Bridging the generations

By Staff
Hartselle/Morgan County High School football alumni starting new club
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
A common saying in football circles is "Tradition never graduates." A new plan being developed Hartselle football coach Bob Godsey and several former Hartselle football players will help put that sentence into action.
A plan is in place to start a Hartselle High/Morgan County High football alumni club, which will allow former players the opportunity to spend time with and connect with current Tiger football players. Several former players are spearheading the project, including Richard McGhee, John Pat Orr and Bob Sittason.
"Coach Godsey can talk to the kids today and, for example, he can tell them about something the Class of 1976 did," said Sittason, who was an offensive guard and nose guard under coach David "Bucky" Pitts during the 1976-78 season. "But with this club he'll also be able to help his kids put a face to those stories, by bringing back a former player to talk with them or something like that.
"Our goal is to help coach Godsey put a face to some of that tradition of Hartselle football."
The idea for the club originated in May of 2005, when coach Pitts returned to Hartselle after a 24-year absence. Several of his former players organized a "welcome home" barbecue for the coach and more than 50 former players showed up at the dinner. Among the attendees was Godsey.
"When Coach Pitts moved back to Hartselle we had that barbecue for him, and on short-notice we were able to get a pretty good turnout," said Orr, who played quarterback for Pitts from 1969-70. "Coach Godsey saw that and asked if we could do something like that only to try and include every former Hartselle player. He really saw the tradition we have here and wanted to see if we could start something to help reconnect some of the current players with that tradition."
Currently, the club is still in the planning stages – members have been having meetings routinely to talk about the goals and events that might be planned in the future. Right now, the plan is for the football alumni club to meet with the team before (and possibly after) Hartselle's jamboree game on August 23 against Deshler.
"We're going to start with doing something this year with the preseason game, and hopefully we can get as many people as we can to come, even though it's on a Thursday and some might not be able to get away," Sittason said. "Right now we're planning to have maybe an outdoor cookout before the game with the team, but we might also add something after the game as well."
From now until August, members of the club are attempting to make contact with former Hartselle players to add them to a mailing list. According to Sittason, the group has already heard from about 60 players and is trying to get the word out about the formation of the new club.
"The feedback's been pretty good so far," said McGhee, who played tight end and defensive back under Pitts from 1973-75. "Obviously the further back in time you go and it gets a little harder to get in contact with some people. A lot of the guys who played under coach (J.P.) Cain might not have e-mail or computers, so it might take a while longer to get in touch with them."
"We think it might be fun to figure out who the oldest surviving Morgan County football player is," Orr said. "We know of a few who played in the 50s, but we're looking for even more."
The alumni club wants its main goal to include connecting current players with the Hartselle tradition, with any fundraising as a secondary pursuit. If funds are raised through alumni club events, they will go toward the upkeep of J.P. Cain Stadium.
Sittason said he believes the vision of the club is a good thing.
"(Coach Godsey) wants these kids to realize there's more to Hartselle football than just them and their team that year," he said. "I know that's something I didn't always realize even back when I played; I didn't know anything about the guys who played in the 30's and 40's. He wants these kids to realize that when they put on that uniform, they're not only representing themselves and their school; but also a long tradition."
Though the club's primary goal is connecting current players with former players, it will also allow former players from one era to reconnect with those who came before and after them, as well.
"Guys who played for Coach (Don) Woods might not know a lot about those who played for Coach Cain, and this is a great way for everyone to get know each other better," McGhee said. "Even just through the meetings we've had so far, I've already gotten the chance to hear a lot of funny and interesting stories from some of the guys who played in different eras from myself."
The club's agenda for this year is modest, but in the future it would like to do more events during the season – including a golf weekend.
"Hopefully this is the beginning of something great," Sittason said. "What I don't want this to be is just a bunch of old has-beens making it all about themselves. We want it to be about the kids now, and show them what the tradition of Hartselle football is all about.
"If that can help these kids and maybe give coach Godsey that extra push he needs to help them win a game on Friday night, then that's what we're here for."

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