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Description:Coaches 4 Character - Home Coaches 4 Character Check us out! Home About Us/Contact Us Speakers Supporters Testimonials ACE Awards Frank Martin Delivers Tough Message at Ace Awards May 17, 2016 Univers

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Coaches 4 Character - Home Coaches 4 Character Check us out! Home About Us/Contact Us Speakers Supporters Testimonials ACE Awards Frank Martin Delivers Tough Message at Ace Awards May 17, 2016 University of South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin has developed an expertise on toughness. Not from his background as a nightclub bouncer in Miami, Florida. Not from the comeback victories he has directed from the bench. Martin asserted that he has learned toughness from his commitment as a husband and father. “We can’t call in sick to those jobs. You can’t take a two-week vacation,” Martin said with laugh Tuesday evening, to a crowd filled with some of the toughest students in Greenville County. Martin affirmed the importance of consistent and persistent toughness as the guest speaker at the Coaches 4 Character Ace Awards. Sixty-eight students, from eighth graders to high school seniors, were honored as “Unsung Heroes” during a ceremony at Redemption. The students were recognized for their positive impact on classmates, teachers and counselors while overcoming personal challenges. “When I was your age, I thought toughness was who could go out back and knock each other out. That’s got nothing to do with toughness,” Martin told the students. “Toughness is who’s willing to do their job, who’s willing to make those around them better, who’s willing to put their personal feelings aside so they can help the group. That’s what toughness is. And do it every single day regardless of how you feel.” Martin encouraged students to remain accountable to their dreams and to inhibit any detractor from persuading them to discount those dreams, regardless of how many mistakes they make or how many hardships they face. “Tonight’s a celebration for their achievements,” Martin said, “to let them understand as they continue to get older, they’re going to have more challenges, not less challenges. Life gets more complicated the older you get, not simpler. Dealing with the initial challenges they’ve been hit with, them being able to overcome those to continue to strive and be great is going to help them deal with problems as they move forward. “The important thing is we continue to celebrate their accomplishments to this moment and to let them know that our greatest duty as we get older is that we learn to give, not take. If we learn to give, we start impacting the world in a positive way.” By: Mandrallius Robinson -- Greenville Online Two Tigers, One Cause: Former Clemson Stars Share Valuable Message March 22, 2016 Ten years ago, Shaq Lawson was in middle school and about as far from an exemplary student as a seventh-grader can get. “I was the class clown,” Lawson said. “I went to school to crack jokes. I never thought I’d be standing here talking to kids.” But there Lawson stood Tuesday night, with mother beaming proudly from the second row and a throng of young students hanging on his every word at the quarterly Coaches 4 Character program at Greenville’s Redemption World Outreach Center. Lawson, an All-America defensive end for the Clemson football team last season, was joined by former teammate Charone Peake for the program, titled “Two Tigers, One Cause.” The players, who are both preparing for the NFL Draft, shared messages of perseverance while stressing the importance of education and character development. “If you want to be in sports, you’ve got to start off with the grades first,” said Lawson, a Central native who played at Daniel High School. “That’s the most important thing.” Lawson should know; he had to attend Virginia’s Hargrave Military Academy to shore up his academics before he could launch his academic and athletic careers at Clemson. “I wish I could take it back and start over and get off to a better start,” Lawson said. Apparently, Taylor Branham-King and Brandon Belue already have heeded Lawson’s advice. The two Woodmont High School seniors, both set to graduate on June 2, have been active athletically while maintaining solid if not spectacular academic standing, and were rewarded for their efforts by receiving The Greenville News’ Character Awards at the outset of the program. Branham-King has maintained a 3.576 GPA while playing four years of basketball and participating in the recent Greenville County All-Star Game. She also has been a member of the National Beta Club, National Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America. An active member and children church staff member at Water of Life Christian Church in Greenville, Branham-King plans to attend the College of Charleston and major in physical therapy. Belue played four years of baseball for the Wildcats and one year of football. He managed to maintain a 3.4 GPA despite having to overcome surgery to remove a brain tumor his senior year. Active in the community and his church – Unity Baptist in Simpsonville – Belue will attend Winthrop University, where he plans to major in education and become a history teacher. Peake, a wide receiver out of Dorman High, overcame multiple knee injuries to post the most productive season of his career with 50 receptions for 716 yards and five touchdowns last season. But more importantly he has a degree in his back pocket. ?