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Sports

July 8, 2014

Coach Steve Guffey touched many lives

CAMPBELL —   Steve Guffey was a true sportsman in every sense of the word.

  Guffey, who died on Saturday at the age of 50, was a standout athlete and coach, who was also an avid golfer, angler and hunter. He was an educator. teacher, mentor and a friend to many who’ve been paying their tributes online and at candlelight vigils on Sunday in Ladonia and on Monday in Campbell.  Guffey’s memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Campbell High School gymnasium, where he coached the Lady Indians’ basketball team the past 12 years.

  “He would do anything in the world for them (the athletes),” said Guffey’s mentor, Glen Fields. “He knew how to coach them and develop them and they played for him.”

  Guffey assisted Fields with the Fannindel Falcons’ basketball team, helping them reach the Class A state semifinals in 1988 and then win a state championship in 1989.

  “It was like having another right hand,” said Fields. “We worked so well together. I’d be looking at the offense and he’d be looking at the defense.”

  Guffey also assisted Fannindel coaches Larry Joe Braley and Doug Williams as they led the Falcons to the state semifinals in football in 1988.

  “Steve lived every day to the fullest,” said Williams, who is now superintendent of the Sunnyvale ISD. “He had the unique ability to make everybody around him feel better.”

  “Coach Guffey was one of the best people I’ve ever met,” said Bruce Jones, who was the quarterback of the Falcon state semifinal football team and a guard on the state championship basketball team.   “We have lost a great friend but heaven has gained a great man.”

  “We had a lot of success and a lot of it was because of Coach Guffey,” said Philip Burnett, a player on that Fannindel football team who is now a Commerce baseball coach. “We beat a lot of teams we shouldn’t have beaten. But we did because Coach Guffey told us we could. He just made you believe.   He’s one of the reasons I’m a coach. So I can make kids believe.”

  Guffey coached several seasons as the head boys and girls basketball teams at Fannindel, before heading to Ponder, where he coached the Lady Lions to a state tournament berth in basketball.

  After Fields became a school administrator at Campbell, Guffey rejoined his former mentor, coaching the Lady Indians to several trips to the regional basketball tournament and a long line of playoff berths.  Guffey also served as athletic director at Campbell and coached other sports, including softball, golf and track and field.

  “He was a father figure to all of us girls,” said Natasha Orona, a former Campbell athlete. “He’s given me so many life lessons.”

  “He took me under his wing,” said Katie Seale, another former Campbell basketball player. “He doesn’t only teach you about basketball, golf or softball, he teaches you about life...He has been there for me during the roughest time of my life.”

  “He would take care of everyone else before he would ask for help for himself,” said Glen Fields. “It’s a devastating loss to me. A 27-year friendship is gone. He’ll be with us forever.”

Campbell boys basketball coach Joe Garcia said he learned a lot from Guffey.

  “Towards the end we became like brothers,” he said.

  “He was like a dad for me,” said Haley Davidson, another former Campbell Lady Indian. “Just about every game he’d write me a card. I’ll miss him and he was my very best friend.”

  Kris Crews, who coached with Guffey at Fannindel and Campbell, said somebody asked Guffey, a lifelong bachelor, if he’d ever been married.

  “Yeah, he was married to his friends,” said Crews. “Did he ever have any children? He had thousands.”

  Trenton basketball coach Mike Jones also paid tribute to a former rival coach.

  “It’s not the wins and losses...it’s about the lives that you touch every day and the lives that you mold. He’s leaving a heck of a legacy behind.”

  Frank Colvert, who officiated many Campbell basketball games, said officials loved to call Campbell games because Guffey worked his players and not the officials.

  While Guffey coached with Fields at Fannindel, the Falcons won two state sportsmanship awards from basketball officials.

  Another former Lady Indian, Jordan Jaco, talked about Guffey’s love for the outdoors.

  “There’s no way you can outfish that man,” she said. “He could always up you one. There will never be another Coach Guffey in this lifetime.”

  Greg Williams, who was Guffey’s good friend in college and his assistant coach in basketball, noted the impact that his longtime friend has left in this area.

  “If you didn’t love him it’s because you didn’t know him,” said Williams.

 

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