DENTON (10/26/06) Helplessly watching as his team fall behind to Arkansas State last week in Jonesboro, Ark. was enough to give North Texas head coach Darrell Dickey chest pains. And if anyone watching the game at home on television didn’t need the added stress, it would be Dickey. After suffering a heart attack in the early morning hours of Oct. 13, Dickey was not able to be with his team for the first time since 1978 when he was redshirted his freshman year at Kansas State and didn’t travel with the team. For a man who has had his gal bladder removed, been diagnosed with Diabetes and had a heart attack all within the last nine months, it might be surprising to some that those encounters pale in comparison to the one he endured last Saturday night.
“It was the most miserable experience of my life,” Dickey said of his inability to travel and watching his team lose on television. “For the last 26 years I have never been away from my team during a game, as a player or as a coach. Not that I would have made a difference in the outcome, but not being there and not being able to talk with my coaches and players almost killed me.”
Dickey is back this week and has been cleared by his doctors to make the trip to Troy, Ala. as his Mean Green tries to notch its third win of the season against Sun Belt Conference rival Troy. He resumed his regular practice routine on Monday and used his experience last weekend as motivation for his team as it attempts to get back in the conference race this week.
“I told them that they need to treat each game and each practice like it is a special gift and they are blessed being able to pay the game that they love,” Dickey said. “I never thought in a million years that I wouldn’t be able to be with my team because of a medical situation, and it was taken away from me just like that.”
His game-day routine this week will not venture far from the usual as he believes that the sooner things return to near-normalcy with him, the better his team’s chances to right the ship in the final five games of the season. He will be there for the team’s Friday walk-through...he will be there for the Saturday meetings...he will be there to give one of his animated pre-game speeches and he will be there to lead the team in the Lord’s Prayer at the end of the game...win or lose.
Dickey is fully aware of the potential of this team and realizes that while his impact is not inconsequential it is only a piece of the larger puzzle that determines the final success.
“Everybody on this team, including coaches and players has a role,” Dickey said. “It takes everyone doing their part for us to be successful and I plan on being around to do my part for a while.”