Almost without fail, you can usually depend on a teacher to come to the rescue.
Literally hours before the 15th annual Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame banquet was to take place at the J. Smith Young YMCA Saturday night, chairman Jim Lippard learned that designated keynote speaker, emcee and fellow board member Lee Jessup was suddenly bed-ridden with a bronchial infection.
Jessup, of course, is perhaps one of the most engaging speakers in Davidson County. He's emceed the opening ceremony of the Barbecue Festival forever. He speaks motivationally to almost any group that will listen. He's inspiring, with both grace and humor lacing his messages. Always. Without fail.
But not this night.
Uh-oh. Now what?
Lippard immediately went to his list of potential rescuers. It was a short list of one.
Vinnon Williams, a former teacher and coach at Lexington Senior High School, answered Lippard's call for help.
And what a save it turned out to be. Displaying the confidence of a time-tested public speaker (or perhaps as a teacher), Williams gave a brief message, without any notes in sight, suggesting that all of us are probably in somebody's debt. It was a thoughtful moment, ushered along with grace and humor.
Williams then, in turn, introduced each inductee, giving each one a brief preface saluting their remarkable Hall-of-Fame-worthy careers. The inductees — Joe "Jitter" Yarbrough, Lisa Ward, Lamont Pegues, Madison Hedgecock, Hugo Crigler III and Curtis Ingram (accepting the posthumous induction of his sister, sportswriter Sarah Sue Ingram) — all tied into what turned out to be a common theme of thanking coaches, teammates, friends and family for their success. In other words, recognizing a debt owed to others.
That was kind of a "wow" epiphany right there.
With all that could have gone wrong, the evening went off without a hitch. It was something to see.
And as a member of the board of directors myself, I feel compelled to say that, Vinnon, we are in your debt. Thank you.