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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Column: Being Frank, by Frank Phillips

Monday, October 23, 2006

A belated congratulations to the undefeated Northview Knights football team.

I am writing this on Friday afternoon, Oct. 20, and I hope your winning streak extends through the sectional.

We are proud of the Marching Knights, too -- in fact, all the students at Northview and Clay City high schools for their positive contributions to our community.

After all, that is what extra-curricular activities are about -- learning to contribute our abilities to the community's good.

I remember our football coach in Niles High School. He led a winning team. The coach was not only a great coach, but a good guy, too. I came to admire as well as respect him.

I respected him because he was a teacher and a good coach. I came to admire him, because he saw beyond sports.

I was not athletic. My sole venture into sports was one year spent on the wrestling team for which I gained a hernia, not a letter.

But, I could write and I loved to read.

One day, the racial trouble that existed in the South made it's way into Niles, Mich., my home town, when a white police officer shot and killed a black man outside a fast food restaurant.

I don't recall the crime for which the man was being pursued, but I'll never forget hearing Walter Cronkite report it on his network news show.

I'll never forget going to school the next morning and how quiet everyone was, as opposed to the normal din of pre-advisory period laughter and greetings.

That afternoon, we had an assembly in the school auditorium to discuss the shooting.

I remember the inner turmoil I felt. Now, nearly 40 years later, I'm sure everyone was upset.

But I felt compelled to make my way from my seat in the balcony and join the line of students who wanted to speak to their classmates.

No one laughed, and many people applauded.

Later, our football coach told me, "Hey, I'm proud of you. You got up and spoke your convictions."

Then I admired him, because I realized he saw something in students beyond their ability to play sports, or band instruments. He knew we all have something to offer.

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