Kent Chambers- “Driving Force” Behind Bob Jones Softball Program
MADISON- After 30 years as a high school coach, including 28 as head coach of the Bob Jones softball program, Kent Chambers is enjoying his position as an assistant for the Lady Patriots as much or more so than any previous season he can remember. His work with the team includes keeping the scorebook, team-player statistics and officially working with the outfielders. He’s also the team bus driver. He’s responsible for safely transporting the team to and from away games.
“It’s wonderful, exciting for me to be involved with the team I was with for 28 years,” said Chambers. “I park the bus, grab the scorebook and keep the stats. This is so much less stress than being head coach.”
Chambers retired as a coach in 2016 and Whitney Deaver was hired as his replacement beginning in the 2017 season. For three years upon his retirement Chambers still supported the team he helped build for almost three decades by sitting in his lawn chair and cheer on the Patriots from outside the playing field fence just like all the other fans in attendance.
After three years away from the sport on the field and all of his former players graduated from the school Chambers had this need to be involved in some capacity with the team. Remaining at the school as a math teacher and assistant athletic director, he approached Deaver about helping the team, but without having to make any decisions for the program. She agreed to Chambers’ declarations and he joined as an assistant coach in 2020.
Already having to escort many of the sports teams at the school by driving a yellow school bus loaded with numerous sports teams and carrying his specialized driver’s license for over 20 years, Chambers jumped at the chance to sit behind the wheel and safely drive the teenage girls to game after game.
Chambers said today’s school bus is much different than the ones he first began to drive as the new sophisticated school buses are equipped with automatic transmission, air conditioning and, what he enjoys the most, a radio.
“I always play a radio station that plays old rock and roll music and many times the girls make fun of my choice in music,” said Chambers, 56.
The relationship between Chambers and Deaver goes years back in time as Chambers became friends with her family and even baby sat her at one time. Deaver played against Chambers’ teams while she starred at Grissom High and he watched her play throughout her collegiate years at Jacksonville State.
Deaver took the job as assistant coach at nearby Sparkman High before Chambers reached out to her about his retirement and hoping she would apply for his vacated position.
“He’s the reason I’m at Bob Jones and he’s in my corner and very supportive of our program,” said Deaver. “He’s more than our bus driver and assistant coach. He’s like a father to all the girls. He’s a big part of the program.”
While at the wheel, Chambers is a man of concentration as he knows the lives of many are at his fingertips. Obtaining his special license to drive a school bus he’s a sure-sighted driver who always checks his mirrors for safety. “Yes, I can also see the girls in the back of the bus and many times they are very humorous,” added Chambers.
“I joke with Whitney about which restaurant we’re to visit and if they have bus parking,” chuckled Chambers knowing maneuvering a bus in tight parking lots does not work.
In his reign as head softball coach Chambers posted 884 victories with 19 winning seasons and 12 trips to the state playoffs while having 57 of his players sign collegiate scholarships. His storied history got him inducted into the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017 and earned him the prestigious AHSAA’s “Making A Difference” award in 2016.
“Whitney is the boss. I work for her and I’m there to assist whenever she asks,” said Chambers.
Once the bus fires up its engine, the team is in place and Chambers buckles his seatbelt, he put his hands on the steering wheel and sort of becomes the team leader rolling down the highways. He continues his journey with the sport he loves and the softball program he built to become of the most respected in the country.