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Jackson County coach on 143-mile trip to Shawnee: “We have a platform to show solidarity. … Two polar opposite communities coming together as one.”

Bourbon County Bulls

Photo credit: David Rearic Photo

Leading up to the week, both Jackson County High School (McKee, KY) and Shawnee High School (Louisville, KY) both struggled to find an opponent to play this Friday evening.

For the former, several teams canceled on them due to Covid-19 concerns and issues. For the latter, Carroll County backed out due to safety concerns surrounding the ongoing protests in Louisville just two weeks after the school had to beg Trimble County to travel to Louisville to play on Sept. 18.

When Jackson County head coach John Hallock heard of Shawnee’s scheduling issues – as originally reported and covered beautifully by Jason Frakes of the Courier Journal – he reached out to see if they were interested in playing this week.

“I was on my Twitter, and I saw an article from Jason Frakes for the Courier Journal, he did a story on Shawnee and some of the schools that canceled because of security concerns,” Hallock said in an interview with KSR this morning. “When I read the article, we needed a game, they needed a game. … I reached out to the AD and said, “Hey, do you want to play? If my administration’s good with this, I’m good with it. If you all are good with it, let me know.”‘

Realizing Jackson County was nearly 150 miles away from Louisville, Shawnee wondered why they would travel all the way from the mountains and back for a random out-of-conference matchup.

The reason? To show there are more similarities between an all-white football program from McKee, KY – a town that has voted Republican in presidential elections since the Civil War – and a football program out of the West End of Louisville with mostly Black players, than differences.

I was moved and compelled by the fact that these kids are in Louisville right now. They’re hurting,” Hallock told KSR. “… The athletic director at Shawnee was taken aback a little bit – he’s a great guy – he was like, “Well that’s a little far for you guys? We’re in Louisville…” I said, “Do you want to play? We’re willing to come, we’re willing to show support in solidarity.”

“He talked to the coaching staff, Coach Harrington, who’s a top-shelf man, coach, and mentor for his kids, they said, “Yeah, coach, we want to play.” So I brought it to my administration at Jackson County and they didn’t blink an eye. They said, “Coach, if you think this is a good opportunity for these kids, their kids, it’s a good opportunity to show support and solidarity with a community that’s hurting. Let’s go and do it.” The rest is history.”

While the players may look different, Hallock says the players from both schools and areas in general deal with similar struggles and come from “broken backgrounds.”

“A lot of my kids come from broken homes,” he said. “They don’t have a silver spoon, there’s a lot of poverty in that community. A lot of my kids have to be in school just to eat. There’s a lot of struggle that they go through, they have to earn everything they get.

“If you look at Shawnee, some of their kids struggle and come from broken backgrounds. Coach Harrington is doing a phenomenal job mentoring them. If you really look at it, we share a lot of things in common. We shouldn’t be divided by the color of our skin. Everybody wants to label and divide, hate each other because of this label and that label.”

With this game, Hallock feels Jackson County and Shawnee can come together and dispel those labels and focus on one race: the human race.

“At the end of the day, we’re humans,” Hallock told KSR. “It’s not about the color of our skin, it’s about the essence of our being and our character, who we are as people. The platform that [Coach Harrington] and I have been given this week to teach and educate our kids, to have this opportunity, you bring a conservative county that’s all white to Louisville that’s probably a little more liberal to say, “Hey, when humanity is hurting, no matter what you are – Black, White, red, Latino, Republican, Democrat, Independent, whatever – we are humans.”

“When we see human beings suffering, we have the responsibility to elevate all people. I said this to my assistant on Monday, but 60 years ago, we might not have even been able to play this game. We have a platform to show solidarity. Two polar opposite communities coming together as one.”

For the full interview with KSR, listen below:

Shawnee and Jackson County will kick off at 6 p.m. ET, with both sides looking to pick up their first victory of the season.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

14 Comments for Jackson County coach on 143-mile trip to Shawnee: “We have a platform to show solidarity. … Two polar opposite communities coming together as one.”

  1. Bo T'Load
    5:24 pm October 2, 2020 Permalink

    Really cool story. I hope this receives additional coverage. I’d enjoy a follow up. Would have loved to be at this game. There’s your Courage.

  2. Billyjoe Jimbob
    6:42 pm October 2, 2020 Permalink

    I think Jackson Co is 2 or 3A…what is Shawnee? 6A?
    I know Shawnee takes a lot of lumps in Louisville….but will this be a good game?

  3. 2andToodleLoo
    8:06 am October 3, 2020 Permalink

    More people need to see this story. Love it.

  4. Rocket868
    9:06 am October 3, 2020 Permalink

    Now, THIS is the Kentucky I remember… The good Lord knows what is happening and still happening in Eastern Kentucky is horrible. He isn’t lying about those kids not being born w/ a silver spoon in their mouths. Dare I say it but the white children in Appalachia have had it extremely hard and that type of poor has nothing to do with color. To see these two communities come together… I mean I literally shed tears. Like I said THIS IS THE KENTUCKY I know and LOVE. Hat tip to the programs and the kids… they were all WINNERS last night.

    • runningunnin.454
      9:27 am October 3, 2020 Permalink

      I agree, they are all winners; truer words were never spoken. Proud of all of them.

  5. UKCatAttack
    9:45 am October 3, 2020 Permalink

    Cool story, this reminds me of what Rame Bradley said when he compared eastern ky to Brooklyn.

  6. WKY Cat
    10:15 am October 3, 2020 Permalink

    “between an all-white football program from McKee, KY – a town that has voted Republican in presidential elections since the Civil War”
    What does this have anything to do with it? Are you implying poorer white communities only vote Republican? Once again KSR can’t help themselves and has to throw politics into an article.

    • runningunnin.454
      11:06 am October 3, 2020 Permalink

      No, I didn’t take it like that; he is simply showing the diversity of the two communities, and championing the fact that they can come together so the kids can play a football game. I doubt the Shawnee community has voted Republican since the Civil War. They are also celebrating their similarities.
      I believe Honest Abe was a Republican; is today’s party the same? Before you answer, consider this Lincoln quote from 1858, “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political quality of the white and black races, …I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality…it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of them”.

    • runningunnin.454
      11:33 am October 3, 2020 Permalink

      Of course Stephen Douglas, a Democrat, referred to Lincoln as the ‘black republican”.
      Frederick Douglass called Lincoln “the black man’s President, the first to show any respect to their rights as men.”

    • Jack Pilgrim
      2:13 pm October 3, 2020 Permalink

      The coach’s exact quote was: “… you bring a conservative county that’s all white to Louisville that’s probably a little more liberal…”

      It was a statistic to back up the coach’s statement, not an opinion. I’m the least political person I know, don’t make this about something it’s not.

  7. WKY Cat
    11:48 am October 3, 2020 Permalink

    I understand the point of the article. But bringing in politics to show that. Hmmm. Why didn’t he make a political point about the other area being represented? Unless the other area votes democrat consistently then it’s not showing diversity. It’s either poor journalism or a point was being made and the point wasn’t diversity.

  8. UKFanSC
    12:08 pm October 3, 2020 Permalink

    Need more of this and less of CNN and Fox. Good stuff.

  9. Cousins Fake Tooth 2
    5:19 pm October 3, 2020 Permalink

    Why is the community “hurting”? Only reason they are hurting is because of all the fake narratives going around pushing an agenda where statistical facts prove its all horse crap. Facts came out, and guess what, they still want to push a faux narrative.