Pictured left to right: 1st V.P. Lion James Thompson, President Lion Duaine Janzen, Coach Clay Patterson, and Program Chairperson Lion Beth Flud.
By Dean Craig - Okmulgee Lion
Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was a homecoming of sorts with the program provided by Clay Patterson, Head Football Coach at NEO (Miami, Ok.), and a graduate of Morris High School. His father, Rick Patterson, is a former coach (and Head Coach) of Morris High School, along with Larry Bookout (a legendary coach at Morris and a 2013 Football Coach's Hall of Fame inductee), and my son, Jeff Craig, (Head Football Coach and Athletic Director at Blanchard), former quarterback for Morris, all were in attendance to hear Coach Patterson speak. I filmed the football games for Morris for seven years and was close to the coaching staff, but this was the first time all four of us have been together in 30+ years.
After graduating from Morris, Coach Patterson attended NEO A & M for two years, where his uncle, Okmulgee High School graduate Dale Patterson, was the Head Football Coach. Moving on to Southeastern State, Durant, he played for two years and served as a graduate assistant for two years, before being hired as a position coach there for two years. Then on to Tarleton State (Texas) for a short time before his former coach at Southeastern State, Keith Baxter (a Holdenville native), called offering the offensive coordinator position at Texas A & M at Kingsville. He later applied for the offensive coordinator job at Trinity Valley (Texas) and was granted that position, staying for three years. Then when the Head Coach job became available at NEO, he received a call from Dr. Jeff Hale, President of NEO, who had been President of Southeastern State when Patterson played and coached there, and was offered his first Head Coach assignment. Of course, it didn't hurt that his uncle, Dale Patterson, is the Athletic Director at NEO, but when you look at Patterson's previous successes and resume, he has paid his dues and earned the recognition. Coach Patterson laughingly stated that his grandmother (Norma Jean Patterson, who worked for the late Dr. Bob Hasselman in Okmulgee for many, many years), had a lot to do with his hiring.
So, this becomes another "feel good" story and one of "small-town local boy does well". And it really doesn't matter how big nor small of a school you attended, it boils down to absorbing your information and training, perseverance, doing the best job you can, and taking advantage of every opportunity given. Bob Lilly, former Dallas Cowboy player, probably said it best when he said, "it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog". And Coach Patterson preaches, and lives by, his "eat" formula--effort, attitude, and tempo. And this also applies to personal, spiritual, academics, and life. It seems to have worked so far.
What an inspirational program, particularly from one so young, but his goal is to restore NEO back to its "glory years". We predict that this will happen. And our Lions Club is in the process of restoring our club back to its "glory years", and you can help because we still have a few more slots available for a few more good men and women. "WE SERVE"
Lion R.C. Morrow, Clay's Little League baseball coach; Jeff Craig, Rick Patterson, Clay Patterson, Larry Bookout, and Lion Dean Craig. (Photo Dean Craig)