Dynamic 'Dogs, Part III: Bulldog coaches are filled with youth, energy, but also reverence
This is the third and final story in a series on the athletic success being earned by Portageville High School in recent seasons.
PORTAGEVILLE – There are some commonalities that you will notice when you look at the coaching staffs at Portageville High School.
All six of the coaches are natives of the Bootheel of this state.
All six of them have enjoyed success in their careers, and with the exception of first-year softball coach Kelsey Snider, have won a lot of games for the Bulldogs.
And noticeably, they are all young.
“It definitely helps me relate to the kids,” fourth-year Bulldog volleyball coach Sasha Kellams said of her age. “Especially with my girls. I’ve been in their shoes.”
Kellams is a 2015 graduate of Portageville High, while Snider graduated from Twin Rivers in 2011.
Portageville basketball coaches Kellye Fowler and T.J. Smith, each were Bulldog players and graduates in 2008, while football coach Ian Penrod is a 2009 graduate of East Prairie.
The old man of the group is Portageville baseball coach and athletic director, Tyler Trover, who graduated from Bernie High in 2007.
“We can connect,” Kellams continued, “and relate on a lot of different levels.
“That is definitely an advantage.”
For Smith, he has seen it from both sides.
He played for the legendary Jim Bidewell, whom Smith said, “was still full of fire,” even in his final seasons on the bench.
“I think that it helps,” Smith said of the current Bulldog coaches, “that we are all starting (our careers) pretty close together at the same time. We all have similar goals in that we all want to be successful.”
Smith helps Penrod with football in the fall and Trover with baseball in the spring, and of course, his basketball players are training all summer, as well.
“Maybe,” Smith said, “being younger gives us the energy to be able to (coach) all year round.
“We are around the kids 365 days a year. They don’t ever get away from us.”
Every day when Trover enters Portageville High School, he is reminded of the standard for Bulldog athletics.
“It is really humbling to walk into a school every day and you see what the coaches before you have done,” Trover said.
The Bulldog basketball program has won five MSHSAA Class 2 state championships and played in six other Final Fours, while the softball program has finished third in the MSHSAA Class 2 state finals twice.
For Trover, he got close last spring, as his baseball squad finished second in the MSHSAA Class 2 state finals.
“To see five state championship trophies,” Trover continued, “and the other various state tournaments that we have been able to get to, that is very humbling.
“When I walk in every day and look at that, I just hope for a quarter of that success. But it does make you realize that what you are doing is important.”
Honoring the success
Not only are the Portageville trophy cases impressive with the multitude of achievements, but truth be told, they are overflowing.
Trover admits that is an issue that will have to be addressed – quickly – because at the rate the current Portageville coaches are racking up success, more trophies are coming.
Trover has dreams of Bulldog baseball state championships (plural), but for all Portageville athletic honors, he would like to convert a long hallway that runs parallel to the gymnasium into “Bulldog Hall.”
“The dream is for it to be a place, where you come in five years after you were an All-State player or something of that nature,” Trover explained, “you can walk through that (hall) and take pride. But not only that, but when younger kids walk through that hall, they can see the people that have come before them and they understand the magnitude of the opportunity that they have.”