Hall Of Fame

Tonight, Rabun County High School will induct it’s second Sports Hall of Fame Class prior to the start of the evening football game.

The Hall of Fame was formed last year, and in it’s second year of existence many people representing numerous sports and decades have been recognized.

Tonight’s class is no different.

For me, tonight’s class holds special significance, because one of the teams being inducted is the 1970 Rabun County High School Football team.

The 1970 team is special to me as my dad was the Assistant Coach of the team and my brother Tom would have been a senior on the team that year. Tom died in a car wreck in March before that season began.

From this point forward, let me preface this by saying the memories set forth on this post are coming from a 5 year old mind, so I may not have it all exactly right, but I think it’s pretty close.

Obviously, after the death of my brother our family was in turmoil, the greatest tragedy that could ever happen to a family had happened to ours.

Living in a small tight knit community, the people of our town rallied around us and held us up on a daily basis and as football season approached, we had something to look forward to.

My mama and daddy both grew up in Toccoa, just 30 miles from Clayton and in 1970, Toccoa High School was ranked very high in the State. Rabun County would be playing Toccoa late in the season and Toccoa was the odds on favorite to win the game handily.

My daddy and his entire team WANTED the win and sure enough, in the 3rd Quarter Rabun County went ahead and held on for the victory. Up until that time, this was the biggest win a team from Rabun County had ever seen.

The Hall of Fame story could easily end here, but for me, the game that was played against Toccoa wasn’t what made this team Hall of Famers, it was what they did off the field, how they helped save a family and surrounded a 5 year old with love and protection.

You see, when my brother died, he was an integral part of that team, the guys that made up that team were his best friends and they loved one another as brothers.

When Tom died, parts of them died too, they also had to grow up in ways that most would never had expected and I suspect they formed a bond that still exists today.

And for me, they became a group of young men who did everything they could to help fill the void of a big brother who would not be coming home again. They took care of me, they (and their girlfriends) made sure that I didn’t get swept aside in the grief of our family, they protected me. They became a whole new group of big brothers for a 5 year old missing his own and not understanding the concept of death or loss.

When Tom died, we were in the process of building a new home. It was the home we moved into in 1970 and still remains in my family today.

The house wasn’t complete when Tom died, but it was getting close. I think my parents realized very soon after Tom passed away that we needed to get out of the house we were living in and into our new home, a fresh start or at least a new beginning.

Growing up, my mother went to get her hair done every Thursday afternoon. Immediately after school she would go get her hair done and usually be home about 5PM.

On one Thursday afternoon, the entire 1970 Football team showed up at the house we were renting. With their pick-ups and cars and their father’s pick-ups and anything they could find and while my mother was at the beauty shop, they moved our entire house.

When my mother got home from the hairdresser we were moved into our new home. Mama used to joke that they didn’t even put anything in boxes, they just moved the dressers and closets as they were, but they got us moved.

This group of high schoolers continued to bless our family and I hope in some ways we enriched theirs. Simple acts of kindness and love is what represented this group of young men and I think they always realized that 1970 season included a guardian angel who was in every practice and huddle with them along the way of the season.

These young men, the 1970 Rabun County Wildcat Football Team protected us, they helped our family get our footing once again and they provided us with some valuable memories that put a smile on my family’s face when it was much easier to let tears stain our eyes.

I will always be indebted to the 1970 Wildcats, many of them I haven’t seen since I was a child. But they will forever hold a special place in my heart and in the history of my family.

Tonight, many fine people will be inducted into the Rabun County High School Sports Hall of Fame, but I’ll be cheering just a bit louder, with a lump in my throat for a special group of men, who in my eyes were Hall of Famers long before tonight’s induction ceremony.

As a child, I never knew how to say thank you for what these men did, I honestly didn’t know what I would be thanking them for, they were just part of my life. But as a man, I now know the sacrifices they made from their own lives, their teenage years, to help a little boy have some normality to a life that had been turned upside down. From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you, these normal band of high school football players did much more than they ever knew and more than I ever told them and for that, I will always be filled with gratitude. These will always be my Hall of Famers!

Congratulations to all the deserved honorees, especially the Hall of Famers of 1970.

Coach

CroweSometimes words flow easily for me, other times it’s hard… this is one of those times.

Coach Gail Crowe passed away yesterday.  December 24, 2019.  Coach Crowe had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for several years and while we all knew she was failing, her death came like a punch to the gut, especially on Christmas Eve.

Over the next days and weeks, many accolades will be said in honor of Coach Crowe and they will all be richly deserved.  She was a teacher, coach, and mentor for students of Rabun County for decades.

As the coach of our Ladie’s Basketball team, she turned Rabun County into a powerhouse and made legends of young women like Pat McKay, LuAnn Craft, Dawn Dixon, Kim Cody and countless others.  She coached her teams to championships, but more importantly she turned her Lady Cats into winners both on and off the court.

Over the years, she taught PE, coached Basketball, was the trainer for the football team and much more, she was a permanent fixture at all games, long after her retirement.

I was thinking today, I don’t think I ever had Coach Crowe as a teacher, the lessons I learned from Coach had nothing to do with basketball, football or any other school function, the lessons I learned from Coach Crowe were from life.

For me, Crowe signified a quiet dignity for life that I embraced.  She taught me how to live in my truth, without words or gestures, she just lived.  I learned from Coach Crowe that in being a decent person, people would accept and love you.  I learned that often times our differences were more similar than anyone could imagine.  From Crowe, I learned pride and honor in who I am.

