It would be tempting to call Calvin Tucker a man of many hats. But truth be told, I can't remember ever seeing Tucker wearing a hat.
But it's safe to say the title "inventor" can be added to a resume that has previously included teacher, coach, administrator and some would say, philosopher on life.
Tucker last coached a football game in 1989, but it would be impossible to conclude he retired at that time. Advertisement
That is unless you consider driving from 65,000 to 80,000 miles a year to sell athletic equipment in a territory stretching from Beaumont to Stephenville to El Paso, the equivalent of cruising in an RV from one vacation site to the next.
Shiner quarterback Trey Curtis takes a snap from the Spring Release Hiker invented and built by former Shiner coach Calvin Tucker, left. The hiker allows Curtis to work on his snap timing without a center. Frank Tilley, Advocate Photo Editor
Tucker has cut down on the miles, at least in part to spend more time with his wife, Dixie, and their children and grandchildren.
But even at 70, Tucker's mind remains as sharp as it was when he coached Shiner to the Class 2A state championship in 1986 with a 16-0 record.
During the 18 years he was the head coach at Shiner, Tucker compiled a 141-51-9 record. He went on to coach at Gonzales for three years before leaving the profession with a 148-73-9 mark. "I don't guess I will," Tucker replies when asked if he ever plans to fully retire. "I need to something."
The product of what Tucker has been doing lately can be found on the practice field outside the Shiner field house.
At first glance, it looks like a dolly with a wire basket and other metal appendages attached.
But a closer look reveals what Tucker has labeled a Spring Release Hiker.
"A lot of the times with the veer (offense), you've got to have your quarterback take the ball to improve his timing," Tucker explains. "With this you don't have to have your center there all the time. He can be off working on his blocking."
Tucker says the idea for the hiker occurred to him when he was coaching and he's "been jacking with it for several years."
Tucker built the first hiker out of wood before coming out up with the prototype, which he hastens to add includes a ball-holding wire basket built by Kaspar Wire Works in Shiner.
"It gives the same true feeling as a center," Tucker says. "The quarterback is going to control the ball and move it. He cannot just stay there."
Tucker sold his first hiker to David Davis, an old friend coaching at Taft. Tucker says there are about 25 of the hikers currently in use at schools in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico.
Shiner, which still runs the veer offense Tucker installed, uses the hiker at least three days a week in practice.
"It's a timing thing for us," says Shiner coach Steven Cerny. "It forces the quarterback to press on the control to keep pressure on the trigger and lift up. The timing is pretty consistent and when you work with the veer, timing is everything."
Tucker won't disagree with Cerny, which is why he recently helped design an illuminated digital down marker for Azbell Electronics and Sports Video, a company based out of Waco, which also sells digital end zone video cameras.
The "Touch-A-Down" is battery operated and gets about eight hours per charge. Tucker said there are 12 currently in use, including four in the Rio Grande Valley, one in Waco and one at A&M Consolidated.
When Tucker isn't selling the digital down markers, he's busy working on a hiker for shotgun snaps, which Tucker says has drawn the interest of Memorial coach Jerry Campbell and Wharton coach Russell Roberts.
"I just haven't had much time to get them done," says Tucker, who keeps a prototype of the shotgun hiker at a transmission shop in Shiner.
Tucker still attends coaching school and occasionally goes on the road, but he has cut back on his travel, which has obviously limited his sales.
"If I was younger, I would probably go more often," Tucker admits. "But I've gotten to where I don't want to work every day."
Instead, Tucker is negotiating with a major athletic equipment company to help produce and sell his hikers.
If the deal comes to fruition, Tucker would get a royalty for every hiker sold. He would also add another title to his ever expanding list - that of an entrepreneur.