Curran shares thoughts on football and leadership


Rennie Curran

Rennie Curran

He has a story to tell, a compelling one. But instead he wanted to focus on his life’s experiences as they relate to leadership training and today, after much reflection, he says he realizes it was some of the little things that changed the course of who he has become.

Rennie Curran, an All-American linebacker who was a standout at the University of Georgia and is now a free agent with the Canadian BC Lions following NFL experiences with the

Club member Jami Bower gets Rennie Curran's autograph on a football she won in a drawing.

Club member Jami Bower gets Rennie Curran’s autograph on a football she won in a drawing.

Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recalled when his rec league football coach took him to his first UGA game.

“That simple act by my coach changed my life,” Curran told the Rotary Club of Carrollton Oct. 11.

Curran, the author of the book “Free Agent – The Perspectives of A Young African American Athlete,” is now a polished motivational speaker who shared his take on leadership with the club. The son of Liberian immigrants, he learned early on the expectation of taking care of your extended family, as both his parents worked hard to support family in the home country.

Before Curran entered his senior season at Georgia, he made the decision not to finish and enter the NFL draft. At the time, he was the father of a young daughter and had obligations.

“Here I was, 22 years old, and basically the Moses of my family,” he said.

Curran’s stints as a professional football player gave him prime opportunities to learn about leadership – good and bad.

“I actually learned the most from bad leadership,” he said. “Favoritism and double standards hurt a person’s leadership ability.”

Curran also noted that adversity is key in building strong character and empathy is one of the most important tools in life.

“That is the problem with our country,” he said. “We have a lack of empathy and caring.”

Carrollton High School head football coach Sean Calhoun, who attended the meeting as a guest along with four of his players who have already committed to play at the collegiate level, asked Curran what advice would he give the boys.

“The next four years not only do what you can for yourself, but keep in mind what it will mean for your families down the road,” Curran said. “Take it to heart.”

Rennie Curran poses with Carrollton High School football players who came to hear him speak. From left are Trojan head football coach Sean Calhoun, Case Cook, Niesheem Thomas, Curran, LaDamion Hunt and Cortavious Hunt.

Rennie Curran poses with Carrollton High School football players who came to hear him speak. From left are Trojan head football coach Sean Calhoun, Case Cook, Niesheem Thomas, Curran, LaDamion Hunt and Cortavious Hunt.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stewardship vital component of GA-AL Land Trust

Georgia-Alabama Land Trust Director Renee Raney reveals a special friend who traveled with her.

Georgia-Alabama Land Trust Director Renee Raney reveals a special friend who traveled with her.

Conservation educator Renee Raney shared her enthusiasm for all things nature with the Rotary Club of Carrollton Sept. 27 when she presented her spiel on why the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust is vital to the health of our future.

As director of the nonprofit, Raney considers herself first a conservation educator, deeply concerned about how children today suffer from “NDD, or Nature Deficit Disorder.”

“Kids don’t catch lightning bugs anymore,” she said. “We work a lot with inner city youth by bringing them into

Past President Jill Duncan provides a closer view.

Past President Jill Duncan provides a closer view.

public land places. They many times don’t even want to get off the bus at first, but once coaxed into nature they fall in love with it. Conservation is a magical link between art and science.”

Raney said the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust mission is three-stranded – sense of place, biographical and cultural diversity and last, but not least, stewardship. It is dedicated to permanently protecting land across Alabama and Georgia, primarily through conservation easements. The land trust works with private landowners who understand the importance of protecting the land’s unique heritage.

“Right now we have 720 conservation easements protecting 380,000 acres of land,” she said.

Posted in Education | Leave a comment

GRSP’s Purves introduces herself, her culture to the club

GRSP student Kirsty Purves, with slideshow in the background, shared her experience so far  in America and her native Scotland.

GRSP student Kirsty Purves, with slideshow in the background, shared her experience so far in America and about her native Scotland.

As is the tradition of the Georgia Rotary Student Program, each fall the GRSP student partially sponsored by our club presents a program introducing him/herself to the club and in the spring, before heading back to the home country, sums up the year-long experience.

This year’s student is Kirsty Purves from Edinburgh, Scotland, who shared bits of her culture and differences she’s already discovered since she came to the United States.

Already, milkshakes have become her favorite food, she likes fried chicken, doesn’t like grits, was shocked at sweet tea – really, iced tea in general. At home, tea is a hot drink, soccer is football and religion is a background movement.

“I’ve never been to church,” she told the club Sept. 20. “Until I came her it was never really talked about.”

While Kirsty admits she’s not a big fan of traditional Sottish food, such as the famous combination of haggis (a pudding made with sheep organs), neeps (turnip-like root vegetable) and tatties (mashed potatoes), she still loves her home. Her two heroes are J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, and Sir William Wallace, better known to most Americans as the lead character in the movie “Braveheart,” about the 13th century knight who fought for Scottish independence.

