Mack Scott, Don Maestri learn from each other in the Farm-City Swap

Published 11:00 pm Friday, November 2, 2012

Troy University coach Don Maestri gave Pike County farmer Mack Scott tips on coaching young men in the game of basketball. Scott was at Trojan Arena to participate in the annual Farm-City Swap sponsored by the Farm City Committee of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce.

Respect and appreciation are what the farm boy and the city slicker, who participated in the 2012 Pike County Farm-City Swap, gained from each other.

Mack Scott, a Henderson farmer and “feed store” owner, and Don Maestri, Troy University head basketball coach, went head-to-head this week in the annual Farm-City Swap sponsored by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce Farm-City Committee. However, they didn’t lock horns. Instead, they formed a two-man mutual admiration society.

The purpose of the Farm-City Swap is for members of the urban and rural communities to swap jobs for a day so that each may learn more about the other’s chosen occupation.

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From the very beginning, Scott made it perfectly clear that he was much more comfortable in a pasture with a herd of beef cattle than he was on the basketball court with a team of towering Trojans.

Scott was in awe of the players and the place.

“This is my first time in the new arena and it’s … unbelievable,” he said. “What an opportunity for these young men to play in a place like this.”

Maestri said the new Trojan Arena is a dream come true.

“If you dream big, it can happen,” he said. “This arena is living proof that dreams can happen.”

The dream became a reality through the dedication and hard work of many. And, with the tip of the Troy University and Mississippi State basketball game next week, a new era of Trojan basketball will begin.”

With a little coaching from the sidelines and some one-on-one between Scott and Trojan Ray Chambers, Maestri said he thinks Scott will be a valuable assistant during the Mississippi State game. And Scott has a winning game plan.

“The Trojans should play a five-man defense, …” Scott said.

Scott will be coaching from the stands. If the Trojans fall behind Mississippi State, Scott said he’ll just hold up five fingers to remind Maestri, “Five man defense, coach. Five man.”

Maestri said he’ll take Scott’s coaching tip and run a five-man defense. Guaranteed.

Maestri left Trojan Arena anxious to get to the Scott Farm in Henderson.

“I’m a city boy,” he said. “I grew up in New Orleans. I couldn’t wait to get to the farm and milk a chicken.”

At the farm, Maestri found himself surrounded by a herd of cattle that didn’t respond to coaching or coaxing. And, the coach added “cow patty” to his vocabulary and to the bottom of his coaching shoes.

The coach also learned what it means to make hay while the sun shines and how to move a bale of hay without lifting a finger.

“You put on your farm hat and mount the tractor,” he said.

While Scott and Maestri had fun joking around on the court and in the pasture, they were serious when it came to what they do and why they do it.

“We’re both producers,” Maestri said. “To be successful, we have to produce.”

“Coach Maestri has to ‘produce’ winning teams to be successful on the basketball court but he does something much more important then that,” Scott said. “Coach Maestri is dedicated to making sure that his players have the tools that they need to be successful in life. He is committed to his players. He wants to win and works hard to produce a winning team but leads the team in such a way that the players can be successful on the court and in life. That just really impressed me and I have so much respect and admiration for him.”

The feeling is mutual.

Maestri said that his time with Scott was “a real class in farming.”

“I learned about cows and bulls and breeding,” he said. “I learned about times to plant crops and the different kinds of hay for horses and cows. I learned about farm machinery and farm workers, about fertilizers and the cost of food.

“It was a wonderful experience. I used to think that farming was riding on a tractor and throwing seeds out. But farming is extremely complex. You don’t know how to appreciate what another man does until you walk in his moccasins.”

Maestri said it takes a tremendous monetary investment to farm and he has great respect and admiration for a man who works from sunup to sundown every day with no guarantee that he’s going to get a paycheck for his efforts.

“The weather is a huge factor and you can’t predict the weather and certainly can’t control it,” he said.

Scott said he was in awe of the great indoors where Maestri works. And Maestri said he was in awe of the beauty of the countryside where Scott spends his days.

Each has a deep appreciation and huge amount of respect for the other and the work they do. But, at the day’s end, they both know that they are where they are supposed to be and doing what they have been called to do.

“And that’s a mighty good way to end a day,” they agreed.