Still the one

For­mer Gen­try mul­tisport star Rick Still now works in health care.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE CAP­SHAW

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.”

MIKE CAP­SHAW/NWA DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

For­mer Gen­try multi-sport star Rick Still is now a busi­ness de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor with Hill­top Health­care.

Courtesy photo

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.

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