2012 GSU Panther Football Kickoff Luncheon*
*I tried to take accurate notes. I recorded and attributed quotes as factually as possible, to share with the
Panther Family. I will be glad to correct any inaccuracies.
The Panther Athletic Club's 2012 Kickoff Luncheon was held at the historic East Lake Country Club. A sellout crowd enjoyed elegant surroundings, and soaked in the history of the home course of legendary golfer, Bobby Jones.
11 Alive Sports Anchor Sam Crenshaw acted as Master of Ceremonies. Crenshaw introduced PAC President, David Deeter, who welcomed the guests.
Georgia State football is in the Middle of Three Milestones:
1. First and last season in the CAA.
2. Transitioning to the Sunbelt.
3 Final season of coaching for Coach Bill Curry.
Cheryl Levick announced that although some teams will begin to transition to the Sunbelt right away, the transition will be complete in July 2013. For football, this is the first year of a two year process. Men's and women's cross-country will begin competing in the Sunbelt in October of this year. (A new promotional video spot for GSU was premiered, and a clip from the press conference announcing GSU's move to the Sunbelt was reviewed.)
Karl Benson, Sun Belt Conference Commissioner, announced that the Sun Belt will be going through changing and branding to raise its stature. "The Goal of the Sun Belt is to surpass Conference USA in the near future." He continued, "Great things are in store for Georgia State. Great things are in store for the Sun Belt. Sun Belt vs. Conference USA will be a good rivalry. April 7, the Sun Belt sent the message that Georgia State will be a big part of the change."
GSU's 7th President, Mark Becker, talked about a strategic plan for GSU to become the premier urban university in the United States. Athletics will help with that mission. Dr. Becker said that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 32,500 students on campus now, and although parking is terrible, there is an incredible vibe!
"Georgia State is growing in stature, impact, and as a place destination for students." President Becker asked, "What effect has football had on Georgia State?" Then he answered his own question. "Georgia State is a different university because of football. Two years ago, the likelihood of people wearing GSU hats and shirts on campus was very slim. Now, there is a sea of blue and white everywhere."
"Football did this! It has given the University a sense of bonding around a common purpose. Cheryl Levick and Bill Curry did that." Dr. Becker declared to spontaneous, extended applause.
Dr. Becker said people no longer ask him when he is going to decide to shut the football program down, like they used to. "We're going to build a program that lasts forever," President Becker asserted.
Coach Bill Curry, "the Architect of the Georgia State Football Team," took the stage. "There are so many people I'd love to tell you about, all around this room, from the past, and present--people whom I love. There's just not enough time."
"I will introduce my coaching staff and a few players." (Coach Curry asked his coaches to stand and be recognized. He also introduced each of the players attending the luncheon, and gave a little background on each.)
|Football Players who attended the Luncheon, with Sara Gigantino, Director of Football Operations|
"I'm remembering when I was considering football. It's hostile, painful, demanding--not for the faint of heart--not for the 99%. It's a dangerous occupation. Besides, I intended to pitch for the New York Yankees."
Coach Curry told a story about playing football as a kid in College Park. His team had the opportunity to practice against the older kids. Coach Curry went to tackle the team's best running back, and was promptly flattened. He ran back to the sidelines, thinking, "I'm glad that's over." The coach said, "Run it again." The same thing happened over and over. After each play, Coach told the team to "Run it again. Run it again. Run it again."
Coach Curry was reduced to, in his words, "Blood, snot, and tears." His teammates wouldn't meet his eyes, because each was thinking, "Better him than me." Finally, something snapped inside, and Coach Curry knew he HAD to make that tackle, or die trying. He made it!
As the young Bill Curry staggered off the field, his teammates surrounded him, hugging him. Bill looked at Coach Badgett, and said he thought he "almost smiled."
"It's not enough to show up. You've got to whip people who are bigger and better than you are all the time." Coach Curry continued, "Football is the only sports team that needs every teammate on every play, in order to survive."
When Coach Curry was coaching at Alabama, there had been some threats against him. His pastor dropped by to see how Carolyn and he were doing. Carolyn told the pastor they were doing ok, that they knew football was like a religion in Alabama. The pastor replied, "No, Carolyn, you don't understand, it's much more serious than that!"
Coach Curry concluded, "There is synergy and power in football....At the end of last season, our team was bloody, embarrassed, and not very good. We went back to work the next day. We have some team members here who have been practicing since the days we practiced at the Martin Luther King Middle School, when we had nothing. I am delighted to have the opportunity to say that the 2012 bunch is the group that has really started to get the job done. Thank you so much everybody."
As Coach Curry finished speaking, the new 2012 Football Introduction video was introduced.
The 2012 Season Kicks off tomorrow night, Thursday, August 30, at 7:30, in the Georgia Dome! Let's join the Panther Family in "Bleeding Blue" at the Dome!
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