BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Hot Springs Lakeside head basketball coach Eddie Lamb has won over 1,000 games in his high school career, but that won’t be the thing he remembers most when his long and successful career is over.
Lamb believes it will be the lives that he has touched while coaching 30 years with stops at Lake Hamilton, Jessieville and Lakeside.
“There’s so much more to being a high school coach than wins or losses,” Lamb said. “It has got to be more about down the road successes with kids, going to college or going into a trade, just doing something they are good at and supporting them beyond sports.
“That something I really try to do even after our kids graduate. I call them on their birthdays, go to their weddings or other big things that happen in their life. I have a lot of ex players that now are married and have kids so it is a lot more than just wins or losses.”
The wins are pretty cool, too, notes Lamb, who got his 1,000th win with a road win over Texarkana back on Jan. 27, 2021.
“It was cool,” Lamb said. “When that number is brought up, I want people to understand that it’s senior high and junior high wins. My wife figured that all up. She saw that I had kept with all my records.
“When I was at Jessieville, I coached high school and junior high. I started out at Lake Hamilton as the junior high coach and have been a high school coach for 28 years now. I like people to keep a perspective so that’s probably around 600 high school wins and 400 junior high ones. It’s still a really lot of games to coach and I know all those teams and all those players.
“It’s really been a big thing in my life to be around those kids as much as a I have. The wins are great, the losses are tough, but those losses can sometimes bring you together through tough times.”
Lamb, whose program hosts Benton on Friday, got to celebrate one of those moments with his current team last week.
The Rams (7-9, 2-5) lost 78-39 at Sheridan, but bounced back to win at El Dorado 49-47 on Friday.
“We took a really tough loss on the road at Sheridan last Tuesday night, but came back and got a really good win on the road Friday night at El Dorado,” Lamb said. “You’d have thought in that locker room after the game that they had won the national championship. It was just a good old grind win. That’s the kind of stuff you always remember.”
Lakeside is rebuilding this season after going 23-13 in 2021-2022.
“We probably lost more than anybody coming into this year and we knew we were going to have to ask a lot of young kids to do a lot for us,” Lamb said. “Right now, we are battling with the group I have this year. We have played four sophomores, three juniors and played a senior here and there.
“Here’s an example – Tuesday night, we didn’t look good doing what we were doing. So for next two days, all we did was work on things that we needed to get better at. We improved so much Friday night.”
The 5A-South has expanded this season from eight to nine teams.
“In our league this year, there is nine teams,” Lamb said. “No one is at a disadvantage, but there are only four teams that will get into the playoffs. The last two years we have got ten second and third and made the state playoffs. Percentage-wise, it’s tougher with just the four spots.
It is all about focusing on the small things according to Lamb.
“I think with a young group, you just have to keep them in the moment and working on what we have to do,” Lamb said. “You still have to work on practice habits and fundamentals. Are we in the top four in the standings right now? No. But we are going to continue to strive and be there and if we can’t, we are going to play spoiler. We want to be the team that nobody wants to play at the end of the year because we are playing pretty good.”
Lamb believes he has been blessed with great administrators.
“When I was at Lake Hamilton in ’93, Bubba Pate was the AD (athletic director) there and there was a great administration there,” Lamb said. “All those years I was at Jessieville, George Foshee was the Superintendent and now with Don Pierce nd Shawn Cook at Lakeside, I have been blessed to work for some really good guys for sure. It makes your job a lot easier for sure.”
Photo courtesy of Lakeside High School