Head coach for the Rome Middle School football program, Charles Smith, wanted to let his players and their families know how much he appreciated their efforts this season. So, he organized a special honors ceremony where he gave awards to his teams and explained why this group of student athletes are primed for success at the next level.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the event was live streamed on the RMS Facebook page for parents who were not allowed to attend in person. Smith and his coaching staff wanted to be sure that RMS families were able to join the celebration recognizing both the seventh-grade team that went 10-1, (3-1 division), and an eighth-grade team that finished with an impressive 10-1, (3-1 division) record including post-regular season play.
It is important to note that the seventh-grade team came away with the Division A, Region 4 State Championship trophy for 2020 after defeating Sequoyah 54-8. The eighth-grade team fell just short in the championship game with a final score of 12-30 against North Cobb.
According to Smith, the future is bright for Rome Football, and he feels they are all champions after showing the determination to get better during a year full of surprises. From practices where players were quarantined due to COVID-19, to working around restrictions in place to keep the players and coaches safe, Smith said that this year’s teams should be ready to face adversity in stride.
Smith and the RMS coaching staff also welcomed the system athletic director and the head varsity football coach, John Reid, who addressed the players and their families watching the live stream.
“When you are head of a football program like I am, I have to look at the success of the whole program,” Reid said to the young players after receiving their awards. “So, it really helps to know that all of our football programs are in good hands. I love to come out and watch on Saturdays. We have a bunch of great players and great coaches who work extremely hard to make kids successful on and off the field. I am looking forward to these teams coming over to play for us because I know Coach Smith and his staff have made sure you all were coached well. I think many people do not appreciate that you play on Saturdays. Think about that. Your coaches give their Saturdays to coaching you, when many other coaches are at home watching the Georgia game. So, they sacrifice to be out there on a Saturday making you better.”
After that statement, Reid asked the crowd of players to give their coaches a hand in recognition of their commitment to the program.
Reid went on to say he watched some of the best middle school football he has ever seen this year. He expressed not only his pride in the way they played, but also pride in the way the players demonstrate the programs core values. He asked that they keep the promises they have made to represent the football program because their coaches have kept their promise to provide them the best opportunity to be successful in reaching their goals.
“Coach Reid gave me a call and said that we would not be able to host a normal football banquet this year due to COVID restrictions,” Smith said. “But these kids had a tough year in terms of all we had to go through. They came in every day and worked hard, so we wanted to show them some sort of appreciation. Thankfully, we were able to get them in the gym after school and record the ceremony on Facebook for their parents. I know our parents wanted to be here, and we wanted them to share this special day. I am happy with how this day turned out.”
Smith said that many of the awards given that day were not just for play between the lines. He said that they had many outstanding academic achievements he wanted to recognize. All players were given recognition in some way and were given sweatshirts commemorating their successful year.
“We are excited about so many of our players. We feel that they will go on to be big time players at the high school level. And our reserve players who served on special teams have come a long way and will be able to contribute as they grow into the game. The kids who got awards earned them, and every kid was recognized in some way for their efforts in our program. I have been a middle school coach for over 20 years and this work is a passion. I meet with our players and our parents and I am honest with them. I let them know what our expectations are. I push them to be better; I discipline them and hold them accountable. After we discuss what went wrong, we hug them and let them know that we love them, and we expect the best from them every day. Our goal is to build better young men and women through this program, and that includes the students who help to support the Rome Middle football program,” Smith said.
Smith said that every year, they set a goal to play for the state championship so that players can know what it takes to win at the next level. He attributes the success of the middle school teams to the support of their community, the coaches and the staff and students at Rome Middle School.
“We expect greatness from our program,” Smith said, “and every person who helps us to achieve our goals. I am proud of this program and I can’t wait to watch them play at the high school.”