“Football can be taken away from me at any moment,” Peake told the attentive crowd. “But not my degree.” By: Scott Keepfer -- Greenville Online Coaches 4 Character Awarded Grant from Dabo's All-In Team Foundation Coach and Kathleen Swinney hosted an awards luncheon for Dabo’s All In Team Foundation’s 2015 grant winners on Wednesday, November 11th. The Foundation’s mission is “to raise awareness of critical education and health issues in order to change lives of people across the state of South Carolina”. Since the Foundation’s inception more than $1.7 Million dollars has been awarded to organizations in the Upstate in support of the Foundation’s mission. Kathleen Swinney, “The Board received many requests this year. There are many fine and deserving organizations doing great work. We are very proud of our award winners as their staff and volunteers work every day to make a difference right in the area we live in.” Tim Worley Recognizes 'Unsung Heroes' May 20, 2015 The video is easy to find on the Internet, and not flattering in any way, which is exactly why Tim Worley advertises its existence. The video, dated April 13, 2008, shows Worley – the former University of Georgia and pro football star – being shot with a Taser and arrested by police in Smyrna, Georgia, following a daylong binge of drug and alcohol consumption. "Promise me y'all will look at it," Worley told an attentive audience at the 2015 ACE Awards celebration Tuesday night at Greenville's Redemption World Outreach Center. The incident was a watershed moment in Worley's life. He has since cleaned up his act and travels the country as a motivational speaker and life skills consultant. Worley also serves as a chaplain at a rescue mission in Huntsville, Alabama, and host of his own radio show, "Beyond the Locker Room with Tim Worley: Where Sports Meets Life." When sharing his story of recovery and fulfillment, Worley points to "unsung heroes" in his life, which was appropriate for Tuesday night's gathering, which honored 68 local high school students deemed "unsung heroes" by counselors at their respective Greenville County schools. "The unsung heroes in my life were my mother and other people you don't hear about much," Worley said. "They kept pulling on my potential, they saw the things that God put in me." Worley was a high school football and track standout at Lumberton High School in North Carolina before playing at Georgia and becoming the seventh overall selection of the 1989 NFL Draft. He played six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears, but derailed his career with drug and alcohol abuse. "I went from the penthouse to the outhouse with some of the decisions and choices I made," Worley said. He wants others to avoid those pitfalls. "I got favoritism, I got things I didn't really earn," Worley said. Worley received "A" grades in school when he actually earned "Ds," he said, which only encouraged him to remain comfortably wrapped in his security blanket of the playing field. "I took on an athletic identity," Worley said. "But when the cheering stopped, that was my only identity. I felt like I couldn't do anything else." That, Worley eventually discovered, was a misconception that only he could correct. His arrest and subsequent 23 days in jail seven years ago helped open his eyes, providing the impetus for a rebirth that has altered his life's course. Suddenly, he felt capable of much more, he said, and that "more" included being a good husband, having a positive impact on the lives of others, and spreading an inspirational message based on first-hand knowledge. By: Scott Keepfer -- Greenville Online Vic Beasley, Connor Shaw Speak on Faith and Friends March 2, 2015 During the previous three years, if Vic Beasley ever stood this close to Connor Shaw, it meant someone missed a block. That happened twice in 2013. Beasley, then a junior defensive end at Clemson University, notched two sacks on Shaw, then a senior quarterback at the University of South Carolina, when the rivals met that season. Shaw graciously reminded Beasley of those sacks Monday night before the two shared the stage at the Coaches 4 Character program. Shaw also reminded Beasley that after those sacks, USC proceeded to its fifth