Roy Exum: A Letter To Jimmy Weekley

Saturday, November 23, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Jimmy …

After a beautiful friend of mine reached the most awful point in a life filled with depression, it was as though I had been punched in the stomach when word reached me she had taken her life. In the days that followed and I wandered in the hollowness that always accompanies such a tragedy, a pastor told me he had been to a similar funeral once and the question was asked, “Are you going to remember this person for the worst 15 minutes of her life or for the countless years of goodness and triumph she provided to all of us?”

The other day I felt like I had been punched in the stomach again. It wasn’t because of your bone-headed decision to solicit sex from an undercover female cop but because we cannot stand silent and allow you to throw away decades of goodness and wonder that you have provided to boys and girls throughout our city. Admittedly, I hardly know you. Oh, I’d try to speak if I saw you out somewhere but the better deal is that I know all about you after watching your colossal ability to teach children, be it from a classroom textbook or in front of a soccer net.

The biggest reason for this letter is to remind you of the very first thing you teach the youngest soccer player. “When you fall down, leap to your feet and get back in the game! You can brush yourself off later!” That is the great virtue of sports, to get back on your feet and resume the game.

When I read you had just resigned from the Baylor School faculty I thought I was going to be sick. While I feel certain you have never been quite as ashamed or embarrassed, my view has been self-ridicule never lasts long if you’ll simply shut up and discuss it with no one other than psychological professionals. You will no doubt remember what auto baron Henry Ford told the media many years ago when he was caught in an indiscretion: “I don’t complain and I don’t explain.”

While it is imperative for you to hold the ones you love the most (and have hurt the worst) together right now, counselling can really be healing and beneficial if you let it. Let yourself accept forgiveness, too. You are already a winner and, while this sounds blasé, it is also very true – turn your scar into a star! Figure out ways you can volunteer to help the women victims who turn to prostitution in desperation, only to fall deeper into a seedy quagmire of drugs and pimps and even death. You have the skills to save someone’s life!

Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Coach inner-city kids on Saturday morning. Call Orchard Knob Elementary and see if you can join the reading program. Become a “foster dad” to some boys who have never had a Dad, much less one who could kick from the corner. Redeem yourself, my friend, and no one else will even have a vote.

Jimmy, I am very pointedly avoiding reciting your sports records, your athletic titles and championships, and your accomplishments. Too often we hear that “if he weren’t a great coach they’d treat him like the rest of us.” No, what you did was wrong and you’ll be able to straighten that out “like the rest of us.”  But – say -- have you ever noticed the very ones who accuse athletes and coaches of “favoritism” when the great among us get in trouble have – in reality – never seen their own picture on Page One? Shun the Legion of the Miserable.

My most dreaded thought right now is one of you ducking around the back of the house when your in-laws come by or slinking around at a soccer match instead of sitting like a gentleman in the stands. You are still Jimmy Weekley. Remind yourself of that constantly and, instead of never living it down, live up to it. You have earned your good name and it is much bigger than one incident of stupidity, as brazen as it may have been.

I refuse to make light of any crime or disobeying the law but it seems to me you have just been handed a “yellow card” (a soccer warning) and it may be the best you’ve ever had to swallow. The police will attest you did not have actual relations with any prostitute and, after seeing your mug on the nightly news, the safest bet in Las Vegas would be that you’ll never get yourself in a scrap like this again. And when you tell this horror story years from now to your church group, a lot of others will learn how to avoid the pain you are going through.

That said, I believe the best hire in the region as either a coach or as a teacher is you. I know many who would write you a recommendation right now based on what you have done to teach, coach and mentor their sons and daughters.  But, wait! I have an even better idea and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I want you to dwell on it.

How about talking to the people who know you better than anyone outside your family? How about calling Baylor back and saying you had a mental breakdown (that would be easy to prove) and that it continued until after you submitted your anguished resignation. Tell them you have since thought about the school motto: “Amat Victoria Curam” and that you believe, deep in your heart, “Victory Loves Care.”

Assure them you are actively pursuing emotional and spiritual help. You tell them that right now, at the lowest moment in your life, you would like “one more chance” to coach and guide the greatest kids in the world. Jimmy, I’ll write you a recommendation if you like. Get back in the game, coach. Focus on the years that you have won, not the one afternoon you lost.

We’ll dust you off later.

Sincerely, 

Roy Exum

royexum@aol.com




Problems With The Key Staff Findings On The Landfill

Concerning the proposed C&D Landfill in Harrison, on Sept. 11, the staff of the Chattanooga Hamilton-County Regional Planning Agency made a presentation to the Planning Commission for the rezoning request.  Mr. Schultz for the staff made the following statements which were titled "Staff Key Findings."  I would like to contend with their findings.  1. "Proposal ... (click for more)

Numerous Reasons To Vote No On The Proposed Landfill

My name is Andy Mullins and I’m speaking up for two reasons today.  #1 - I’m currently building a new home in the Morning Glory Farms subdivision, less than 3,000 feet from the proposed landfill.  #2 - I’m chairman of the Hamilton County Health & Safety Board.  I am not here representing the Board but am here representing the people of District 9 whom I ... (click for more)

County Commission Votes 7-2 For Rezoning For C&D Landfill At Harrison

The County Commission on Wednesday voted 7-2 to approve rezoning for a Construction and Debris landfill at Harrison.  Voting in favor were Greg Beck, Warren Mackey, Sabrena Smedley, Greg Martin, Tim Boyd, Randy Fairbanks and Jim Fields.   Opposed were Chester Bankston and Joe Graham.  Commissioner Boyd said it was just the first step in permitting for ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Airport To Go "Off The Grid" After Final Phase Of Solar Panel Installations

The Chattanooga Airport is embarking on the third and final phase of its solar farm, which when completed will allow the Airport to "go off the grid." John Naylor, Airport vice president, said, "This will give us all the power we need to run the Airport." He said EPB will assist with installation of a power storage unit and a micro-grid controller to make the change-over possible. ... (click for more)

Lady Canes Knocked To State Volleyball Loser's Bracket By Portland

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – East Hamilton, a relative green horn when it comes to volleyball’s biggest stage, saved its best effort of the season for Tuesday’s opening match of the 2017 state tournament against Sullivan South. Facing a five-time and defending champion from Kingsport, Tennessee, East Hamilton notched an impressive 3-0 sweep by scores of 25-22, 25-14 and 25-17. ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats Father Ryan Again To Advance At State

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The third time was not the charm for Father Ryan here at MTSU’s Murphy Center Tuesday afternoon. Facing the Baylor Lady Red Raiders in the opening round of the TSSAA D-II Class AA state volleyball tournament, the defending state runner-up Baylor squad defeated their Nashville rivals in three straight sets, winning by scores of 25-19, 25-12 and 25-23. ... (click for more)