Clint Hartsfield, Cardinal turned Bulldog
One of the unusual things that can happen in high school
football is when a former player comes home to coach a football game. The
unusual part is when the coach is on the visitor side of the field. This will happen tonight when Clint Hartsfield, the new Athletic Director/ Head
Football Coach will come to Bridge City to put his Kelly Bulldogs against his old
Bridge City Cardinals.
Hartsfield is a 1988 graduate of Bridge City High
School with deep roots. His mother Alice Hartsfield is a 1968 graduate and was
in the class when the Cardinals became state champions in the 1967 season and
his grandfather is Don Cole, the longtime owner of Cole Plumbing and a former
Precinct 3 Commissioner.
“I have real mixed emotions about the game. It is a
thrill to be coming home for the game. I want my team to win very badly, but I
do not like the thought of whipping the Cardinals,” said Hartsfield. “I have
some old friends that will give me a hard time however the game goes.”
After serving as an assistant coach at Vidor High School
and Edison Middle School in Port Arthur Hartsfield has spent the last 12 years
as a coach at St. Anne Middle School in Beaumont. He has a total of 17 years as
“I was really surprised when they called me back for
a second interview. I really did not think I had much of a chance since my
prior coaching had been Jr. High.” said Hartsfield.
The selectors at Kelly evidently disagreed with his
outlook as he was selected over coaches that included Larry Haynes of Hardin.
Haynes is currently the winningest active coach in Southeast Texas.
His 12 years at St. Anne puts Hartsfield in a unique
position. A number of the current
players on the Kelly squad have been his former players at St. Anne.
“I think I have a good thing with my players in a
way,” said Hartsfield. “They know me and I know them as well as most of the
parents. They (the parents) may be a little more forgiving if we get into a win
a few lose a few position.”
“Because of his long term commitment to Catholic
Education, his familiarity with most Kelly High School student athletes and
their parents, his coaching experience and success with the St. Anne football
program and other sports programs, all well as his genuine concern for all
student athletes across the entire athletic program I believe that Mr.
Hartsfield is the very best fit for the athletic program here at Kelly High
School as well as our entire school and community,” said Roger Bemis, Kelly
principal when announcing Hartsfield’s selection.
Hartsfield was raised Roman Catholic and remains
true to his beliefs. He is impressed, but not surprised by the devotion of his
team members to their church.
“Every Friday most of our varsity attends Mass. I
want to be more than a coach. I believe that I have a responsibility to be a
spiritual leader as well,” said Hartsfield.
Hartsfield believes that effort should be put into
making a football program a winning program, but that the psychological and
spiritual side needs to be addressed as well.
“We are the smallest school in our conference with
215 students. St. Thomas has over 700 and the rest are in between. We have to
work hard to make Kelly a winner, but I do not want to win at the expense of
all else. I want to be sure that the values we install in our players address
more of life than just winning a ball game,” said Hartsfield. “The Bridge City
game should be a great game. I went to school with some of the Cardinals dads
and know more. They were tough players and their sons are probably just as
tough. It will good to see some old friends and classmates again no matter how
the game goes.”