Phyllis Law - January 2020 | 404.514.3397

Protecting Bright Futures


Bright Futures Bulletin


T here is a simple sentence ingrained in my brain. I couldn’t get it out if I tried. I learned this motto while a student at Marietta High School (1988–1992). “Be somebody.” It was coined by the great Coach Benjamin Tyrone “Ben”Wilkins, the head football coach at Lemon Street High School, which ultimately integrated into Marietta High School. Coach Ben coached the Lemon Street Football team to win the state championship in 1966. The next year, Lemon Street integrated with Marietta High, and Ben joined the coaching staff as assistant coach. The Marietta Blue Devils won the state championship in 1967. Incidentally, the Blue Devils won their second state football championship in December 2019, which prompted me to write this article. After Coach Ben passed away, Coach Friday Richards took the baton from him. He made sure students knew the motto and lived it. Fridaywas an all-state running back for Marietta High in 1971. He played for University of Florida and spent two years in the NFL. He returned to Marietta High School and had a long and successful career for 15 years as the head football coach. I was lucky enough to know himwell. He was so much more than a coach. He preached and lived the motto, “Be somebody”. He made every student feel loved. He saw the good in everyone, and he let you know it, too. He took in many kids to his own home who did not have anywhere else to go. He was not going to see kids fail on his watch.

And none of us wanted to disappoint him. Ultimately, that taught us not to disappoint ourselves.

I know now that this motto was part of the foundation that built me to the person I am today. I knowwhat Coach Ben really meant when he said, “Be somebody”. It doesn’t matter who you choose to be; just choose something. Make your mark. Whatever you choose to do, do it well. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, doctor, lawyer, landscaper, teacher, sanitation worker, coach, or social worker, do it well. And, most importantly, use your craft to influence others in a powerful way. I chose the law. It is an honor for me to represent people in crisis. I wish I had known when I was a student that everything I was learning, inside and outside of the classroom, was preparing me for my purpose. And that purpose is to show people that they will make mistakes, but they can get through it and become even better through the journey. The only failure is in giving up. We work hard at my firm to broker second chances for young people who have made mistakes. We invest in their growth and guide them through the struggle. Many times, they just need to hear that they are SOMEBODY already and that they can BECOME the person they want to be — that it is totally within their control and reach to BE SOMEBODY. I

"He was not going to see kids fail on his watch."

hope Coach Friday would be proud of what we are doing.

–Phyllis Gingrey Collins

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