Tennessee's Butch Jones Inspires Orange Grove Gathering

Energetic Football Coach Featured Guest At Lunch Of Champions Tuesday

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - by John Hunt

The contagious spirit of Big Orange Country was overflowing at Orange Grove's Bucky Williams Auditorium Tuesday at noon.

With a near-capacity crowd gathered for the annual Lunch of Champions, Tennessee's newest football coach Butch Jones entertained and inspired the large contingent who are among the biggest supporters of Orange Grove Center, which is celebrating its 60th year in Chattanooga.

Jones has been a busy fellow in the past six months as he's gotten his staff in place while preparing for spring practice.

  His recruiting is a never-ending process and he's working around the clock to get Tennessee's football ship headed in the right direction.

Despite all of that, he was thrilled and honored to be invited to Orange Grove for such a special occasion.

"This place stands for everything we stand for.  I've been looking forward to being here today," Jones told a group of media members in the hallway adjacent to the auditorium prior to making his address.

"It's a balancing act with all I'm trying to do these days, but it's all about giving back.  I'm glad to be able to say thanks for the opportunity in front of us.  Obviously, we have a lot of work to do, but it takes time to create change like this.  We expect to win and we have everything we need to be successful," Jones said matter of factly.

"These guys on this football team have embraced all we've thrown at them so far and I'm very encouraged by what I've seen up to this point.  Tennessee football is a national brand as there are very high expectations associated with this program.

"It's a standard we need to uphold, but it's all been a teaching moment and I'm excited about seeing the finished product.  It's all about embracing the challenge in front of us," Jones added.

"Our goal is to get better each and every day.  We have a very high level of accountability and our spring drills were a critical time as we laid the foundation.  It's hard to get it all done in 15 practices, but I do know that we have a football team that is extremely hungry and anything is possible," he continued.

"This is what life is all about.  To be a champion is all encompassing and it's how we represent our family and our school.  We have to constantly strive to be better and we have to have a passion and commitment for being the best.

"I'm a football coach, but I'm still a teacher first and foremost.  There are three things we're focusing on in Knoxville and they're the key to our future.

"The first is a tough word that people don't like and that's discipline.  We think of it as a corrective device, but it's really the difference between being successful and not.  You can look at all the great players who have been at Tennessee in the past and they're all extremely disciplined.

"The second thing is the ability to handle adversity and sudden change.  There are times when you just have to perservere when you go through tough times, but you're a better person for doing so when you get through it.

"The third thing is leadership, which can be good or bad.  First, you have to take command of the situation.  Second, you have to coach and teach and third, you have to be a mentor.  That's probably the most important one.

"We're investing in the lives of young people and we're there to make a difference.  Not only we wanting to produce good football players, but we're looking to mold these young men into outstanding husbands and fathers.  We want them to make a difference in this world," Jones added.

The popular coach posed for as many pictures as time would allow and he signed a bunch of autographs as well.  Time was short and the lines were long, but Jones took time to address them all and he made a lot of new friends along the way in the process. 

Tuesday's gathering was by invitation only, but Heidi Hoffecker was quick to explain the purpose of the event.

"This is just our way of saying thank you to all of the folks who are loyal Orange Grove supporters.  I think we sent out about 350 invitations, but it looks like there are more than that here today," the Director of Development added.

Past Lunch of Champions speakers have included such notable coaches as Johnny Majors, Phillip Fulmer, Bruce Pearl, Gene Stallings and Vince Dooley.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)

 


Lee Softball Falls To West Florida

West Florida opened up a six run lead and held on for a 6-3 victory over the Lee softball team to avoid the series sweep on Saturday afternoon on a brisk day at Butler Field. Lee took the first two games of the series in a doubleheader sweep yesterday. The Lady Flames are now 7-4 overall and 2-1 in the Gulf South Conference. The Argonauts improve to 7-3 and are 1-2 in league ... (click for more)

Cleveland State Cougars Split With Gordon State

The Cougars of Cleveland State split their double header this afternoon at Gordon State College. Cleveland State (4-2) lost game one 7-6, but took the rubber match 6-2 winning the series.  "We let game one slip away," said head Coach Mike Polilcastro.  "Our goal was to win the series and we battled all weekend coming back from deficits in winning two games." ... (click for more)

Wintry Mix Possible For Chattanooga Area

A wintry mix is possible for the Chattanooga area beginning Sunday. However, there could be little or no snow and ice unless temperatures dip. Here is the latest forecast from the National Weather Service: MIXED WINTRY PRECIPITATION EXPECTED SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY MORNING... A MIX OF RAIN AND SNOW IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN FALLING ACROSS THE SOUTHERN CUMBERLAND PLATEAU...THE ... (click for more)

Man At Homeless Camp On Chestnut Street Charged With Trying To Set Fire To Another Man

A man at a homeless camp on Chestnut Street has been charged with trying to set fire to another man at the camp. Richard Warren "Trey" Erwin, 40, is charged with aggravated arson. Police were called to the 2200 block of Chestnut at 12:40 a.m. Earlier, Michael Nye and Alisa Buckels had called for an ambulance. They were checked out at Erlanger Hospital for inhalation injuries. ... (click for more)

Black History Month Hero - Theodore McGraw (Kidd) AKA "Pongee" - And Response

I grew up in "Old St. Elmo" on 39th Street behind the Incline. As a child I remember my older brother "Pongee" as being my hero. This month of February being Black History Month, I cannot think of a better person to be honored than my late older brother, Theodore McGraw (Kidd) aka "Pongee" of St. Elmo (Gamble Town). Growing up without my father, Theodore was always available ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Evaluators Earn $11.70

A number of curious job notices, under the heading of ‘General Labor,’ have appeared on various Craigslists, that free Internet portal where you can find everything from a used lawn tractor, guitar lessons or even a saucy Saturday night date. This week on the Charlotte, N.C., Craigslist, for example, there appeared an offer to become a “reader/evaluator” for a company known as Measurement ... (click for more)