Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Champion's Journey

During my years at Harding, and one year at Lipscomb, I had the privilege to coach football at Harding Academy and David Lipscomb for the JV and Middle School teams.

When I was a freshman in college, I had a close bond with the 7th graders I coached at Harding Academy as it was their first year playing football and my first year coaching. Through our time together over the next three years, we lost only 1 game piling up a 23-1 record. My senior year of college, they moved on to the varsity team where they won a state title. I was, and remain very proud of them. I still hear from a few of them from time to time.

My first year out of Harding, I took a few classes at Lipscomb University and had the opportunity to coach at my Alma Matter, David Lipscomb. Once again with my first year coaching at a school, I was involved with the 7th grade program. We had a crew of what I would lovingly call "misfits" who were playing their first season of football. For a vast majority of those kids, it would not be their last.

We only went 2-2* in our short time together, with one big asterisks beside our loss to Goodpasture. The same year David Lipscomb High School, with which I was minimally involved, won the State title. Instead of taking a spot in the booth or the sidelines during the game, I sat with the 7th grade team to keep a promise I had made to them. They asked me 1,000 questions about some of the Lipscomb legends I had played with during my time, what plays were being called on the field, and if they too could one day win a championship.

About winning a championship, I told them, "Work hard. Trust Coach Mac and the others coaches, and believe in each other. If you do those things, you're gonna have that chance. I promise." I would be surprised if so many as one of those kids remembers what I said.

I remember it because one the kids had told me just a few weeks before that he didn't want to play football past 8th grade. Right before I headed to the locker room to celebrate with the varsity team, that player stopped me and said, "Coach Cam, I want to keep playing football now. Thanks." I was glad he decided to stick with it. A week later, I headed off to Oklahoma. I have only seen them a handful of times since.

Yesterday, almost five years to the day after that 2002 State Championship game, those boys fulfilled their dream of winning their own State Title.

They had been to the Championship Game the past two seasons, but had lost in heartbreaking fashion in both tries. Coach Mac, Coach Taylor, Coach Tillman, and others have done an outstanding job coaching these kids, and they have reaped the rewards of their hard work and time spent under those amazing men. They had reaped rewards long before they won a single game, as they remained steadfast and classy throughout their time at Lipscomb, and no one should expect any less from a Glenn McCadams coached team.

The player who didn't want to play any more football five years ago, Zach Lehmer, is the player on the right kissing the trophy. I am very, very proud of those young men. This senior class graduated winning 3 Region Championships, 1 State Championship, and piled up a Lipscomb record 40-5 record over three seasons.

I'm not taking credit in the least for their triumphs. It is always good to see the kids you care about succeed in any capacity. I was hoping to be back in Nashville by now, coaching again, but life had led us to where we are today.

I long for the day when I can coach again and begin a new bond with a new bunch of kids, and I hope I can be there for their successes one day too. I'm just thankful to have been in only a very small part of these Champions' journey. I hope their success continues beyond the gridiron, and well down the road.

Boys, I'm proud of you. Go Mustangs!

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