Inside the Swarm – Wade Hampton

 

 

By: Paul Davis

Pre-game devotional. Operating on a very short time schedule with a 4:30 departure from Union , pre-game activities were limited to the devotion and the meal.

Coach Bobo introduced former UHS, Indian Land , and Broome coach, Bill Owens, who is now the Spartanburg area Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader.

“It’s a pleasure to be with you today day,” began Owens. “Before coming here today, I went into my jewelry box and got my 1990 State Championship ring out and thought about some of those guys and what happened during the course of the year. Then I went downstairs and got my little boy, gave him a bottle, and watched ESPN while Dieon Sanders was interviewing Terrell Owens. And I got to thinking about our 1990 team. The receivers coach from Florida State was here to watch Monty Means play and I had a chance to talk with him at our pre-game meal.

“Everyone had left and I asked him how it was to coach Dieon Sanders who was in his senior year. ‘Coach, Dieon Sanders is the fiercest competitor I have ever coached,’ said Coach Easson. ‘He is the best punt return man in the NCAA and was sure to get drafted. Let me tell you what he does. He’s the first on the field every day. First dressed. He is the front of the line on every drill. He raises everyone’s level of performance because he wants to be the best, not the coolest. He also gives 100 percent on every drill. When practice is over, he stays on the field to work on anything that didn’t go well in practice. He said he wanted to be the very best and make millions of dollars. He wasn’t good by accident.’

“I want to tell you another story that’s not by accident. When the Cheyenne Indians went into battle, they sent the Dog Soldier out in front – that’s why I have this staff. This one man called a Dog Soldier, set himself apart and was going to lead them into battle. He was the best and everyone warrior knew that he had set himself apart to be the best. He wasn’t about being cool. He set himself apart to be a servant. Leaders first learn to be servants. The warriors knew what he was about and when he raised his staff, they followed him because of his everyday example.

“Tonight, you’ll be lined up on the field just like the warriors. And this is what sets the Dog Soldier apart. Once the battle started, every warrior knew they could count on the Dog Soldier. He would dismount, drive the stake into the ground, and defend it with his life. Wouldn’t run no matter how bad it got. When he drove the stake in the ground, it didn’t make him smarter or stronger but gave him a character trait that everyone knew – that he could be counted upon to do his best. And like Dieon Sanders, the Dog Soldier set the example. The warriors knew he was willing to die.

“The Dog Soldier set himself apart every day and that’s an example of a true champion, in the classroom, in the community, locker room, bus, and on the field. Every team wants to win tonight. But it’s not about tonight. Being a winner involves every day of your life. At the end of the season, they recognize what you do. Monty Means, Floyd Lyles, they laid it on the line every game. It’s the same uniform you now wear.

“But there’s a story greater than this. The greatest warrior who every lived rode into town on a donkey. They laid palm leaves out for Him, the Savior of the world. He was preparing for a battle at the end of that week. Satan thought he had whipped Jesus’ tail.  He thought he had Jesus nailed to the cross. They abused Him in every way you can imagine. When they took Him off the cross, they buried Him in a tomb but He didn’t stay there. Jesus said that if you want to follow Him (Luke 9:23 ) – if you want to be a champion and a leader – pick up your cross and follow Him every single day. In the classroom. Locker room. With your girl. On the football field. Learning to be a servant, learning to be a leader, and doing it every day. When you do that, winning on Friday night is a byproduct of that commitment. Coach Bobo is waiting on you to do that. You can’t flip a switch and become a great player on Saturday night. Dieon Sanders didn’t.

“Everyday, you have to learn that you have to carry that cross. Coach Bobo is not gonna ask you to be any bigger or stronger. All he’s gonna ask is that you do your best. I’ve never coached a team where your best wasn’t good enough.” Coach Owens then concluded with prayer.

Minutes away.  “I want you to go on the field two by two, holding hands,” began Bobo. “This is gonna be a war for 48 minutes. Can you play that long? Think of this as your first playoff game. Someone will claim the turf here tonight. I want you to be crazy on the sidelines.”

At the half. Leading by 16, Coach Bobo complimented the defense on their play but told the offense that at times it appeared that it was more important to be “cool.” “We’ve had touchdowns called back because of penalties,” Bobo continued, “and that lifts the play of Wade Hampton. We kick off and we have got to get better on coverage. We’ve had penalties inside the 20 that hurt us. Are you gonna be satisfied with 16 points?”

Quick hitter. As pre-game festivities were underway, players and coaches waited for the prayer…which never came. Greenville Country is not Union County … before the game, the PA system played a rap song which repeatedly made the statement, “…let’s get it started in here.”… Union did…but the real test comes against Clinton .

After the final buzzer. “This was not pretty,” began Bobo, “but you have your first win. I don’t have to tell you that you’re gonna face a real heavyweight next week. We will have everything prepared for you on Monday. Come ready to get better.”

The journey continues. Clinton . Here. 7:30. Smash mouth football.

 

 

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