PCHS head coach shares his philosophy for building better men
A capacity crowd of more than 250 men, young and old, filled the social hall at First Baptist Church Monday night, expecting two things: to get a great meal of deer meat and the fixin’s and to hear the man who brought the excitement of our first 13-1 football season to the community.
Neither was a disappointment.
But while the venison was tender as a mother’s heart and tasty as any roast, PCHS Head Coach Jason Strickland may have surprised a few when he explained how winning football games is not the number one priority for him and his coaching staff.
“We’re all about building our young athletes into successful adults,” said Strickland, noting that his football program is designed to “complement and support the sixth best academic institution in the State of Georgia,” a reference to one ranking that puts PCHS alone among Southeast Georgia high schools in terms of academic achievement.
Strickland paid homage to two men he considers the greatest influences in his life, former Clinch County High School coaching legends, Donald Tison and Cecil Barber, who Strickland recalled, made sure that he was where he was supposed to be and doing what he was supposed to do every day when he was a student, fatherless at a young age, and “prone to making every mistake you could probably make.”
Strickland says his lesson to every young person entrusted to his care is simple: “We can’t control what life may send our way or what others do. But we can control how we respond to all of those things.”
Strickland referred to the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy, written while Paul was being held captive for preaching the Gospel of Jesus.
“Paul was in prison, but he assured Timothy, he could have no control over the adversities he was facing — only in how he responded to the adversity.”
Strickland reminded the large crowd of men that, when times are tough and we question our faith in God, that is when “non-believers look and wonder what kind of fair-weather Christians we really are.”
Strickland urged the men to “show respect for everyone and that is the best way to guide others to Christ.
“It doesn’t matter if they are black, white, brown or whatever,” he stated. “God’s grace is for everybody.”
The foremost lesson the championship coach said he tries to instill in his charges is “one thing I want you to hear tonight, if you hear nothing else: You show respect to others because of who you are, not because of who someone else is!”
Strickland told the group he is grateful to the high school and system administration for allowing him to build a staff with ideals and goals that match his.
“They are good coaches, but they are even better men, husbands, fathers and leaders,” Strickland noted. “They are the kind of examples we want our kids to see and follow.”
Strickland’s address was the capstone of the latest in a decades-long series of First Baptist Mens Ministry outreach dinners featuring venison prepared under the direction of the Walker family. All 250 ate their fill, many with seconds, made possible by the preparation of 26 hindquarters and 14 tenderloins under the supervision of Alvin Walker, Jr.
“No one ever leaves here hungry and we’ve never run out,” noted FBC Pastor, Dr. Bill Young.
He was right. Every man left, not just with a full stomach, but also a satisfied spirit.
• Robert M. Williams, Jr. is Editor & Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.