As the school year draws to an end — even as strange as this one has been — some normal issues remain. One of them is personnel changes. There is a major change in Leopard Land.
Athletic Director Bob Sikes is retiring after a 40 year career as a teacher, coach and administrator at De Queen. He will be succeeded as AD by one of his former players, Lance Pinkerton.
Pinkerton is a life-long Leopard. “I was born and raised in De Queen” he said. “I graduated in 1992 then got my teaching degree in mathematics at Henderson. I taught at Lockesburg and Foreman then came back to De Queen in 2003.”
He taught upper level math until three years ago when he became principal of De Queen Middle School.
Pinkerton knew early what career path he would pursue. “My grandpa was a teacher. My dad was a teacher and coach. Lots of other relatives taught,” he said. “I come from a long line of educators.”
In his student days at DHS, he was a three-sport athlete, playing
football, basketball and baseball. “Baseball was probably what I was best at. I loved playing football. I love playing basketball, but baseball was where I had the most success,” he recalled.
“I played point guard in basketball and quarterback in football. We ran the power I. We averaged throwing about four times a game. Mostly we ran the option.”
Pinkerton spent one year on the football sidelines. “One year a coach left late, Mr. (Bill) Blackwood asked if I’d help out, so I spent one year as an assistant for junior football,” he said. “I played sports and really enjoyed them, but I didn’t want to coach.”
He has been involved in De Queen athletics in other ways. He is a scorekeeper during basketball season. In the spring he is the starter at De Queen home track meets. “My dad did it for years. I’ve been doing it for seven or eight. I enjoy it,” he said.
Of his spare time, Pinkerton said “I’m a Razorback fan. I like hunting and fishing. I play golf. I have two boys; that keeps me busy.”
He explained the athletic director has multiple duties. “The AD is the supervisor of the athletic program. I’ll make decisions on purchases, handling coaching assignments. Make sure things are ready for home games. Handle issues that come up at games, really just administer sports,” Pinkerton said. “I’m sure there are some things I don’t know about, but I’ll learn in the next few months.”
After a spring semester destroyed by fears of the coronavirus, he hopes athletics can begin to return to normal soon after the Arkansas Activities Association’s dead period ends May 30.
“The coaching staff is 98 percent set. One coach is possibly leaving, not official yet,” Pinkerton explained. If a change is forthcoming, “We’ll will look at the options, try get it done as soon as possible. This late in year, it gets harder and harder. For the most part we’re in good shape.”
He pointed out that an athletic director requires different skills than a principal. “It is definitely a change from what I’m dealing with now,” he said. “I will try to help the coaches and student athletes. I hope to provide them with the support they need to have a successful year. I want to keep things going in a positive direction with the people we have and the people coming in.”
De Queen will have at least three new coaches next year: Brad Chesshir, head football; Nick Evans, assistant football; and Ethan Crocker, head baseball and assistant football.
“I’m excited about new coaches. Coach Chesshir is going to be assistant AD. I’m positive he will be a big asset,” Pinkerton said.
Pinkerton noted that Leopard athletics have gone through several changes since his playing days. “We didn’t have cross country, soccer, archery. We had football, basketball track and baseball. They were just trying to start softball, slow pitch,” Pinkerton said. “The school is about twice as big now as it was when I was in school. Because of expansion, we have offered more sports, brought in more kids.”
Memories of his student days at De Queen inevitably include the man vacating the office Pinkerton will soon occupy. He pointed out that Sikes was his baseball coach, junior high basketball coach, and an assistant football coach.
“I have a lot of memories with Coach Sikes. He’s done a lot of good things for this school,” Pinkerton said.
Pinkerton is not promising 40 years, but he is eagerly anticipating the next school year. “I’m really excited about new position and new opportunities Mr. Sanders (supt. Jason Sanders) and the school board have given me,” he said. “I’m going to try to make sure the athletic programs are as good as the best around. I am looking forward to the opportunity.”