Head Custodian Coach: Changing Narrative for Natchitoches Junior High School

By Reba Phelps

Like many public school systems around the nation, they must make do with the meager budget they have to operate a school. This leaves very little to nothing left for sports. Natchitoches Junior High School is no different. They make excellent use of every single resource they can get their hands on.

The Head Custodian is also the Head Football Coach and the Head Baseball Coach. Custodian- Coach, Richard Moody, wears many hats. These hats include Head Custodian, Head Football Coach, Head Baseball Coach, counselor, dad, uncle, granddad, and friend. Whatever the students and employees need at Natchitoches Junior High School, he answers the call.

He credits many of his hats to the new Principal, Alexa-Bernard Howard.

“She is just a good person, I am forever in her debt. She gave me an opportunity that no one else would,” shared Coach Moody.

According to Coach Moody, the student-athletes at NJH were typecast as athletes who just wanted to hurt anyone they played against. After being on the staff at the school for eight years Moody knew better. He has long called these students the best and the brightest. He saw their potential even when they did not.

He is also the first to admit that they have a school full of children that would be easy for most to write off because of poverty or behavioral issues. The tides started to turn this year when Coach Moody encouraged over sixty students to pad up and play football. When the season started they realized that most of the student-athletes did not have access to the proper cleats needed for football. This is where the close-knit community rallied together to raise money for most of the shoes needed.

“A lot of our kids have never even been out of town before, some do not know that there is a better way. They are used to seeing everything run down and not good, I want to change that for these kids. Let them know there is hope and good things out there”, stated Moody.

Coach Moody was raised by a good mother and father, in a very stable home. His mother wanted to make sure he turned out to be a good person. She enlisted the help of a family friend, Danny Methvin. Moody attended St. Mary’s for his 9th and 10th-grade year. During this time he became close with Methvin’s sons; Chad and Trent. They played together most importantly, and worked together.

“We worked the farm, maybe we didn’t work as hard as we should have, but we knew where the shade trees were,” Moody recalls. He fully admits he wouldn’t be where he is today without the valuable lessons taught to him by the Methvin’s.

Coach Moody went on to graduate from Natchitoches Central High School in 1996. After working a few jobs he has found his home with the NJH Indians. He could not be happier with the staff they have at school this year. He also shared that Mr. Chase Stepp has been added to the staff and he has hit the ground running. “It is like he has always been here, we have a great family of people who are all about the kids and we will show them that hard work pays off”, stated Moody.

Principal Bernard-Conday is very proud of Coach Moody’s hard work and dedication to the students.

“Mr. Moody is an anchor in our school community. Many of our students look up to and respect him, not because he’s their coach, but because he cares for our students in a deep and rooted way, wanting to see them succeed every day,” shared Principal, Alexa Bernard-Conday.

She went on to say, “It is an honor and a privilege working beside him. His selfless acts for others is sincere and genuine. Our community is blessed to have him.”

There are still needs in the athletic department, but in true NJH Indian spirit, they are making do with what they have. The football team is now over sixty members strong and they are working hard to raise money for the program. They will be hosting a car wash at the school on September 22nd. The car wash will be free but they will be accepting donations for team expenses.

If you feel so inclined, try to attend the car wash and let these students know that their hard work is being noticed by the community. However small your donation, this school will take it and invest it directly into its mission of changing the narrative for kids who may not have had a chance otherwise.

jreba.phelps@gmail.com