This fall another group of Newberry County student athletes will be recognized for their accomplishments, on and off the field. In August, the Newberry County Touchdown Club will embark on its 19th season celebrating football players in our home county.
The Touchdown Club began in 1999 when a group of football enthusiasts saw a void for distinguishing young student athletes. Most of the men who helped to initiate the club are still active board members and participants in the monthly meetings, which are littered with guest speakers and monthly award winners.
Each fall, for the last 19 seasons, the TD Club has held four monthly meetings. They are usually held from August to November, with the last meeting being a Carolina/Clemson Banquet. The structure and the goal is simple; Celebrate local football and honor our young student athletes. Each meeting begins with a meal, provided by a county caterer, followed by announcements and honorees from each area high school and Newberry College. The honors consist of Players of the Month and culminate and the end of the year with an All County Team and All County Player of the Year. Each young player is given a T-Shirt and certificate to commemorate their accomplishment. As each school is recognized the respective head coach reflects on the season and usually previews upcoming games. This gives great insight into all area schools and keeps each football fan abreast of team’s tidbits.
After all of the awards have taken place a keynote speaker takes the mic, and usually never disappoints. The TD Club has been very fortunate to have a who’s who list of speakers. Some early names include Rich Rodriguez (formerly of Clemson, most recently head coach at University of Arizona) and Charlie Strong ( formerly of USC, current head coach at University of South Florida). Some of the more recent speakers are just as impressive. The list includes: Coach Shell Dula (Abbeville High School, Union High School, Greenwood High School), Coach Brad Scott (formerly of USC, now at Clemson), Woody Dantzler (Clemson University). The list of speakers can be reflected from the two signature footballs present at every meeting, which in itself are priceless commodities.
The TD Club assists in a number of interests outside of the meetings. Annually, until this past year, the club co-hosted the NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick, held at Setzler Field. Also, every August the TD Club hosts a watermelon cutting for the Newberry College players, usually held at the end of the summer workouts. Finally, every year the TD Club helps to provide monetary support to each area high school.
The TD Club is proud to be able to provide such wonderful honors to all area high schools as well as Newberry College. All of this is important to supporting our student athletes and providing positive reinforcements for them to mature. However, all of the great accomplishments of the TD Club, do not come easily or cheap. The Newberry County TD Club Board is in need of others who share a passion for football and supporting our area youth. If you or someone you know wants to help give back through volunteering with the TD Club, or providing monetary support, please do so by contacting Austin Willingham or Matt DeWitt at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, respectively. The club accepts not only business sponsorships, but individual as well. The TD Club also has a Facebook page which is updated after every meeting to highlight all of our area student athletes.
The countdown is on until football season! We hope to see you at our August meeting.
Austin Willingham is the president of Newberry County Touchdown Club.