- Alma School District
Alma’s Haney has the right makeup 7/20/22
Alma’s Haney has the right makeup
By Kevin Taylor
Derrick Haney peers over his roster with the look of a surgeon. Soon, it will be blistering hot on the artificial surface at Airedale Stadium.
But for now, a slight breeze makes the 67-degree morning bearable. And, while recanting coaching stories from the last decade, including the times he spent in the living rooms of his high school coaches, Haney cracks a smile when it comes to the Lavaca Rodeo.
“I had a buddy in high school that wanted to ride a bull,” Haney said. “The little Lavaca rodeo, he got in, and Ariana is with us and Denny (Flynn) came to watch, too. Denny walked up and my friend said to him, ‘You have any tips?’
“Denny said, ‘When your feet hit the ground, run fast!’ The rider blushed, and seconds later was catching his breath after outrunning the bull toward the side gate.
There’s a fork in the road just past the Oak Bend Missionary Baptist Church that never fails to bring a smile to Derrick Haney’s face.
This isn’t necessarily home. Yet, these rolling hills just due west of the Pig Trail (Hwy. 23), are family. Derrick Haney and the former Harlee Bond’s grandparents ran dairy farms halfway between Branch and Ozark.
“Our grandparents had dairy farms about a mile apart until the mid-90s,” Haney said. She (Harlee) lived in Ozark until the ninth grade, when she transferred to County Line (High School).”
Twenty-five years later, not much has changed along Oak Bend Road. But the Haneys, whose paths are forever intertwined, grew together as one, thanks in part, to Harlee Haney’s sacrifices.
In 2015, after a 2 ½ year stint as a Van Buren volunteer coach, Haney moved to Jonesboro. Harlee soon followed him.
“It was good for me to grow up and learn how to do things on my own,” Haney said. “I depended on mom and dad some. Of course, what high school and college student doesn’t? My wife and I got married right after my first year in Jonesboro. So, we’re out there and she’s the only one making any money for three years. She paid for everything; she let me chase it.”
Living abroad in Jonesboro afforded Haney the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I volunteered at Charleston after I graduated and Brooks Coatney had just gotten the Van Buren job around 2012,” Haney said. “He called and asked me if I wanted to go over there and volunteer. I thought, well, you’ll broaden your base and get to know more coaches. I did that for 2 ½ years, and his brother-in-law (Glen Ellerby) at the time was the offensive line coach at Arkansas State … so that was my goal to get into Arkansas State.”
Haney was ASU’s quality control coach between 2015-19.
“I worked for Trooper Taylor and the first thing he’ll always ask me is if I’m doing right by the kids,” Haney said. “I don’t care about Xs and Os, I only want to know if you’re treating the kids right. He told me, especially at the college level, that you are mom and dad because mom and dad aren’t around. But he said you have to treat them like they’re your own children; don’t treat them any differently.
“That’s really hanging with me,” he said. “I can’t love them as much as mom and dad, but I can finish second.”
Haney, who was recently promoted to Alma’s head ninth-grade team, considers himself a hands-on coach.
“Just growing up as a person, and learning the responsibilities of everyday life, you’re responsible for 46 kids,” he said. “I want them to know I’m there for each of them.”
“He (Haney) spent a lot of time at Arkansas State working for some really good guys, including Trooper Taylor and several others,” Alma head coach Rusty Bush said. “I’ve said this before when I’m looking to hire a young coach one of the top three things I’m looking for is work ethic. ‘Do they understand what this job takes and the time that it takes?’
“Anytime you get a guy from the college level, whether he’s been a volunteer or a graduate assistant … those guys understand that. They probably had triple the work that they did at the high school level.”
In 2021, the Haneys came home.
“Doug called me after my second year and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to have two jobs open and I want you to come interview.’ The respect I have for Doug, and knowing who he hired as a head coach was the right call, it meant a lot. Doug called and said, ‘Hey, we want you to come in for an interview.’
“I know that sounds crazy, but wanting to work for your high school coach may not be a dream for a lot of coaches, but it was for me.”
“First off, I knew what kind of parents he had and that he had a great work ethic,” Loughridge said. “He’s the type of person you don’t have to ask to do anything; he’s going to just do it.”
The trip west also allowed the Haneys to be closer to their respective families. Little Reeve spends a lot of time with his grandmothers, Shirley Brown, Darlene Bonds, and Sandy Haney...
“When I came here it was really like, ‘We (Alma Schools) want you here.’ Plus, we have a two-year-old who stays with a great grandma every day,” Haney said. “I’ve got two grandmas still alive and she’s got one, and he rotates between all three of them, so that was big to us, too.
“For him to be around his grandparents was pretty cool.”
Haney was a junior, he recalled, when the coaching bug started to tug on his heart strings.
“Really, I guess it was my junior or senior year in high school,” Haney said. “Coach Loughridge was my head coach at Charleston. And he was my next-door neighbor as well. He had a huge influence on me. Coach Greg Kendrick had a huge influence as well. I spent a lot of nights over at his house watching tape in the living room. In those relationships, I felt like I had something outside of football with them. That’s what I’m trying to do here with these boys.”
“Derrick came through playing quarterback all the way through, but he wasn’t ready (to play varsity) as a sophomore,” Loughridge said. “But he really wanted to get on the field, so he became our extra point kicker. Plus, because we knew he could throw the ball, we put in some fake field goals for him. He’s one of those swiss army knife players - he can do a little bit of everything.”