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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Eileen Givens is back on the area scene, but this time she's guiding Countryside boys, not Lakewood girls.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published March 5, 2006
Eileen Givens coached some of the best female track athletes in Pinellas County, guiding Rose Richmond, Nadia Covington and others to numerous state titles when she was in charge at Lakewood.
Givens left after the 2003 season and figured she was done coaching at the high school level.
But after two seasons away, Givens is back.
This time there's a twist.
She's coaching the boys at Countryside.
Givens took over the program when football assistant Todd Belisle stepped down. Her presence already has paid dividends. Countryside won its first meet on Tuesday and came back to win the Madelyn Roberson Relays at Boca Ciega on Friday.
"I've been pleasantly surprised," Givens said. "The guys are responding well and we've got some depth."
More than 40 boys came out for track this season, and Givens said she has talent in every event.
It starts with Ian Evans, a standout in football, who specializes in the shot put and discus. Evans placed ninth in the shot put at last year's state meet and also did well in the discus.
Then there is Ray Coleman and Chaz Powell, two running backs who give the Cougars a solid one-two punch in the sprints. There also are some surprises, such as Josh Crawford, a junior who is still nursing a sprained ankle yet managed to clear 21 feet, 9 inches in the long jump last week.
Givens said she encouraged Crawford to come out for track after seeing him dunk in basketball. He worked on his form last year and Givens is hoping to take him to another level.
"I remember Joshua asking if I was going to take the job earlier this year," Givens said. "When he found out, he had a smile on his face."
With two quality wins, Countryside already has made a quantum leap and could be in the mix for the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title after years of lagging behind powerful teams such as Boca Ciega, Lakewood, Largo and Seminole.
"The biggest thing is that they're gaining confidence," Givens said. "They're realizing that we can work together as a team and win."
The biggest difference for Givens is the number of athletes at her disposal. Sure, she always had talent at Lakewood, but she only worked with a select few.
"It's nice to see that many out there," Givens said.
There is one thing, though, that will not change.
"I'm going to make them work," Givens said. "That's the same whether it's boys or girls."