Whenever I write my stories, I usually have a tab on my computer open to Thesaurus.com. Admittedly, I have many go-to words and phrases I use often too frequently, so I go to that website whenever I feel I’ve become a bit repetitive. Coaches don’t have that luxury when interviewed on the spot. The soon-to-be-former Gonzales athletic director Kodi Crane is no different.
A couple of words and phrases he tends to repeat include “extremely important”, “outstanding”, “neat” and some variation of “to the moon and back.”
That one, “to the moon and back,” is probably my second favorite line he says. When describing a quarterback, he’s told me more than once that the signal caller can throw the ball “to the moon and back” in just a few throws.
But my all-time favorite line he says after every game?
“I love you.”
For the last five years, Crane has told his athletes after each game, whether it’s football or any other sports, “I love you, I’m proud of you.” And trust me when I say, he sincerely means it.
The day news broke that Crane was headed to Caddo Mills, I sat in his office for an interview and I asked him how he was doing. His phone buzzed right on cue and he told me “it’s been crazy, as you can see.”
Makes sense. When someone with as much impact as Crane has had leaves, there’s a big hole that now needs to be filled.
“Today’s been an emotional day,” he told me last Friday. “Obviously, I’m going to miss the kids. I’m going to miss the people that I work [with].”
He clarified a bit more, saying he wasn’t just talking about varsity football players or the program’s “first period athletes.”
Crane is talking about everyone.
“I have great relationships with a lot of our girl athletes,” he noted. “I got great relationships with a lot of the kids that maybe even quit and aren’t in the program anymore.”
I remember baseball games where Crane would cheer on a player stealing second by shouting out, “that’s why you do track and field!”
He’s everywhere, caring for everyone wearing the orange, black and white. And before taking on this Gonzales job, Crane cared about everyone in his previous job. And I bet he’s going to do the same thing at Caddo Mills ISD.
My first time meeting Crane was when the school board approved his hiring. I was just one year into my job here at the Inquirer and he asked if I could wait until the next morning, because he wanted to inform his athletes first.
I obliged, because I wanted to start this relationship on the right foot, but also because I thought it was neat that he cared so much that he wanted to tell his players in person about his new position.
Those are big shoes to fill for the next coach in charge.
I hope that whoever the decisionmakers hire as the next Apaches athletic director is someone that cares as much as Crane does. Being a part of a winning football team is one thing. Being a part of a winning program with success everywhere from girls cross country to boys soccer is even more special.
I remember a former athletic director years ago tell me he left the program a lot better than he found it. I think it’s safe to say, Crane did just that now. Here’s hoping these kids are given an athletic director that can do the same.