August 31/September 1, 2018

Dear Panther Family,

#LIGHTITBLUE!

I write this in the late hours after tonight’s football game with so many people to thank for making game one a SUCCESS.

Several weeks ago, our daughter, Branan, gave me a copy of a book she is studying in school titled The Servant as Leader by Robert Greenleaf, and asked that I read and study it along with her.  As most father’s do, my daughter’s wish became my challenge.  At first glance, the essays are short reads, which gave me hope that it is a simple time stealer like most books I read.  The first paragraph ruined that illusion, which, in hindsight, I should have known since Greenleaf’s writing is a lengthy study for one of her classes.  However, I will prevail and be a better person for it!

“SERVANT AND LEADER.  Can these two roles be fused in one real person, in all levels of status or calling?  If so, can that person live and be productive in the real world of the present?” 

As required by my agreeing to participate in this, I stopped reading.  Naturally, I start reflective thinking, but it doesn’t take long to come up with many personal shortcomings, so I stop! Then, almost instinctively, I switch my train of thought to the people who I spend most of my week with – our staff – and how fortunate I am to experience their work. 

School starting and fall seasons beginning is a natural part of “our world,” yet these events do not occur without many behind-the-scenes servants and leaders.  For most attending the football game, if asked what it takes to play the first game, you most likely would break it down into basic points like practice, scrimmage, open the parking lots, unchain the gates, blow the whistle and play ball and, hopefully, all goes as planned or scripted.  Everyone enjoys themselves, goes home happy, then returns again and again to enjoy Panthers Football.  By now, this is routine and not much left for change or discussion one could argue.  “Not so fast, my friend,” as Lee Corso regularly says on College GameDay. 

From a football standpoint, our compliance team of Erik Paz, Lisa Helth, and Danielle Davison must first certify that all players and coaches are NCAA eligible.  Brad Horton and our academic staff must also certify that each player is eligible and adjust when necessary.  Sounds very simple, but when you are dealing with human behavior, it’s not a linear process.  Scott Holsopple and Koby Kraemer have the guys all summer and Coach Elliott and staff expect them to be in top physical condition when camp starts and there is no hiding from the measurables.  With all this training and practice leading up to game one, everyone must trust our medical team, which we are fortunate to have some of the best people and practitioners available.  No greater servants exist in our department, and I would argue in most athletics programs, than our sports medicine staff – across the board.  Every player, coach, and administrator depends on their knowledge and professionalism.  Bob Murphy, Tim Adams, and their team define servant leaders as do our equipment staff, led by Nate Simon, which may be the most athletic and fit ‘crew of 5’ in all of college football.  I am not aware of any other equipment staff who runs practice-ending sprints with the football team.  The definition of invested.  Steve Wojcikowski, Ginny Thompson, and Daniel Wilcox collectively serve our coaches and players with their countless hours of “do anything at any time” mentality to recruit, house, feed, and care for them.  Matt Axelrod certainly plays his part as well to get our coaches and players to game day.  And all of this is to get our coaches and players to practice 28 times before we played Thursday night!

From an event standpoint, much effort is given by many people committed to providing a top-notch fan experience on game day.  With the stadium repurposing and ancillary projects connected to Georgia State Stadium, nothing is static.  Our facilities crew of Patrick Hatcher, Nick Buchs, Scott Sarratt (who is still working on our field as of my writing this to get ready for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge), Dillon, Tom, Anthony, and Tyler are outstanding.  Tyler Wilcher, Gabby Ward, Shannon Smith, Mike Holmes, Allison George, Jeff Cheek, Will Smith, Will Owens, Leigh Morrow, Patrick Marsden, Jameel Spencer, Lauren Jordan, Amy Walker, Sherik Hodge and all of our graduate assistants and interns have all worked extremely hard to accept more to build our fan base and ensure that every GSU fan attending games maximizes their investment of our team.  And our business office led by Elisha Howell who lets us know what we can get done on the financial side of things. Cross-campus partnerships are key for us as well from the GSU Legal Office, Facilities Management, Emergency Management, Panther Dining, GSU Foundation, Alumni Affairs, Parking, Police and so many others invested in making GSU Football games outstanding events.  The pageantry of game day is certainly not complete without the GSU Band, led by Chester Phillips, and our GSU cheer and spirit squads, led by the incomparable Coach Darryl Lyons.

I share this because the people and groups mentioned above are integral for our success at Georgia State.  I appreciate them as people first and colleagues secondly.  I hope you appreciate their efforts to serve you as well.  We strive for perfection, yet know some things happen beyond our control or our priorities and decisions may be different than what you think we should focus on.  We are OK with that because we all want the same thing…  Georgia State victories!!  It’s my pleasure to briefly thank some of the servant leaders who make it happen.

We are proud of what WE are building at Georgia State and thank you for being a part.  We have great aspirations for our athletics program and it can happen with your financial assistance. 

Go Panthers!

#LaurieStrong

Charlie Cobb

Director of Athletics