Under one roof Saturday night, some of the best and brightest gridiron talent from South Carolina State and local high schools gathered to receive recognition from the Orangeburg Touchdown Club.
While the Bulldogs had their fair share of struggles in 2012, many of the T&D All-Area players saw success in the playoffs. Region titles aside, however, neither set of players achieved the ultimate goal of winning a championship.
The message provided at Saturday night’s banquet by James Mitchell, Duke University’s director of football development, can help players in their goals on the field — and off the gridiron.
Mitchell spoke of being consistent, making decisions and analyzing one’s character. The saying “almost doesn’t count,” he said, applied to his personal experience in going from an “almost” guy to an “all right” guy.
“This guy almost lost his life because of the activities he had,” Mitchell told the crowd. “Let me tell you some of his friends that he had. Some of his friends that he had were called ‘Sensimilla’ and ‘Colombian Gold’ and ‘Red Bud’ and some stuff called ‘oooh-wee.’ And some of the people that he rolled with were Absolut and Crown Royal and Courvoisier and E&J. ... He was an almost guy until he got to the point that he saw the life he was living and, kind of like the Prodigal Son, he came to himself ... he came to himself and that’s where my life changed.”
Mitchell provided a game plan for self-improvement. By planning, preparing, proceeding and pursuing, the players give themselves a road map for success on and off the field.
But his message wasn’t just for the players. Those who support them can learn a thing or two from what the Hickory, Miss., native had to say to the nearly full house at The Cinema.
“Old folks,” he said, “we work in a generation now where, if they don’t trust us, they’re not going to talk to us. So instead of talking down to them, get to know them better. Instead of talking about them, come along beside them and see how you can help them along the way even when they fall down. It’s (our) responsibility to give them something to go on with life.”
T&D Region football players such as Lake Marion’s Mike Williams, Bamberg-Ehrhardt’s K.C. Crosby and Orangeburg Prep’s Matthew Berry (who won the Brent Lukens Scholarship) as well as others in attendance have had the chance to do something special on the field. Each also has had a chance to do special things off the gridiron.
The key for them and their supporters – and the community — is to make sure they do not put the label “almost” on achieving their goals.
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