SNELLVILLE — Even if it’s only been hearing his voice, David Lockwood has been a constant presence for anyone who has attended a Brookwood home football game for more than 80 Friday nights over the past 15 years.
However, the 53-year-old Fairburn native has been far more than just the public address voice of Brookwood Community Stadium during his time as the Broncos’ Director of Football Operations.
“A pretty good bit (goes into it),” Lockwood said. “I’ll spend (time) getting the buses together (for road games) and (arranging) refs and (preseason) scrimmages and all that. Then, of course, there’s painting the field (a day or two before home games).”
Unless Brookwood eventually gets a home game in the upcoming 2019 Class AAAAAAA state playoffs, that run of 15 years of doing a little bit of everything as part of the Broncos’ support staff came to an end with Friday’s loss to Norcross.
Lockwood quietly announced his retirement from the position recently, and while 53 seems like an early age to step away from a task that one enjoys as much as he enjoys the football ops job, there is a good reason for his decision.
“My health,” Lockwood said bluntly when asked about his decision. “I have Myasthenia gravis. It’s an autoimmune disease. You know, your nerves talk to your muscles. The neurologist told me that your nerves are Mac and your muscles are PC. Your body makes the chemicals, … and when you have Myasthenia gravis, you don’t have that chemical. It affects everybody a little differently.
“There’s no cure for it.. … Some people who get it, it can affect their lungs and breathing and stuff like that, and it can be pretty bad. But it’s pretty mild for me, really. There’s fatigue. I get pretty tired. … I’ve been thinking about (retiring) for two or three years, I guess, kind of in the back of my mind. But with the health (situation), ... I definitely started thinking about it a little more. … When you hit 50, your check engine light comes on.”
Lockwood’s humor aside, the fatigue that comes with his condition, along with the fact that, as he pointed out, far more goes into the job of organizing the logistics of a Brookwood home football game than appears on the surface, has made it much more difficult for him to do the job to the standards he’s set for himself over the 15 years.
While Friday’s game isn’t necessarily the last in his position, the likelihood that it was naturally left him in a reflective mood.
Lockwood, who has actually taken on game-day operations duties the past 20 years, including five years he spent at Berkmar before coming to Brookwood, thought back to the time he very nearly walked away five years ago when former Broncos head coach Mark Crews retired.
He held off making such a decision by holding out faith that Brookwood administration would hire a new coach who understood the program’s history and standards — a faith that was rewarded with the hiring of current coach Philip Jones, a Brookwood grad and son of longtime assistant coach Tom Jones.
And the younger Jones rewarded him with an official title, one he had not actually had to that point.
“That’s the thing,” Lockwood said. “When I was with Crews, he retired and I kind of thought, ‘Let’s see who they hire. … I’ll let them do their thing.’ … When they hired Phil, it was a pretty easy (decision to stay).
“Funny thing, when Philip got the job, he said, ‘You know, I’ll get some people together (and come up with) a title for that,’ and he gave me that one.”
Lockwood was far more reflective when asked to come up with his fondest memories of the games he worked over the past 15 years.
While he said he enjoyed all of them, a few stood out, including one in particular from the 2011 season, when a Nick Tompkins 80-yard kickoff return with 15 seconds left capped a wild finish that saw four lead changes in what became a Broncos win over neighborhood rival Parkview.
“The best game here was probably Parkview (in 2011),” Lockwood said. “It was back and forth at the end of the game, and (Parkview) kicked off to Nick Tompkins and he returned it for a touchdown with something like (15) seconds left, and I’m like, ‘Oh God, there are still (15) seconds left.’ I thought for sure that was enough time for Parkview because that was a crazy game.”
Despite his impending retirement, Lockwood won’t be totally disappearing from the academic and athletics scenes at Brookwood.
He’ll remain in his primary job as a special education teacher at the Snellville school, and plans to keep his support staff roles with the Broncos’ basketball and baseball programs — which primarily include only the P.A. announcing and D.J. duties during play stoppages and between innings — for the time being.
As for football, he admits that having a little free time on Friday nights in the fall may seem a little odd, being able to spend more time with his wife and fellow Brookwood teacher Susan will quickly made any strange feeling fade quickly.
“I’ll miss the games and the competition and all,” an emotional Lockwood said.. “But there is so much (that goes on) behind the scenes. It’s a lot of work, too. Some of that, I won’t miss that much, but the people I will miss, but it’ll be nice to have my Friday nights back. It’ll be nice.”