The relationship between a father and son is special to say the least.
However, when father and son memories can be made on the football field, it seems to take on an even bigger meaning.
For Minden head football coach Spencer Heard, this is all too true.
Heard took over as head coach of the Crimson Tide three years ago, coming from Green Oaks and wasting no time bringing the Tide back to prominence in Class 4A.
Coming over with him were his two sons, Patrick and Connor.
Connor is a faithful follower of the Tide, still too young to play for dad.
Patrick is a sophomore, and following a tremendous season for the Minden freshman team last year, has earned a place in the Tide’s starting lineup.
“It’s awesome,” Patrick Heard said. “I worked hard all offseason trying to earn my spot. To have it, it feels good.”
With Patrick in the starting lineup, the Minden secondary has been one of the toughest units to throw on in the area. The young cornerback had a few awkward moments early in the season, but is now playing like a veteran, recording an interception and forcing a fumble in a district tilt with Huntington and laying a vicious hit last week against Northwood that drew a roar from the raucous home crowd.
As a father, coach Heard is just glad to be up close and personal while his son continues to make plays and memories for the Tide.
“It’s a joy to watch,” Spencer Heard said. “It’s not something that many coaches get to experience. I try to treat him just like every other player.”
Heard says the best part of having Patrick on the team this season has been watching his son progress.
“He’s gotten better as the year has gone on,” he said. “A lot of times I’m over there looking at different plays he’s making and just impressed with how much he’s progressed.”
Patrick says he is always aware of his dad’s presence on the sidelines, noting it drives him to make plays, or more importantly, make sure he’s not getting beat.
“Yeah, I try to impress him,” he said.
That’s not always an easy thing to do when your dad has a storied playing career of his own.
Spencer Heard was a standout wide receiver for Mansfield High School, excelling on special teams as a return man. He caught the winning touchdown for Mansfield in a state championship game and even has a place in the Minden High School Stat and Record Book for his 79-yard touchdown punt return, the longest punt return ever allowed by a Crimson Tide team.
Patrick, who has blazing track speed of his own, returns punts for the Tide, and is on a quest to add a second Heard name to the record books.
Patrick, said the love for the game doesn’t get left on the practice field or in The Pit, noting football seems to dominate the discussion at home as well.
“He talks about football all weekend, even after the game,” Patrick Heard said. “He and all the other coaches are always talking football. It kind of gets annoying sometimes.”
One common misconception about the coach and son relationship is that the father will coach the son different than other players, but Patrick was quick to dismiss any notion of either favoritism or being singled out more often.
“He coaches everybody the same,” Patrick Heard said. “Anytime he says anything, it’s all for motivation.”
Patrick still has two years on the gridiron and a lifetime of memories left to make with his father.
Still, dad gets emotional when talking about how fortunate he is to share a sideline with his son.
“It’s just a special situation,” Spencer Heard said. “I relish every moment of it.”