Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Man on a Mission By Michael Higgins
In ye olde Czechoslovakian tongue, “havrilek” is a word meaning “one who persuades”. O.K., I just made that up. But, you’ve got to admit, it has the ring of truth. 1983 H.H.S. graduate Tim Havrilek has always been, is now, and probably ever shall be one of the most persuasive people in the Bluegrass. When I first met him as a seventh-grader, he was already limbering up his jaw and looking for a cause. Among his friends and teachers, he quickly established himself as a person quick to offer either a simple well-put opinion or an all-out, full-blown argument, depending on your level of resistance.
As the son of a political activist mother, the late Judith Moore Havrilek, and the grandson of long-time Hopkinsville city councilman W. B. Moore, it was all but inevitable that Tim would be good at proclaiming and promoting his views on issues and the world at large. In his high school days, he involved himself with the school newspaper, The Tiger, as reporter and photographer and showed a flair for astute observation that has served him quite well since. For those of us who knew Tim back then, we couldn’t help but wonder how he would end up – would he be shot in an alley or elected President? Turns out he’s too smart for either.
Tim began his journey down a long road in politics as a small boy at his mother’s side. Mrs. Havrilek had been brought up in a home heavily involved in local government issues and wider election campaigns, and she initiated her middle son into the energetic and intriguing world of politics at an early age. He remembers tagging along while she worked in Todd Hollenbach’s unsuccessful run for Governor of Kentucky in 1975. Hollenbach, elected Jefferson County Judge-Executive in 1969 at the age of twenty-nine, seemed to have a very bright future in state politics. However, when he was defeated in his re-election bid for Judge by a very media-savvy Mitch McConnell, Tim got a taste of something he could really sink his teeth into – the power of the media in politics.
After a few years in college, Tim returned to Hopkinsville and began to involve himself as a volunteer in campaigns near and far, small and large. He paid attention to what worked and what did not, and by the late ‘80’s, he was running his own media consulting and ad agency. It took many years and a lot of campaign success to build his reputation to what it is today, but he is well-known all over the state for his expertise in the field. “I spent the first fifteen years of my [political] life wanting all this attention, feeling like I wasn’t getting the credit that was due. Now that I finally get some, I really don’t care!” he says with a laugh. His most recent victory came in Tuesday’s general election. Tim was media guru for Todd Hollenbach, Jr.’s successful bid for Kentucky State Treasurer. He’ll be celebrating in Frankfort this week, and you can bet there are more state-wide races on the horizon.
In addition to his life in the whirlwind environment of Kentucky politics, Tim has been involved with some aspect of the Tiger football program for nearly thirty years. Starting as a practice manager in his early teens, he made the team in high school, started as a senior, then graduated to pursue college life. After returning to Hopkinsville in 1986, he was asked to step in for a week as coach of the seventh-grade team. When Hoptown coaching legend Fleming Thornton, Athletic Director at the time, came to assist for a couple of days, he told Tim, “You’re one of the best I’ve ever seen at this. I think you need to see the year out.” Tim was flattered, to say the least. “I couldn’t tell him ‘no’. I took the coach’s word that I was the next Vince Lombardi.” He smiles about it now. “Coach hoo-dooed me a little bit. He was very good at getting what he wanted.”
Nevertheless, Tim stuck with it and saw his team go undefeated that year. Soon, he was asked to move up to coach the freshmen at H.H.S. After the arrival of Craig Clayton as varsity head coach, Tim began helping out on Friday nights, which in turn developed into an assistant coaching position. In 1995, he decided to “leave the field” and turn his attention to team promotions. In a particularly impressive move, he and Coach Clayton arranged a game with Leslie County and its top national college prospect (and future UK standout) Tim Couch. Havrilek put together a press kit that drew reporters from CNN, Sports Illustrated, and sixty-eight media outlets from eight states. Hoptown handed them a huge 61-0 butt-kicking that propelled Tiger star Deontey Kenner into the national spotlight along with the entire football program. Kenner had a superb career as a four-year starter at Cincinatti, Miguel Merrit played at Alabama, and Artose Pinner went on to lead the SEC in rushing at Kentucky. In addition, top-level football scouts from schools such as Notre Dame, USC, and Michigan began to make Hoptown High a regular stop. Nice work, Tim.
He’s a persuader, alright. But these days he’s turned his talents in that fine art to an even higher goal – saving souls. Tim has become an ordained minister in the Christian Church and is presently the pastor of the Slaughters Christian Church in Slaughters, Kentucky. After a very trying five years, in which he lost both parents and his older brother, Chris, he has a firm grip on the fragility of life and what his priorities should be. Any conflicts with his political leanings? He doesn’t think so. He is a man of traditional conservative values – pro-life and anti-gun control – but also energetic in his support of wetlands preservation, anti-pollution efforts, and slower urban growth.
While striving to keep politics out of the pulpit, and vice-versa, Tim has no intention of remaining quiet or idle when confronted with the major issues of the day. For most folks, sports, religion, and politics are dangerous subjects. For Tim Havrilek, they are the stuff of life. Whether coaching football, running campaigns, or delivering sermons, he will never be short of opportunities to guide, lead, or otherwise influence people for the good. All in all, a life well-lived.