Still, the differences Kirsty has already discovered between here and her homeland are significant – guns, lack of public transportation and politics.

“Guns are illegal in Scotland,” she said. “The only time I’ve seen a gun is when I went to the U.S. Embassy to get my Visa.”

Kirsty has been surprised by the lack of public transportation and equally surprised by the current presidential race.

“So many people I’ve talked to about politics tell me they have no idea how the two people running for president became the final choices.”

Posted in International, Travel & Tourism | Leave a comment

Rittenbaum: Quality-of-life strides being made concerning CF

Scot Rittenbaum

Scot Rittenbaum

Through a deliberate effort to raise money to fund its own research and development efforts to come up with a cure, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is making great strides in improving the quality of life of young people diagnosed with the genetic disease, said Scott Rittenbaum, executive director of the foundation’s Georgia chapter, who visited the club Sept. 12.

And our club will make help by participating in the Great Strides Walk to raise money for the cause.

“There are only about 30,000 people in the nation who have CF,” Rittenbaum said. “That makes it especially hard to find pharmaceutical companies willing to spend the money for R&D on a disease with a relatively low demand.”

Rittenbaum said “cooperation and collaboration is better than competition,” nothing that the CF Foundation has raised millions to reach out and attract the best and the brightest to research the disease.

“Are we a special interest group? Sure! We want to have the best care for the ones we love,” he added.

Efforts are paying off. Rittenbaum said there are more clinical trials under way this year alone compared to all other years combined. The statistics take on a personal note when they impact your own 31-year-old child.

“My daughter floated down the aisle in March to get married,” he said. “Your support has allowed her to fulfill a special dream.”

Posted in Health | Leave a comment

Hiett: Rural public transit a necessary transition

Robert Hiett

Robert Hiett

The poor, the elderly and believe it or not – millennials – all have something in common – a need for public transportation, Robert Hiett, director of the Government Services Division of the Three Rivers Regional Commission told club members last week.

Later that same day, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners approved a plan for Carroll County, the only county in the region that does not have a rural public transit plan.

Hiett  noted that counties that do not provide options will have a recruiting problem for workers down the road.

“Fifty percent of the millennial generation is willing to move to places where public transportation is an option,” he said.  “Add to that an aging population and you can see the need for public transit.”

Hiett pointed out he wasn’t talking about a MARTA-like system, but a ride sharing that likely would encompass the use of vans.

“Two of the biggest uses will be getting people to work and seniors getting to medical services,” he said. “Having this service also allows for more opportunity for seniors to retire in place.”

Posted in Community, Service | Leave a comment

Hall ready to repeat run with different outcome

UWG Wolves head football coach Will Hall speaks to the club.

UWG Wolves head football coach Will Hall speaks to the club.

Physical and mental toughness, plus a strong belief in the Golden Rule, are tenets Coach Will Hall demands of his University of West Georgia Wolves. These expectations took the team to a historic finish last year, just shy of claiming a Division II national championship. And he personally takes the blame for the Wolves not bringing back the trophy.

“Attitude is everything,” said Hall. “Where I’ve fallen short as a leader is expecting it to happen organically. I think that was wrong. There are behaviors to teach and these behaviors should reinforce our culture.”

Hall is doing just that by making sure his players learn specifically how they need to be and making sure coaches and upperclassmen model the behavior. He also is using the military playbook as a guide.

“I lead through the unit leaders, developing a combat mode of competition,” said Hall, who shared his philosophy with the club Aug. 30.

As for this season, UWG is ranked No. 2 in the polls and so far is 1-0 on the season after last Saturday’s double-digit victory over Cawtaba.

“We’re deeper and more talented than we’ve ever been,” said Hall. And with a more deliberate focus on expectations, the Wolves are in a great position to repeat last year’s historic run with a different outcome.

Posted in Community | Leave a comment

Kesler pumped about leading the Central Lions

Central's head football coach, Larry Kesler.

Central’s head football coach, Larry Kesler.

A second new head football coach visited the club last week when Larry Kesler came to talk about his new role as head coach of the Central Lions.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here,” said Kesler. “I’m not inheriting a bad job. I’ve inherited a program that is well established.”

Kessler, like Carrollton Trojans new head coach Sean Calhoun, is a first-year head coach and is seizing the opportunity with gusto. He talked with excitement about all the improvements on the field for the Lions, from new turf to an expanded field house to a renovated concession stand. The booster club is officially out of debt and fundraising is going strong.

“Do you know we sold $13,000 in Vidalia onions last spring?” He still speaks of the fundraiser with astonishment.

The biggest challenge Kesler says he faces is a young team and a tough region. There are only two starters who have had any varsity playing time, and with Central moving up in classification to AAAA in Region 5, there’s no time to waste.

“This region is the SEC of high school football,” he said. “But we expect to be competitive in every contest. Our philosophy is to follow the process of dominance, much like Coach (Nick) Saban at Alabama utilizes. Treat every play like it has a life of its own.”

Posted in Education | Leave a comment