By R. Alan Richardson
Retiring Athletic Director, Steve Cisson, got one final sendoff from his coaching staff this past week during post-planning days and it was one fun event. Incoming AD, Doug Connelly, feigned a last hour coaches meeting to lure the old man into the MCHS auditorium where invited guests, coaches, administrators, cafeteria workers, and others were in attendance.
The program started off with a video of several of Cisson’s coaches and close friends giving him their best wishes. The words of the day were, thanks, mentor, leader, professional, my coach, common sense, always there, Bulldog, go fishing, play golf, stay away from Alvin Richardson, encourager, family man, community man, and the list went on and on.
Some of the guests got a chance to give Steve a hard time and congratulate him as well. Not knowing that this sportswriter would be asked to speak first, it caught me off guard. The story that I shared came from Coach Allen Crowley from his baseball playing days under the master. “Coach Crowley told me of an important region game back in the 80’s where the Dogs had two men in scoring position and their best hitter, Bill Ashburn, at the plate. Problem was that it was getting dark and the person in charge at the home game refused to turn on the lights to complete the game. The umpires called the game due to darkness and Cisson was furious. Upon entering the locker room, he proceeded to pick up a baseball and fired it as hard as he could against a concrete wall. The vent backfired on him as the ball came off the wall and hit him squarely between the eyes. It knocked his glasses off and almost killed him. Allen said the players were scrambling for cover hiding in the shower, restrooms, and running out the door.”
Former Bulldog and long-time follower/supporter of the football program, Ricky Cochran, shared this story. “When I returned home from Georgia Southern I didn’t know Coach Cisson that well, but I was invited to play in a golf tournament by Alvin Richardson in Augusta with Steve and another golfer. On the way to the golf course I was telling the guys that I wasn’t very good at all. Cisson said that it was OK. We only brought you along for your high handicap anyway.”
The final guy to take the podium was Alvin Richardson, possibly Cisson’s best friend and partner in crime. His speech was both funny and serious. He said, “When I came back home to be the head football coach at MCHS, I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t get the job. He was an unbelievable defensive coach. The more I coached with him, the more we bonded together. Over the years he has become one of my closest friends, and for that I am thankful. Now that he’s actually retiring it will give us a whole lot more opportunities to fish, golf, and watch the Bulldogs together.”
Steve ended the gathering with some thoughts to the coaching staff that came from the heart and through many years of experience. Here’s what he said, “Y’all work hard, but sometimes I think you work too hard. Take a break and enjoy the journey. Obviously, you are making a difference. This is the best group I’ve ever worked with and you’ve made my job easy. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to win some championships. It’s not always about the championships, but the relationships you build along the way.”