UTC's Lance Stokes on Solid Foundation

Mocs Host App State Tonight at 7

Thursday, January 17, 2013 - by B.B. Branton
Stokes Family: (l-r) Landon, Regina, Lance, Luka, Fred.
Stokes Family: (l-r) Landon, Regina, Lance, Luka, Fred.

Having recovered from a broken foot in mid-November, UTC sophomore Lance Stokes once again has solid footing and ready to play in tonight’s home game with Appalachian State at McKenzie Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

“Lance and point guard Dontay Hampton are our two best defenders and now that both are back from injuries I am now a better defensive coach,” said Chattanooga head coach John Shulman.

More important than two good feet underneath his 6-6 frame is his life’s solid foundation thanks to the influence and guidance of his parents, Fred and Regina Stokes.

Home-schooled by his parents in his early education years and coached by his dad in a variety of sports growing up, Lance was prepared to face the adventures of college life and being away from home.

“I think it was important to home school our three sons (Lance, Landon and Luka) through elementary school as it gave us the flexibility to spend time with our sons academically and I could work with them in various sports,” said Stokes who was 6-4, 210 as a college freshman but played at 6-4, 275 in the NFL with career stats of one interception, one safety and 13 fumble recoveries (one in Super Bowl XXVI) from his defensive end position.

Author of “The Bridge That Brought Me Over”, the senior Stokes has used his life’s lessons to help provide that solid foundation for his sons.

“I use the illustration in the book that the planks that comprise the bridge to get me from point A to point B in life have included my mom, my great aunt and uncle and my coaches among others. And the bridge and the planks rest on Jesus Christ, our ultimate foundation.”

Looking at his pair of national championship rings from Georgia Southern from the mid-1980s under legendary coach Erk Russell and a 1992 Super Bowl XXVI ring with the Washington Redskins (and teammate of Chattanooga radio sports talk show host Gerald Riggs) one could think that life has been an easy road for the senior Stokes.

But quite the opposite.

Born and raised in Vidalia, Ga. – the home of the sweet onion – life has not always been that sweet for Stokes.

 “My mother gave birth to me when she was 15 and being a single mom she worked in a shirt factory to support me and my two younger sisters,” said the 10-year NFL veteran who lost two other siblings when he was a young boy.

“We also had a great uncle and aunt close by who provided additional family support, but we had to go outside to go to the bathroom (outhouse) and draw our water from a well so life wasn’t a bed of roses growing up in south Georgia,” Stokes stated.

Even after a successful college and pro career, life’s challenges have hit the Stokes family.

Storm a Comin’: “It was Mother’s Day 2008 and we were in Orlando visiting one of my former Redskins teammates Tim Johnson who is a pastor there,” said Stokes.

“A friend of mine called me and was almost screaming that our house had been destroyed by a F-5 tornado.

“He said, ‘Fred if y’all had stayed in Vidalia this weekend you wouldn’t have made it. Your boys would be  dead.’”

The Stokes family eventually re-located to the Orlando area and the three sons have done well academically and athletically while at Lake Highland Prep.

While Lance is in his second season with the Mocs, Landon (6-5, 220) has made a verbal commitment to play football next year at Vanderbilt and Luka, a high school sophomore, has his sights set on playing college football at Tennessee.

“I have done my best to stay out of their college decision-making process, but I have told them that if you have a chance to play in the Southeastern Conference, then go for it,” said Stokes who was a three-sport athlete at Vidalia High School, leading his basketball team to a state runner-up finish as a senior.

Sidelined: The next adventure came this past November when the Landon tore his ACL in his final high school football game followed by surgery on Dec. 7. A week later, Lance broke his foot in an early season home game and had surgery on Nov. 27.

“The coaches at Vandy have been great to us and have not wavered on their scholarship offer even when Landon got hurt last fall,” Stokes said. “That showed me a lot about their integrity.”

Red Letter Dates: But good times are just a few weeks away for Lance who turns 21 on Feb.5 (born 10 days after Super Bowl XXVI) and for Landon who is set to sign scholarship papers with Vanderbilt the following day.

After tonight’s Mocs’ game, Fred, Regina and Landon head to Nashville for an official visit weekend at Vanderbilt.

Having faced the sweet and sour times in life, the former Super Bowl champion continues to instill in his three sons the importance of a solid life’s bridge, the planks upon which they trust and the ultimate foundation underneath.

“Hail to The Redskins!“ … “Having been on a pair of national championship teams at Georgia Southern, when I first got to the NFL much of that excitement was no longer there … but my four years at Washington were so much fun …. It was as though I was back in college with the great fan and community support,” said Stokes whose teammates included Mark Rypien (QB), and Gerald Riggs (11 rushing TDs … “he was a beast”), Gary Clark (WR, 10 TDs), Wilber Marshall, Charles Mann and hall of famers Art Mont and Darrell Green.

 

contact B.B Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

 


Chattanooga's McLennan Leading Women's Open

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. -- Chattanooga's Emily McLennan leads 17th Golf Capital of Tennessee Women's Open Championship.    McLennan has a two day total of 143. Karlin Beck of Pike Road, Ala., had a two day total of 144. Kaitlyn Rohrback of Houston, Texas and Casey Kennedy of Venice, Fla. are tied for third with a two day total of 146.  The tournament ... (click for more)

Cleveland Speedway Has Several Events Saturday Night

A full night of racing with the Late Models, Crate Late Models, A & B Hobby and Road Warriors will be at Cleveland Speedway on Saturday.   For the kids it's "Bike Nite" with a half-dozen bicycles set to be given away to a wide age range of the youth in attendance.   Pits open at 4 p.m. Grandstands open at 5 p.m. Hot laps start at 8 p.m. after the drivers' meeting. ... (click for more)

Abdulazeez Apparently Went Target Shooting In River Gorge Area Prior To Rampage That Killed 5

A 24-year-old Hixson man who went on a rampage and killed five military personnel at Chattanooga apparently went target shooting in the Tennessee River Gorge area just beforehand. A Chattanoogan said he was canoeing the day before the shooting and heard Mohammad Abdulazeez shooting in the woods in a remote area. The man, who said he thought he was being shot at, looked ... (click for more)

Columnist Says Navy To Bring Charges Against Commander Of Chattanooga Naval Center Who Fired At Shooter

The Navy plans to bring charges against Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White, who fired shots at a Hixson man who on July 16 rammed through a gate at the facility on Amnicola Highway and killed four Marines and a sailor, columnist Allen West wrote. He said he received a text message confirming the charges are imminent against the Chattanoogan, who is the father of six and who has acknowledged ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Is A Blessed Community

I am an American by birth and a Chattanoogan by the Grace of God. (A phrase I borrowed from the late Lewis Grizzard and modified) I grew up in Chattanooga / East Ridge – Anna B. Lacey Elementary, Dalewood Junior High, Brainerd High, degree UTC.  My family lived in Chattanooga until March of this year but I’m still up every month visiting friends.   I have been following ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We Fight For Lieutenant Commander White

The United States Navy has run a tight ship since it was founded in October of 1776. You’ll recall that was when Capt. John Paul Jones began to forge the steel with the words, “I have not yet begun to fight.” Some years later Adm. David Farragut etched himself into Navy lore when he cried, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lt. Howell Forgy ... (click for more)