By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald
For Barry and Adrienne Esteen, life has been a series of ups and (first) downs.
It has been that way for the past 29 football seasons when their sons, Barry Jr. (1991) and Brandon (1996) were members of the St. Augustine football team.
As Purple Knight parents, they became active in the school’s boosters club. But their services to St. Aug transcended their support as parents when then-head football coach Tony Biagas enlisted the enthusiastic couple to be part of the “chain gang” crew at home games.
They’ve been manning the downs marker and first down staff ever since, through eight head coaches who have been appreciative of their services and dozens of referees and head linesmen who swear by their proficiency.
This is their way to be at the forefront of the action while assuring the integrity of the game.
“Every link in that chain matters,” Adrienne said. “I want it to be fair.” That mark could be the difference in a first down or a punt; a win or a defeat.
“The (officials) know us well, and we got to know and work with people on other schools’ chain crews.” And, regardless of who is representing the other Catholic League opponent, there is a certain respectful camaraderie among the chain gangs when they work as split crews. They all want their teams to win but take their tasks seriously as part of the officiating team.
Barry Esteen and Adrienne met at an early age and were married shortly before Barry’s induction into the U.S. Air Force. They have seen other parts of the world, but their most favorite part is Disney World, where they visit several times a year … still kids at heart.
When the LHSAA announced the Division I playoff pairings on Sunday and the Esteens discovered that St. Aug’s first-round game would be played in New Orleans and not in Shreveport because the Knights were the No. 8 seed and their opponent, Captain Shreve, the No. 9 seed, the couple was elated.
“We’re going back to Disney World on Saturday, and I was afraid we were going to have to leave after the game from Shreveport,” Adrienne said. A part-time actress, she worked for Disney Radio for nearly five years, doing the voice-over for “Winnie the Pooh.” She refers to Barry as “Tigger.”