By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater High School’s quarterback Braxton Noble is used to getting instruction from one member of the Hix family.
The shoe was on the other foot Tuesday as Titan Hix — son of Stillwater offensive coordinator Paul Hix — toed the line and took a few words of advice from Noble before firing a bullet pass into his father’s awaiting hands.
“It was a blast,” Noble said. “Some of those kids are really good and some of them, this is probably their first time throwing a football. It was great to get to teach them and see where everybody was.”
Hix was just one of 53 participants in the Stillwater High School youth football camp Tuesday at Pioneer Stadium, but he wasn’t the only son of a coach on the field.
From Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard’s son Carter to Jackson Worley, son of linebackers coach Trent Worley, a lot of faces familiar with the Pioneer program took the same field their father’s will on Friday nights in the fall.
“There were four coaches here today that have sons in the camp,” Barnard said. “It’s important to us to learn something too. One of our core values on our team is relationships, and by having them out here, we were able to build that relationship with our sons.”
But the camp was more than just a family affair dedicated to those who know the coaching staff as Dad. In fact, Barnard said that in this camp he doesn’t feel like he’s helping raise just one son, but 52 others by teaching them not only the basics of football but life lessons as well.
“For me and probably for the other coaches, it’s not that difficult to flip that switch,” Barnard said. “We’re coaches first. When we step out here on the football field, we’re coaches. We enjoy it and have a lot of fun. It’s just great to interact with the kids.”
That’s what this camp is about, really. Fun and building a family — something that will be crucial once the camp’s participants enter high school.
“When I was little, I loved having the older guys help me,” Noble said. “I’m just hoping that some of what I’m doing will rub off on them and make them great high school players some day.”
With still a few years before that happens, guys like Noble, Will Fowler and Kaden Secrest are the ones that grab most of the kids attention.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Titan Hix said of getting to throw passes to his father and the Stillwater quarterback.
“That’s one of the things that we’ve recognized about (these guys),” Barnard said. “They’ve got great leadership potential and they love to do this. They’re all great role models for these kids and they do things right. We’re glad that (Noble) is out here, Kaden is out here helping too and Will Fowler was out here a little earlier. We love that these high school kids are willing to invest a little of their time in the future of Stillwater football.”
Whether it’s taking the teachings from one Hix and passing it down to another or racing to the finish in the obstacle course, it’s hard to tell who had a better time Tuesday — the coaches or the campers.
“We probably had more fun than them,” Barnard said. “(As a group) we are having fun. We have a good time at this camp and hopefully they do to. We want to try to teach them some things, but we want them to have a good time and have good thoughts about being football players.”
But as the campers broke the huddle for the final time, Barnard and the other coaches once again flipped the switch back to being Dad, grabbing their son’s hands and guiding them home.
“It was really fun,” Titan Hix said while waiting for his father to finish picking up the field. “I like to be with my dad because he loves me. It’s fun to be with him and play football.”