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Photo by Steve Head
Photo by Steve Head

“I can’t discipline your child,” said former Florida State, Georgia and Jacksonville basketball coach Hugh Durham. “I can punish him, but I can’t discipline him.”
The audience at the eighth annual Sports Champions of Greater Atlanta awards banquet didn’t know where Durham was going with his speech. But he did.
Durham, the featured speaker at the event, coached plenty of kids during his 37 years as a college hoops head coach. In fact, Durham is the only coach ever to have guided two programs (FSU and UGA) to their first and only Final Fours. Durham also defeated legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp is his final game during the 1972 NCAA Tournament.
Durham finished his story, which was a partial remembrance of his oft-used recruiting pitch from his coaching days. He finished by reminding parents it is their job to instill discipline in their children, not anyone else.
This year at the banquet, 18 high school athletes were honored for their achievements on and off the field, while four coaches were also recognized (see box). The athletes were honored based on selection by the SCOGA selection committee after the students had been nominated by their athletics directors. Encompassing the Great Atlanta area – Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett – the winners were chosen based on a combination of athletic ability, scholastic achievement and good character.
There are simply too many accolades to mention in this space, but the achievements of these high school student-athletes were not only wide-ranging, but astonishingly impressive. High GPA’s were the norm, and many of the athletes had more than a 4.0 average. Many of the winners were members of the National Honors Society and on their school’s honor rolls. Others were named salutatorians of their graduating classes. Some of the winners had taken trips to third-world nations, such as Guatemala and Thailand, to help those who are less fortunate.
Despite having the SCOGA honor and many other things in common, each student-athlete will take a different path after high school is over. Some of the winners will continue to play varsity sports in college, as several have taken advantage of athletic scholarship offers. Others will attend college and focus more on their academic and social lives while leaving their athletic glory in the past.
The four coaches who were honored shared many things in common: all were leaders of young men and women, have had long and distinguished coaching careers with a lot of victories, and are looked up to by members of their community as role models and success stories.