By Thomas Sellers Jr.
For more than half a decade the Trojan SYS Football team has stayed united and has being a foundation for Millington Trojan Football down the line.
So what does basketball have to do with football? This winter Trojan Youth Sports put out a call to their football players to participate in another sport to build unity and have a distraction during a global pandemic.
Trojan Basketball rallied in short time to form three teams Trojans 6&7, Trojans 8&9 and Trojans 10&11. Part of the coaching staff for TYS Basketball are Craig Hawkins and Diego Reyes.
“Our director is Jeff Gibson,” Hats off to him because he’s kept this Trojan Football community together,” Reyes said. “This year he said, ‘Let’s do something different. Let’s play basketball. Let’s keep the players together.’ We want to keep that comradery. We decided to play in the Munford Basketball League. That’s why we’re here today.”
Saturday just happen to be Nick Massey birthday. He celebrated his 12th birthday with his teammates, parents and his coaches in the Munford Middle School Gymnasium. Massey had an hour of getting better at basketball, making memories with his friends and wearing the black and gold of Millington.
Coach Hawkins wore those colors before graduating in 1993 from Millington Central High School. Then he was in the stands at Mooney Boswell Field rooting on his big brother Hank when he led the Trojan Football team. Hank Hawkins is still currently the all-time winning coach in school history.
“This is my fifth year coaching,” Craig noted. “I was happy Diego was going to do this because I know little to nothing about basketball. Diego has been great taking over in basketball. He helped me out this year in football so I wanted to come other to return the favor this year.”
Like his brother, Craig realized quickly the most important part of coaching is building character in the players you are in charge.
“You want to give them a sense of accomplishment but at the same time you want to teach them it’s not all about winning,” he said. “It’s about what you learn and how you apply it every day.”
YNCM(SW/AW) Diego Reyes, USN (Ret.) knows the importance of teamwork and building cohesion toward a common goal. He took on the challenge of coaching basketball because he wants to see his group of young men continue on a path toward success.
“For me I just want them to grow up to be positive citizens in the world,” he noted. “To always do the right thing, stay in school because that’s very important being a teacher now from the military. This world can be tough for them.
“So myself or even Coach Craig could be that positive role model and demonstrate positive character, I hope they can emulate that and have positive character,” Reyes added. “That’s all it is. We do this from the heart. It’s all about them.”
Flag City is the proud of home of the Trojans’ black and gold. The population is made up of mostly two types of individuals. Those who proudly grew up in the city learning the traditions of Millington like Coach Hawkins.
Then there are men and women who came to this corner of Southwest Tennessee serving the country and decided to retire in Millington like Coach Reyes.
“It’s important to me being a military man and retiring, and remaining here, I’ve put some roots down here,” Reyes said. “I’ve become a Trojan in the 7 years I’ve actually been here. With 6 years in the military and now in my first year of teaching. It’s been important.
“The military people are there and are a small backbone to the community,” he added. “I am fortunate and honor to be able to leave that organization and come to Millington and be a part of this. It’s about OneMillington. That’s our motto. And being a Trojan is everything to me and I am grateful.”
Hawkins said having a chance to instill the Trojan Way in children is a privilege. And he knows he has three at home born black and gold.
“That’s real important to me,” he concluded. “I grew up a Trojan. My brother coached and I got three kids. I want them to walk that stage too. That’s real important to me. I want them be the best Trojans they can be by the time they graduate.”