Coach Willis addresses record crowd at HSSR Fall Sports Awards Banquet
Monday, February 18, 2008 | by Article by Bill Mitchell; Special Writer, High School Sports Report

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A record 1200 athletes, family and friends heard Newberry College football coach Zak Willis exhort them to make wise decisions and complete your education at the 2007 South Carolina High School Sports Report Fall Sports Banquet held at Seawell’s Restaurant Sunday.

The event honors the top athletes in public and private schools for their performance in football, volleyball, swimming and cross country from the fall season.

Willis, whose Newberry College teams won a South Atlantic Conference title in 2006 with an 11-2 and finished 9-2 in 2007, told the audience that bad decisions early in life could alter your life forever.

“You have to have a goal,” he said. “You have to know that if you work toward it, you can achieve it. No one can impose limits on you less you believe them.”

He also urged athletes to not allow early failure to demoralize them make them give up their goals.

“Failure is an opportunity to grow, it’s a learning experience,” he said. “Individuals who have failed often frequently end up making the most enduring contributions to their fellow man.”

He also told his listeners that football isn’t end all.

“Coaches aren’t working to win games; they must work to help their kids graduate. Don’t let the best years of your life be spent on the field. It really doesn’t matter where you got to college.

“I can say that after signing day has passed,” he said with a grin.

HSSR Publisher Billy G. Baker commented on the banquet, “Of all the things that we do to honor prep athletes and prep coaches in South Carolina, having three banquets a year to recognize their sweat equity and hard work is one of the things we are very proud of. Our staff and volunteers worked hard to help make this banquet happen. It is a true partnership between the schools, loving parents, caring coaches and our sponsors. It’s a joint effort and we thank everyone involved in something very positive.”

"It was a great honor to speak to such a tremendous group of high school athletes and represent Newberry College in doing so," Willis said Monday.

For more information on award winners at the banquet, click here.