Those bad apples seem to be hogging the headlines lately, and it’s downright depressing. Jesus doesn’t need to just take the wheel, as country artist Carrie Underwood sings. He needs to pull the car over and whip some behinds with his flip flop.

Carrie Underwood

East Texas is full of good people.

I probably don’t have to tell most of you that, but an occasional reminder doesn’t hurt – especially the way some folks have been acting around here recently.




Those bad apples seem to be hogging the headlines lately, and it’s downright depressing. Jesus doesn’t need to just take the wheel, as country artist Carrie Underwood sings. He needs to pull the car over and whip some behinds with his flip flop.

I’ve always told my son there are more good guys than bad guys in the world — particularly in East Texas — and the bad guys only win if the good guys let them.

I still believe that, and now I’m asking for your help proving it.

For the next year, I plan to use this space – as often as possible – to spotlight some of the good guys (and ladies). It won’t be every week, but if I hear of someone doing good deeds and trying to make our little corner of the world a better place, I’m going to let you know about them.

I’m going to call it my “Good Guys Win” campaign, and if you want to help me spotlight these folks, email me at jstallard@news-journal.com. There is no age limit, and very few requirements. Tell me who the person is, give me a brief description of what they are doing to make things better in East Texas and – if possible – provide a way to contact them.

In December, we’ll take a look at the list and I’ll get you to help me select a “Good Guys Win” Most Valuable Player (I’m a sports guy, and old habits die hard). I’ll spotlight that person again, and maybe even buy him or her lunch at their favorite restaurant.

My first “Good Guys Win” nominee is Pine Tree head basketball coach Brandon Shaver, who follows the old teacher adage that kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

At the start of the school year, Shaver and his assistant coaches began conducting “ManUp Mondays” for the athletes in their program. During that time, they don’t spend a lot of time discussing hoops.

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“A high percentage of our athletes come from single-parent homes or worse, so we decided to pour into those kids who maybe don’t have dads or uncles or any father figure around,” Shaver said. “We’re just trying to fill the gap.”

So far, ManUp Mondays have included instruction on how to change a tire, how to jumpstart a vehicle and what items the kids need to be carrying in their vehicles in the event of an emergency.

There has also been discussion on tattoos – as in when, where and if you should get one.

Shaver didn’t preach. He discussed without judging, asking a kid who wanted to get a tattoo of his mom on his forearm to consider the ramifications of getting a large, visible tattoo and what that might mean to future employment opportunities.

“He got the tattoo, and it is what it is,” Shaver said. “That’s what we tell them. We’re going to love them through whatever decision they make.”

Shaver gave me a sneak peak at Monday’s ManUp session, which will include discussion about heart and effort – not just in basketball, but in the classroom and in life.

“We want to find out what makes them tick,” the coach said. “We want to find out about the kids so we can relate to them outside of sports. Playing sports is a great thing, but most of these kids aren’t going to play sports outside of high school. The habits and traits they learn now will hopefully carry them later in life.”

There you have it.

Good guys 1, Bad guys 0.




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