Sanders speaks, Biery honored at Steak & Burger
Florida State quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders, left, was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s Boys and Girls Club Steak and Burger Dinner. He is joined by, from left, Max Biery, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient; Scott Reams, Boys and Girls Club Foundation chairman and club executive director John Seals.
Twenty five years ago, Max Biery came to Morristown to “open the door” for others in leading the development of what would become one of the community’s most successful industries.
Also 25 years ago, Randy Sanders left Morristown to start down the path of what would become one of the most uniquely successful coaching careers in collegiate football.
Last night, the two men shared the spotlight and bragged on their hometown of Morristown during the Boys and Girls Club Foundation’s annual Steak and Burger Dinner.
The dinner where club members dine on steaks while adults and supporters have hamburgers was held at First Presbyterian Church.
Foundation Chairman Scott Reams presented Biery with the club’s Lifetime Achievement Award and said Biery has given a lifetime of service to kids and youth of this community.
Before the honor was given, Christin Greenlee sang a stirring rendition of LeeAnn Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” as requested by Biery.
“Max has literally had a lifetime of opening doors as he did when he started a company that now employees over 700 people, in helping club members and when he started the Familyplus1 mentor program. He has literally had a lifetime of opening doors and encouraging kids to dance,” Reams said.
Biery shared with the crowd how JTEKT was started in the beginning without a contractor and how the only thing he could think to do was get on his knees and pray.
Biery told the children in the audience that Jesus Christ is the one constant in life no matter the situation.
He told the children he wanted them to do three things and they would see success, pray to God and grow with him, stay in school and stay off drugs.
When Reams introduced Sanders he joked that the foundation wanted to get a speaker from the University of Tennessee athletics that had been there for awhile, they just had to go to Florida State to find him.
Morristown native Randy Sanders spent 22 years as a player and coach at the University of Tennessee before parting ways to continue coaching.
After a very successful stint a the University of Kentucky, he landed at FSU where he helped guide the team to a national championship and mentored last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
Sanders said he was nervous because his mom was in the audience and he had never delivered a speech in front of her and also because of so many familiar faces in the audience.
“Growing up in Morristown was a great place to grow up. It will always be home no question,” Sanders said.
He said coming into town he passed by Popkins Field were he played minor league baseball, and recalling other areas where special memories are still close with him.
He said while he went to UT to play football, he realized soon that he wasn’t going to make a career out of playing so he needed an alternative, which was coaching because it would allow him to still be a part of the game.
He talked about the obvious special seasons which were 1998 and this past year when he was a part of BCS national championship winning teams.
“Anytime you can go through a season and not lose, those are my favorites,” he said.
He also talked about his time at UK for a few big blue fans in the audience, he said he was proud to be able to help take the school to five bowl games in seven years.
He joked, however, that when he took his daughters to see the football office and they saw the trophy case, they said they had personally been to more bowl games than Kentucky had.
Breaking from speaking about his past, Sanders switched his speech to address the club members with 10 things he wished he had known while growing up and before coaching.
First, he said what matters most in life is the lives you impact.
“Fifty years or 100 years from now what’s going to matter is the lives you touch. The money you’ve made, the status you had or the cars you drove isn’t going to matter. People remember what others did for them. Legacies are left by influence,” Sanders said.
Secondly, “Yyou are responsible for you.”
“It’s my choice what kind of attitude I have. You are responsible for you and what happens to us doesn’t define us,” he said.
Sanders said fair doesn’t exist and the old phrase “life isn’t fair” is the truth.
He said one of the hardest parts of coaching is having to tell a player who has competed for a position that they won’t play.
“Is it fair to them that they don’t get to play? No. But we have to go with the person who gives us the best opportunity to win,” he said.
Another lesson is that everyone has garbage in life, but no one wants to hang out with the person who always has it in their front yard.
“Accept your garbage, acknowledge it, move it and don’t dwell on it and don’t think that others don’t have any because everyone does,” he said.
The list also included learn to communicate and how to write, never stop learning, and to make a decision and make it turn into the right decision.
Sanders said whoever named leadership did it wrong because true leadership comes from the back, not the person with the position and status.
“True leadership is the guy who’s in the back pushing and making sure there are no stragglers behind,” he said.
He continued that leadership is a must in whatever relationship in life, family or football because bad leadership will destroy while good will unite.
The final thing Sanders said he wish he had known was to never trust a kicker.
Before the dinner was complete, the foundation gave a special presentation honoring the family of Arnold Bunch, a longtime supporter of the club who died in May.
Bunch had named the foundation the beneficiary of his life insurance. Reams said Bunch was one of the biggest advocates of the club and will be missed as a leader and for his thirst for life and those who he surrounded himself with.
Giving this year’s club message was Gene Whaley who shared his experience of growing up in the club and being influenced by the male volunteers and board members that provided father figures for him and inspired his return to work at the club.
-By Chris Phipps, Tribune Staff Writer