Through all the honors and accolades Coach Crowe received over the years for her time on the basketball court and in the classroom, I am sure she realized how important she was…. I just hope that in some way, she knew how important her life was for kids like me.

Coach Crowe was tough, she was a competitor, she lived to win and she let every kid she ever encountered know they were loved.  Coach Crowe lived a life of dignified grace and for that all of us were blessed by knowing her.

I will always remember Crowe and appreciate the lady that she was.  She was one of a kind, one of the best, and a legend in Rabun County, for more reasons than she probably ever knew.

Rest peacefully Coach, you were loved and will be missed.

 

 

Overwhelming Gratitude

As I wrote yesterday’s post, I read and reread the words.  After it was completed, it took me several minutes to hit the PUBLISH button.  It was by far the most difficult post I have ever written.

I had no idea what would happen when I published.

Within minutes my phone started dinging text, people started commenting with support on the page, I got emails, phone calls and private messages.

To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement.

I have had people stop by the store just to give me a hug, I was stopped in Wal-Mart and at the grocery and hugged tightly and lovingly.

A friend stopped by and gave me a jar of fresh apple-butter she had just made, another brought me a fruit basket just to let me know they cared and love me.

And then, I got the first of four messages from other people who had been victimized, heart-breaking stories.  My heart is filled with an appreciation to these gentle souls who felt comfortable to share their stories with me. Stories like mine, that very few, if anyone else knew.

Rarely in my life am I at a loss for words, but I am.  Thank-you doesn’t seem to be enough, but that is all I have….. THANK YOU!

 

Farewell and Thank You Sir

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John McCain died yesterday.

There is a poem called “the dash,” which in short says the dash on ones tombstone between the day he was born and the day he dies is the most important.

The dash, tells the story of ones life, the triumphs, their tragedies and the way they lived.

John McCain’s dash was filled with more than most lives; he lived, he loved, he was passionate and most of all he served.

From his days in Vietnam, his years in a POW confinement, service to the United States House of Representatives and Senate, John McCain’s life is an example of service that few will ever equal.

I supported Senator McCain in the run up to the Republican nomination in 2000 and when he lost, he lost with grace and dignity.

In the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential Campaign, I told people close to me that if John McCain ran, I would be on board with his candidacy as I have always felt the country would be better with him at the helm.

I didn’t vote for him.  I believed that the hope and change of President Obama was what would be better for our country.  Many days I regretted my final choice, but in the end I know I did the right thing.

As he went back to the Senate he continued to serve, he stepped up in ways that were even bigger than before and his position as a Statesman grew.

In a political environment where narcissism, and idealogues seems to be the norm, Senator McCain was different.  When he spoke it mattered and I believe he always used his vote in the way he truly felt would be best for our country.  Not always popular and not always right, but with a heartfelt conviction that is rare in today’s politic.

John McCain’s honor will be missed in our national debate and pursuit moving forward.

From all reports, John McCain was exactly what you would think.  He was a friendly, passionate man who loved life, loved his family, loved his country and loved his fellow-man.

People who knew him talk about his ability to work with anyone who had the best interest of the country at heart, no matter their party affiliation.  Isn’t that what we most hope for in our elected officials?  Sadly, now that the Maverick has left us, it seems there are few if any to fill that void.

John McCain’s life of service will be celebrated over the coming days.  Democrats, Republicans and Independents will laud all he did in his rich life.  We will hear stories of his life, we will read commentaries of  his rough spirit and loving grace.

In the days to come we will hear words like statesman, servant, bi-partisan, maverick, war-hero and family man.  Most of all we will hear how John McCain loved America and only wanted the best for its citizens, these and many of the other adjectives used will be worthy.

John McCain was one of a kind a voice that is now silent, but hopefully a legacy that will continue.

When the words of John McCain’s life are spoken in honor of this incredible man, hopefully they will unite something in all of us to help make our country a better place.  A country where we work together to get things done and understand that compromise is a noble pursuit.

If we learn anything from John McCain’s life and now death we must learn, respect and act on these attributes, or else he will have lived in vain.

Patriots like John McCain teach us, they lead us and because of them our lives are richer.

John McCain will be missed, his dash was full and overflowed with goodness.

Thank you Senator John McCain, for a life well lived and for your service to America.

 

Happy Birthday & Thank You, Chelsea Leigh Rumsey!!!!!!!!!!!!

On this date, back in 1990, the good Lord allowed me to begin the most rewarding role I have ever had in life….. Uncle.

Early in the afternoon of May 8th, 1990, Chelsea Leigh Rumsey entered the world and turned our families hearts upside down.  With her first breath, she had us all wrapped around her finger.

For the last 28 years she has taken life by the horns and gone for a wild ride.  It hasn’t always been perfect, but whose life is, what is important is Chelsea has relied on her family and trust in God to make it through the good times as much as the difficult ones.

Chelsea is a strong, sensitive, cuss like a sailor, business woman, tomboy, make-up loving, jewelry wearing, fashionable, creative, family loving, smiling, Jeep driving, never give up lady and as she has grown, she has been a wonderful niece and now I am honored to say one of my best friends.

Four years ago, Chelsea brought another joy into our lives when she became a mom to Hadley Rae, I have watched her grow as a mom and look forward to seeing her in her next role as wife.

Chelsea, my advice for you today, on your birthday, is the same as it has always been, DREAM BIG, don’t ever let anyone or anything stop you from realizing your dreams.

I wish you a lifetime of joy and know you will continue to find your resting place with God and family.

Happy Birthday sweet girl and thank you for giving me the title I cherish above all others, Uncle.