Everett Golson, the former star quarterback of Myrtle Beach High School who will be leading Notre Dame into the college national championship game against Alabama next month, has a stellar reputation.
That’s what has the Booker T. Washington Community excited about the positive headlines being generated by one of their own, even more than his touchdown passes and runs.
His good grades and confidence wrapped in humility are well known.
But he does have a secret.
It’s one Eric Goings, who helped mold Golson as a young football player and man, has been keeping for years.
Goings has decided to come clean about the secret, something he hasn’t even revealed to the pastor he and Golson shared.
A long time ago in the educational wing of Mt. Olive AME, church officials hung up cherished African-themed, large-framed photos.
“I was a custodian in the church,” said Goings, who has been honored as the Myrtle Beach Volunteer of the Year because of his work with young children. “They had a concert one night. Everett and [a few friends] left out of the church and went into the educational wing throwing footballs. These were little kids. They knocked one of the pictures down and broke the glass.”
Goings quietly cleaned up the mess. No other adult was the wiser.
And there was a time another football seemed to fly particularly fast from the powerful right arm of a future Fighting Irish player and knocked out a window in a church bus.
When Goings would ask who was responsible and none of the kids would say anything, “we knew who did it,” he said.
The kids didn’t want to tell because they respected Golson even then, saw something special, Goings said.
That hasn’t changed.
“I’m trying to make all of them Everett,” he said.
He doesn’t mean turn them into a starting quarterback for a legendary football program.
He doesn’t even mean turn them all into an athlete at all.
He means helping them understand that honing their God-given talents – however they manifest themselves – through hard work and discipline is the way to create headlines as Golson has.
He means reminding them that Golson kept his eyes focused on the important things while forfeiting some of the seemingly more exciting activities that could bring short-term fun but could have robbed him of a productive future.
That’s why Goings said people in Booker T. Washington (and the rest of Myrtle Beach) have gathered around TVs at barbershops and during private parties every time Golson took to the field this year, why residents who have long supported Clemson and the University of South Carolina and other teams have become Notre Dame fans, if only for a four-year period.
That’s why they cheered when he scored and the team won, and held their collective breath when he threw an interception or fumbled during a key period of a game.
Bennie Swans, a Booker T. Washington resident, has seen the other side, the incidents that have generated negative headlines about Booker T. Washington.
He’s cried with mothers who have lost children to those streets, which can at times be more than simply unkind.
He’s seen how wayward young men can create havoc and heartache for entire families and the community, force police to commit more resources there than anywhere else, and leave an unwanted taint on a proud area.
The fight to keep more young men in the area in school and away from the courthouse is ongoing, tiring and sometimes deflating work.
That’s why Swans is reveling in what has become of Golson.
“This is just an ordinary family who’ve made an investment in their children,” Swans said. “I’m just proud to be able to talk about people like that, people who’ve done so much for the community through their children. They give us something all of us need to be proud of.”