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Winning can be a habit
Dee McLelland new

High school football is a way of life in the South.

Some stages are bigger than others, some stadiums are bigger than others, but for me, it’s looking up into the slowly darkening sky with pine trees swaying behind the home team’s bleachers while the players and coaches are happy to have the summer workouts behind them and are finally getting to play a real game.

I spoke briefly with folks before kickoff and watched as students worked their way up and down the bleachers looking for friends to sit with while parents stared intently at the field watching their sons playing a game which probably meant as much to them when they played years ago.

I was in Bryan County, but I could have been almost anywhere last Friday night. The same scene I was watching was being played out throughout almost every county in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina and the list would just keep going.

High school football has saved many a small town. I know that for a fact. A winning high school football team means more than just community pride, it brings financial benefits to a community as well. A winning football program helps promote other sports at the school and feeds into the student body with the enthusiasm which comes from that winning.

I grew up in a very small town Andalusia, Alabama. We had a winning football team and we reached the finals of our class, 3A, three out of the four years I was there. We held the state record for longest winning streak during the regular season for many years as we won 56 games in a row.

The community thrived during those years. We often played in front of more people than the 8,000 or so, who lived in our town. Many Friday nights there were more people in our stadium than actually lived in our town.

When those people left the stadium, mostly happy, local restaurants, and other businesses benefitted. Winning spurred the economy and continues to do so, not only in my hometown, but it does the same in our local communities.

Rolling out a team that can bring the community pride is important. More so than many people want to believe or acknowledge. Of our five schools which the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News cover only one came away with a victory. If you date back to last year a winning football team only resided in Richmond Hill, while the others only had a handful of wins amongst them.

The SEC has a slogan, “It Just Means More!” There’s a reason for that, it does. 

Winning in the SEC promotes financial support for all the other sports programs and the towns where each campus is located. Many businesses were shut down because stadiums couldn’t have fans and it cut off the life-blood of the locally owned stores.

The same scenario happens on a local level. Bryan County and the folks in the Pembroke area celebrated last Friday night. There was a little more pep in everyone’s step while they walked out of the stadium. It just meant more to win.

When you’re a high school athlete, you give your best effort at all times, no one questions that, but we as adults, as leaders, have to make sure they have what they need to be successful and I’m not talking about new uniforms and helmets.

There needs to be a sense of urgency to win, there needs to be a spirit on the field and in the stands of pride and achievement. In a day and age when everyone gets a trophy for just showing up, the football field can’t be one of the places where just “showing up” is acceptable.

Many of the guys I played football with became successful in life after school, when you get used to winning it becomes a habit. So does losing.

Here’s to all our programs at our local schools building that winning habit.

If you see me, say “Hey!”


Dee McLelland is the Publisher of the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News.

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