Coaches to entertain, raise funds for Russellville athletics

Donna Lampkin Stephens/Contributing Writer Published January 23, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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From the left, Jilliann Jacimore-Wilson, Russellville Middle School volleyball coach; Kelly Young, Russellville High School girls soccer coach; Matt Long, Russellville High School baseball coach: Joey Fisher, Russellville Middle School girls basketball coach; and Harley Sisson, Russellville High School softball coach, perform “Man of Constant Sorrow” at last year’s Russ-Vegas Coaches Karaoke.

RUSSELLVILLE — Following the success of the inaugural Russ-Vegas Coaches Karaoke last year, the second installation is set for Saturday.

The evening serves as a fundraiser for the Russellville High School Athletic Department.

“Last year the show raised around $5,000, and we hope to do the same again this year,” said Russellville athletic director Johnny Johnson, the brainchild behind the idea. “We hope it will be another fun night for our coaches and community.”

Heading into last year’s debut, Johnson, who became athletic director in July 2012, said he wanted a “unique” fundraiser — and that’s what he got.

“[I wanted] something that would be fun for the community and that would bring our coaches together,” he said. “When you have as many coaches as we do, sometimes they don’t have a chance to see each other except at the first-of-the-semester meetings. I always want to have cohesion and camaraderie for our coaches.

“And for the community, there’s not very many events you can go to and see your superintendent, principal, coach and athletic director get up and act silly.”

The event, with Phil Wright Autoplex as its lead sponsor, will be held at The Center for the Arts on the RHS campus. The evening will again feature R.J. Hawk of Little Rock radio station 103.7, The Buzz, as master of ceremonies. Activities will kick off with a silent auction at 6 p.m.. followed by karaoke at 7:30.

Hawk admitted to a bit of skepticism heading into last year’s inaugural Russ-Vegas event.

“High school coaches getting on stage and belting songs that kids listen to these days just didn’t seem very high on the entertainment value list,” he said. “My, was I surprised. You had coaches dressed like the Soggy Bottom Boys, grown men in female wigs, and even some blasts from the past. They had the crowd rolling in laughter.

“Add the silent-auction prizes to the evening, and it was a tremendous hit. I can’t even imagine what some of these coaches will do this year. I just hope nothing involves a wrecking ball and Miley Cyrus.”

About 35 items, mostly donated by Cyclone coaches, will be up for auction. The list includes a guided fishing trip with senior girls basketball coach Steve Wiedower, and one with softball coach Harley Sisson; a guided raft float trip with assistant cross-country coach Michael Roys; an autographed Zach Hocker football and driver; four tickets to the Arkansas-LSU basketball game on Feb. 15; four tickets and a parking pass to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock-Western Kentucky basketball game on Feb. 8; opportunities to serve as guest color commentator for an RHS football and basketball game on radio station KCJC with Mickey Duvall; four golf lessons with golf coach Roy McSpadden; old Cyclone and Whirlwind items from track coach Charlie Goodman; and a half-day fishing or hunting trip with coach Joey Fisher — among many others.

The karaoke lineup will include coaches from the middle, junior high and high schools, members of the Russellville School Board, elementary school principals and Russellville schools central-office administration employees, including Johnson.

Hawk said he feels good knowing his small role in the fundraiser will help improve high-school sports in Arkansas.

“The entertainment value is second to none,” he said.

Tickets are $5. For more information, call (479) 890-8561.

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