Memorial Student-Athlete Brings “The Great Trade Heist” to State History Convention.Getting help from Jimmie Johnson – Port Arthur News


Memorial Student-Athlete Brings “Great Trade Robbery” to State Historic Convention.Get help from Jimmie Johnson

Released Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 12:40 am

Two Memorial High School athletes have made history once again.

Titans quarterbacks Davion Wilson and Cove Stover will compete in the Texas History Day State Competition in April after qualifying in this month’s regional round.

The medal-winning project shows how Port Arthur changed the history of the National Football League.

“This project is about how Jimmie Johnson changed the league with the Herschel Walker trade, won all the picks and then won three Super Bowls,” Wilson said. .

World history teacher Rachel Simmons said the topics presented in June were broad. This year’s theme was “Frontiers: People, Places and Things that Changed History.”

Wilson and Stover began working on the project in August ahead of the 2022 football season, when the Titans won their first playoff game since 2017.

After brainstorming ideas, they decided to explain how the former NFL coach from Port Arthur changed the way players are drafted in the NFL and other sports.

“Jimmy Johnson created a draft value system for trading draft picks right before he was hired by the Cowboys,” Simmons said. “He analyzed 10 years of trades, draft pick trades, gave draft picks a point system.

“They still use it. Many other leagues use something similar to it now. Pick a player, and that’s what built the Super Bowl team they had in the ’90s. He called it the Great Train Robbery.”

Using a play on words suggested by Johnson himself, Memorial students called their project “The Great Trade Heist.”

According to Simmons, getting in touch with Johnson wasn’t easy, but he knew he would be on the project if he got in touch.

And finally she got the correct email address.

“I got a call the next day,” she said. “My husband didn’t believe me. I literally had to show him the voicemails that were left. It’s not realistic for kids to have this kind of experience and there are a lot of local celebrities.”

Johnson had a 20-minute Zoom call with two athletes, explaining his experience and answering their questions.

“We were a little nervous, but we shook it off when we got in there,” said Wilson. “He was an open book, so I had no problem asking him anything. “He took time with us. He’s a great guy. I never thought he’d talk to an NFL coach if he didn’t make it to the league.”

It was an excitement that the teacher was able to share.

“I had Jimmie Johnson actually text me photos, articles, etc. and do a Zoom interview for 30 minutes. I saw them receive it, and then I heard them talk about it. “It was a great experience,” she said. They haven’t seen the Zoom-recorded interview yet.”

Wilson said no.

“Experience — you absorb everything from it,” he said. “You won’t get it again. We were just honored.”

And they both learned life lessons from the experience.

“Always go with the first feeling,” said Wilson. “Don’t let anyone make you think. If you have a feeling, go for it. He got a lot of hate. I don’t think anyone was on his side. But you’re strong.” You have to stay there, block out all the noise, and get the job done.”

Stover said he learned a lot about himself.

“I took time off to study and learn to be smart,” he said.


Stoever and Wilson used a three-part display to show selected topics. They were given only 500 unique words that could only be used in articles, photos, and similar media.

On February 4th, they played five teams at Lee College in Baytown. The top two finishers qualify for the state. Stoever and Wilson were his second.

They are the first group from Memorial High School to do so.

“They have worked hard,” Simmons said. “The research they did. The passion these kids have for the topic was the biggest thing the judges said. You can tell they’re excited and proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

Two other teams also competed and finished third.

Yasmine Campos and Melanie Bonilla “Devils, witches, ghosts! Oh my! Their project revolved around Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators who appear in the movie The Conjuring.” Kelliyah Kenney was selected for ‘Road to Fingerprinting: Will and William West’s Wild Her Story’.

On April 15th, Stoever and Wilson will bring an extended version of their current project to the University of Texas at Austin. Use feedback from the judges of the month and an expanded viewing area.

Simmons said he is working with the Career and Technology Education Center on its construction. And that board will be reused when Stover, his brother, and another member of the soccer team enter the competition again.

“He has to,” Wilson said of his project partner. “If we don’t get it this year, he’ll have to get it for me next year.”

Wilson plans to attend McNeice State University in Lake Charles, but plans to return when he is able to help.

“We didn’t go to the states for soccer, so we had to get there somehow,” he joked.

In addition to accolades from educators and classmates, Stoever and Wilson received additional support votes.

“I’m really proud of the work our students did on The Great Trade Heist,” Johnson said. “They were thorough and did a great job. They are proud of Port Arthur!

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