Lord of the Rings
Since returning to Pike Liberal Arts School three years ago, Steven Kilcrease has done more than just coach.
He has changed the mentality for how both the community looks at the school and how its players view their seasons.
In that short amount of time, Kilcrease has won three state championships with two different teams.
One could add the school’s golf championship from last season but the coach said he didn’t have a whole lot to do with the team, or not as much as he had with girls basketball and football.
“Expectations are definitely high now,” he said. “And I think with the more wins, the kids understand that.” “The kids expect to win now and that was not necessarily the their outlook three years ago.
“The mentality of all the teams have changed, and that has proven to be a big difference,” Kilcrease said.
At first, the coach said he was blessed and fortunate enough to come back to the high school he attended and loved growing up – but now, those blessings have a new meaning all together.
“To be a graduate of (PLAS) and to be able to come back and have the opportunity that I have been blessed with is amazing,” Kilcrease said.
“Someone asked me a couple of days ago if I had woken up from my dream yet, and that’s really what it has been like the past couple of years – I am extremely fortunate,” he added.
The coach was quick to add that he alone is not responsible for the past two years of success.
“We have a great group of athletes here, and that’s really a huge part of it all,” he said.
“I am proud for the school. A lot of coaches put a lot of time into their jobs, Kilcrease said. “We have been very fortunate, and hopefully it keeps going.”
The school’s Head Master Ceil Sikes, who also hired Kilcrease, said the coach’s importance goes beyond wins and losses.
“I knew Steven was the right choice for us because of his character, his professionalism and the fact that he puts academics before everything else,” Mrs. Sikes said. “He monitors all the athletes to make sure their academics are first priority. He really is a marvelous representative for the school
“The fact that he is a graduate of Pike Liberal Arts, means a lot to him. He grew up with our mission – and that mission is something that means a lot to him and something he lives on a daily basis,” she added.
Unfortunately, for those hoping to figure out a secret method Kilcrease has used, the coach said there is none.
“I believe in working hard. I spend a lot of hours watching film and getting the kids prepared.
“The kids have been able to adjust (on a yearly basis) and that has also played a big role in what has been happening here.”
But even all the wins and trophies come at somewhat of a price.
While Kilcrease is watching film and preparing his athletes, he is doing it away from his family.
“It’s tough,” he said. “Bring away from my family is the hardest part of my job.” “I have a very supportive wife though, and for what I am very fortunate.”
But even through the difficulties the job may bring, seeing his players reactions after winning a championship makes it all worthwhile.
“That’s what makes it special,” Kilcrease said. “Seeing the kids enjoyment after winning a title.”
“With the first football championship, it was great to win not only for the kids but for the community as well – it was a lot of fun to watch. “For the girls, I know how hard each of them worked. When we won (the championship) it was a great feeling because I know how badly they wanted it.”
With the amount of success endured since his arrival, it would understandable if the “Patriot Nation” would want to erect a statue of one of its most winning coaches, however, Kilcrease has other ideas.
“If there was (a statue), I would tear it down,” he laughed. “I am proud to be back home and enjoying my time here.”