Straughn football captains help with car line duties

Published 11:00 am Saturday, December 11, 2021

When Ashley Kilcrease first arrived at Straughn, he was filled in on school traditions and added another one to that list.

Captains were chosen to represent the team at midfield for the coin toss on game day each week. Prior to calling heads or tails, players assisted in car line duty the morning of the game and built relationships with students of Straughn Elementary.

“We started the car line duty for captains when I was at Brantley. It was a really positive experience there, so I decided to bring it with me to Straughn. We want our students to learn the value of servant leadership. You can’t lead if you aren’t willing to serve,” Kilcrease said.

The team captains grew fond of this new tradition each morning. “We enjoyed hearing stories about how the kids looked forward to seeing them out there. We try to emphasize to our guys that the younger ones are always watching and looking up to you. You have to be a good example if you are going to wear that jersey on Fridays,” he said.

SHS quarterback Abram Guilford took pride in the tradition in his final season with the Tigers.

“I enjoyed helping the kids get out of the car rider lines in the mornings because it’s a great way to become more active in the community and make a difference in these kids’ days. I remember when I was younger, I looked up to all the football players and thought they were cool and enjoyed any interaction with them, even if it was just a high five as they walked by. It was fun to be on the other side of that and see how excited these kids are to see us. For me, I enjoy anything that could make a kid’s day better because you never know when someone is having a bad morning. Even the smallest act of kindness can have a tremendous impact on the rest of that kid’s day,” he said.

Guilford added that it was a great way to initiate conversations with the kids, and the experience taught him a lot. “We don’t always see these kids and have the opportunity to speak to them. We are often at our classes and getting ready for ball games, so it’s good to get to interact with the kids and really get to know them better.”

He is the son of James and Nikki Guilford and has an older sister, Ellie, and two younger brothers, Jaylon and Eli. He plans to attend Auburn University after graduation and major in Civil Engineering.

Straughn finished the 2021 season as the two seed in 4A Region 2 with a 7-4 record and went 5-2 in region play. Kilcrease guided the Tigers to their first postseason appearance in five years and the first home playoff game since 2015.

“This experience really showed me how much doing something nice can affect someone else’s day and also reminded me the importance of being a good role model for these kids,” Guilford said.