President Mark Killingsworth presided over today’s meeting Stephen Utroska provided the invocation. The meeting was held by Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions. Bill MacLauchlan led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mark opened the meeting by noting that due to COVID-19 meeting restrictions, the club will likely meet via Zoom for the next week or so. Joe Bost thanked Stephen and Bill for helping with today’s meeting.
Jerome Brown then introduced today’s guest speaker, Tony Vance. Tony is the Athletic Director for Hattiesburg Public Schools, head football coach, and the most recent recipient Bill Gwen Non-Rotarian of the Year Award Winner.
Tony noted that, although the athletic teams ended this past year with an impressive season, he is most proud of the academic achievements of Hattiesburg school athletes. During the past school year, all 24 athletic team members received state recognition for achieving a 3.01 average GPA. He noted that he and the school are waiting on the Governor’s new orders expected regarding the reopening of public schools. He keeps himself, and his coaches positive, by instilling in them the ability to “control the controllable.”
He showed a short video featuring Inky Johnson who played football until his right hand was paralyzed. Inky noted that success is found when you can control what is controllable rather than letting life distract you so much that you forget what you were doing.
Tony noted that in football there is much that you cannot control, such as injuries, COVID-19, etc. This taught him that was even more than could not be controlled. The last season was going very well for Hattiesburg Public School athletics until COVID came along and shut everything down. He told his coaches that they had to control what they could control and encouraged them to be a positive influence on the athletes who didn’t understand why they had to cut a winning season short. He told his coaches to remember that everything happens for a reason and that they needed to stay focused on what they could control and to try and relay that message to the students.
Football practice is scheduled to begin on August 17th. Tony says they haven’t yet figured out how to social distance in football. Volleyballs have to be sanitized after a player touches the ball. Many swim team members have no place to practice because public pools are closed. They are looking at how other schools are dealing with all of these restrictions and trying to learn from them. They are also monitoring college and professional sports, however, public-school money isn’t available for many of the improvements that these organizations can make. Several highs schools in the state have had to cancel their seasons because they don’t have the resources to keep their players safe.
For Hattiesburg High, they’ve installed new turf on the football field, pressure washed the track, refinishing gym floors, and controlling what they can control in hopes of a successful school year.
Tony notes that he thinks they’ve found a way to play the Little Brown Jug game. This would be the 100th Little Brown Jug game and he says it would be a shame to not be able to continue the tradition. They are also planning to play the Petal game. Some of the other rivalry events may have to take a back seat in the coming year. The safety of the players and the fans are their top priority and they will focus on controlling what they can control relating to those priorities.
Mark thanked Tony for today’s presentation and noted that next week’s meeting will likely be conducted by Zoom, pending meeting restrictions.
There being no further business to come before the club, Mark thanked those who were able to attend today’s Zoom meeting and adjourned the meeting with our motto: “Service Above Self.”