De Queen Leopards

If anybody actually bleeds black and gold, it would be new De Queen coach Drew Dykes.

Although born in Fayetteville, De Queen has been home for all but the first year of his life. He is the third Dykes generation to teach at De Queen.

His grandparents, Mike and Sharon Dykes, both were teachers. Mike was a coach as well. Sharon began Primary School principal. His father David teaches speech.

Dykes was a three sport athlete at DHS: football, basketball and track and field. He won the class 5A shot put as a junior, but had his senior athletic year cut short by a knee injury in football.

After graduating in 2017, he began college at the University of Arkansas then transferred to Henderson State. He did his internship at Dierks under Jarrod Fannin, who is now the head Leopard football coach.

Last December Dykes began to substitute teach at De Queen at several different levels, including the second grade. "Pretty much all kids get along with me. I learned from family how to connect with people well," he said.

He was hired as a full time teacher and coach in March. "A lot of people are still here who coached me," he said.

Dykes is the coach for junior boys basketball and track. So far, basketball has been front and center. Unlike the situation with most new coaches, Dykes was not a stranger to the players.

"The majority of them knew me. I know a lot of their parents," he noted. "It's been good. They've worked hard."

This is the season for working on fundamentals of the game. "In summer, it's ball handling and shooting and 3 on 3 more than anything. Practices are up-tempo. There is not a lot of down time. The focus is on player development," the coach explained.

The young Leopards are also lifting weights and doing pylometrics exercises. "A lot of basketball programs tend to skimp on the weight room. We're not going to do that. We've already seen a lot of improvement," Dykes said.

"Brandon Lindly coached them in pee wee. Coach (Lance) Bradshaw did a good job with them last year. They know the game. They're pretty smart, pick up things quick.

"For the ninth grade the strength is three point shooting. They don't jump extremely well, but they are pretty skilled."

The rookie coach plans to play fast. "I don't think we'll hold the ball as long as they did back in the day," he said. "I wish they had the shot clock in junior high, maybe next year."

On defense the Cubs will be seeking the best match-ups. "The key will be being able to adjust. Don't just come in with one defense and say this is what we're going to run," Dykes said.

A major influence on the new coach has been his dad, who coached him and his siblings in all their peewee sports. Another is his high school coach Beau Brickell. "He is one of my favorite coaches. I really like him. I learned a lot. Every player under him improved," said Dykes.

After basketball comes track and field, a sport in which De Queen has a long tradition of success.

"Doing track here is a pretty big deal," the new coach said. "My grandpa coached track here in the 70's.

"He loved track. His best event was the hurdles. He wanted the grand kids to hurdle. I did the throws. My sisters ran middle distance. My brother jumped."

Multiple school records set in that era lasted three or four decades. The new coach said he did not inherit his grandpa’s training schedules, but "I've heard some stories from some of his former athletes."

Jonathan Lindsey was Dykes' track coach in junior high, then moved to senior high Dykes' sophomore year. "Coach Lindsey was my coach for six years. He has become a really good friend. I will lean on him."

In the classroom Dykes will teach junior high American History, one of the classes in which he was a substitute. "I loved history. I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Dykes recalled the fall of the year he was in the second grade. He was a manager for the De Queen junior high football team. "I thought that was the coolest thing in the world.

"I always wanted to be a coach from the time I was little. I grew up a Leopard. I take a lot of pride in coaching here.

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