Confirmation of the legendary gridiron mentor’s visit came Thursday during the weekly breakfast gathering of the civic group.
Spurrier’s acceptance of the Sunrise Rotary’s invitation to Bradley County — which is only an 80-mile trek from Knoxville, the heart of Big Orange Country — shared the spotlight at the club’s gathering with the announcement of two recipients of financial gifts that came from the proceeds of this year’s gala.
Thursday’s presentations came from the proceeds of the 2013 gala which featured former TV game show host Bob Eubanks and from a guest appearance earlier in the year by Butch Jones, first-year head coach of the University of Tennessee Vols football team.
Spurrier, who is well into his ninth season at the helm of the Gamecocks football program, will bring with him a respected reputation as an inspirational speaker. Like Jones, as well as University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban who spoke in Athens earlier this year, Spurrier is expected to sell tickets fast.
A veteran coach at the college level — with most of his successes coming at the University of Florida — Spurrier has also coached in the NFL.
The Gamecocks leader has compiled a total record of 208-77-2 (.728) in 23 seasons as a major college head coach, not including this season. He owns a 66-37 mark (.641) at South Carolina. According to the University of South Carolina website, Spurrier became the 71st collegiate coach (all divisions) and the 22nd in Division 1 to record 200 career victories.
In his head coaching career in college, Spurrier has coached one national championship team (University of Florida), won seven Southeastern Conference titles and collected nine SEC Coach of the Year awards.
As a collegiate player, Spurrier won the 1966 Heisman Trophy as a quarterback for the Florida Gators. In his short NFL career, he coached the Washington Redskins (2002-03) before returning to the college ranks in 2005 after taking a one-year absence from the sidelines.
Next year’s Bradley Sunrise Rotary gala has been tentatively scheduled for June 14.
Though the upcoming event is months away, club president Andy Anderson said this will give members more time to plan as they raise money for community causes.
“We can start planning now and raise even more money next year,” he said.
Each year, the club raises money that is then distributed to local charitable organizations. Thursday’s meeting saw members awarding money to the first two on a list of organizations that are set to receive funds from this summer’s events.
Anderson said organizations applying to receive the funds requested some $106,000. Meetings during the coming weeks will have representatives of various organizations visiting the club so members can present the checks to them.
Matt Carlson, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, accepted a check for $10,000. He said the organization had helped construct 115 homes, and volunteers were beginning to take part in a new home-repair program to help maintain the homes.
He thanked members for their donation and the times they have volunteered with the organization.
“We’re very excited about that,” Carlson said. “We can only do it when everyone gets involved.”
The second check of the day was a $2,000 one presented to Court Appointed Special Advocates of Bradley County, which is also known as CASA. Lisa Holmes accepted the check and shared how the organization has grown.
CASA pairs children involved in court cases with adult volunteers who help them through the process. Holmes said many children have been victims of things like abuse. The organization has so far helped 200 children.
“I’m getting anywhere from five to 10 kids a week,” Holmes said.
She thanked the club for the donation, adding CASA needs it because it receives no funds from the state or federal governments.
Also at the meeting, two students from Tennessee Christian Preparatory School’s Interact Club, which is a high school club sponsored by the adult Rotary club chapter, spoke. Neely Benton and Eric Hall told club members about a recent retreat they attended as part of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards and shared what they had learned.
The club also inducted a new member. Kenneth McNeal, who sells insurance at the local Horace Mann agency, was the first to join the club as part of a drive for the club to add to its membership during the month of October.
For more information about the club, visit www.bradleysunriserotary.com.