There are very few terms as endearing as the word “Coach.” If you have ever played for a sports team, you know the amount of energy and time it takes to practice and play a single season. Teams become more like families. Coaches become much more than a coach.
Since we heard of the tragic shooting that occurred this past week at the Burnette Chapel church of Christ, our thoughts and prayers have turned to the victims and for their healing. We also were deeply moved by the seriousness of the injuries to our “Coach” and friend, Joey Spann. Joey was a teacher and coach at Ezell-Harding in the very beginning at EHCS and has been a beloved mentor who has touched the lives of so many in the Ezell-Harding community for over 30 years.
Scrolling social media, it was wonderful to read the stories and memories that so many have of Coach Spann. I asked a number of “Lady Eagles” to say a few words about their Coach, both as a way to honor him and to show him how much we love him.
Mariska Reed Harris:
- I will never forget handing him the State Championship trophy and giving him a hug and seeing him smile the biggest smile that was filled with pure joy.
- I love that Coach Spann truly cared about each one of us on the team and made us feel special. He taught us so much about the game, but the older I get the more I realize how special of a person he truly was.
- He is a special person and I am just so thankful to God that He saved Coach Spann for a second time. I wouldn’t be who I am as a coach, a mom, and wife, a friend, and as a Christian if it wasn’t for Coach Spann.
- Coach Spann is a HUGE reason Ezell-Harding’s girls program is where it is today. We had no gym…we had no ball fields to practice. He and my father hauled us all over Nashville to practice anywhere that they would let us in…including practicing basketball at Central State!!!! I could go on and on! We practiced in an airplane hanger at the Nashville Airport!
- He taught so many lessons but I would say the one that stays front and foremost is all the glory goes to our Lord and beyond that is carrying the 110% hustle he expected from you forward in my life.
Kari Bishop Goodwin:
- The most valuable lessons I learned from Coach Spann had little to do with basketball. He taught us that it was always more than just basketball. It is about your relationship with others and that it should be on the foundation of Christ. Always reminding us that at the end of the day, we can laugh with each other while pushing one another.
- He is a coach that would yell at you, coach you hard, give the “Spann stare” and then follow up afterwards with a hug and tell us that he loved us. There’s not one time since I have left Ezell that he hasn’t told me that he loves me or is proud of me as we part ways. He performed our wedding ceremony and counseled my husband and I before we were married.
- He will make us smile and laugh to give us comfort in knowing he’s okay. He has such a sweet and funny way to make others around him feel comfortable during difficult circumstances.
Julie Hayes Smithhisler:
- He was positive and truthful at the same time while adding humor in the mix. What an amazing combo!!
- Coach Spann is super special person to so many people. I am truly honored to just be one of those people that he has had an impact on.
Carol Johnson York:
- I was in 6th grade the first time soccer came to Ezell. Coach Spann had to look it up in the encyclopedia to learn the rules and how to even begin to coach it. The next year we were playing for the district championship.
- We practiced soccer & softball in the cow pasture @ the Liddle’s place by the lake. We remember how when we complained about the cow pies, Coach Spann would reply how they would just teach us to get up & get going that much faster.
- Words are hard to come by for what Joey Spann means to me and my whole family. He & Peggy are a part of our family and a huge thread of the fabric of our youth. Joey and my Dad have a very deep love & respect for each other and always have. He is irreplaceable in our family. He was a constant source of security, love & guidance for all three of us girls being raised by a single father.
- I remember this girl kept putting her hand right in front of my face every time we were shooting free throws, & I was complaining about not being able to see to rebound, so Coach Spann told me to just spit on the back of her hand next time & that it shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Needless to say, it worked!
- He was my mentor & spiritual inspiration! He was ALWAYS there inspiring me to be better & more in life! Coach Spann is one of THE most passionate, christian & caring people I’ve EVER known!
Kristy Dube Deffendall:
- A favorite memory from coach is when he would play with us. He was so smooth. His no look passes would either take you to the goal or hit you in the face if you didn’t have your hands up!
- I learned from him that: Offense thrills. Defense kills. Teamwork on the not so noticed end of the court wins games!
- I asked Coach Spann, my basketball coach, to perform my wedding ceremony because of the respect I had for him and marriage.
Tara Withrow Maddux:
- I think we all can point to a handful of people in our lives that have made a significant impact… Coach Spann is one of mine.
- He coached me for 7 years, baptized me when I was 13, and married my husband and I years later. He was such a source of consistency for me.
- Besides a lot of basketball…I learned to trust in God, hard work, love others, find humor. He truly would do anything for you. The no look pass and behind the back pass. I learned if he had the ball in practice you better be ready because he could pass it to you at any time.
- Coach has been a huge influence in my life both as a player and my mentor when I coached under him. I had such a neat opportunity to be able to sit on the bench as an assistant coach with him for several seasons. He loves his players and always wants the best for them on and off the court/field. He is always teaching. It was an honor to be sitting on the bench with him when the team won the state championship. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he knew it was happening…he turned to Coach Carter with such humble excitement and said something like “we did it.” It was an awesome moment.