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Legendary coach Bill Curry to speak at FCA banquet

He played in the National Football League, won a couple of Super Bowls. Coached in it, too. He coached a Southeastern Conference Champion team at Alabama, coached Kentucky, headed up a brand new program at Georgia State and taught it how to compete.

Now, he’s coming to Brookhaven to talk about Jesus Christ.

Coaching legend Bill Curry will deliver the main address at this year’s second annual Lincoln County Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. April 19 at Easthaven Baptist Church.

“We’re excited to have coach Bill Curry. He knows football just a little bit, just a touch,” said FCA District 7 Representative Chris Huffman. “He’s a nationally-recognized FCA speaker, a strong believer, and we’re happy to have him come down to help spread the message of Jesus through FCA.”

Table sponsorships for businesses and organizations are still available for the event at the $2,500 and $1,000 levels. Sponsorships are tax deductible and come with preferred seating, a VIP meet-and-greet and a photo with Curry.

Individual tickets are $100 each.

The FCA banquet is the organization’s biggest fundraiser, and proceeds help accomplish its Christian mission through the “Four Cs” — coaches, campus, camps and community. FCA works closely to encourage and support coaches and establish a presence through student-led groups on high school and college campuses.

It also distributes Bibles to graduating seniors, sponsors student-athletes for summer camps and sends coaches to workshops and getaways.

“Billy Graham said coaches impact more students in a year than most people do in a lifetime. We want to minister to these coaches and show them the power of their influence,” Huffman said. “We all have influence on young people’s lives, and we want to encourage coaches to spend it in a Godly way.”

A new event at this year’s banquet will be the recognition of 20 student-athletes from the 10 schools in Huffman’s FCA district for teamwork, excellence and service on and off the court.

“We want to call them higher,” he said. “So many times those students are under so much pressure, and sometimes they feel like they’re under condemnation. You’ll never change anyone through condemnation, but you can change them through love.”

Last year’s inaugural FCA banquet featured legendary coach Bobby Bowden and was a huge success for the organization. Curry comes with a resume just as lengthy as Bowden’s.

Curry was the starting center for the victorious Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I, and played the same position for the Baltimore Colts when the team won Super Bowl V. He served as president of the NFL Players Association from 1973 to 1975.

He served as assistant coach at Georgia Tech in 1976, and was an assistant for Green Bay from 1977-1979. He became the head coach of Georgia Tech in 1980, and compiled a 34-34-1 record there in seven seasons, including a 9-2-1 season in 1985 that culminated with a win in the All-American Bowl.

Curry became the head coach at Alabama in 1987. While coaching the Crimson Tide, he compiled a 26-10 record and won a share of the conference title in 1989. He coached Kentucky from 1990-1996.

In 2008, Curry was hired to a coach a team that didn’t exist yet — Georgia State. He helped build the program from scratch and coached three seasons on the field, retiring at the end of the 2012 campaign.

Curry was named Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year in 1989 and the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award in 2007. He was SEC Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1989, and Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 1985. He’s also the author of “Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle” and founder of AIMS Sports Reputation Management, LLC.

“Coach Curry has held onto his faith all throughout his career. He’s been the plumb line of what you’d like a coach to be,” said FCA board member David Culpepper. “You hope you can get an individual like him to lead young men.”

Booking a speaker with a profile as high as Curry’s takes lots of lead time, and the local FCA began searching for its next banquet headliner last summer, Culpepper said. With recent tragedies affecting student-athletes in the Brookhaven and Lincoln County school districts, he said it is important for the banquet to make a splash.

“FCA is something that is needed on campus, more than ever,” he said. “It’s very important, not only to our kids now, but to the future of our community.”

FCA board chairman Stan Foster said the banquet is an essential fundraiser for Huffman, who must raise support for FCA activities in the 10-county area. Donations, sponsorships and ticket sales are vital to powering the engine of the Christian outreach program, he said.

“The banquet is about raising money, about awareness for what FCA is doing, but there have also been lives changed,” Foster said. “We’ve seen coaches’ lives changed — changed the way they coach, they way they interact with their spouses, their children. We’ve seen student-athletes saved as a result of hearing the gospel through FCA. That’s what it’s about.”

Business, organizations and individuals interested in purchasing one of the remaining banquet sponsorships or individual tickets may contact Huffman at 601-278-2253, or by calling the Bank of Brookhaven, KDMC or Trustmark Bank.