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Bobby Bowden speaks at Wildcats football awards banquet

Former FSU football coach Bobby Bowden at the awards banquet.Legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden, who lead the Florida State Seminoles to a national titles in 1999 and 1993, addressed the 2012 Wildcat football awards banquet January 6.

BCHS football coach Ryan Sulkowski said this week that his players, who met Coach Bowden before the event, were excited and humbled by the experience.

“That is what the banquet was all about, those kids,” he said. “And to have a speaker of that magnitude in not describable ... Our kids were honored that he chose to spend time with us for our special night ... He’s a great coach and even better man. Our kids have a memory to take with them for a lifetime.”

Mr. Bowden shared humorous stories and talked about the role that successful athletics programs often play in academic achievement.

And he gave players some words of wisdom to take with them as they prepare to enter adulthood.

The former coach, 82, quoted his favorite piece of scripture from Proverbs, 4:23: Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the spring of life.

“Remember everything you do starts with your heart,” he said to a few hundred people including Wildcat players, their families and coaches, boosters and other guests gathered at First Baptist Church of Macclenny that evening.

Wildcat football coaches and their wives: from left Heather and Ryan Sulkowski, Scott and Michelle McDonald and Rachel and Joey Sulkowski.“Now when scripture talks about the heart or you hear coaches talk about the heart ... He’s not talking about a muscle that pumps blood. He’s talking about your will. Your will. You control your will. I will do this; I will not do this, you know ... He’s talking about your emotion, because your emotion makes your feelings ... He’s talking about your heart and your mind. Keep your heart will all diligence.“What do we mean by diligence? Keep it clean. If you take evil thoughts into your heart, and how do they get into your heart? Through your eyes and your ears ... So keep it diligent. Keep good thoughts in your heart ... If you got meanness, madness or hatred in your heart, it will lead to murder or fighting, or something brutal. Or if you have lusting thoughts in your mind, it can lead to sin. So keep love in there. And concern about your fellow man. That’s what that proverb is talking about.”

Mr. Bowden coached the Seminoles from 1976 through 2009. His son, Tommy Bowden, the former coach of the Clemson Tigers until 2008, was the guest speaker at last year’s football awards banquet. Coach Sulkowski said he called on the younger Bowden to see if his father would be interested in headlining this year’s event.

For further coverage of the banquet, including player award recipients and more of Bobby Bowden's remarks that evening, see this week's print edition or subscribe to the e-edition. Click here for video from the event.

The stage at First Baptist of Macclenny decorated for the Wildcats football banquet.

Joel Addington

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