Donald Harrison "Don" Shows|
February 15, 1940
Ruston, Lincoln Parish
March 3, 2014 (aged 74)|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Alma mater||Northeast Louisiana University|
|Occupation||National champion football coach|
|Spouse(s)||Daune Elizabeth Ducote Shows|
|Parent(s)||George Melvin and Thelma Shows|
Donald Harrison Shows, known as Don Shows (February 15, 1940 – March 3, 2014), was an American athlete of five sports, a coach of the Northeast Louisiana Indians (renamed the Louisiana–Monroe Warhawks in 2006) and the Northwestern State Demons. Most of his career was as a high school football coach whose last team, from 1989 until 2012, was the Class 5-A West Monroe High School Rebels in West Monroe, Louisiana, USA. At least one poll declared the Rebels in both 1998 and 2000 as national champions, a subjective designation.
On June 25, 2011, Shows (pronounced SHAUZ) was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, located in Natchitoches. Chosen by a 30-member committee of the Louisiana Sportswriters Association, the 2011 nominees brought the number honored to that time to 285.
One of three sons of George Melvin and Thelma Shows, Don Shows was born and reared in Ruston in Lincoln Parish. He graduated in 1958 from Ruston High School, where he lettered in baseball, basketball, and track and field, as well as football. He played under the legendary Ruston High School coach Hoss Garrett: "We ran the Notre Dame Box. I played tailback, which is essentially the same as a quarterback in the 'gun'. I also ran track and played baseball. I won four state championships in track."
As a child, Shows preferred baseball and basketball to football. Hence for much of his life he faithfully watched other sports competitions besides football. He attended Louisiana Tech University in Ruston on a track scholarship, having graduated in 1963 with teacher certification in science and physical education.
Shows and his wife, Daune Elizabeth Ducote, originally from Alexandria, had four children, Stephanie McBride and husband Jere of Houston, Texas, and Kimberli Porter and husband Randell, Casey Harrison Shows and wife Ashley, and Haley Elizabeth Shows, engaged to Shane Lowery, all of West Monroe. There were nine Shows grandchildren at the time of the coach's death.
Prior to his long tenure at West Monroe in Ouachita Parish, Shows coached the Jonesboro-Hodge High School Tigers in Jonesboro, to the 1977 state championship. That competition, against John Curtis Christian High School in River Ridge in Jefferson Parish, was the last game played at the old Tulane University Stadium in New Orleans.
His first coaching assignment had been in the early 1960s at Haughton High School in Haughton in south Bossier Parish. In addition to West Monroe, Jonesboro-Hodge, and Haughton, he coached at Farmerville High School, subsequently renamed Union Parish High School, in Farmerville in Union Parish, at Caldwell Parish High School in Columbia, Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe, Alexandria Senior High School in Alexandria, and Pineville High School in Pineville.
In 1985, he was a 45-year-old graduate assistant at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then known as Northeast Louisiana University, where he coached the linebackers for the Northeast Louisiana Indians, subsequently renamed the Louisiana–Monroe Warhawks. In 1988, as offensive line coach, he helped to propel the Demons of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches to a conference championship. He coached several Division 1 college players, several of whom thereafter played at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Since his arrival at his final school, West Monroe High School, Shows led the Rebels to sixteen district, seven state, and two national championships. The Rebels also secured six state runner-up designations. Before Shows took over the Rebels, the team had mostly losing seasons for many previous years.
Shows was also involved in community affairs in West Monroe. In January 2010, he received from the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce its A. O. Evans Award, named for the first president of the West Monroe chamber.
Favorite football moment
Shows describes his favorite football moment from 1997, "when we [West Monroe] were playing Shaw [of Marrero] for the championship. We were facing 4th and goal, down 19-14, with about a minute and a half left in the game, and Rodney Reed made a great adjustment on his block, Lane LaBorde made the right read, and Willis Britton followed Reed into the end zone for the win! Beating Carencro in Lafayette Parish in the 1996 state championship was incredible! And beating St. Augustine (in New Orleans) in 1993 was awesome because no one thought we could, but we proved a lot of people wrong that day!" West Monroe had been expected to finish last in 1996 in District 2-5A that year but instead went undefeated in district for the first time.
Illnesses and death
On November 23, 2012, Shows sustained a "severe concussion" when at least one football player collided with him on the sideline during a quarterfinal game, which his West Monroe Rebels won. He was taken to the intensive care unit at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe. A week earlier, Shows left his Rebels team second-round home game because of hypertension but remained on the field for the Don Shows dedication ceremony that evening at Rebel Stadium. He was hospitalized on November 16, 2012, but returned to coach two days later.
