When most of the city’s head football coaches met at the Double Tree Hotel on Tuesday with the Jackson Exchange Club, there were a few jokes told and possibly just as many truths or untruths.
But there were a few things that rang true that are hard to argue with when the coaches got serious for a minute.
Orentheus Taylor made one of the more memorable statements of the afternoon while representing Jackson Central-Merry.
“We’ve got to all work together to stop the craziness that’s been going on in Jackson lately,” Taylor said, referring to recent gang violence and senseless death among the young people of Jackson. “And what we’re trying to do at Jackson Central-Merry is give young men a positive outlet to become a part of and put themselves into.”
All the coaches spoke about how important football is in their lives even if it weren’t their job coaching it.
USJ head coach Mickey Marley made one of the bolder statements about sports in general and its importance for young people.
“If you don’t learn to compete as a child, when will you learn it,” Marley said. “Will you wake up one day as an adult and all the sudden have a mindset to compete in this world? I’ve never seen anybody do that.
“But we’re all competing with each other. All of you are competing in your own business world, and you had to learn to do that at some point. I’d guess it was all before you became an adult.”
Sports are good for the long run because they teach you lessons you’ll never learn in a chemistry lab, math classroom or while reading a classic work of literature.
I never played a down of organized football, but I played basketball from fourth grade until I was a high school sophomore. I was much thinner back then, but I was short and slow and couldn’t jump (which explains why I didn’t play my junior and senior years). But I learned lessons about perseverance, pushing through pain and fatigue, always fighting even if the opponent is a foot taller than you and other lessons I doubt I’d have learned if I went straight home after school from October until February each year.
Sports are good in the short term for multiple reasons because it keeps kids off the streets and gives them a reason to try hard in the classroom if they have a minimum GPA to play. It also keeps them healthier and would be a good weapon against the obesity problem in our youth.
Hopefully as the Jackson-Madison County School System is going through the process of taking a look at their system and restructuring, hopefully those in decision-making positions will make the call to provide an avenue for athletics to become a bigger part of the school environment other than something student-athletes and coaches can’t do until the school day is over.
Here are a few other things we learned about each team at the Exchange Club’s event:
• South Side head coach Jason Driggers and Liberty head coach Steve Hookfin played in a high school all-star game together in Arkansas in 1995.
• Liberty is one of the most consistent programs in West Tennessee about putting athletes into college, and head coach Steve Hookfin would appreciate fans remembering that if the Crusaders have a hard time winning early in the season.
• Winning isn’t a key point of emphasis as much as playing together, getting better and becoming better people with the exception of USJ head coach Mickey Marley.
• Sacred Heart of Jesus head coach Mike Ashlock’s offense in eight-man football should be pretty potent.
• Jackson Christian head coach Todd Roland’s coaching staff and Blake Butler’s staff at Trinity Christian Academy are ready to begin watching film on each other despite the fact they don’t meet until Week 6.
Brandon Shields is the sports editor of The Jackson Sun. Contact him at 425-9751 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon.