School ended three weeks ago but Liberty County Panther tennis player Kurt McGee came back to campus Thursday and received an unexpected surprise.
Sandra Eichholz, head varsity tennis coach, the Doc Williams Memorial MVP Award for tennis to the shocked 18-year-old.
Richard (Doc) Williams worked for the school system, assisting the athletics department and working for the media center.
"He was on the sidelines for every football game, Eichholz said of Williams. "He came to every cross country meet. He was there for softball, basketball and was very integral in our school during the days before we had athletic trainers. He really helped us out as far as that was concerned. He came to all of our tennis matches and was always there to help with anything that needed to be done."
Kay Williams is Doc’s daughter who currently works at the LCHS media center. She said it was wonderful to see her father being remembered for the work he did.
"Most of the people who knew my father are no longer associated with the school," Williams said. "But a lot of the people in the athletic program do remember him. They remember all the effort he put forth both on the fields and in the media center. And it’s nice to see that recognized.
Eichholz said the school usually has an annual tennis match that pits the students against the faculty but the recent rain wouldn’t permit it this year.
"We had it scheduled but it rained the whole week of and the whole week after," she said. "Then we ran into exam week so we could not do it so we decided to do something a little different and start this annual award."
McGee is the first recipient of the award. He played tennis in the 10th, 11th and 12th grade.
"In those three years he never missed a practice," Eichholz said. "In fact, even when we had split practices he came to both. He’s helped me in the summer with the tennis program we did for the LCRD. He’s been a very hard worker, very dedicated to the program. He has improved and his overall record was 36-6."
The tennis coach credits McGee’s dedication in helping the boys’ tennis squad earn its first state bid in the school’s history this season.
"Kurt won his opening match at the tournament," Eichholz said. "He finished his senior year on a very positive note."
Williams said the work ethics exemplified by McGee is exactly what her father respected and admired.
"This was surprising I wasn’t expecting such an honor to be bestowed upon me," McGee said. "I don’t know if I had voted that I would have voted myself as MVP so it was surprising. I’ve been working hard for the past three years. I’ve gotten better and the team has gotten better. We went from losing seasons to going to region and going to state this year. This year was a great tennis season we had a lot of new people and a lot of hard workers and it was fitting that it would end at state this year."
McGee is on his way to Georgia Southern University where he plans to study computer science and said he is going to try out for the Eagles’ tennis team.
"Academically, he was sixth in his class at 96 percent and he scored 1800 on his SAT," proud father Keith McGee said. "He is academically brilliant but what I’m most proud of is his love for Jesus, his Lord and Savior. It’s his foundation. It’s what he does everything else off of. He’s been a pleasure to have as my son and we are both exceptionally proud of him."
McGee will be joining his older sister Amy, a Panther alumnus who transferred to GSU after playing one year of volleyball at Brewton-Parker College.
Eichholz said LCHS prides itself on focusing on academics, not just athletic performances.
"I hope we can have more students follow in Kurt’s footsteps, as far as his work ethics, for our tennis team next year," Eichholz said. "But he is going to be a tough act to follow and we are going to miss him tremendously."