Coach John Cole is no stranger to tradition and what’s important when it comes to Bridgeport football. He’s been a player in it and has coached as an assistant and now the head man for decades.
So when the head coach says something is “a big deal” Cole isn’t sugarcoating things. Such is the case with the annual Talon Steadman Hart Award that is given out annually.
Recently, prior to the start of Bridgeport’s week 7 game with North Marion, the entire team gathered on the sideline and the entire coaching staff headed on to the field where they were joined by Dick and Susan Steadman. The team was about to recognize a player on the team for their selflessness and team-first attitude.
And they were doing it in the name of one of their own that passed away in Steadman. The honor is done to keep the young man memory alive.
“We’ve done this going back to Bruce Carey and I imagine we’ll be doing it after I’m no longer here,” said Cole. “This honor is a big deal and it should be a big deal.”
Talon Steadman passed away in August of 2009. He was killed at the age of 16 in an automobile accident and was a member of the Bridgeport High School football team.
Steadman, Cole and past coaches have said, wasn’t the biggest kid. He wasn’t the fastest. He was, however, as determined as anyone and the player that always volunteered to help out when the coaches needed something – or someone – to do something.
It’s that type of player the coaches look at when determining who will get the honor. They want a team-first guy and Cole said they got one with this year’s winner – junior Sam Drake.
“The first thing the coaches will tell you about Sam is that he works very hard every day. He’s probably one of our best conditioned linemen,” said Cole of the offensive guard who also plays linebacker. “He’s in just about every practice play. He’s on special teams. He’s on the field and giving 100 percent all of the time. He’ll do whatever we need whether it’s snapping the ball, playing defense or offense. You don’t have to tell him to get on the field. He just gets on the field when we need something.”
Cole said Drake is currently seeing the bulk of his time on the Indians junior varsity squad. And he said that experience, coupled with his work ethic should produce dividends for Drake and the Indians in the future.
“If you do what Sam does, or anyone for that matter, it will make you better and that’s the ultimate goal for the kids,” said Cole. “That type of effort gives you the best chance of getting onto the field.”
Cole said the other players have taken notice of Drake’s work habits. And he said that’s something he’s certain Talon Steadman – a player Cole coached – would approve of.
“Talon was always the one volunteering and the winners of this award are like that. You know, this award and the winner of it instills pride in the rest of the team,” said Cole. “It makes the player better and the team better and shows you don’t have to start to contribute. Sam certainly is making us better.”