by Tony Jones
Special to the Tri-State Defender
A group of civic-minded businessmen on Tuesday (Dec. 6) announced that Brothers About Change (BAC) has reformed to spearhead a $2 million dollar fund-raising drive to upgrade the sports training facility at Whitehaven High School and purchase artificial turf for the football field.
|An undefeated regular season in football is stimulating a move by Brothers About Change (BAC) to raise funds to upgrade facilities at Whitehaven High School. Pictured: Seated (l-r) – Clarence Dillard, offensive coordinator; Rodney Saulsberry, head coach; Terrell Burks, defensive line coach. Standing (l-r) Antonio Harris, BAC; Ced Collins, former coach; Jason Harris, QB coach; Byron Harris, BAC; and Patrick Johnson, BAC. (Courtesy photo)|
Sigmund Hamilton said the inspiring story of Whitehaven’s 14-0 undefeated season inspired the businessmen to reform the group and get behind the school. BAC was high profile for many years because of its tie to a huge free sports celebrity summer camp. Stimulated by the football team’s tenacity, the new group’s kickoff committee is heavily comprised of Whitehaven graduates, with plans to grow.
“They not only competed, but did it without having the facilities and the support most schools that compete on their level have,” said Hamilton. “We need to form strong alumni committees to show these kids, and schools throughout the city, that we support them in action.”
Whitehaven math teacher and football coach Rodney Saulsberry agreed. Though Whitehaven lost the state championship game to Maryville by a score of 23 to 7, Saulsberry said the game was far from a defeat.
“I told them that you have to learn from everything you do. Even though we did not win the state championship, look back and enjoy the journey that we had to get to the championship. No one expected us to go but us,” said Saulsberry.
“We set the goal to go on a mission to win the state championship, but even though we didn’t win it only makes us hungrier to go get it next year. They should embrace the work that went into this season. We kept our eyes on the prize and achieved an undefeated (regular) season together.”
Noting that the football team’s success brings attention, Saulsberry said he is a real stickler for details.
“Please make it understood that I consider myself a math teacher that coaches football, not vice versa,” he said. “I don’t believe in using kids to make your own career. You cannot play on the team if you don’t maintain passing grades. You have to make sure they finish strong in school if they are going to have a chance to earn a scholarship. Football is a vehicle to highlight education, and that must always be understood.”
He welcomes BAC’s goal.
“Look at what these kids have done, and all of our teams consistently produce, without the level of support that others throughout the state enjoy. We teach them to strive to be the best. Why shouldn’t they have the best equipment to help them the same as others?”