Pop-A-Lock - April 2020

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APRIL 2020 HOW ONE COACH CHANGED THE COURSE OF MY LIFE

Teachers and coaches are so important to kids during their most impressionable years. In my humble opinion, they don’t get nearly as much credit as they should for all the work they do. Since Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up the first week of May, I figure it’s the perfect time to share how my teachers and coaches influenced me as a student. I was very fortunate to have a number of great teachers and coaches growing up — especially considering where I grew up. As I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, I spent my childhood in the oil fields of rural Oklahoma. Rural schools don’t always have the funds to pay teachers well and, therefore, do not always have the best teachers. However, because our community had an oil refinery that paid local taxes, our schools could afford good teachers. If I were to share everything I appreciated about all the fantastic teachers I had, it all wouldn’t fit in this newsletter. So instead, I want to focus on one of my coaches in particular. I had several fantastic teachers when I was a student at Duncan High School. However, it was coach Dick Dozier who truly influenced the paths I would take later in life. For starters, he was probably one of the most knowledgeable and innovative basketball coaches in Oklahoma. The offenses and defenses that we ran were ahead of their time, and he developed one of the most successful basketball programs in the state. On top of that, he really cared about his players as young men and wanted us to succeed in every aspect of our lives. It was because of coach Dozier that I ultimately had the chance to play under OSU coach Mr. Hank Iba and coach alongside UK coach Eddie Sutton — both of whom are in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. When I was in college, I remained friends with coach Dozier and stayed in touch. I was on track to earn a degree in education so I could be a teacher and a high school basketball coach like he was — until he was fired during my sophomore year. In small towns, a lot of people can over-politicize high school sports, and unfortunately, coach Dozier managed to get on the bad side of one of the school board members when he wouldn’t start his son. Despite his 12 years of coaching and phenomenal record, that one small move got him fired. When I heard that, I started thinking seriously about whether I wanted to be a high school basketball coach if I could get fired for something so trivial.

Fortunately, coach Dozier landed on his feet. About a year after he got fired, one of his former students invited him into a business venture in Houston starting up the region’s first Taco Bell franchise. Aside from being an all-around knowledgeable and innovative coach, coach Dozier was an incredibly skilled marketer. He would advertise our games all around town and our home games were always sellouts. The life of an entrepreneur fit him like a glove. By the time he passed away, coach Dozier owned and operated over 30 Taco Bells in the Central Texas area. With all that said, I owe both my coaching and entrepreneurial careers, at least in part, to coach Dozier. He influenced my life for decades to come, and that’s what so many great teachers and coaches do every day. Even though many educators are currently at home while schools are closed, they still deserve our praise during Teacher Appreciation Week and, of course, throughout the rest of the year. If you’re a teacher or a coach, I want you to know that you are appreciated.

-Doug Barnes

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