October 15, 2010 2:41:00 PM
Dedication, determination, and perseverance have been trademarks of athletes for generations.
More than 50 years ago, those intangibles were even more important because football wasn''t as gentlemanly a game as it is today.
According to Jim Scribner, linemen used to tape over metal washers on their hands and then use the added weight for a bigger punch in the trenches.
Scribner played football at Sturgis High School and then moved on to play at East Mississippi Community College for coach Roy Knapp in 1953-54. The center/linebacker endured long practices that were tougher than the games and a hard-driving coach who made his stay in Scooba difficult, but Scribner stuck it out.
"I was determined I was going to stay there, make the roster and play," said Scribner, who played at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds. "It wasn''t easy. I learned the meaning of some words I took for granted, like dedication. I was determined to get it done, and I persevered through all of the blood and sweat to get there. I was just a kid when I went down there and I came out a man. That''s what it felt like I was anyway."
This weekend, Scribner will be one of eight individuals inducted into the East Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame. Scribner, who was born in Sturgis and now lives in Martinez, Calif., will join EMCC President Emeritus Clois Cheatham (Preston), the late Don Darby (DeKalb), the late Leon Garner (Avon Park, Fla./Ackerman), the late Roy Knapp (Mobile, Ala.), Jack Newell (DeKalb), Langston Rogers (Calhoun City), and Fred Scoggins (Leroy, Ala.) as inductees.
EMCC also will recognize Kenard Sharp, the school''s 2010 Alumnus of the Year recipient, and Max Johnson, the Distinguished Service Award winner, this weekend. The ceremonies will be part of a weekend that includes the EMCC football team''s game at 2 p.m. Saturday against Pearl River C.C. at Sullivan-Windham Field.
Scribner didn''t consider himself a standout on the football field, which was why he was taken aback when he learned of his honor.
"I was in shock," Scribner said. "I thought they had gotten the wrong person. It is quite an honor. Even though it was 57 years ago, it means a lot to know your peers thought enough about you (and thought), ''Jim, he did us a job.'' It is a good feeling to know somebody thought you were doing a good job."
Scribner lived in Sturgis until the seventh grade when his parents moved to California. He returned to Sturgis to live with his aunt and uncle, Louise and Jack Morgan, so he could finish high school. He was a member of the Sturgis High football teams that lost only one game in a three-year span.
Former EMCC coach Bull Sullivan recruited Scribner to play at EMCC. But when Scribner arrived, Sullivan had left the school and he wound up playing for Knapp. Scribner recalls more than 50 players were with the team at the start of the 1953 season but only 20 or so made it through to the end of the year. He said Knapp was a hard-driving coach, much like Sullivan, and he pushed the boys to see if he could make them quit or drive them out of school. But Scribner said his days with the Sturgis High football team helped prepare him for EMCC. He said the school always had a good reputation for football and that the players who wore the school''s colors took pride in being a part of that tradition.
Scribner had the same mind-set at EMCC. He said he took the determination he used to help him excel at Sturgis High and was confident he could succeed at EMCC. He learned a new level of dedication in college and came to play "like a little bulldog," he said, considering even then he was undersized to play on the offensive line.
"I figured I was just as tough as anyone out there and I was determined to prove it," Scribner said. "A lot of times I wanted to quit and to go home, but I stayed with it if it doesn''t kill me darned near did."
Scribner he believed in himself through all of the aches and pains and blood and sweat, of which there was plenty. He said he adopted a do-whatever-it-takes attitude that carried him through and helped him develop a killer instinct.
"I never did consider myself an outstanding player," Scribner said. "I always figured I did my job, did what I was told to do, and got it done. I think they respected that, my teammates."
Scribner was drafted into the United States Navy after his two years at EMCC. He returned to the state of Mississippi and worked as the justice court judge for District Four in Oktibbeha County, and then spent more than 20 years working as the transportation supervisor for the Oktibbeha County School System. Scribner, who is retired, tried to fly stand-by from California to Mississippi, but he and his wife couldn''t get seats, so they left Monday morning from California and arrived at his son''s house in Ackerman on Thursday night. He said he is anxious to catch up with his family members and all of the friends who will be on hand for the ceremonies.
Three years ago, Scribner, who has lived in California for 21 years, returned to Scooba to be there for his friend, Billy Charles Eskridge, who was inducted into the EMCC Sports Hall of Fame. Today, Eskridge will be there to watch his friend be honored. Scribner said they went through a lot playing football and serving in the Navy and that it would be special to reminisce about everything they overcame to get to this point.
"The guys who stuck it out stayed together and played and didn''t give up, there something there that bonds you together," said Scribner, 76. "I can''t explain that. We have respect for one another. We weren''t just a group of guys hooping and hollering and having a good time. I got a little education (when I was at EMCC), and I did a lot of learning about life and that if I was going to excel it wasn''t going to come easy. If I was going to excel I was going to have to do the job. I think anybody who played and stayed both seasons is entitled to go to the Hall of Fame. It was a rough, tough deal back in those days."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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