Rebel Man: West Monroe High saved my daughter's life
West Monroe superfan Johnny “The Rebel Man” Williams has a unique relationship to West Monroe High School.
It was this 28-year plus passion and commitment to supporting West Monroe athletics that Williams was awarded a lifetime achievement award at halftime of the semifinal playoff game last Friday against Zachary in recognition for his unfailing support for everything West Monroe High School does.
No, Williams did not graduate from the school. But his daughter, Lindsey Williams Long, did in the spring of 1998.
It was in 1997 that Williams’ passion for Rebel football (there are photos in existence showing Johnny at every game with his face painted like a Rebel Flag, “not a confederate flag,” he is quick to point out) turned into an unfailing devotion to the school he believes saved Lindsey’s life.
During her senior year in the fall of 1997, Lindsey was practicing with the Rebel cheerleaders when an unfortunate fall on a routine found her in the air only to crash to the ground in agony.
“I thought I had a broken rib,” Lindsey explained. “One of the clubs I was involved with worked the fair during that time and I went to that. It was hurting real bad, and it just was not getting any better.”
Lindsey and her family went for an MRI and the unimaginable happened – doctors discovered a cancerous mass between her heart and lung.
A biopsy revealed it was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“I was in complete shock,” Lindsey said. “I was a teenage girl – so the first thought was ‘Am I going to lose my hair?’”
The family stayed with Lindsey in Memphis, Tennessee for a month while she received treatment at St. Jude’s Hospital for Children.
“This school saved my daughter’s life,” Johnny said. “I have been the Rebel Man since day one. I am humbled by to be recognized like this. I have fun and to be able to be a part of the program this long is special.”
The friends and family back home supported as well. They had a gift for Lindsey to open each day to keep her spirits up and banners of support. Soon, Lindsey was cancer free and returns for checkups occasionally.
Stay around the folks at West Monroe High School more than a few minutes and you will always be treated like family no matter what school you support or background you come from.
Johnny found that out and he returns the kindness shown his family each year for the athletes at WMHS, especially at football games with his iconic “Hey Rebels knock somebody out” yelled before each kickoff.
The Rebel flag paint may have been put to rest, but don’t expect Lindsey and Johnny and the rest of the family to not be seen around the stadiums any time soon.
Johnny has a grandson, Major Hendrix playing sports for the Rebels now, and Rebel assistant coach Trey Long and Lindsey have boys coming up through the ranks as well.
Faith, family and Rebel sports.
The town is known for it. The Rebel nation thrives on it.
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