by Andre Mitchell
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Are you ready for some football? If you are, then great because it's that time again and the MIAA football season is upon us.
This Saturday (Aug. 11), the 2012-13 middle school football jamboree at the Memphis Fairgrounds will get underway at 5:20 p.m., with Kate Bond scrimmaging against Chickasaw, and conclude with White Station colliding with J.P. Freeman at 8:20 p.m.
However, before we get there, The New Tri-State Defender turns its middle-school spotlight on last year's defending Memphis city and West Tennessee state champion, Georgian Hills.
Head coach Myron Thomas has his team preparing to stay on top. In his eighth season at the helm of the Georgian Hills Cougars' football program, Thomas has been steadfast in trying to make sure he and his staff instills positive values and productive standards in the young men playing for the squad.
For the past three years, Georgian Hills has held the city champions trophy at season's end. Last year's state championship is the Frayser-area middle school's second state championship in the last six seasons, with the Cougars dropping just three games since 2009.
We caught up with Thomas, his staff and players and here's what they shared.
Tri-State Defender: Coach, with all the success you've had at Georgian Hills, what has been most rewarding?
Myron Thomas: Seeing the young players develop into good young men. While we're grateful that some have developed into good student-athletes, it has been especially rewarding to see many of them who have matured into young men with good values and character.
TSD: What has been most challenging?
MT: Taking kids who might have a list of personal issues and helping them to realize and raise above some of the tough, daily adversity that they face at home, at school or just in general. Some of our young men are from broken homes where their dad might not be in the house and it has a profound impact on that kid's level of drive and sense of responsibility....Although it's a real challenge to get the so-called "inner city" kids to build up enough self-esteem and desire to believe in pursuing success, let alone perfection.
At Georgian Hills, our players strive to believe and abide by the team philosophy of God first! Where we as a team, "Don't lose because of (circumstances) and win in spite of..."
TSD: What has been key to building the program and its success?
MT: The players and their level of sacrifice to the program, the school administration, the principal, the community and the team sponsor, Youth Visions. Each year, support has gotten stronger and the results have shown in our performance on and off the football field. I think the fact the guys have been student-athletes and good citizens who come to practice and put in the work has been key.
TSD: I'm sure our readers already know, but I have to ask, "What are your expectations for this season?"
MT: We expect to win city and state, on and off the field, and of course in the classroom. We stress to our guys that they are going to be men longer than they are going to play football and we expect them to be responsible leaders in school, at home and in public.
TSD: What is your ultimate desire for the team?
MT: It is my hope and prayer that these young men become upstanding leaders of future generations. I envision these young men one day being teachers, preachers, doctors, lawyers, businessmen...positive, productive, responsible men in the community.