Still the one
Former Gentry multisport star Rick Still now works in health care.
GENTRY — Dick Johnson witnessed dozens of amazing athletes in 25 years as a football coach and administrator.
Former Fayetteville Bulldogs Ronnie Brewer Jr., Blake Parker, Wallace Spearmon and Ben Tschepikow are just a few. But it was during his brief stint at Gentry when he coached what he calls the best of the bunch — Rick Still.
“He is truly one of the most gifted athletes I ever coached,” Johnson said. “He was such a pure athlete.”
Johnson recalls Still “bowling a 200” the first time he picked up a bowling ball and how he was “a great golfer right off the bat.” At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Still shined in three sports for the Pioneers and was a three-year starter as a left-handed quarterback under Johnson.
As a senior in 1992, Still completed 104 of 203 passes for 1,875 yards and 13touchdowns and rushed 140 times for
827 yards and 13 touchdowns. Despite being in a class that included highly touted prospects Mike Cherry and Barry Lunney Jr., Still was named first-team quarterback on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s All-Arkansas squad.
Still also made a name for himself statewide during AAU basketball and, despite not running track since junior high, Johnson convinced Still to compete at the district track meet as a senior.
“If we didn’t have four to fill an event, we would ask someone in another sport to give it a try and Rick was that guy,” Johnson said. “Even though he hadn’t practiced anything, he won shot, discus, long jump and was second in the high jump. I don’t remember if he was high point, but he was worth about 38 points that day.”
Looking back, Still said he was silly to turn down scholarship offers for football when he followed a girl to NorthArk Community College in Harrison, where he played basketball and golf for a year before returning to the gridiron at the University of Arkansas, Monticello.
These days, Still is a business development director with Hilltop Healthcare, serving as a liaison between hospital administrators and residents to help the transition to “the appropriate skilled nursing or inpatient facility,” he said. He also does some preaching at least once a month at churches in Springtown and Colcord, Okla.
Asked what he misses the most about his days as a star in Benton County, Still says it’s the brotherhood of teammates and the joy it brought the city.
“Going into battle with my friends and how the community came together to support us,” said Still.
Despite all of the wins, awards and positive moments, the negative ones still stand out, like a missed field goal.
“I missed two free throws in the last four seconds and either one of them would have tied the game against Ozark in the regional semifinals,” Still said. “In the quarterfinals my senior year in football, we lost 14-12 to Booneville. We had a goal line stand at the 1-yard line and literally drove the length of the field with our hurry-up offense. Johnny Mac Glass probably caught five passes over the middle to get us down to the 10- or 12-yard line with about 20 seconds left in the game.
“The snap was a little slow, and I was a little slow, and my kick got blocked. The field goal would have beat them by one (point) and put us in the semifinals.”
Every place the Pioneers played, opposing fans booed when Still’s name was announced and, sometimes, even worse things occured, like when a student walked behind
the Pioneers’ bench before a basketball game at Berryville.
“He put his mouth down by my ear and said something that I can’t repeat, and he wrapped his arm around me and squeezed my chest,” Still said. “I had 32 points on them in the first half and I think I pointed at him in the stands after the first five shots I made.”
In the near future, Still hopes to gain notoriety by reaching people in a different way. After seeing his 15-yearold stepson, Jake Truman, have success with YouTube, Still got an idea for his own channel.
“I want to be a YouTube preacher,” Still said. “The sermons you see on there are people preaching to a congregation who made a choice to go to church that day. I want to talk to the people who don’t have an inclination to get up and go.
“I don’t know if I can reach them that way, but I’m going to try.”
Former Gentry multi-sport star Rick Still is now a business development director with Hilltop Healthcare.
Rick Still rolls out to pass during a junior high game in 1988. As a high school senior, Still was named the All-Arkansas first-team quarterback by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.