In an effort to meld 53 years of Brunswick High football together, charter members of the program met with the Pirates’ current coaching staff and players Friday at Glynn County Stadium for a morning of fraternizing and fellowship.
Led by David Sweat, a group of some of the first members of the Brunswick High football program lent out an invitation to the modern-day Pirates, hoping to revel in tradition and form a connection between eras. Among those in the crowd included Leon Hitchcock, the first person to score a touchdown for Brunswick High during its inaugural football season in 1968, and Michael Thomas, a member of the first class to integrate from Risley in 1970.
After some time for the Pirate alumni to catch up, Sweat introduced head coach Sean Pender to speak about the program’s current state.
Pender talked about the character education Brunswick players are subjected to each morning, the commitment to classwork the staff has inspired, and the exposure the team has worked to provide to prospective college athletes, commending his staff, and particularly assistant head coach Garrett Grady and assistant Sean Walker, who were both in attendance as well.
Offensive lineman Kanaya Charlton also made an appearance less than a month after committing to Florida State and offered a testimonial towards how the program has changed his life. A 3.9 GPA student in the classroom and a burgeoning leader on the field, Charlton represents the idealized football player at Brunswick High.
“It’s an eye-opener to connect with the ball players,” Sweat said. “Being a football player today is so much more than it was way back when we all played. They were talking about it starts at 7 in the morning and goes to 7 at night. And they’re getting leadership training, so it’s not all just on the field. It’s important stuff.”
Likewise, Charlton gained much perspective from the experience, from learning of the program’s humble beginnings to an oral telling of its first victory over rival Glynn Academy from longtime Brunswick News sports editor Murray Poole.
“To know that we came in, 1968, and we didn’t even have varsity, knowing where we’re at now, I would like to say we’re one of the top programs in 6A,” Charlton said. “And we started out at 3A, which is crazy to me. I never knew we were that small.
“But to know we still have the same energy, and that fire the older generations have is amazing.”
In the spirit of class unity, the Brunswick charter members hope to be the first step towards strengthening the touchdown club.
With many in the “second half of life,” as Sweat put it, the Pirates’ charter members want to give back to what they felt was an instrumental part of their growth as men.
“This is important because we’ve reached a point in our life where we look around at those that were important in our life growing up, and how we can have an impact still today,” Sweat said. “We’ve got something left in the tank. Football a long time ago put a foundation in us, and today we’re helping to put a foundation in the Brunswick High lettermen.
“We’re bringing the pass and the present, with Kanaya Charlton and Coach Pender, bringing it together, and we intend to remain connected to the current football program, and have various meetings, and just do various things for the Pirates.”