consecutive win against Clemson. With the exception of a few good-natured quips, Shaw and Beasley suspended the rivalry for a few hours. They turned their allegiance to a unified message on the importance of positive friends and persistent faith. "The priority is your education and your friendships at this point in your life," Shaw told the crowd of young students and fans. "The people you are around the most have the most effect on your life." The usually soft-spoken Beasley compellingly echoed Shaw's stance. "My message is basically making sure you're putting your faith first," Beasley said. "Make sure you surround yourself with the right people. It will take you a long way. It will keep you away from negative things." Beasley and Shaw's message resonated with Hillcrest High School students Maddie Watts and Jaalin Scott, the two recipients of The Greenville News Character Award. "The big thing is hanging around the right people, maintaining great character throughout your life," said Scott, a standout linebacker on the Hillcrest state championship football team who has earned a 4.24 grade point average. Hillcrest High School's Jaalin Scott, left, and Maddie Watts, second from right, receive The Greenville News Coaches 4 Character Award from Connor Shaw, second from left, and Vic Beasley, right, at Redemption church on Monday, March 2, 2015. Watts stars on the Hillcrest volleyball team while maintaining a 4.74 grade point average. She said she was moved mostly by Shaw and Beasley's messages on confidence, perseverance and gratitude. "It's about just being who you are and having self-confidence with that," Watts said. "Faith, like Vic said, has to be a big part of life. That's really my rock, and that's what I lean on when things are tough." Beasley and Shaw once stood on opposite sides of the ball and opposite sides of a heated rivalry. On Monday night, they stood on the same stage, and on the same side of inspiration. "With an occasion like this and an event that's for a great cause, I think everybody understands that the rivalry ends for tonight," Shaw said with a laugh. "I'm sure it'll crank back up tomorrow morning." By: Mandrallius Robinson -- Greenville Online Corbin Shares Batting Order for Championship Character December 2, 2014 The starting lineup Vanderbilt University baseball coach Tim Corbin compiled to lead the Commodores to the national championship last season had fewer than nine slots. It did not include his pitchers, catchers and fielders. It included the character traits he has aimed to foster in his program. "Teachable spirit. Mental toughness. Integrity. Discipline," Corbin said Monday night, before relaying the importance of those traits to students during the Coaches 4 Character program at Redemption World Outreach Center. Corbin shared stories from his star players at Vanderbilt to illustrate each trait. He even imparted a tale from the recruiting trail during his nine-year tenure as an assistant coach at Clemson University. Corbin recalled traveling to scout a prospective player. Corbin was impressed with his swing and speed. However, he was disheartened by the rude and disrespectful demeanor the player displayed off the diamond. Corbin said he never scouted that player again. "The character traits that it takes to be a good person supersede the character traits of an athlete," Corbin said. "Personal awareness skills are critical. We can talk about leadership, but I don't think you can get to the leadership definition until kids identify who they are and what effect they have on others." Corbin's message resonated with Cassidy Dickson, a student at Woodmont Middle School who aspires to play college softball. "You never know when someone is watching," said Dickson, who was recognized with The Greenville News Character Award, along with fellow Woodmont Middle student Hunter White. "You realize that you're not going to live forever," Dickson said, "so you want to make the best out of your life and know that you can help people and try to make everybody happy." White, who aspires to be a professional athlete and architect, was moved most by Corbin's message to earn confidence through hard work and to ensure that your words align with your actions. "If you just do the right thing, you'll get somewhere," White said. "Every time you're here, make it count and leave a good impression for yourself when you're gone." By: Mandrallius Robinson -- Greenville Online Students Honored at Coaches for Character Event October 6, 2014 Furman University football coach Bruce Fowler won a pair of Southern Conference championships as a player with the Paladins in the late 1970s. He won eight more during 18 years as an assistant at Furman, and last season won his first in three seasons as head coach at the school. On Monday night at the Redemption World Outreach Center, Fowler spoke to hundreds of local elementary, middle