The Ouachita Baptist University football offices may be facing a bit of confusion in the near future as two different Coach Knights wander the halls. The first is Head Coach Todd Knight, but the second is a fresh face. This face is that of Coach Knight’s oldest son, Spencer. To avoid the confusion of coaches with the same last name, Spencer has been named “Coach Spence” by the players. At the end of the day, Coach Knight and Coach Spence have a much deeper bond than just sharing a last name.
“I’m excited about it not just for me, but for our team and our coaching staff,” said Coach Knight. “He will be a really good new addition.”
Coach Knight describes their father-son relationship as normal. Like any normal dad, Coach Knight was Spencer’s coach for sports like baseball, soccer and football. Coach Knight always made it a priority to be an assistant coach and to let other dads take the lead because he wanted to be able to serve others. One of Coach Spence’s first Pee-Wee Football experiences was when he had just started playing the sport.
“I started Pee-Wee in fifth or sixth grade, and I remember Dad brought one of the hand shields home,” said Coach Spence. “We got out in the yard and worked on pulling and some kick-out blocks.”
That was not the last time that Coach Spence and Coach Knight were able to work together. Spencer graduated from Arkadelphia High School and came to OBU to play fullback for the Tigers. This carried on the coach-player relationship alongside their father-son relationship.
Coach Knight described Spencer as a dedicated player during his playing at OBU. Coach Spence was an All-Conference fullback for the Tigers during his time in college. Playing for the Tigers is something that they both share as father and son. Coach Knight played defensive line for the Tigers in the ‘70s. Both feel like playing for and graduating from OBU helped shape them into the men they are now and helped them tremendously in now coaching at their alma mater.
“While there are many great things about Ouachita, I was labeled as the coach’s son from day one,” said Coach Spence.
Overcoming the stigma of being the coach’s son and earning respect from his coaches and his teammates was something that did not come instantly to coach Spence during his time as a Tiger.
Coach Spence always felt that earning respect was difficult when you are the coach’s son, because you always feel like you are held to a higher standard and that you must do everything right.
OBU is a special place to both of the coaches for many reasons that reach far beyond football.
“OBU has one of the best educations in the state of Arkansas,” said Coach Knight. “The people here are willing to invest in you and help build the total man.”
This is something that Coach Knight not only see but practices himself. Coach Knight and Coach Spence are both at OBU because they feel like that is where they have been called to be able to impact the lives of young men.
When Coach Knight came back to Ouachita as the head football coach in 1999, he was coming from a very good Delta State program in Mississippi. He came back to OBU by choice to help rebuild a program that was in shambles. Now Coach Knight has led the Tigers to nine straight winning seasons, three conference championships and two playoff appearances.
“I’m glad to be back and fired up to be working with this coaching staff and looking forward to another great season and hopefully getting another championship,” said Coach Spence.
Coach Spence graduated in 2014 with a degree in business administration and management. After graduation, he went on to hold a graduate assistant spot on the coaching staff at the University of Memphis.
“My time at Memphis developed me into the coach that I am now, and it prepared me to get my own meeting room and to try and impact the lives of young men,” said Coach Spence.
When Coach Knight was looking to fill the vacancy in the coaching staff, he immediately knew that they wanted coach Spence to fill the gap. Coach Spence was not so eager to accept the position.
“It was easy to come back to OBU, but I had invested in guys at Memphis and it was hard to leave,” said Coach Spence.
Now that the two coaches are able to coach together for the first time, all their shared experiences have formed a bond and a dynamic unlike any other. They have an easy time communicating and know what to expect from each other. They also can rely on one another to finish a job and get things done the right way.
Father and son coaching duo Todd and Spencer Knight exemplify every quality that they strive to instill in every player that they coach.
By Mitchell Emrich, guest writer