Greenville, we have a problem

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Greenville football coach Mike Williams has a problem. But you won't hear him complain.

It's because the problem that the Tigers' coach has is one that most coaches would love to have.

At present Williams has 62 young men in grades 9-11 working out and are expected to participate in spring drills later in mid-May. Williams also met with eighth-graders at Greenville Middle School two weeks ago and had 60 sign up for football.

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&#8220I was shocked and very impressed,” Williams said of the guys who signed up to play for him next season following a 1-9 campaign. &#8220I was hoping for 20 to 25 guys.”

The problem is that Williams only has enough football equipment - shoulder pads and helmets - for up to 80 players. If you do the addition, Williams is looking at having 122 players on the practice field for spring training.

&#8220Because we don't have enough equipment, we're going to have to go with two spring training sessions,” he said.

More than likely the rising freshmen will have spring practice in early February and the rest of the varsity players will have drills in mid-May.

&#8220I don't want to interrupt basketball and baseball with the varsity, and I am worried about the junior varsity schedule.

I want to give the opportunity for them to do both,” Williams explained.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as problems are concerned.

Even if half of those 60 upcoming freshmen return in August along with the 62 players, Greenville High still does not have the facilities needed for the Tigers football team.

The high school has just 76 physical education lockers that the players try to store their equipment in. The lockers can barely hold a helmet much less a set of shoulder pads.

In fact those pads that the linemen wear, have to be kept outside of their locker because they don't even fit.

The players don't even have benches to sit down to put their shoes on or much less put their pants. Being a big guy, sometimes we are not so limber as our skinny counterparts and need to take a seat to put our pants on.

But that is just a simple inconvenience compared to the rest of the problems within the athletic offices at the high school.

With the increased numbers of players on the team, that also means more ankles that need to be taped. Greenville doesn't have a training area for that, so last season all ankles were taped on the backs of pickup trucks.

Williams has taken a storage room and transformed it into a training area half the size of your kitchen.

When practice is over the football players then need to dress and go home because there are not enough showers let alone hot water to use. There are 10 showers in the four locker room areas within the high school. Two don't work and none of the showers or sinks has hot water.

It just seems like no expense was spared when it came to building this impressive high school. But when it came time to the construction of the athletic wing of the high school, pennies were pinched so tightly that they must have screamed.

Sure academics take a higher priority in the education field, but you can't build championship athletic programs if your student-athletes are treated like second-class citizens.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail