Bill Curry has lived a life in sports, starting from his days as a player in youth baseball in College Park, dreaming of one day taking the mound for the Yankees, to a prolific football career at Georgia Tech and then in the NFL with the Packers and Colts, among others.
He continued as a coach at Georgia Tech, followed by stints at Alabama and Kentucky. He accepted the coaching job at Georgia State in 2008 and was charged with building the program.
Curry, who turned 70 last month, will coach his last game on Saturday when the Panthers play at Maine. He announced in August that he was retiring after the season so that he could spend more time with his wife, Carolyn, their children and grandchildren.
He has thousands of memories, but he said there are six that stand out. I’m going to share one a day with you, today through Saturday.
Esteemed colleague Steve Hummer is also working on a couple of stories about Curry that will run later this week. I’ll share the links when they appear. They promise to be special.
Anyway, here’s the second special memory Curry shared, in his words:
I didn’t know that it was a great moment, but it was. It was life-changing. It gave me a choice to make that ended up being my career.
First, I was told by my high school counselor that I wasn’t qualified to go to Georgia Tech. ‘Don’t even think about it.’
I went anyhow because it was the closest school to Agnes Scott and that’s all I cared about. I was so immature that I didn’t get it that this was a really serious deal going to Georgia Tech.
I got kicked out of Chemistry tutoring the first session and wasn’t allowed to return for being a smart aleck.
I had Chemistry at 8 o’clock four mornings a week and a lab Thursday afternoons.
Coach (Bobby) Dodd said you have to go to class.
I missed one. Seventeen years old.
Nobody warned me what would happen next. But my name was posted in large letters to report to Grant Field at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning in running gear.
I ran up and down the West stands until I was gagging, vomiting and deciding that Chemistry at 8 in the morning was a wonderful thing.
When I tell that to parents, coaches or an audience there’s always a polite chuckle and a “that’s a cute story,” but here’s what matters: I never cut another class.
My football coach loved me too much to allow me to destroy myself when I couldn’t see my own potential. What I learned from him and the rest of the staff and the rest of the academic support staff is that if you sit on the front row and take notes and actually read the notes before the quiz – I had never tried that – you might actually be able to compete with these National Merit Scholars.
So, I had the privilege of graduating from a great, great school and that lesson has never left me and it’s a lesson that I try to teach today at Georgia State.
We got some guys that are graduating early and that’s such a wonderful thing to see. Some of them didn’t need any motivation from us. They’ve never been to ‘Dawn Patrol,’ they wouldn’t know what it’s like because they’ve never tested us.
But others have been to plenty of ‘Dawn Patrols’ and they wouldn’t be graduating had they not had it pressed on their consciousness like that.
That was a huge moment.
Vince Lombardi breaks out the yellow pad to teach the power of preparation
Johnny Unitas teaches the power of practice
Super Bowl V and the power of the team
The All-American Bowl and the power of leadership
– Doug Roberson, AJC and AJC.com. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu