Practice does not make perfect.
Wait … what?
That was what former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Greg Ellis said to those in attendance at the 9th Annual East Texas Kick-Off Luncheon on Wednesday at Harvey Convention Center.
Ellis said this, but quickly added another sentence.
"Perfect practice makes perfect," Ellis said.
For the past two weeks, area high school football coaches and teams have been going through two-a-day practice sessions — first in shorts and helmets and now in pads — all with an eye toward winning a district title, and/or reaching the playoffs and capping it with a state championship.
The annual luncheon brings together area coaches, administrators and a selected athlete from each football team to celebrate the start of a new football season.
"I have a passion for kids and a passion for youth," Ellis said. "Sports are responsible for saving lives; youth activities are responsible for saving lives."
Ellis believes his life was forever changed for the better because of his involvement in athletics.
A 10-year starter for the Cowboys and after being drafted with the eighth pick in the first round, Ellis was the first rookie to start for Dallas on the defensive line since Bob Lilly. He enjoyed a successful 12-year career, earning Pro Bowl and Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2007. His final season in 2009 was with the Oakland Raiders.
The NFL veteran laid out a few important details for the athletes in attendance. He stressed that motivation was not enough for success, but rather that motivation "has to change to inspiration," Ellis said.
"You get motivated when there is no opposition, but when the fourth quarter comes and you don't know where your next breath is going to come from and it's 110 degrees (on the field), motivation has ran to the sideline and is sipping on Gatorade.
"That motivation has to change to inspiration. When you can't take another step, inspiration inside leads you to go one more play; to go out there and say I am going to get this job done."
Following Ellis' speech was the announcement of the East Texas Community Service Award. This year's winner is Frankston High School.
The event concluded with Christian Campbell, son of Tyler Rose Earl Campbell, announcing the watch list for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award. It is given each year to the top offensive player in Division I football who has Texas ties and exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity.
Last year's winner, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, is a part of this year's watch list along with TCU quarterback Jarrett Boykin, Texas A&M receiver and Cayuga graduate Malcome Kennedy and others.
East Texas Kick-Off Luncheon
All Saints: Eddie Francis (athletic director), Mike Hall (head coach), Austin Covey (assistant coach), Matt Brunson (athlete); Arp: Dale Irwin (head coach/athletic director), Toney Lowery (superintendent), Stoker Williams (athlete); Athens: Paul Essary (head coach/athletic director), Tyler Trussell (athlete); Big Sandy: Larry Minter (head coach/athletic director), Charlie Ramsey (athlete); Brook Hill: Rod Fletcher (headmaster), Bobby Brasher (head coach), Grant Jones (athlete); Brownsboro: Jason Hooker (head coach), Dr. Chris Moran (superintendent), Will Bailey (athlete); Chapel Hill: Thomas Sitton (head coach), Dr. Donni Cook (superintendent), Gonzalez Arreguin (athlete); Elkhart: Sam Wells (head coach/athletic director), Glen Tunstall (defensive coordinator), Taner Tunstall (athlete); Frankston: Matt Nally (head coach), Cody Day (defensive coordinator), Josh Gilbert (offensive coordinator), Marc Chitty (defensive line coach), Caden Bruton (athlete); Gilmer: Matt Turner (head coach), Taylor Lofton (athlete); Grace Community: Mike Maddox (head coach), Joseph Walker (athletic director), Jay Ferguson (headmaster), Matt Houston (athlete); Grand Saline: Michael Ridge (head coach), Trish Elliott (superintendent), Austin Truett (athlete); Henderson: Phil Castles (head coach), Keith Boles (superintendent), Terry Everett (principal), Zane Boles (athlete); Jacksonville: Chris Taber (head coach/athletic director), Dr. Joe Wardell (superintendent), Carter McCown (athlete); John Tyler: Ricklan Holmes (head coach), Greg Priest (athletic director), Kenneth Gay (principal), Marty Crawford (superintendent), Geo McCollister (athlete); Lindale: Mike Meador (head coach), Stan Surratt (superintendent), Jamie Holder (deputy superintendent), Stephen Clemmons (athlete); Longview: Oscar Wilson (assistant coach), Marquise Hunter (athlete); Palestine: Jay Brown (head coach), Fabian "Gee" Clark (athlete); Robert E. Lee: Darrell Piske (head coach), Greg Priest (athletic director), Gary Brown (principal), Marty Crawford (superintendent), Patrick Udofia (athlete); Spring Hill: Mark Sartain (head coach/athletic director), Hagen Tucker (athlete); Bishop Gorman: Coby Gipson (head coach), George Cumby (athletic director), Connor Hobbs (athlete); Tatum: Andy Evans (head coach), Devon Boyd (athlete); Texas College: Rodney Blackshear (head coach), Elissa Birdwell (athletic director), Dexter Harmon (athlete); Troup: Dennis Alexander (head coach), Marquis Davis (athlete); Tyler Junior College: Danny Palmer (head coach), Tim Drain (athletic director), Trevor Pugh (athlete); Van: Jared Mofatt (head coach), Roger Johnson (Van executive director for economic development), Andrew Platter (athlete); Whitehouse: Adam Cook (head coach), Richard Peacock (athletic director), Daniel Dupree (superintendent), Eric Munoz (athlete); Winona: Tracy Kincade (athletic director), Denise Shetter (superintendent), Timothy Wilson (athlete).