I met Bill Courtney today, the coach shown in the “Undefeated” documentary about the Manassas High football team that’s up for an Oscar Sunday.
Memphians who haven’t seen the film yet – it opens Fri., March 2 here – are in for a treat. As Manassas’ coach, the Bill I saw in film clips appeared to be the same one in person. Down to earth, no nonsense, charismatic and always polite, no matter who’s in his office.
He’s got a mock grenade on his desk in the office of his lumber company in North Memphis. The grenade has a sign that welcomes the visitor to the complaint department. They’re encouraged to take a number – and the number 1 is lodged behind the pin of the grenade.
This guy took a football program that at one point was charging better teams for the privilege of beating Manassas in one lopsided game after another, just so the struggling Manassas team would have cash for the season.
How did Bill turn things around? Go see the movie. I’ll tell you some of what he told me –
“How do you handle things when you’re being hit in the mouth?” Courtney asked me. “What you do is you preach character on a daily basis, and then you walk it. And if you walk it, (the kids) start to believe it. And if you can show them how these things have made a difference in their lives, then it changes from just a bunch of noise from a guy who’s older than them to something worth listening to.
“The x’s and the o’s are a hell of a lot less important to me than character development.”
Jurors in the Petties drug organization trial in Memphis federal court have been hearing a lot about how the Memphis-based drug organization was connected directly to Mexican drug lords.
At times, the government’s case against Martin Lewis and Clinton Lewis has involved testimony in which their names rarely come up. They are charged with drug conspiracy, racketeering and murder for hire. The testimony about how the organization was built and run by Petties goes toward the conspiracy allegations.
Look for our latest update on the trial in Thursday’s edition of The Daily News which goes online Wednesday afternoon at 4pm.
The organization was tied to the Sinaloa drug cartel, an organization that split into several factions. Petties, who pleaded guilty in 2009, worked for the faction headed by Arturo Beltran-Leyva.
A recent Newsweek-Daily Beast story has more on the overall head of Sinaloa who split with the Beltrans in a violent feud. The story of the drug lord known as El Chapo, who is still on the run, provides more context for an organization that has very few boundaries.
Cover enough stories and you run into some of the same people you have encountered before.
That was the case in our current cover story in The Memphis News on the Occupy Memphis movement.
Among those at the encampment in Civic Center Plaza is Aaron Harrington, whom we met about two years ago in our cover story on the city’s still evolving approach to trying to end homelessness in Memphis.
At the time, Harrington was doing pretty well for himself after a couple of years among the homeless. He had a job at a Midtown supermarket and a place to stay and after our story hit, a reader donated a bicycle to replace the one Harrington had that wasn’t working.
Several months ago, Harrington lost his job in the shuffle of supermarket ownership in the Memphis market and he’s joined Occupy Memphis.
He told us he is considering moving elsewhere and has a few leads on some landscaping jobs once the weather gets warmer.
If you’ve heard about Seed Hatchery and wonder what it’s about, check out this blog post from the brains behind local startup Paytopia, which is trying to upend the world of e-commerce.
Go get ‘em, guys!
“So as we begin week 3 of Seed Hatchery, it hit me:
“Hey moron, you have no choice but to make this company work. You willingly gave up your comfortably secure job, your income, and you won’t find another job in Memphis at the same level of pay. You have a wife and kids to provide for. You have nothing to fall back on. Do or die.”
You’d think that I would be absolutely terrified. I think on a deep, subconscious level perhaps I am, but when you start Seed Hatchery it’s like strapping your ass to a rocket that’s already in flight. There is no time for worry or self-doubt. You’re just too freakin’ busy meeting deadlines, creating deliverables, and in general just “making (things) happen”.
The ever-ticking time clock on the wall here in the Launchpad shows 78 days left. My blogging time is up. It’s time to go be awesome.”