Coach Gene Stallings visits Boys and Girls Club

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gene Stallings served as the keynote speaker for the during the second annual Steak and Hamburger Dinner hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Pike and Surrounding Counties.

Stallings arrived a few hours before the dinner to tour the Boys and Girls Club facility and interact with its members.

Vinny Borello, interim Chief Professional Officer of the Boys and Girls Club, said having coach Stallings speak at the event was a huge honor. “Coach Stallings has such a reputation in the state of Alabama,” Borello said. “There is nobody better at developing young talent. He serves as such a positive role model.”

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Borello said Stallings serves as someone to whom members of the club can look up. “We have 413 members at out club,” Borello said. “Around 95 percent of those kids come from single parent households. A lot of these kids don’t have a male role model to look up to. Coach Stallings gives them that.”

In its third year of operation, the Boys and Girls Club is looking to expand. “We’ve been around for three years,” Borello said. “In that time, we haven’t turned a single child away. We keep welcoming everyone in. When the kids come in from school, they have to do an hour of homework. We hope that we can raise the kids’ progress rates in the school and that, eventually, the graduation rate will rise.”

Stallings has been affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club since he was a child. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club in Paris, Texas.

Stallings said supporting the Boys and Girls Club is something he is passionate about. “When I was a kid, the Boys Club had a slogan,” Stallings said. “It said: ‘It is better to build boys than to demand men.’ That is something that I believe in. For a lot of these children, going to the club may be the highlight of their day. The may not have an opportunity to have a safe place to play and study if not for the club.”

When he attended his local Boys Club as a child in Texas, Stallings said the club was a place for him to relax. “To be honest, I played most of the time I was at the club,” Stallings said. “We would play basketball, play ping-pong and shoot pool. When I was older, I started to work at the club. I kept it clean and coached some of the teams. It helped instill some leadership qualities in me.”

Stallings even shared some memorable moments he had as a kid growing up in the Boys Club. “We won a state basketball championship one year at my Boys Club,” Stalling said. “During the war, there was a guy without arms giving pool shooting demonstrations. I was a pretty good pool player, so I played against him. He beat me. That’s something I always remembered. And I remember these great ping-pong matches we used to have.”

Stallings remembered the mentors who impacted him during his time at the Boys Club. “I remember one of the directors we had—Felix Gibson,” Stallings said. “I thought so much of him that I hired him to be my academic counselor at Texas A&M. During that time, I never lost a player to grades.”

During the dinner, Wayne Buchanan was introduced as the new Chief Professional Officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Pike County. Buchanan had previously worked at the Oprah Winfrey Boys and Girls Club in Mississippi.

New board officers were also sworn in. Dr. LaKerri Mack was sworn in as president, Derrick Brewster as vice president, Gary Fox as Treasurer and Stephanie Johnson as secretary.

All in all, the club expected to bring in around $25,000 from the event.