Spike Dykes, revered native son, dead at 79

Celinda Hawkins Managing Editor Runnels County Register
Revered coach and Ballinger native Spike Dykes died Monday at his home in Horsehoe Bay. Dykes a 1955 graduate of Ballinger High School never missed a reunion. He is shown here at the Five Year Reunion Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 where Dykes, right, enjoyed visiting with classmates Gene Davis, left, and Ann Hayes Jennings.

Spike Dykes, beloved coach and native son of Ballinger, died Monday at his home in Horseshoe Bay at the age of 79 from an apparent heart attack. Friends, classmates and community members called Dykes a wonderful friend who cared deeply for everyone he knew and always remembered Ballinger as his hometown.

William Taylor "Spike" Dykes was born in Lubbock and raised in Ballinger. He graduated from Ballinger High School in 1955 and from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1959, where he played center on the Lumberjacks football team. One of his first coaching jobs after college would be in Ballinger, where he was regarded as a mentor and friend to many of his players.

“He coached me as a sophomore and a junior at Ballinger High School,” said Jim Slaughter, who retired in 2015 as the athletic director at San Angelo ISD. “Coach Dykes helped me in my career unbelievably. I thought the world of him - he was a really close friend and mentor and did a tremendous job of helping me with my career.”

Milford Wiley, who played football for Dykes as an 8th grader at Ballinger Junior High and then as a freshman at Ballinger High School, agreed, saying that Dykes offered him several coaching jobs through the years.

“Just as I took a job at Sterling City, Spike called and offered me a job at Big Spring, then he later called an offered me a job at Cleburne – our paths crossed many times," Wiley said.

Wiley said that Dykes was always good to his former players and friends and their families, especially those with the Ballinger connection.

“When he was at Tech, he gave me tickets and me and my two boys got to stand on the sideline during a game,” Wiley said. “He was super nice and I thought the world of him.”

Dykes would serve in several head coaching positions throughout the state including a stint at San Angelo Central High School. In 1972, he would become an assistant coach at the University of Texas at Austin, and then would return as a high school coach to Midland Lee from 1980 to 83.

Dykes was hired to be the head coach at Texas Tech in 1986. He was the first coach in school history to lead the team to seven straight bowl-eligible seasons and to coach the team in seven bowl games.

Dykes was the school's first coach to defeat the Texas Longhorns in six different seasons. He earned three Southwest Conference and one Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year honors. His record at Tech stands at 82–67–1. On November 20, 1999, Dykes retired after 13 seasons as head coach.[4]

Texas Tech promoted Dykes, who had joined the staff in 1984, and he retired as the school's winningest coach with a record of 82-67-1 over 13 seasons, plus an Independence Bowl loss after McWilliams' departure.

Mike Leach, who took over when Dykes retired at the end of the 1999 season, broke Dykes' mark with 84 wins in 10 seasons.

The Red Raiders hadn't had a head coach stay more than five years since JT King in the 1960s before Dykes and Leach, whose combined tenures covered 23 seasons. Dykes was a three-time SWC coach of the year.

But Dykes never forgot his hometown of Ballinger or his friends in this West Texas community. He commented on the passing of his dear friend Weldon Brevard, upon his death July 13, 2016.

“He was one of the number one sons in the whole history of Ballinger,” Dykes said of Brevard. “Everyone thought the world of Weldon, especially those he coached and taught and worked with.”

Dykes never missed a class reunion in Ballinger either. He returned as usual to the last Five Year Reunion in 2015.

His classmate and dear friend Margo Reeder, a retired educator from Ballinger ISD, said her friendship with Dykes began with his lifelong sweetheart and wife, Sharon, who passed several years ago.

“Spike was so much bigger than life,” Reeder said. “He had the sweetest heart and the funniest sense of humor from the time I first knew him. I never met anyone who had a disagreement with him. Sharon and Spike were sweethearts forever. His capacity for love and humor cannot be emphasized enough. I don't know anyone who spent time with him who did not love him - his sense of humor was Broadway worthy.”

Reeder said that his loss leaves a huge hole in the hearts of many who loved him.

“It is a sweetness and a goodness that will live beyond the grave,” she said. “They always valued their home and those friends they had which were friendships that were sustained across time.”

Friend Ebb Grindstaff, who graduated a few years before Dykes, also thought the world of one of Ballinger’s most famous sons.

“I admired him as a coach and family man and had a great a influence on many young people,” Grindstaff said of his friend. “He loved Ballinger - he is leaving a legcay that will be hard for anyone to follow. We had a great friendship – I followed him and we kept up with each other.”

Material from the Associated Press was used for this report.