Jay Armstrong: Redefining the Meaning of Southlake Sports Star
Mar 06, 2018 04:40PM
● By Maleesa Johnson
When the Friday Night Lights above Dragon Stadium fade to black and the final bus pushes away, Southlake Carroll alumnus Jay Armstrong remains hard at work late into the night, reliving every moment of every play, ready to relay the game to all of Southlake. As the Dragon’s Athletic Assistant for Sports Information and Social Media Relations, Jay covers each sport within the athletic department. His enthusiasm for today’s Dragon athletics and impressive ability to recall Southlake sport’s history are invaluable assets to the Carroll Athletic Department and the community as a whole.
“There are very few people who deeply love the Carroll Dragons like Jay Armstrong,” says Carroll Athletic Director Darren Allman. “This is not only evident through his informative and entertaining coverage of Carroll Athletics, but in the genuine care he shows for student-athletes and coaches as well. He truly considers all past and current Carroll Dragons as family.”
No truer words could be spoken. Jay’s heart, his determination, and his pride for Dragon Nation far exceed that of any other alumni and any other Dragon fan.
A Dedicated Dragon
Armstrong’s passion for Carroll’s athletic program began well before his family even entered Southlake’s city limits. At just seven years old, living in McKinney, Texas, the avid sports fan began following Southlake sports legend, Dane Johnson under the leadership of Coach Bob Ledbetter, as they carried the Dragons to three championships across two different sports. “Every morning, we would wake up to read the Dallas Morning News to hear Dane’s record, his stats, just to see what he would do,” recounts Belinda Armstrong, Jay’s mother. Dragon Pride was already building in their hearts, even though they were miles apart and six years away from calling Southlake home.
Shortly after Dane’s reign, the Armstrong family moved to San Angelo. Despite their time in San Angelo, they never forgot the Carroll dynasty, which was evident when a relocation back to DFW was presented to the Armstrong family. Jay, a high school freshman at the time, had strong opinions about where his new home should be. Why? Football.
Despite being wheel-chair bound due to Cerebral Palsy, Jay was choosing his home based on activities in which he would never directly participate. Jay never let his diagnosis keep him from becoming one of the most involved sports alumni Southlake has ever seen.
“The Greatest Happy Coincidences of All Time”
In November of 1998, Jay attended his first day at Carroll High School, kicking off what he calls “the greatest happy coincidences of all time,” clearing the path to make way for where he is today. Within his first few hours on campus, happy coincidence No. 1 was already well underway. His charisma, contagious joy and instant recollection of Friday night’s game stats quickly earned the admiration of players and coaches, landing him a seat at the lunch table with the star varsity football players and cheerleaders. He never left that table. “The rest is history,” says Jay.
The following year another happy coincidence, as Jay says, occurred that led him to becoming the official good luck charm for the Lady Dragons. After driving out to Dallas to cheer on the volleyball team, Jay discovered the gymnasium of the home team did not have a wheelchair access ramp to the stands, thus denying Armstrong the ability to watch the match-up. Coach Wyvonne Walling wouldn’t have any of that. She invited Jay to the sidelines where he watched as the Dragons pulled a major upset against Highland Park, leading Walling to request Jay on the sidelines for every game.
During Jay’s sophomore year, Coach Todd Dodge and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to Southlake. Instantly, the connection was there as Elizabeth was Jay’s first grade teacher’s aide in McKinney. Each of these coincidences kept linking Jay to the athletic program, years after he was gone.
Continuing to Protect the Tradition
Jay’s days at Carroll High School came to a close in May of 2002, but his love for sports only grew stronger. The Armstrong family moved to Austin where Jay, despite a series of surgeries, earned a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management from University of Texas. Upon returning home to Southlake degree in hand, Jay devoted time to writing a book geared toward young children with the goal of helping them adapt to classmates with special challenges. Upon completion he set to sharing the book with children, speaking at elementary schools within Carroll ISD and around the state of Texas.
Now back on the scene in Southlake, Jay was hired by Coach Dodge to be the director for his summer football camp, setting in motion yet another of his greatest coincidences. While working the camp, Jay met Coach Kirk Rogers who immediately saw Jay’s talent, strong work ethic and passion for Carroll sports. Determined to bring Jay’s skills on staff, Rogers found the perfect position that utilized Jay’s expertise to benefit the entire Carroll program. In no time, Jay slid right into this role as the Athletic Assistant for Sports Information and Social Media Relations for the Carroll Athletic Department.
“If there is a hard drive that contains all the historical information about CISD athletics, it’s in Jay’s head,” says Bill Webb, Carroll Athletic Booster Club President. “Jay will talk about a play that happened ten years ago as if he is still in the press box, seeing it happen real-time. His ability to recall even the most minute of details about Dragon athletics is a combination of his passion and talent for journalism.”
Jay’s role expands across the department from reporting recaps of every athletic event, to covering all of the press credentials, running the athletic program’s website and Twitter page and coordinating the live streaming of games. “The growing popularity and use of social media has made Jay’s role more important than ever,” says Allman.
A typical day for Jay doesn’t look like most. His job starts as most are winding down for the night. Attending as many games as he can, phone in hand and ready to keep an eye on the highlights of each game being played elsewhere, Jay’s “day” is in full swing. As the clock moves closer to midnight, his work is just beginning to hit the web, ready to be read in the morning by Southlake’s sports fans. In addition, Jay is busy coordinating press credentials between the public and the athletic department as well as coordinating live streaming and getting game footage to parents.
It is clear that Jay is integral in sharing the excellence of Carroll’s athletic program with the community.
Honored for 20 Years of Dedication as an Outstanding Alumnus
Coming up on his 20th year in Southlake, Jay, an honorary member of the Dragon Council, has attended over a thousand Carroll athletic events and continues to use his journalistic credentials to deliver the greatest moments, whether wins or losses, to Dragon fans.
Most recently, Jay was named Outstanding Alumni by The Dragon Alumni Network, an award that demonstrates to the highest level of what it means to be a Dragon. “In Jay’s case, his love and dedication to Carroll and its traditions made Jay an obvious choice,” says Brian Hodges, president of the Dragon Alumni Network. “His dedication, courage and feelings related to the district and its students, former and current, show he truly bleeds green.”
Going forward, the award will be given Jay’s namesake, forever representing the commitment, pride and tradition that Jay has always strived to protect.