Editorial: An inspiring sunset with Steve Spurrier
Jun 13, 2014 | 1156 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Love him, like him, hate him or just sort of tolerate him, the Cleveland and Bradley County chapter of Vol Nation is opening its doors Saturday to gridiron archrival Steve Spurrier, one of the winningest coaches in college football who now leads the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.

Spurrier, who surely will bring the same level of excitement to his Cleveland audience as University of Alabama skipper Nick Saban did last year in a Chamber of Commerce function in Athens, will deliver the keynote address during the fifth annual Bradley Sunrise Rotary Sunset Gala.

The popular civic club’s annual fundraiser will kick off Saturday at 6 p.m., at the Museum Center at Five Points.

As would be expected for a speaker of Spurrier’s caliber, tickets are almost sold out, according to Cheryl Dunson, executive vice president of Marketing at Santek Waste Services who doubles as public information officer for the local civic group.

Many native Tennesseans and Vols loyalists may have been surprised to learn recently that Spurrier — who won a national championship while serving at the helm of the University of Florida Gators — has roots in Big Orange Territory. At age 12, Spurrier’s family moved to Johnson City.

Dunson chuckled earlier when suggesting maybe that’s why local folks have been more accepting of the South Carolina coach’s visit to the heart of Vols Nation than some in the Athens area were last year when the McMinn County business advocate befriended football nemesis Nick Saban, the widely respected, crimson-shirted signal caller at the University of Alabama.

Although Saban’s address was filled with down-home inspiration, and his visit became a huge financial success for the Athens Chamber of Commerce, some in the region weren’t so thrilled to have the Crimson Tide skipper on orange-shaded turf.

Such negative response is comical at best because leaders of young men like Saban and Spurrier trumpet a message far more important than touchdowns, games won and contests lost.

Each is credited — as both should be — with helping to mold the lives of young athletes. Truth is, regardless of their university affiliation, most of these college students won’t advance their careers into the NFL, the Canadian Football League, Arena Football or other levels of gridiron competition. That’s why men like Spurrier and Saban — and yes, Tennessee Vols skipper Butch Jones — are so important.

Through personal mentoring and role modeling, these men can favorably influence the lives of young athletes whose careers will end with their alma mater. Hopefully, they will have taken their education seriously enough during their academic years to prepare for lives without football; at least, as padded competitors.

Attracting speakers of Spurrier’s abilities is always a boost to growing communities like Cleveland and Bradley County. He’s not the first big name to visit Southeast Tennessee and assuredly he won’t be the last ... not as long as organizations like Bradley Sunrise Rotary and initiatives like Empowering Women keep doing what they do so well.

Both are dedicated to community. Each bears a mindset of building, embracing and engaging.

Those fortunate enough to be holding one or more tickets to Saturday’s Sunrise Sunset Gala — or perhaps even an entire corporate table — likely will hear one of the year’s most inspiring speeches to be delivered in Cleveland.

We are proud to welcome Steve Spurrier to Cleveland and we thank Bradley Sunrise Rotary for making it possible.

Those planning to attend are reminded to arrive early. The event gets underway at 6 p.m. at the Museum Center at Five Points. Once there, attendees can get an up-close and personal look at an array of silent and live auction items whose diversity ranges from spectacular vacation packages to hunting trips to jewelry.

A few tickets remain. For more information, call 423-473-0800; or, visit www.sunrisegala.com or www.bradleysunriserotary.com.

To hear, and to meet, a personality like Steve Spurrier can be life changing. But consider these life changers: Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, BSR’s Angel Flight and the American Cancer Society. All will benefit, as well as other nonprofits within our community, from ticket sales.

Thank you, Coach Spurrier for coming to Cleveland.

Thank you, Bradley Sunrise Rotary for inviting him.

And thank you to all attendees who will give a lone Saturday evening in support of a year of humanitarian causes.