In the fall of 2012, while he was recovering from fatigue and was off duty on medical leave, Shows was suspended from coaching for two games by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association because of questions about the eligibility of a player, offensive lineman Cameron Robinson, who transferred to West Monroe High School and sought immediate eligibility. LHSAA placed the Rebels on disciplinary probation from September 2012 to September 2013 and fined the school $1,000 and the costs incurred for the investigation into Robinson's eligibility.
In the spring of 2013, Shows had a stroke. Assistant football coach Jerry Arledge took over the head coaching duties for the fall of 2013, but Shows vowed to return when his health improved. Shows remained on staff as the school's athletic director, but was stricken again in February 2014 with prolonged loss of appetite. On March 3, he died just after his 74th birthday at Ochsner Baptist Medical Center in New Orleans.
Shows memorial service, called "The Celebration of the Life of Don Shows", held at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 7, at his namesake Don Shows Field in Rebel Stadium in West Monroe attracted thousands of mourners. Some five hundred former and active players, three team doctors, and area politicians, including Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris, State Representative Frank A. Hoffmann, himself a former radio football announcer, and Ouachita Parish School Board member Jerry Hicks and Superintendent Bob Webber, participated in the ceremony, which was planned over the preceding four days by Shows' widow, Daune, whom Shows long called his "toughest critic". Another school board member, Bill Norris, served as the master of ceremonies. There were thirteen speakers, including oldest daughter Stephanie McBride who represented the family. The Shows service drew a worldwide audience of 13,054 in preliminary numbers from a live Internet stream at the high school website, gorebs.org
Greg Hilburn, staff writer for the Monroe News-Star, said that Shows "took over a moribund West Monroe football program in 1989. The school had been to the playoffs only twice in forty years before his arrival as head coach." In a previous interview with The News-Star, Shows said that upon his arrival the West Monroe program was "at a point in time where it was going to fold up ... or it was going to turn around. Personally, I don't think anybody really cared one way or the other, because they didn't think you could win here."
Mayor Dave Norris noted that the West Monroe High School football program "lagged until Don came along. And the success of the football program has clearly bled into other segments of our city. It's a point of pride in our city and a reason for us to come together ..."
Shows' state championships were in 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2011. The 2009 championship came with the defeat of Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, 30-0, at the Louisiana Superdome, since the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, in New Orleans. Shows was runner-up once at Jonesboro-Hodge and at West Monroe in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2008, and 2010. On December 11, 2010, Shows' West Monroe Rebels lost 21-14 to the Acadiana High School Rams of Lafayette Parish in the Class 5-A title game, also at the Superdome.
Shows had a career record of 345-78 (.817 record) in 32 seasons at West Monroe, Pineville, Jonesboro-Hodge, and Farmerville. He was the fourth-winningest coach in Louisiana state history. His West Monroe record of 273-48 included eight state titles and appearances at thirteen state title games. The last state title was in 2011 before the decline began in Shows' health.
Shows' players going beyond the high school level included Tommy Banks, Bradie James, Barkevious Mingo, and Andrew Whitworth. Mingo and Whithworth were among those attending the memorial service.
Robbie Martin, who played under Shows at both Pineville High School and Northwestern State University, said at the memorial service that the West Monroe Rebels were once "a doormat" of a football team that was always scheduled for opponents' homecoming games but is now envied by the rest of the state.
a great man, coach and father and he will be missed tremendously. he did so many wonderful things that impacted the lives of the players he coached. He had great success on the football field, but it was the positive impact on the lives of the young men that he coached and the relationship that he had with his players that made him so special. ...
Scott Stone, a former offensive coordinator, lauded his mentor at the memorial service:
...Drive through town and look at all the West Monroe stickers on the cars. People are proud to be called West Monroe people. Don Shows made West Monroe a household name in the state of Louisiana and especially in the Louisiana Superdome, where we made frequent visits and most of the time came back victorious. People's expectations went from winning a few games to winning championships year after year.
As a new football season began in late August 2014 without Shows at the helm, Jeremy Bryan Many (born 1977), the coach at Sterlington High School in Ouachita Parish, recalled his longstanding ties to Shows:
He taught us all how to win at a time when people in West Monroe did know how to [do so]. I look back sometimes and wonder if we hadn't done what we did if I would have gotten in the profession. It's because of Coach Shows and how he affected my life that I decided I wanted to do the same for young men. ... It's going to be weird not having Coach Shows on the sideline for the first time in as long as I can remember. What we can do, and any of his guys will tell you this, to honor him is pass on what we learned and make sure that continues to live on."
The Don Shows Scholarship Fund, managed by Altheia Owens, has been established to raise funds to honor each year a West Monroe High School student athlete. The fund can be accessed at Ouachita Independent Bank, 2002 North 7th Street, in West Monroe.
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