NEW CASTLE —
Keep working hard.
Those words of advice have made a lasting impression with Lynn Hailstock. Whether it was in school, at a job or playing for the New Castle High basketball and football teams, the words of his father, Emanuel, have stuck with him all the way.
“He was a man of few words, but the words that always resonate in my mind is, he’d always say, ‘keep working hard.’ He would come to my games and I would see him in the stands sometimes and I’d see him looking, sometimes I’d see him smile and sometimes I’d see his stare,” said Hailstock, who goes by Lynn even though his given name is Avery. “After the games, I’d be expecting him to tell me maybe what I did wrong or what I should have done better, and he never would do that. He would just say, ‘keep working hard.’ ”
MAKING A MARK
Hailstock worked hard to become a supreme defensive back for the Red Hurricane. In his three seasons on the squad, he was known for his top-notch hitting ability and understated quickness. Hailstock was a starter at corner for the ’Canes during the 1973 WPIAL championship season. Ranked 17th on New Castle’s all-time single season rushing chart with 874 yards on 149 attempts, he also utilized his quickness as a running back. The tandem of Hailstock and tailback Jeff Crunkleton, a childhood friend, combined to form the anchor to the ’Canes’ offense their senior season.
“Coach Lindy (Lauro) decided we were so much bigger and stronger than everybody else on the offensive line, he didn’t feel the need to pass the ball,” Crunkleton said. “We passed less that year than any New Castle team in many years. Toward the end of the season, other teams put nine guys on the line of scrimmage.
“I always told Lynn to stay close to my hip and to run up my back if he didn’t have any room. What I didn’t know is that he’d literally run up my back one game. Later on that night, I looked at home and I had cleat marks on my back. It’s something we still laugh about to this day.”
On April 28, stories and laughs like Crunkleton’s undoubtedly will be shared when Hailstock’s hard work and dedication on the football field are honored with his induction into the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame at the New Englander. Hopefully, he’ll leave the cleats behind.
Stories of determination and drive shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who knew Hailstock growing up. He recalls baseball, football and basketball games between neighborhoods from the north hill, south side, east side and west side that fueled his competitive drive.
“We used to sometimes go from west side to south side to play ball. It was always a mentor that it seemed like we could look at that were maybe 10 years or so older than us. That was our PlayStation, in essence, to be able to see guys like Lenny Payne, Allan Joseph, Jesse Moss, Danny Young. Those were gentlemen I looked up to. Those were gentlemen, as a 10-year-old boy, who showed me how to be a competitor, because I was watching them on the playgrounds, I was watching them up at Taggart Stadium, I was watching them up at the field house at the high school. They were the teachers to me.”
Hailstock spent time between the ’Canes basketball team with his older brother, Darryl, and on the football field. On the court, he was a two-year starter and three-year letterman.
“He was naturally gifted, but he still worked hard,” Crunkleton said. “It was a challenge trying to keep up with him on the basketball court or in football. His work ethic was really hard. I think that’s one of the things that carried over to him in college.”
Hailstock received offers to play football at numerous Division I schools, including Kansas, Temple and Boston. With help from Lauro, he found a home playing cornerback at Austin Peay in Tennessee.
It became difficult for the freshman to prove people wrong in his first year, as a back injury during a sandlot game in New Castle quickly put Hailstock behind.
“Two weeks before I went down to school, I got hurt. I went to a chiropractor and they did their therapy on me, but again, it was just going to take time for it to heal. I had another week or so before I needed to go to school,” he said. “I was so afraid I was going to lose my scholarship because I got hurt before I went down to school. Once I got there, we went through two-a-day shorts. I was in excruciating pain, but I knew I had to go through this pain for these two days to say that I got hurt out there doing drills on the field. That’s what I did.”
Hard work, an edge learned and practiced from his father, paid dividends for Hailstock the following season. He earned the starting cornerback job and was among the conference leaders in interceptions. Austin Peay also claimed its first and only Ohio Valley Conference championship in the ’77 season. For the second time in his playing career, Hailstock was a champion.
“It’s always good to be a champion at whatever level you play sports because it’s so hard to be a champion,” he said. “If you are blessed for being a part of a championship team, I just think it’s such a great feeling. There are so many teams out there who would love to be champions, but it’s so hard to find it. I’ve been blessed to be a part of a lot of championship teams. I feel pretty good, I must say.”
In his junior and senior seasons, Hailstock moved from strong safety to free safety, receiving all-conference honors at both positions. During his final season with the team, injuries took their toll as arthritis began to wear down his knee.
Although he tried to catch on as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders, the arthritis proved too much and he called it a career.
Hailstock still kept his hat in the ring when it came to football. He embarked on a successful coaching career that included stops in Division I programs like Rice, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati. At his time with the universities, he coached defensive backs, defensive ends, outside linebackers and wide receivers and eventually became a successful recruiter.
He recently moved back to New Castle to lend a hand to his parents, Emanuel and Betty, and work for Cray Industries. Hailstock, 56, has three sons who live in Tennessee —Chad, 24, Chase, 21, and Cody, 17.
On the brink of his induction, he was honored and humbled by the unexpected nomination.
“It just goes to show that if you work hard, it pays off.”
TOMORROW: Blair Sweet