The Griffin High School sports teams often are a prominent force in the state of Georgia. What makes the school’s sports teams successful is the hard work and dedication of every member of the team. Winning on the field is an admirable accomplishment. However, it is applying the lessons one learns in the game that can lead to a lifetime of achievement.
“Some of the young men coming into the football program here, have raw extraordinary talent. It looks like at times they were not going to have a good chance in life. But because of the discipline and loving care they receive from being a part of a team, they develop into men you can be proud of,” Griffin High School head football coach Steve DeVoursney said.
GHS faculty and staff rely heavily on the coaching staff’s influence with players to keep the students focused.
“Teachers have asked me to talk to players about not doing homework, talking back to an adult and even some of the players being disruptive in class,” said DeVoursney.
He punishes athletes in need of discipline by having them run extra laps or by having them do uphill sprints.
The coach recalls one middle school student beginning his high school career with 62 discipline referrals written by teachers labeling him as a troublemaker.
“Since he has been a part of the team, he has only had three. Now he has discipline and structure in his life, whereas before he did not,” DeVoursney said.
One of the obstacles the coaching staff is working to overcome is that many of the players are from single-parent homes. The coaches have become surrogate fathers for some of the players.
GHS head basketball coach Calvin Sinkfield said the coaching staff seeks to help players achieve success in the classroom as well as on the basketball court. The players are required to meet with tutors four days a week during study hall.
“They work on subjects they are not doing well in, and perhaps would not be able to pass on their own without somebody stepping in to help. We have seen an improvement. The study hall time gives our teachers a better working relationship with our athletes,” Sinkfield said.
Sinkfield graduated from Griffin High school in 1989. He played basketball at the school from 1986 to 1989. Sinkfield was a member of a GHS team that won a state championship.
The former high school superstar has returned to his training ground to prepare other players for life.
On Monday players are scheduled to partake in “Life Enhancement Sessions.
“This is a time set aside where we step outside the boundaries of coaching and we focus our attention on life skills. There will absolutely be no discussion of sports,” said Sinkfield.
The Life Enhancement facilitator, Todd Hughes, served as GHS team chaplain from 2000 to 2006.
“I am faith-based and therefore our program is faith-based. We establish good character through godly principles. We want them to grow up and be good role models of the community by living productive lives. Sometimes kids need someone to talk to. There are things that go on that no one knows about,” said Hughes.
DeVoursney went beyond the call of duty when he drove from Griffin to Clearwater, Fla., to retrieve a student stranded at his grandparents’ home. He has responded to 1 a.m. phone calls by picking up a student who was being forced out of a parent’s home to live with a guardian. He has even taken some students to the designated locations to take the Scholastic Achievement Test. However, one of his favorite field trips is taking the players to college football games.
“We take them to college games to get them in that environment so they will know what it is like to be there. They get to see firsthand the excitement and the thrill of the college level playing,” DeVoursney said.