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A great crowd showed up for the Battle in the Valley. (Photo via Henderson County Now)

Most of you know that I have the good fortune of spending Saturdays during football season telling TVCC football players to stay back off the field during the game. We call this the Get Back Coach. Here’s my Top 5 from our first game of the season (a 66-56 loss to the Nassau Community College Lions).

1. Thank you Paul and Kim Benson (Virtual Communications) for sponsoring the Battle in the Valley. Paul and Kim fund the opposing team’s travel, lodging and meals so that a nationally ranked team from outside of our region can come to Athens. The budgets of junior college athletic programs do not allow for this to happen unless people like Paul and Kim step up. I don’t know what they spend but 100 people traveling on a couple of buses for 30 hours each way and staying two nights in a hotel probably gets pretty expensive.

2. When you talk about exposure for Athens this is exactly what you want. Are these folks going to come to Athens and open a business, probably not. However, anytime we can provide Athens hospitality to a bunch of folks from outside of our area we have the opportunity to introduce people to our wonderful town and way of life. Exposure, Exposure, Exposure. This is exactly the comment that the Nassau coach utilized to explain the importance of this trip. Winning the football game was a bonus, but showing everyone between Long Island, NY, and Athens that there are schools back east that play football was the true mission.

3. What did the Cain Center, the chamber, tourism department, etc. do to promote Athens during the Nassau visit? I asked Paul and Kim three years ago if the Weinstein Team could sponsor a dinner to feed both the teams the night before the game. This year we had over 500 people at the Cain Center for Beef Before the Battle. We had a great crowd. We’re proud to be the sponsors of such an amazing event. If we are going to increase our exposure as a wonderful community, we need more folks to ask if they can help. Paul and I will continue to do the event, but it would be really nice if more of our community was involved.

4. I listened to many of the folks in the stands yelling at our players, our coaches and the referees. If you think these 18 year olds are not being yelled at by their coaches, trust me they are. Yelling at a kid because he dropped a pass is not going to inspire him to catch the next one. Why don’t we leave the yelling at players up to the coaches? Also, the referees are human beings. They are going to miss things just like each of us would. I say we might consider toning to down just a bit. The refs in JUCO football are not all on the take so there is no reason to give them unmitigated hell. Let’s show everyone that we have amazing sportsmanship that our kids learn to know is the way we should act in the stands.

5. I’m proud of our churches for stepping up as host families for our football team. Each student athlete that wants to be part of the foster parent program will be teamed up with a family in the community that wants to help support our students. You can’t begin to believe how important these relationships are to our players. Very few are from Henderson County so every bit of family support and love makes a tremendous impact on the desire to please the people that are part of your life. This program is an excellent example of how we show that we are unique among similar cities. These student athletes are coming relationships that they and the host families will cherish forever.