. And that’s not all! “The Sports Brew Show” will also begin to focus on preseason shows for volleyball and football as the calendar turns to August. So, Eagles fans, all of this is just about six weeks away!
The final guest on yesterday’s show was Steven Davenport of Paris. He and his wife Darla, own Eagle Pride Realty in Paris, and are staunch supporters and sponsors of the “Sports Brew Show.” In the final segment entitled, “Hog Talk”, Davenport joined the Sports Brew crew in a round table discussion of Razorbacks sports. In a discussion lasting more than twenty minutes, the group took listeners down memory lane with stories from 1969 to the present. Razorbacks football and basketball recruiting was discussed, as well as the lawsuit filed by former football coach Bret Bielema against the Razorback Foundation. Davenport, a huge supporter of both Eagles and Razorbacks sports, did very well in the interview and ensuing discussion. It was a segment that, in all honesty, went longer than was planned. But in the end, everyone had a lot of fun talking about the Razorbacks and sharing their memories and recent news with Sports Brew Show listeners.
The number of listeners to the show continues to climb with yesterday’s show producing another big gain from the first two weeks. More and more Paris and Razorbacks fans seem to be listening each week, and it is anticipated that as time moves closer to football and volleyball season, the number of listeners will continue to climb at an even faster rate. If you have not heard this show, you need to check out what you have been missing.
“The Sports Brew Show” is streamed live on the internet each Tuesday from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Click on the link, thesportsbrew.net , to listen to the show. Next Tuesday’s featured guest will be Paris High School athletic director Casey Mainer, who will speak about the recent coaching hires in the basketball program, as well as the state of all sports within the department. And if you are a Razorbacks fan, you will not want to miss Hogs / Eagles Talk in the final segment of each show!
So, with Luke Trusty working the production board, Tim, Marvin and myself will see you next week on “The Sports Brew Show”.
And stay with Resident Press as we bring you not only the recap of each week’s show, but all things Eagles to the fans of the great community of Paris.