A constant figure on the sidelines of every Blackhawk football game among the players and coaches is John Grigsby, one of the managers. John watches the plays and the players and is quick to go to the side of an injured or discouraged player when they come off the field.
"He's always there for me when I come of the sideline -- good or bad -- telling me to step it up or good drive," senior Hagan Schrader said.
"John's always a smiley face in the program," coach Nathan Claytor said. "It's going to be a sad day whenever John Grigsby walks out the door.... he's always willing to help. He will be greatly missed. He's very encouraging to the players, and has great relationships with the kids and coaches."
Grigsby, 17, a senior, has been attending Pea Ridge High School for the past three years during which he's served as a manager for the football team. The son of James and Jessica Grigsby, John is the fourth of five children with three elder brothers and a younger sister.
John has Asperger's, his father said. Many of his peers don't know that, but what they do know is that John is kind and encouraging and loves to tell them the weather forecast.
When asked what he likes about the coaches, John said: "They're cool."
"It's all about the team," John said Friday night after he was surprised with the presentation of a letterman jacket. "This team rocks!"
"John always makes me laugh," coach Cody Alexander said. "And, he keeps us updated on the weather."
"He's very helpful. He knows how to make us laugh when we're having a bad day," T.J. Lancaster said.
"He always makes your day," coach Josh Reynolds said. "He's a pleasure to be around."
Senior Philip Brown echoed the others' comments: "He's always a generous kid and always wondering how you're doing. He makes everybody smile."
High School principal Charley Clark commended John's friendliness saying that John is almost always at the front door of the school every morning saying "Good morning" and giving high fives.
With the football program, he "helps a lot with the equipment and helps us keep our heads up," senior Tate Busey said.
John's fascination with football comes from one of his elder brothers who played football in Webb City, Mo., and has two state championship rings from his years with the program. And, with the weather because another of his elder brothers survived the big Joplin, Mo., tornado. John's eldest brother was a Marine.
James Grigsby said the family moved to Pea Ridge three years ago because he works for Walmart corporate and the drive is easier. As for his son's work with the football program, he said: "He just felt that was his calling and he wanted to be a little more active when we moved here from Webb City.
"He's made good friends and good relationships," the elder Grigsby continued. "The guys and the other managers help push and drive him, which is what he needs sometimes. It has helped him come out of his shell and make friends."
James explained that John was not always shy, but neither was he the most outgoing, although he's "never met a stranger." He said John's work with the football team has helped him understand making true friends instead of just believing that every person he meets is a friend. He said John plans to go to college but is still deciding on his major.
"For him, more of it has been learning what a true friend is," James said. "We're trying to make sure he has good friends who help him do the right thing. Sometimes he would slack off on his school and his friends help him focus more."
His brother try to help him and encourage him that he will meet different people from different walks of life.
"My wife and I weren't fearful. He'll either make it or fail and that's how life is ... you either succeed or you don't," James said. "This has given him a real taste of life and a different approach to how life is."
"I've always tried to raise the kids with a sense of compassion for humanity. That's just how John is, to look out for your friends and family," James said. "I'm glad part of that has been instilled in John.
Community on 11/06/2019
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