Keller Citizen

Retiring Lineweaver made indelible mark on Texas high school sports

Beyond all of the wins and state championship trophies, Steve Lineweaver never stopped trying to identify what he could do to help a student athlete attain his potential.

That’s probably what made him one of the better coaches to come through Northeast Tarrant County, much less Texas. Lineweaver wanted to crack the code.

“I’ve always been interested in what goes into the mind of a competitor,” Lineweaver said. “I thought, ‘How can I get the negative bricks off their shoulders’ and help them understand there is a freedom of making a mistake and learning from it. I tried to unlock kids. That’s not always easy. But l loved doing it.”

For 47 years, Lineweaver plied his trade between the baseball and football fields. But when Euless Trinity’s football season ended in the Class 5A Division I state quarterfinals, Lineweaver decided it was time his coaching career ended as well. Lineweaver told Hurst-Euless-Bedford administrators last month he was retiring. The one-time Southlake Carroll baseball coach will finish out the school year. He arrived at Trinity in 2000.

Then it will be time to do something else. Lineweaver, 68, doesn’t have anything officially set. He’s evaluating several options.

There wasn’t any coordinated plan to make 2014-2015 the last. Lineweaver just took some time after the loss to Allen and realized it was time. Sometimes you just know.

“I still felt really good, and this wasn’t one of those things where the clock was ticking,” Lineweaver said. “It wasn’t needed, because I was already past retirement age. But it just dawned on me that the kids would be served better with a younger voice who would have the energy for the little things. I always tried to do my best there.”

Wherever he went, Lineweaver became a part of or built an athletic power. One of his early stops was as assistant football coach at Trinity from 1976-1985. He helped the late John Reddell transform Trinity into a consistent winner.

But longtime Carroll followers know what his presence meant. Lineweaver helped Bob Ledbetter and Ken Cook build the foundation at Carroll into what it has become today. He was the offensive coordinator on the 1988 and 1992 state championship squads (arguably the best high school football teams I ever saw).

What you may not have known was that Lineweaver was a pretty solid baseball coach. Back then, those Dragon baseball teams made deep playoff runs. The most memorable was the 1992 Class 3A regional championship game in Tyler. Carroll and Queen City played deep into the wee hours of Saturday before Queen City won. Lineweaver’s son Aaron pitched the last 12-plus innings.

What you respected was the absoluteness with the way Lineweaver worked. He built Commerce into a power and guided the Tigers to the 1995 3A state championship game against Sealy. A tie would have meant a split championship. But when the Tigers scored late to narrow it to 21-20, Lineweaver elected to go for two. Commerce missed. Sealy won. There were no regrets.

“The decision came down to this: ‘What do we line up to play for? We line up to win,’” Lineweaver said. “We don’t line up for a tie. The only way to go was for two. Some people disagree, but my kids backed me.”

The value of life after the games always reveals itself. When Trinity won the 5A Division I title in 2005, the team prayed that its state championship would help serve others. That might have seemed a little odd.

Yet divine intervention stepped in. Days after winning the title, a local juvenile detention center called and asked if the players would come and perform the famous “Haka” dance for its kids.

Nerves were real when the team walked into the facility. In time, the players spoke of their love for the detainees and called them brothers.

“All I did was drive the bus,” Lineweaver said.

The resume for Lineweaver will show a 175-29 record in 15 seasons at Trinity with state titles in 2005, 2007 and 2009. His legacy at Carroll and Commerce is ironclad. Lineweaver left every place better than how he found it.

“We never had a goal of playing for a state championship,” Lineweaver said. “We played with a passion and to be a bright light in a dark world.”