NWG 1980 Men’s Track Team: (Above, L-R, Kneeling) Don Moore, Tony Crisp, Alan Bolton, Jimmy Plumlee, Lynn Lewis, David Shelton, and Jimmy Wood. (Standing) Coach Gerald Beard, Rusty McBryar, Brian Smith, David Johnson, Wally Moore, Lewis Whited, Michael Long, and John Hammond.

Stella Henry took fifth place in the Girls 300 Meter Hurdles Class 2A Georgia High School Association 2021 State Championships. She might have won, but she tripped on landing after her first hurdle, executed a surprisingly clean forward roll in her lane, and valiantly finished what she started, barely missing fourth place. One of her teammates, Ian Byrd, finished third in the Pole Vault and set a 12’6” school record (“Byrd Earns Third…Henry Takes Fifth,” Dade County Sentinel, Eddie Gifford, 5/20/2021).

I’ve never met Stella or Ian, or any of their teammates, and they don’t know me. But their success brings me great pleasure because I selfishly helped start their high school’s track team. When I attended what is now Dade County High School, I realized at the end of my junior year that unless we had a track team my senior year, I would most likely never realize my Olympic-inspired hurdling, jumping, running dreams. Our principal, Jerry Bryan lived a block away and I lobbied him, quite unsuccessfully over the summer, to start a track team. By the time school started, he tried to end my annoying campaign by informing me that no one was interested. I agreed to stop badgering him if he would simply call an interest meeting. He reluctantly did so and, to his surprise, 60 students showed up. When he lamely declared that he appreciated our interest, but the school had no track coach, one brave soul stepped forward.

“I don’t know anything about track,” one of our coaches volunteered, “but I’ll coach ‘em.”

Ultimately, another coach offered to help, too, and Mr. Bryan ended up coaching the Cross Country team. That season, even though most of us had no track and field competition experience and our meets doubled as practice, several of my classmates performed well enough to compete in the state championships. Not a bad start for a rookie team.

Sometime thereafter, my school changed its name from Northwest Georgia Comprehensive Consolidated Vocational Technical High School (NWG) back to simply Dade County High School (DCHS). Over the years, the school has accumulated more than four decades of track practices; coaches coaching; hundreds of students competing, earning ribbons and medals, setting records, and attending banquets celebrating achievements; and annual “Track and Field” sections in yearbooks. But more than that, while literally running in circles, facing challenging competition, leaping hurdles, jumping high bars, faltering and sometimes making miraculous recoveries in order to finish what they started, students have not only been training for life, but living life, living the dream, even if only for one season. As for me, I will always appreciate everyone who helped make our novice endeavor possible, and I derive great pleasure knowing that our team is still up and running with stellar students performing at high levels.

 Similarly, I celebrate ten years this summer of working to help start The Bible Seminary in Katy, Texas with pioneering adventurers committed to establishing a Biblically-based, Christ-centered, vigorous, world-class educational institution that long outlasts us. I am thoroughly enjoying living this dream, too. While we focus on helping train people for life and ministry leadership, seminary is not just training, it IS life and ministry. All of it. From the dollars to the diplomas, people and projects, and tests to testimonies.

 I am extremely grateful for everyone who has helped make our adventurous endeavor a growing reality. And decades from now, I hope we all derive great pleasure hearing about TBS students training, competing, winning, setting records, overcoming challenges, and celebrating inspiring victories!

Published in The Sentinel, Summer 2021, and the Dade County Sentinel, July 14, 2021, p. 5.