Happy Easter

We're preparing for an Easter egg hunt at our house Sunday afternoon. Three grandchildren and a few of their friends will search for plastic eggs containing coins or candy or little carrot sticks (the mothers aren't so keen on candy, so only a few eggs have those treats). Afterwards the children will decorate and dye a few dozen eggs and we'll do another egg hunt with the real thing.

My mother -- great grandmother to Roeder, Jordan and Henry -- will be here and will tell us about the time when she was a little girl. Several days after Easter it was obvious one egg had not been found. It had been hidden in the piano and was beginning to smell. Everyone will listen as though it's the first time we've heard the story. We may do that more than once.

I will think about Sang Lyda several times on Easter. Sang has been my friend for almost 40 years, when I joined the athletics department at Alabama as assistant sports publicity director. Sang was assistant trainer. In the days before women's athletics, the department had perhaps 50 fulltime employees not including maintenance personnel. There was one golf coach, one tennis coach, one academics counselor, one director of Bryant Hall. The entire department had six secretaries, one of them the receptionist.

We all knew each other and knew the names of everyone's wife or husband, the names of children.

Today there are over 200 employees in the athletics department. It seems almost every day I'm at the Mal Moore Administration Building or Coleman Coliseum, I see someone I've never seen before.

I wouldn't begin to suggest that the 50 or so doing the work in the 1970s were doing it better than the 200 are doing now. We did have some nice success, though. Paul Bryant's football team, C.M. Newton's basketball squad, Don Gambril's swimming and diving team, Conrad Rehling's golf squad, and John Mitchell's track and field team won Southeastern Conference championships. Bama supplanted Tennessee as the best overall program in the SEC with Sam Bailey, the associate athletics director, taking charge of every sport except football. Coach Bryant was athletics director and had a hand in it all, but spent most of his energy on football.

Sang's boss, Jim Goostree, was a legendary trainer. My boss, Charley Thornton, won every honor available in the field of sports information.

Sang and I were the youngest employees when we came aboard in 1970. We believed that we worked for every coach and every athlete. It was demanding, but as Sang pointed out years later, "We were lucky. We couldn't wait to get up and go to work every day."

I've known a lot of people with a good sense of humor over the years and I've known people who seemingly were liked by everyone. Sang is at the top of both lists. He has more friends than anyone I know.

And I'll think of him on Easter because of something he said many times. (About as many times as I've heard Mother's story of the egg in the piano.) Upon going our separate ways, Sang would instruct, "If I don't see you before Easter, go ahead and hide the eggs."

I'll hide the eggs several times Sunday.

Happy Easter.

BamaMag Top Stories