Without fail, anytime I attend a Lewisville High School sporting event, I see Leon and Trina McFadden sitting in the stands. Also without fail, Leon approaches me, hand extended, and says, “thanks for what you do.”
I certainly appreciate the sentiment. Covering sports is my favorite part of my job and I put everything I’ve got into it, but when you get right down to it I am being paid to be there. Nobody pays Leon and Trina to be at every Lewisville game. The money actually flows in the opposite direction and I’m not really exaggerating when I say they are in attendance for almost EVERY game. If I go to football, home or away, they’re there. Volleyball, basketball, baseball, soccer, softball…look around and you’ll find those familiar faces.
In fact, it goes deeper than that. This past summer, I was at an early Lewisville football practice. It was miserably hot and, truthfully, practice is not always a riveting event to attend. It has its moments but you’re often watching guys run gassers, individual drills and lots of stopping and starting while coaches give instruction.
“Hey, thanks for coming out here,” a familiar voice said to me.
It was Leon. He was at practice, wanting to get a look at the new coaching staff, new players and new offensive schemes. I had the best seat in the house, because Leon has an encyclopedic knowledge of pretty much everybody on the field.
“You know, his brother is (whoever). Do you remember his daddy? He played on the state championship team in (whenever).”
He’s like Lewisville Google, basically. It isn’t just that he knows the names and lineage, Leon is a very astute judge of talent and technique.
“Watch number (whatever) in coverage over here,” he said.
That sort of figures, since he coached youth sports for who knows how long. He also holds the distinction of convincing a young fellow who was good in basketball and baseball to give football a try. That young fellow was Sheldon Brown who went on have a very successful college and NFL careers.
Even better than knowing what players bring to the table, he knows them all on a personal level. They aren’t just numbers and positions to him. When they came off the practice field that day, each had a handshake, hug or backslap waiting on them. That’s pretty much what he and Trina do after every game they attend, whether the Lions come out on top or not. They understand these are high school students trying their best to represent their school and community and they act accordingly. I bet players appreciate that encouragement as much as newspaper reporters do.
Trust me when I tell you that Trina is very astute when it comes to all the sports she watches too, as well as the sports landscape. If you doubt that, saddle up next to her at a game sometime and bring up competitive balance, realignment or private schools competing in the public school league and get ready to learn something. Unlike Leon, she did not attend Lewisville but she is an honorary Lion of the highest order. She lovingly adopted them and they happily adopted her right back.
Fans are great, and they certainly are Lewisville fans. It is something altogether different to be a supporter, though. In attendance, in encouragement, in leadership, in donating, they are two of the top supporters of any program in this state, in my opinion.
That’s why I was so tickled to see a list of honorees at the upcoming Lewisville Athletic Hall of Fame. This year’s recipients of the “Once a Lion, Always a Lion” award are Leon and Trina McFadden. They are more than deserving of having their school’s Hall of Fame bring them up, shake their hands and tell them, “thanks for all you do.”