On Dec. 8, 2022, the Southeast Bulloch High School flag football team was victorious over Harris County by the score of 13-0, bringing home back-to-back state championships. I had the honor of sitting down with head coach Marci Cochran and seven members of the team the day after their historic win.
It was truly a privilege to have the opportunity to speak with these extraordinary young women and gain an insight into the love they have for their head coach, the game and one another.
Football is absolutely a game for all with much to teach each of us in adopting the traits these players personified throughout the season.
I certainly learned some valuable lessons that day.
We could each extrapolate something about love, dedication, commitment to mission in addition to the recognition and awareness each of them exhibited that we all have a purpose and selfless part to play on whatever team in our community we may find ourselves in furtherance of our goal to make Bulloch County an exemplary place to live, work and play.
This very love, strength and commitment was on full display when I sat down with them and are the qualities that have brought them unparalleled success, a No. 1 ranking nationally as they proudly hold a 39-0 record and have won a record back-to-back state championships in their two years of existence.
Congratulations to these student athletes and thank you to Cochran, Addie Hood, Korine Talkington, Kaylee Haas, Lauren Erickson, Delanie Thames, Ainsleigh Littles, and Abigail Morgan for your time, for being exemplary examples of what every Bulloch County and Georgia citizen should be and reminding me of the deep love and support members of our community have for one another.
There was so much love, dedication and commitment in the room it was overwhelming and so many varieties of love extolled by the ancient Greek philosophers were on display. Each young lady exemplified the virtue of Philia by unselfishly singing the praises and sharing the contributions of one another as we sat together. The connection and trust at the soul level for each other was evident and radiated throughout the room.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt there was a level of belief that each player would rise to the challenges each game would bring, and will bring for those sophomore and junior players returning next season, in utilizing their individual gifts and talents in furtherance of the common mission of giving every game their all and leaving nothing on the field when walking off.
This sense of the necessity of coming together to build a team resonates at the community level as well with each of us making the commitment to one another of contributing our own particular gifts and talents in furtherance of a common mission.
It was obvious to me this group was more than teammates and classmates, but also a family beyond the fact several sister acts were on the team, with love, commitment and dedication to one another equally evident among all.
The feelings of safety, security, comfort and support they felt amongst one another in so freely chatting with me as they shared stories of the past season in overcoming every challenger and not falling victim to the huge target on their backs in pulling together and finding victory at every turn to regaling me with their future hopes, dreams, plans and community support received was touching and truly beautiful to behold.
Such openness and vulnerability are a tribute to the community we foster here in Bulloch County and instill in our youth.
Pragma was proudly on full display and rightly so as I heard of the dedication and commitment to the shared goal of putting the best team on the field as possible through two-hour practice sessions four days a week, two game dates a week, and summer camp and training at the expense of personal time, but offset through the love and camaraderie of being part of something bigger than their individual selves.
These young women were fully cognizant of the fact they were building something the entire community could and should be proud of and took pride in that alone as a most noble and worthwhile effort.
We can all learn from this sacrifice and commitment to use our gifts and talents to make a lasting mark on our community driven by civic pride and nothing more.
Their pure love for game play gave a nod to Ludus and the playfulness that defines it in the joy found being lost in the moment and making the most of it in the experience of being with close friends that are family as well in an atmosphere of authentic self-expression.
The love of self, or Philautia, that this self-expression through game play exhibited by this group was far and away the most moving of memories from this inspirational meeting I will take away.
The self-confidence on display and instilled through their head coach in recognizing and bringing out the best in each of them left me with no doubt they would each go on to remarkably great things.in all their future endeavors whatever they might be and so many team attributed their choosing to play flag football to the love and respect they have for Marci Cochran and experiences with her as a coach in other sports.
Finally, the unconditional love of Agape was captured in the many community members who turned out to greet the conquering heroes on their return home from Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta where the championship game was played.
The community enthusiasm and pride were evident and would have been, to my mind, fully present on that December evening win or lose as exemplified by ticket sales and support of over 300 a game as reported by Coach Cochran.
Unfortunately, with unavoidable commitments having me otherwise occupied, I was unable to attend their homecoming, but I will neither be remiss next year nor miss any games or celebrations in 2023 where I can offer my love and support for these coaches, student athletes, and their families in celebration of the Bulloch County community spirit they embody and serve.
Additionally, I learned love for the game and its development extends well beyond the confines of Southeast Bulloch High School as there has been outreach initiated between the team and the local recreation department flag football program with Coach Cochran reporting hopes an academy program fostering development of the sport can come to fruition.
The Atlanta Falcons as well are instrumental and at the forefront of showing flag football some well-deserved love and respect with Southeast Bulloch High School having received funding for uniforms, equipment, and other expenses through their beneficence and invitations to several clinics all of which is incredibly inspirational and lending a bright outlook to the future of the sport.