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Patrick Henry Hosts “TriumPHant” Dinner

Bobby Ross
Bobby Ross

On Wednesday night, Patrick Henry High School hosted the “TriumPHant” Celebration dinner and fundraiser, an important step in the booster club’s efforts to re-energize the school’s athletic programs.

“We really want to start raising the profile of the school and our athletics,” Stewart Barnes, President of the Patrick Henry Athletic Boosters Association, said. “The main thing we want to do is build community and excitement and get people, parents especially, plugged in and involved.”

The featured guest speaker at the event was former college and NFL coach Bobby Ross. Ross, a graduate of VMI, was a highly successful coach at every level, including stints at The Citadel, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and Army, as well as with the San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions. His accomplishments include guiding the Yellow Jackets to the national championship in 1990, and leading the Chargers to an appearance in Super Bowl XXIX in 1994, where they fell to Steve Young, Jerry Rice and the San Francisco 49ers.

“Athletic competition can teach so many things,” Ross said in a telephone interview before the event. “The value of teamwork, just the concept of ‘we’ instead of ‘me,’ which I think is important because we live in such a self-centered world right now. But you don’t win unless everyone does their job. And there are so many other things like perseverance, having a good work ethic, I could go on and on.”

Barnes, whose father Eddie was a close friend of Ross’ at VMI, noted that the booster club holds an interesting theory regarding the role of athletic participation.

“We have a fundamental belief that excellence in athletics and excellence in the classroom go hand in hand,” he said.  Show me a school where the kids aren’t doing well athletically, and I bet they aren’t doing well academically, either. It can also be a great motivational tactic for kids to know that they have to get the grades to be able to play.”

Ross agrees. “In my experience, my players actually tended to do better in school during the season, believe it or not. It probably had something to do with the structure that they had to have in order to do both, having good time management and all of that.”

Held at Boxtree Lodge near Vinton, Barnes said the dinner was the first of many as the booster club continues to rally support for the school’s student athletes and coaches.

“The bottom line is we want to give Patrick Henry athletics – both the players and the coaches, every chance to succeed.”

By Matt Reeve
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