and high school students about some of the things that have helped him become successful. Fowler had five messages for the students: Do your best; be brave enough to do the right thing; be great timekeepers by making the most of your free time; be compassionate; and never give up. When it came to doing your best, Fowler shared an inspiring story about one of his former players, John Keith. Fowler called Keith, who went on from Furman to the San Francisco 49ers, the "best player I ever coached." Fowler, who added that Keith was also probably the toughest player he ever coached, said that one day during a film session he accused Keith of not trying hard. "We were walking out and he wasn't talking to me. All of a sudden I look over and he had tears running down his face," said Fowler. "He looked at me and said, 'Coach, I always do my best,' and he did. It meant that much to him." Fowler was thankful to have the opportunity to speak Monday. He talked about teaching many of the same aged students that were in attendance when he taught and coached at Wren Middle School right after graduating from Furman. Fowler also pointed out that his two children each attended Wade Hampton High School. "When I got asked to come speak to you, it was as big an honor as anything that I've had the opportunity to do," Fowler told the students. "It's because we share the same community. "I hope and pray that what I say will make a difference to you and have an impact on your life, because I believe you're really important and I believe that you can make a difference in our community." Winners of The Greenville News Coaches 4 Character Award were Analis Bailey and Jackson Boyd, who are both seniors at Riverside High School. Riverside assistant principal Stephanie Smith spoke about each student and helped present the awards. The next Coaches 4 Character event will be held Dec. 1. The guest speaker will be Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin. Corbin, a former Clemson assistant, guided the Commodores to the 2014 College World Series championship. By: Scott Keeler -- Greenville Online Big Bus Alliance 2014-15 We are proud to introduce year six of the Big Bus Alliance, a unique collaborative effort focusing on transporting at risk students to our three annual Coaches 4 Character programs. Young Transportation of Asheville has committed twelve 56 passenger buses for our four 2014-15 Coaches 4 Character programs. Meals for students on the buses are provided for non profits, churches, and Title 1 schools. Over the last five years, Coaches 4 Character has sent these buses to over 90 Upstate organizations that also focus on helping at risk youth. The impact of the Big Bus Alliance is that over 10,000 students, practically all of whom otherwise would not have the opportunity, have attended Coaches 4 Character programs. A special “thank you” is due JM Smith Corporation and Young Transportation for understanding the value of collaboration and community service, enabling Coaches 4 Character to emphasize to youth that character and education do make a difference! Costas Tells Students to Dream Big Click image to see Costas' emotional speech Bob Costas was the guest speaker for Coaches for Character’s annual Advocates for Character and Education (ACE) Awards held at Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville. May 23, 2014 While his father risked the family home betting on sports inside Long Island bars, he sent a young Bob Costas to the car, not to wait, but to check the score of the various ballgames, and bring him updates. There, Costas fiddled with the dial to find the faraway voices that traveled the radio waves and brought the ballgames to life. Those voices instilled in Costas a love for both sports and broadcasting. Memories of those nights stick with Costas. Through hot and cold streaks, hardships and windfalls, he developed a bond through sports with his father who died at 42 from a heart attack. “What my father had inadvertently left me through all the ups and downs was this fascination that I had…with the voices that described those games when I was a kid and a desire to become one of them,” Costas said Thursday as the guest speaker for Coaches for Character’s annual Advocates for Character and Education Awards held at Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville. Costas told a crowd that included a male and female honoree from each Greenville County School District middle and high school that those life experiences intersected with luck and his own dreams to put him on a path to success in the broadcast booth. “If I didn’t have something beyond the narrow limits of my own youthful existence, if I didn’t have something beyond what the world was then telling me what I was capable of, then I might not have wound up being as fortunate as I wound up being.” Costas has won 25 Emmy Awards, broadcast 11 Olympics