For Steve Daniels, Conway’s athletic director, it began eight years ago with a cooler of soft drinks and some pizzas.
Saturday, at the Wampus Cst Steak-Out, Daniels was presented with the first Walter "Buddy"Coleman Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Association of High School Officials (AAHSO). The presentation was made by AAHSO vice president Dax Hill of Conway.
"Coach Daniels has been a huge part of our training camp we put together each year for high school football officials," said AAHSO executive vice president Todd Allen. "We couldn’t do the things we do for the one hundred plus football officials we train each year without the resources coach Daniels has made available to us through the Conway School District. He really loves football and cares a great deal about the kids and how what he does everyday affects their lives."
"There are a lot more people who deserve this award than me, but I’m very appreciative of it," Daniels said. "I think part of it is I’ve been involved in high school sports so long, 25 as a coach and 13 as an administrator. I think they considered my being involved in high school sports so long as part of it.’
Eight years ago, Daniels was approached by the officials association about holding a training clinic in Conway.
"We furnished a lecture room and brought in some ice chests with soft drinks and let a few officials talk discuss things to get better," said Daniels. "Our Steak-Out (intrasquad scrimmages) was that night and we got together with the officials and thought it might be a good thing for them to get on the field and get some game-like experience with what they have learned. We’ve been doing that ever since."
The clinic has grown to 100 or so officials with and makes for a full day with refreshments and meals.
"I’m for anyone further educating themselves and trying to get better in their profession," Daniels said. "I know all of them have fulltime jobs and they do it because they like to do it. What they do and the decisions they make can affect a whole town or community. So, it’s important for everyone they do what they need to do to get better."
The annual award is named after the late Walter "Buddy" Coleman, a longtime Arkansas high school official who was president of Coleman Dairy for several years and is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Coleman also spent 26 years as a referee in the Southwest Conference, including officiating more than 250 football games. Coleman officiated two Cotton Bowls, two Orange Bowls, five Sugar Bowls, three Fiesta Bowls, two Gator Bowls and the Mirage Bowl in Tokyo.
Before working a Saturday game in the Southwest Conference, Coleman would be out on the field Friday night in Arkansas working and helping Arkansas high school football officials.
Coleman is the father of NFL Referee Walt Coleman, who also serves as president of the AAHSO. The award will be handed out each year by the AAHSO for an individual’s lifetime of support and development of high school football in Arkansas.