Cody McGuire and Rodney Blackshear both say they remember the 1,000-watt smile the most.
Whenever the former Texas Tech football players left the field after a game, the first face they often saw was that of Sharon Dykes — and, win or lose, it was always grinning from ear to ear.
“She had an unbelievable smile,” said McGuire, a Tech lineman from 1994 to 1997. “She was always so nice. Whether you won or lost, she was totally supportive.”
Sharon Dykes, the wife of former Tech coach Spike Dykes, passed away in late 2010 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease, but that smile hasn’t faded from the memories of her husband’s players. So when a group a former Red Raiders began planning a reunion to honor their coach and his late wife, while also raising money for Alzheimer’s research, the reactions were similar to the one they received from Blackshear.
“I told them I was all in,” said Blackshear, a Tech wide receiver from 1987 to 1991. “I can remember coming up the tunnel during my freshman year, and she called me by my first name. She knew my name even as a freshman.”
That kind of support has led to the inaugural Spike Dykes Charity Golf Tournament, which will take place Saturday at the Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin. The event, which also includes a dinner and silent auction, sold out quickly, with more than 60 former Red Raiders, many of them Dykes’ pupils, slated to attend. Some former Texas players, as well as longtime Texas A&M coach RC Slocum are also expected to be in attendance.
All the proceeds from the event will go directly to fund Alzheimer’s research in Texas.
“Those kids are so thoughtful,” Dykes, the Tech head coach from 1987 to 1999, said of his players. “Coaches wives are really close to the kids who play for their husbands. They had this whole thing planned before I knew what was going on. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness. I think she would greatly appreciate it, too.”
Like many coaches trying to climb the major-college ladder, Dykes moved his family around frequently during his career, with multiple stops at the high school and college levels in Texas. When he took the job as the
Tech defensive coordinator in 1984, it offered the family a chance to put down roots, and Sharon Dykes, players said, became a mother figure to the team.
“She was around those guys a lot, and as you can imagine, she really did learn to love them,” Dykes said. “She made some really good friends with those guys, and for them to do this is such a great tribute to her.”
In addition to paying tribute, the weekend will certainly be about laughter and busting chops. Blackshear began laughing at just the thought of some of the stories that will be rehashed come Saturday.
“You can keep in touch with people on Facebook,” McGuire said, “but to actually see everybody at once is going to be unbelievable.”
The event is also about raising money for a disease that affects families across the country. Texas is certainly no exception, as more than 340,000 people in the Lone Star State alone are living with the disease, according to Debbie Hanna, president of the Alzheimer’s Association — Capital of Texas Chapter.
The disease caused ripples in the Texas football community again when it was revealed earlier this year that iconic Longhorn coach Darrell Royal is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Dykes coached under Royal at Texas from 1972 to 1976.
“We are very proud that these fine Texas Tech Lettermen and Coach Dykes are joining in the fight against this disease,” Hanna said in statement. “Coach Dykes’ event will help fund research, communication and collaboration between Texas research institutions, a very worthy cause.”
Many of Dykes’ former players didn’t know his wife was suffering from Alzheimer’s until shortly before her death. When time came to plan a reunion, there was no doubt it would be about honoring the couple, married for 52 years, that had touched so many of their lives.
“He did so much for the guys who played for him,” McGuire said. “Everywhere he’s coached, guys that have played for him said he has helped them get jobs or whatever else they’ve needed, just gone above and beyond. We just wanted to do something to honor him and to honor Sharon.”
For more information, visit spikedykes.com.
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