By R. Alan Richardson
In a follow-up to an earlier article, Morgan County received the Positive Athlete Award for the East Atlanta Region of Georgia at a ceremony last week. The event was held at Grace Fellowship Church in Bogart where athletes from all sports across that region were honored. BOE member Keith Howard and Athletic Director Steve Cisson attended the event to accept the award.
In a letter to Cisson, Ryan Pederson of Positive Athletes said this, “The award is given away to the school that sent in the most quality nominations and supported the program by having all of the school’s teams involved. In addition, the way your school and community rallied around one another after the death of Seth Stapleton inspired so many around the state, and we want to make sure that we celebrate you and your school for the community that you all have formed.”
Due to those qualifications and other factors, this year’s football honoree was given in Seth’s memory to Donovan Taitt, a senior at Loganville Christian Academy. Mr. Stapleton was also there to present that award. Here’s what he said at the ceremony, “I would like to thank Mr. Pederson and everyone associated with Georgia Positive Athlete. I also need to thank the educators, staff, coaches, and especially Seth’s classmates at Morgan County for the way they have honored my son.
My wife, Angela, and other son, Drew, could not be here tonight as they are awarding a scholarship in Seth’s memory at the senior award banquet. Seth was a two-sport athlete who played four years of football and competed in shooting sports. He wasn’t blessed with amazing speed so at 5-10 and 230 pounds you can imagine he was a lineman. He played right guard and usually didn’t receive too many awards except for the occasional yellow handkerchief when the refs got the call wrong for holding.
Seth was not blessed with a good voice or dance moves, but he thought he did.
What he was blessed with was a huge heart for others and a smile that would light up a room. I thought long and hard before writing this short speech and thought about what a lineman’s responsibilities were. I realized that his main job was to protect. Seth protected his teammates. He was the first one to lend a hand to help his quarterback up when knocked down or the running back after a tackle. He protected his friends when others picked on them or said something they shouldn’t have. He would protect coaches’ children at church so they could enjoy fellowship with friends and not have to worry because Seth had their back.
He didn’t care if you were an underclassman. Seth would speak, nod his head, and show off that great smile like he always did. He stood up for our flag and reminded people to remove their hat when our National Anthem was played. Here are the words of how his senior football teammates described him at our Baccalaureate service this past Sunday night. Those words were brother, fighter, tenacious, courageous, brightening, strong, honest, funny, reliable, scrappy and he loved Zaxby’s. I hope that gives you a glimpse of my son. He was a great son and brother to our family. My family would like to extend a message to all the young people in this audience to always wear your seat belts, never take it off even for a split second, and never drive when you are tired or drowsy. Thank you on behalf of my family for this honor. #71, forever young, forever smiling and forever in our hearts.”
Cisson gave these comments about this prestigious award, “To all of those who nominated our athletes to Positive Athlete Georgia please realize what you and the people that you nominated have done for our school. This award shows what a great job the Morgan County School System and community does in projecting ourselves to other schools and to other communities in a POSITIVE way.”