and become the most-decorated sports broadcaster of all time. He became familiar with Greenville when his son attended Clemson University and called it “one of his favorite towns.” He said he was struck by the inscription on the statue that honors those students from Sterling High School who fought for civil rights through lunch counter sit-ins in Greenville. Their story should inspire today’s generation of students, that have their own hardships and obstacles to overcome to find success, Costas said. “They had the deck institutionally stacked against them and yet so many of them went on to become doctors, to become lawyers, to become teachers, even as they were working to improve society, they were not using whatever obstacles society threw in front of them as an excuse to wallow in self-pity,” he said. Costas said athletics at the high school and college levels must be put in perspective with academics. Influence from fans and alumni in college sports have put that balance “out of whack,” he said. “Really, would we rather have South Carolina or Clemson or whatever team we root for, would we rather have them go 10-1 or 11-0 and 10 percent of them graduate, or would we take 8-3, a nice team, and 90 percent of them graduate and none of them get arrested,” he said. By: Nathaniel Cary -- Greenville Online Clemson's Leggett Advises Youngsters to Be Strong Picture Credit: Heidi Heilbrunn -- Greenville Online February 4, 2014 Among the many tidbits of advice imparted by Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett Monday night at the Coaches 4 Character program was the suggestion to dream big and be diligent in that pursuit. At least two members of the audience apparently have already taken that recommendation to heart. Emily Newcomer and Will Patton, a couple of eighth-graders at Northwest Middle School in Travelers Rest, each received The Greenville News’ Coaches 4 Character Awards Monday night in recognition of their high achievement in the classroom as well as their integrity and citizenship. Although their ultimate goals are disparate – Newcomer aspires to be a doctor, Patton’s goal is to be a manufacturer of military firearms – their quests for excellence have followed similar paths. “I’ve always tried really hard to do my best and never give up,” Newcomer said. “I’ve always been taught not to go along with the crowd, to be yourself,” Patton said. Both students were recommended by teachers and guidance counselors, and were introduced by their principal, Dr. David McDonald. Newcomer was lauded because she “consistently exemplifies character, personal drive, personal responsibility and concern for others. She works hard, is an excellent student and continually demonstrates character, poise and manners in all she does.” Teachers called Patton “a joy to teach,” and was recommended due to his “positive attitude and the smile on his face. He respects fellow classmates and teachers,” and “strives to make the best grade he can and truly values his education.” And that put a smile on the face of Leggett, who recently was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and has won 887 games in 20 seasons at Clemson. “Dream big and tell yourself, ‘Why not me?’ ” Leggett said. “You don’t have to be the strongest, you don’t have to be the biggest, but you can work harder and never give up, never give in.” By: Scott Keepfer -- Greenville Online Peck Encourages Students to Strive at Coaches 4 Character Woodmont athletes earn program honors Picture Credit: PATRICK COLLARD -- Greenville Online November 19, 2013 While college basketball is starting to get in full swing, ESPN’s Carolyn Peck couldn’t be heard broadcasting a game Monday night. Instead of analysis of men’s or women’s basketball, she was providing life encouragement as the guest speaker for Coaches 4 Character at Redemption World Outreach Center. Given that Monday’s program was “Young Ladies Night,” Peck was especially happy to address to elementary, middle and high school students from throughout the Upstate. “Women have the potential to be stronger, especially if they are encouraged or motivated at an earlier age,” said Peck. “Nowadays we get so busy in our everyday lives that kids don’t get their fare due. “I don’t look at kids as high-risk; I look at those as having the most potential. Whatever you can do to expose them to opportunities to help them set their sights on high goals, I’d like to try to do that.” Peck credits her parents with pushing her and convincing her that she could accomplish anything. She’s accomplished lots. The Jefferson City, Tenn., native was a two-time high school all-American and Tennessee’s Miss Basketball in 1987. After a Hall of Fame career at Vanderbilt, she worked for a Fortune 500 company for two years before playing professional basketball in Italy and Japan. Peck then made the move to coaching, where she eventually was the first head coach and general manager of the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle. Those experiences led to one of her key topics of discussion, handling success – and more importantly to her, handling failure. She talked about winning a national championship at Purdue in 1999 and being fired at Florida before the end of the 2007 season. Leaving coaching led her to television, a job she dreamed of as a child. “Back when I was 9 years old, Jayne Kennedy was holding her own on NFL football with a bunch of men, and I thought, ‘one day I want to do that,’” said Peck. “And my mother would say, ‘there’s no reason why you can’t.’ “‘I can’t’ was not allowed to be in our vocabulary.” ? Prior to Peck’s speech, Woodmont High football coach Jason Farmer introduced the recipients of the high school Coaches 4 Character awards, Woodmont’s Hannah Gilstrap and Hunter Haines. Gilstrap is a senior who’s played softball since the age of 4, as well as volleyball and basketball. Gilstrap, who already has CNA certification and has been an assistant trainer for the football team, plans to be an ER nurse. “I’m very excited and humbled by this experience,” said Gilstrap. “I’m glad others (who nominated her) can look up to me.” Haines is a captain on his football and baseball teams. The senior, who has a 3.817 GPA, won the Wildcats’ FCA Athlete of the Year in 2012. While it was “Young Ladies Night” Monday, Haines was moved by Peck’s words. “She talked about accountability, and that’s a big thing in my life. I have to hold myself accountable to show my little brother how,” said Haines. “Influencing him has shown me how to be a role model, and I’ve taken that to sports and life in general.” By: Scott Keeler -- Greenville Online Beck Students Earn Coaches 4 Character Awards September 23, 2013 Mark Gottfried says it’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. Apparently Hannah Buford and Tate Johnson already believe in that contention. “I liked when he said to always encourage your teammates and push them to do better,” Johnson said after listening to Gottfried, the men’s basketball coach at N.C. State University, deliver his message at the Coaches 4 Character program Monday night at Greenville’s Redemption World Outreach Center Buford and Johnson, who are both 13-year-old eighth-graders at Beck Academy, received Coaches 4 Character awards from Gottfried, who lauded their teamwork, character and academic effort. “They are in a wonderful position and at a wonderful point in their lives,” Gottfried said. Gottfried, who has led the N.C. State Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first two seasons at the Raleigh, N.C., school, said he was going to talk to Monday night’s gathering much as he would his own team, and that he did. “I want people on my team who care about the right things,” Gottfried said. “The same qualities I want in a player are the same qualities you should strive for every day.” Buford and Johnson both are off to great starts, and Buford took Gottfried’s words to heart. “His goals were inspirational,” Buford said. “He told us to strive to work harder each day.” Buford wants to attend Clemson and become a first-grade teacher. She is on the J.L. Mann cross country team, serves on student council, volunteers at church and school and is a member of Pro team, a program that provides “buddies” for special needs students. Johnson, who also hopes to attend Clemson, plays football for the Mann “D” team, has played youth basketball for eight years at Trinity Lutheran Church and also is a Proteam member. By: Scott Keepfer -- Greenville Online Lattimore at Ease About Upcoming Draft Photo Credit: Heidi Heilbrunn -- Greenville Online April 16, 2013 Although not in the profession, Marcus Lattimore spoke in front of largest crowd in the history of the Coaches 4 Character program at the Redemption World Outreach Center, Monday night. Prior to the event Lattimore, who has made several personal appearances around the state in recent weeks, admitted speaking to the large group of youth attending the event was special. “The whole thing about this is Coaches 4 Character,” said Lattimore. “My whole life I have been fortunate to have a lot of great people around me. The main thing I want them to know is what really matters. Of course academics are crucial. Of course, in sports, you want to do the best you can. But the last thing people remember is how you treat them. That’s my message.” There have been some tough times for Lattimore in past 18 months – serious injuries to both knees that have required surgery and the death of two grandparents. Lattimore admitted that following his second injury, when his right knee was injured Oct. 27 against Tennessee, he thought his dream of playing in the National Football League Football was over. “They told me I wouldn’t walk for nine months, but I’m walking,” Lattimore told the audience. “They told me I wouldn’t run for two years, but I’m running. I pray every night and I know God doesn’t make mistakes. That is what keeps me smiling every day.” Lattimore has been spending time and working out in Columbia recently. He says he will be doing just that again today. He admits venturing inside Williams-Brice Stadium for USC’s Spring Game on Saturday, the first time he had been inside the building with fans in the stands since injuring his knee, was exciting and listening to Carolina coach Steve Spurrier call him the best football player ever to play for the Gamecocks was humbling. “For him to even say something like that is a big honor,” said Lattimore. “There have been a lot of great Gamecocks come through. I guess he was referring to my character pretty much.” Although the draft is a little more than a week away, Lattimore still says he doesn’t plan on watching and hopes to be alone when the team who chooses him calls. “To tell you the truth, I’m really at ease right now,” said Lattimore. “I’ve done all I can. When I came out of school I knew what the plan was, to be able to do something for the scouts and I did that. I got through the interviews fine. Everything was great. Now I’ll just wait and see what happens. “I really don’t have a clue, to tell you the truth. After the couple visits I took, a lot of teams like me later, a lot of teams like me earlier so I have no clue.” ? Abby McCarter and Chris Gantt, students at Sterling Middle School, each received The Coaches 4 Character Award which is given to students recommended by teachers and guidance counselors in their school for their high achievement in the classroom as well as their integrity. By: Willie T. Smith III -- Greenville Online Vanderbilt Coach Encourages Students to Overcome Doubt Picture Credit: MYKAL McELDOWNEY -- Greenville Online February 26, 2013 The position of head football coach at Vanderbilt University came with unsolicited and unflattering counsel. “They told me I could never win there; it was the toughest job in all of college football,” said James Franklin, who was hired at Vanderbilt two years ago. “Over and over and over again, we heard that constantly,” Franklin recalled Tuesday night before speaking at the Coaches 4 Character program at Redemption World Outreach Center. Franklin recounted those discouraging warnings for the attentive students, parents, teachers and counselors. He then revealed how he countered each modicum of doubt with positive words of encouragement. In two seasons, Franklin has directed Vanderbilt to consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history. “I’m a guy that’s got a chip on my shoulder, so I like proving people wrong,” Franklin said. “That’s part of our message about how we were able to turn the thing around, by trying to take that negativity and flip it, by bombarding our guys with the same consistent positive message over and over and over again.” Stephen Turner and Caroline Newkirk epitomize Franklin’s message of positive reinforcement. Turner and Newkirk both overcame adversity and doubt to excel at Blue Ridge High School. Turner, a senior, returned from a broken foot to lead the Blue Ridge football team to a region championship. Newkirk missed her freshman year after knee surgery. Now a junior, she has blossomed into a team captain on the Blue Ridge basketball and tennis teams. The resilient pair was recognized with The Greenville NewsCharacter Award. “It was a great honor. I think a lot of Coach Franklin,” Turner said. “A lot of people told me it’s hard to come back from a broken foot. It was fun to prove those people wrong. “Be your own person and serve others, and even if someone treats you wrong, treat them well. If you show love to them, you’ll have a reward at the end of it.” Newkirk said, while she was sidelined for a season, she applied Franklin’s tactic of combating negativity with a perpetually positive attitude. “Even if you’re not playing, being positive is just as important as the person that scores 1,000 points,” Newkirk said. “Don’t get down on yourself. With whatever you’re doing, have a positive attitude and encourage other people, and you will get encouragement from that in return.” Franklin structured his message like a team meeting. At the conclusion, he posted the number of days Vanderbilt has before its season opener. He used that illustration to challenge the students to optimize each day in the pursuit of excellence. “It’s why we all got into the profession in the first place, I would hope, to try to make a difference in people’s lives and have a chance to hopefully reach a few of these young people and give them one or two things they can connect with that maybe can motivate them to do some special things in their lives,” Franklin said. By: Mandrallius Robinson -- Greenville Online ?

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