“They don’t put championship rings on smooth hands.”
A good friend reminded me of these words this week.
The quote is from Joey Batson, the strength and conditioning coach of Clemson University’s football team. The team is coming off its second national title in two years against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Batson spoke these words a couple years ago and they have been used to fire up the Tigers’ fan base ever since. After the recent “bear crawl” debacle in Douglas, these words have fired me up too.
First, what the coach did was not “child abuse.” To think so would even make a police officer laugh. It was about discipline. His goal wasn’t to intentionally harm anyone. In fact, I was told Wadley felt “heartbroken” after quickly realizing he hurt “his boys.”
With that, asphalt might not have been the smartest decision, but it isn’t a foreign concept. I remember doing the same type drills during my time playing football.
Another fact no one is talking about: they ran the “bear crawls” in the morning, shortly after the field sprinklers timed out. That means it wasn’t scorching hot like most people are being led to believe. I heard one TV station made the effort to take the temperature of the asphalt in the afternoon.
On the day the “bear crawls” were ran, all the players came back to practice that afternoon. According to a source close to the team, it was arguably the best practice the team has had since Wadley arrived one month ago.
The problem I have with the entire situation is that a parent made a complaint, and it escalated out of control. And, the local television stations helped. They turned it into a big deal without half of the facts. Rather than worrying about telling you the entire story, they wanted your “clicks.” That’s what separates The Reporter from the rest.
Since I became managing editor nearly six months ago, we’ve made a concerted effort to improve our newspaper. We’ve recommitted ourselves to not only sharing your story but also giving you the all the facts.
Wadley is a good thing for the Douglas Eagles. The overwhelming majority of his players and their parents support him. The story here isn’t about "bear crawls," blisters or abuse. It’s about the terrifying power of social media and one parent’s reaction.
The only problem I see in Douglas is that this ever became a story. I personally thought about leaving it alone until I heard the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office became involved, and a student was facing possible charges. That isn’t because I’m a former Eagle, and it’s certainly not because we’re scared to tell the difficult stories. It’s because “they don’t put championship rings on smooth hands.”
Douglas has never been known to have a quality football program, and that’s because parents run off every coach that makes things a little rough on them. I have witnessed that. And as long as the program continues to be soft, it will never know what winning feels like. After all, Wadley is the school’s fifth coach in four years. And if my memory serves me correctly, the school has only one victory in the last three years.
Parents, take a step back. Let the coaches do their job and shape those kids into good football players and even better men. Let them get scrapes and blisters — it’s a sign of hard work, and that’s what it takes to win.
Taylor Beck is managing editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.