"Forever Coach"

So long as it remains impossible to turn back the hands of time, every man is challenged to fill his days and indeed, his life, with a worthy purpose that defines his character throughout generations. With the recent announcement that Coach Mickey Lineberger will no longer pace the sidelines as Head Coach of the Red Raiders varsity football squad, a time for fond reflection and sincere appreciation is warranted.

There is no denying that Coach's affection for South Point athletics, and specifically the football program, runs deep. After all, Coach was a member of the inaugural team of Red Raiders that took to the gridiron in 1969. While Belmont's football history began several years before, it was this "first" team of "South Point" Red Raiders that formed the foundation that would become an elite program, the likes of which others strive to emulate. Remarkably, throughout the program's 47 year history, only four men have been honored as head coach of the varsity program, each possessing a leadership style that fit the personality, skill, and talent of their teams. And in spite of what may be considered a few "lean" years, the pride surrounding South Point Red Raiders football continued to grow. Coach Lineberger, with every ounce of desire and motivation, embraced the purpose that led him to become, not simply a coach, but the Head Coach of the Red Raiders.

Officiating crews receive their share of angst from partisan crowds, but that usually is based on an unfavorable call on an individual play. The head coach, in contrast, is wholly involved with every snap of the ball. He hears both the cheers and jeers from the same fans that he is mindful to publicly appreciate during recounts of the game. What is forgotten in the stands is that the Head Coach along with his staff are the leaders who spend time teaching their charges proper technique and giving them the tools to enhance their abilities. And they do so…every day. Who knows better the heart and soul of a team? Coach Lineberger took the responsibility many steps further. He built character, displayed compassion, exercised discipline, emphasized honor, loyalty, and trust in his players. Along the way, his teams won championships and advanced a proud tradition. The story is told of a young player whose value to the team would be questioned among some football circles. He was not, after all, the one who would be given the ball to score the touchdown to win the game. Rather he would be the one who would race from the sideline to verbally deliver the next play to the quarterback only to race back off the field once the play was over. It would be impressed upon him that his value to the team was not diminished by this "perceived" menial task. Coach insisted that it was vital that the play called be delivered exactly as stated from the sideline. This, he would conclude, elevated the importance of the task as well as the player's value to the team. This simple recollection reflects but one of the worthwhile lessons in life taught by Coach Lineberger.

The qualities by which a man is measured would require encyclopedic volumes. And each would include descriptive terms such as those listed, including character, compassion, discipline, honor, loyalty, and trust. Even these may fall short of describing the man who throughout life has exhibited a sincere dedication to a worthy purpose. On the football field the absolute measure of success is numbered in victories, while the provisional measure is the respect a proud program merits. For the two to be mutually inclusive a program requires a coach that desires to have a positive impact on the lives he encounters. Perhaps few rise to this level of understanding and perhaps even fewer achieve the lofty goals marked by championship trophies, a proud tradition, and young men of outstanding moral character. South Point has flourished under Coach Lineberger's devoted leadership. For all of his service and dedication to the South Point family and the Red Raiders football program, Coach Lineberger has reached a pinnacle that deems him a success.

For the love you've shown to our school, our students, and our athletics, we wish you all the best. And we count ourselves fortunate to call you a Red Raider and…our Coach Forever.

"After all the cheers have died down and the stadium is empty, after the headlines have been written, and after you are back in the quiet of your room and the championship ring has been placed on the dresser and after all the pomp and fanfare have faded, the enduring thing that is left is the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live." - Vince Lombardi