OKALOOSA ISLAND — The All Sports Association 2015 Hall of Fame class is as decorated as they come.
One a hero, the other a transcendent coach, the legacy of First Sergeant Sam Hairston and Kathy Combest shared center stage at the Past Presidents Hall of Fame Luncheon at the Emerald Coast Convention Center on Wednesday.
Combest, a longtime Baker School and the current Crestview High volleyball and girls basketball coach, is also a member of the William Carey Sports Hall of Fame as a basketball player.
Combest admitted she never dreamed of being a Hall of Famer.
“You hope for it, but you never really think it will happen,” she said. “The kind of person I am is I just get in there and work because I like to win.
“I know to win you have to work.”
And win she has. Her combined record in volleyball and basketball is 927-282. As a volleyball coach she’s 589-176, good for a winning percentage of .769. Her basketball record is 338-106, a winning percentage of .761.
Former Baker head football coach and athletic director Jeff Webb inducted Combest into the hall.
“It was almost sinful how bad she wants to win,” Webb said. “And if you win 77 percent of your games, you probably won’t get fired.”
Combest knows nobody wins alone. She was joined by several siblings along with her husband, Steve, and daughter, Chelsea. Several friends, along with Crestview football coach and athletic director Tim Hatten and CHS Principal Dexter Day, who Combest has known since their days at William Carey, were on hand to share her day.
Combest named many of her principals and athletic directors as well as her assistant coaches that have helped with her success.
But her rock in coaching has been Steve, who also is a coach.
“Steve Combest is my soul mate,” she said. “We were put together. We think the same way about coaching.
“He’s my biggest fan and biggest critic. He’s someone I can talk to all the time about anything about sports and he understands.”
Emotions flowed with the induction of Hairston, a 1996 All-State defensive player on the Choctawhatchee football team who was killed in action in Ghanzi, Afghanistan, on Aug. 12 while serving with the Army Rangers.
Hairston was represented by his widow, Tawana, who is affectionately known as “Lady T,” and parents, Hap and Josie Hairston.
Dean Vinson, Bruner Middle School’s athletic director, was Hairston’s position coach at Choctaw and presented him into the Hall of Fame.
Vinson spoke about the love Hairston had for his family, and his teammates at Choctaw and the University of Houston, where he played college football. Vinson went on to share Hairston’s love for his country, the Army and the Rangers.
Vinson recalled that Hairston was so intense in practice that they often had to take him off the field because he was destroying the offense.
Hap Hairston was humbled by the honor bestowed upon his son.
“It means a lot to mean that my son is recognized by so many people and so much is thought of him,” he said.
“He was a good kid coming up and he was a good man. I really appreciate everything everyone has done for us.”
Randy Dickson is the sports writer for the Crestview News Bulletin. He can he reached at (850)682-6524, on twitter @BigRandle or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org