MOULTON — Listening to his daughter spin a tale about pickup basketball games with her older brother and wagers involving Polly Pocket, Shane Childress’ eyes got wider with every word.
Based on Childress’ reaction, the Lawrence County High boys basketball coach never knew his son, Jesse, considered playing with tiny dolls — or better yet, was forced to by younger sister, Rachel.
Oh, the agony.
Per Rachel’s account, childhood basketball games with her brother always had stakes. If she won, Jesse had to join her as she played with her Polly Pockets — and according to Rachel, this happened on multiple occasions. But if Jesse won? She had to participate in a more boyish activity, like tossing around a football or playing in the woods.
“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa,” said Shane, who had never heard this story. “We better get both this sides of this. Hey, Jesse. Get over here. Tell us about losing to your little sister in basketball and playing with Pollys. That didn’t happen, did it?”
Shaking his head in denial, Jesse scoffed at the notion.
“No. I never lost to her,” he said. “She made me play Pollys before she would come out and play basketball. That’s the only way I could get her to come out and play basketball.”
The response drew an instant laugh from Shane.
“OK. So you never lost,” he said while chuckling. “But she still made you play with Pollys?”
Classic sibling rivalry — with lots of influence from a colorful, and fun, family.
A family that’s life practically revolves around Lawrence County basketball.
Shane coaches the boys team, Jesse drains 3-pointers for the Red Devils and Rachel does the same for coach Kenny Coffey’s girls team. The trio has a chance this week to sweep Lawrence County’s varsity basketball tournaments for a second straight year. The tournament, one of the oldest in the state, begins today at A.W. Todd Coliseum.
Meanwhile, Kelly Childress, a former Lauderdale County High standout with state title rings, keeps stats while three other members of the Childress family — all potential future Lawrence County girls basketball stars — watch almost every game from the stands.
“Basketball is a big part of our lives,” Shane said. “Can you tell?”
No doubt about that.
Shane has been coaching basketball at Lawrence County schools for almost his entire career. He was the boys coach at Hazlewood from 2003-07 before taking the job at Lawrence County prior to consolidation.
And his kids? They practically grew up in a gym.
“Pretty much, my whole life has been around basketball,” said Jesse, 16, a sophomore guard for Lawrence County. “It’s like a second home.”
The constant gym time hasn’t hurt the Childress kids’ favorite interest: Basketball.
Jesse, a sharpshooting guard, is averaging about 12 points per game for Lawrence County, while Rachel, a 15-year-old freshman, is averaging about 20 points per game and is one pace to be one of the area’s next girls basketball stars.
“We’re always getting advice at home,” Rachel said. “It’s not a bad thing. It’s made us better players.”
The Childress players on Lawrence County’s basketball teams are extremely competitive. They’re also hilarious — constantly cracking jokes and one-line zingers.
But they get it honestly. Taking Shane seriously, unless it’s game time, can be difficult.
Shane’s sideline wardrobe during the Lawrence County tournament has drawn local fame. He wears a button-up shirt, but it has an image of Elvis Presley on the back. Apparently the family likes Elvis, because when his brother Kerri, was the head boys basketball coach at Rogers High, his teams ran onto the court to Elvis tunes.
Jesse is obviously his father’s son. Same can be said for Rachel. Almost everything they say centers around humor.
“And that can be hard for me as a coach,” Shane said. “Everything Jesse says, he wants it to be funny. He’s just like me. That’s not always easy.
“It’s not easy being a coach when your kids are playing, but the good outweighs the bad. We’re competitive, but we understand what it takes to be part of a team. Being a part of something. That’s the important part.”
Oh well. Good times are plentiful for those associated with Lawrence County basketball.
And two pretty good Childress players are starring prominently for both teams.
Jesse, who is also standout golfer, is one of the best perimeter shooters in the area — but according to both father and son, he can’t beat his dad in a pickup game.
“But that’s probably about to change,” Shane said. “I’m going downhill and he’s getting better. It’s just a matter of time.”
And Rachel? Local basketball fans, look out.
Only a freshman, the Lawrence County budding star is already among the area’s leading scorers. And according to the coaches at Lawrence County, the future for this youngster is bright.
“Rachel is tough,” Shane said. “She’s always been tough. What she’s capable of? There’s no telling. It’s going to be good.
“I’m proud of all of my kids. Hopefully, we can get another picture, just like we had last year after winning the county tournament. All of us being part of county championships last year, that was an unbelievable feeling.”
Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.