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Vaught’s note: This is not a Kentucky-related column, but the story — especially during Kentucky-Louisville week when emotions can sometimes lose track with reality — is one I thought vaughtsviews.com readers might enjoy because it was a gut-wrenching week for the Lincoln County football team, head coach Mike Settles and Mickey Goodwin’s family.
By LARRY VAUGHT
STANFORD — What had been an emotional week for Mike Settles and his Lincoln County football team got to end in a way no one could have ever scripted.
“Football and life go closely together and our kids got to see what kind of challenges life presents,” said Settles.
Lincoln assistant coach Micky Goodwin, a former Lincoln player, was killed in a motorcycle accident hours before the Patriots were scheduled to play Bourbon County in the PBK Bank Rebel Bowl Aug. 30. With the family’s blessing, the Patriots played that game, and lost.
Four days later, Settles got a call from his wife telling him that her father was in the hospital with a serious heart problem. Settles rushed to Danville and got there just a few minutes before his father-in-law passed away. He missed practice Wednesday and had to meet the team in Lexington for Friday’s game against Lexington Christian after his father-in-law’s funeral ended.
Lexington Christian took a 21-3 halftime lead in the game before the Patriots, who had not won this season, rallied to win 22-21 when LCA missed a 20-yard field goal as time expired.
“This was such a meaningful win for so many reasons,” said Settles. “I can’t say I’ll ever be part of a more meaningful win. Mickey’s family was there. My wife was there, as she has been for every game for six years, after her father’s funeral. My mother-in-law listened on the radio.
“There were a lot of teary-eye coaches and players because of coach Mick. It just seems like he had a role in this. It was just an unreal finish, one you could never script. There were so many ways the game could have turned and for us to have won just seems like Mick had a hand in it. There were so many feelings. Exuberance, sadness, love. I’m not sure even now I can explain it.”
Settles was touched by the gesture LCA coach Ray Graham and his team’s fans made for Goodwin, too. Graham asked his fans to help support a scholarship fund to help send Lincoln players to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer camp and over $1,000 was donated Friday night at the game.
“It was a great, great gesture,” Settles said. “I have seen so much good in people the last week. It has been refreshing. You hear all the negativity in the world, but now we have seen first-hand all the good out there.”
Graham even spoke to the Lincoln players after their comeback win and his players joined the Patriots in a postgame prayer to remember and honor Goodwin, a man who once you met him was impossible not to like.
“Our kids have grown up so much in the last week,” Settles said. “They were sending texts to me and were there for me after my father-in-law passed. This was just a very unique, unusual time for us all and is something none of us will forget.”
Settles said Goodwin “loved all the players” and that made his death so emotional for them all. It’s why the team would not have played in the PBK Rebel Bowl without the family’s blessing.
“But it was not surprising they wanted us to play,” Settles said. “They knew how passionate Mickey was about Lincoln County sports and football. They wanted us to play that game because they knew Mickey would want us to play. He was a product of our community. No matter what part of the county you were from, Mickey could relate and kids gravitated to him. Our players lost a father figure and super guy. That’s why they miss him so much and always will. He was just one of those guys you could trust.
“Then to lose my father-in-law a few days later, it was just numbing. It was so difficult for me personally and I had to rely on my staff so much just to get through the week. I think all of that emotion just caught up with me when our game ended and I was so emotional — probably the most emotional I have ever been — for so many reasons. It was a difficult week for us all, but a week we will all remember for many, many reasons.”
And somehow I think Coach Mick probably was looking down and smiling knowing that even after he had gone, he was still helping mold youngsters into young men with a difficult life lesson we all face daily.