Leader Blues

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SPORTS >> Former Lonoke coach Steelman dies

Former head Lonoke football coach Jeff Jones remembered Hal Steelman as a positive person who was always upbeat.

“He was a great inspiration to the players on a daily basis,” Jones said of Steelman, who died last Friday morning of complications from diabetes. “He always had an uplifting word for the team. He was a blessing to be around the past few years.”

Steelman, 50, taught and coached football and girl’s track at Lonoke High School for 10 years. He was a member of the 1997 All Star coaching staff. Steelman began his coaching tenure at Lonoke as defensive coordinator in 1990, and guided the Lonoke Jackrabbits to an 11-3 record and the 5AA-Central championship in 1996.

As head coach, Steelman led the Jackrabbits to a 15-10 record and two playoff appearances.

Steelman graduated from Daniel High School in Clemson, S.C., and Northeast Louisiana University, where he was a graduate assistant on the 1987 national championship team. Steelman also completed a master’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas. Steelman won many awards throughout his career, his most prized of which were the National Attitude Award and the National Football Coach’s Association Award.

Steelman is survived by his father, Harold Steelman Sr., of Little Rock; son, Houston Steelman of Metairie, La.; niece, Amy Reaves; nephew, Jason Fields, cousins and an uncle. Preceding him in death were his mother, Carolyn, and sister, Sara.
Jones, who left Lonoke to become an assistant coach at Springdale, said illness had been a part of Steelman’s life since he developed diabetes in high school. But he never let it affect him, Jones said.

“He always bounced back strong,” he said. “I think we thought it would be the same in this instance.

“He just had such a generally positive outlook on life, he was never down for a minute — no matter what his circumstances. He knew that God was good and he preached that on a daily basis.”

Services for Steelman were held on Monday morning at First Baptist Church in Lonoke.