South Georgia P.R.I.D.E Building Community Leaders

Pride is a funny thing. It can hurt or help your cause in many different situations.

For one South Georgia football program, pride is essential and it's leading kids to success in life.

Before many of the area's prep high school stars were here making highlights on the football field and signing with division one schools, they practiced in South Dougherty playing for the P.R.I.D.E program. A program that has fostered over 3,000 children, and led over 100 kids to college scholarships.

"The reason why is that P.R.I.D.E. is for everyone that has pride within themselves," coach and organizer Patrick Wise said.

The community corrections officer, Wise, started this youth football program ten years ago. One moment changed everything as he made a dedication to a new calling.

"We had a situation where a dad was a habitual violator, and the situation came up that the dad had to be revoked and went to jail. I remember during that revocation that when he was being arrested by local authorities, his two sons came and grabbed my legs," Wise said.

That moment gave Wise a new motivation. Instead of sitting idly by and letting more kids become statistics, Wise went to city officials to make a change.

"I told them we've got to do something and with their help and other coaches we established P.R.I.D.E.â|we went grassroots, we went door to door," Wise said.

The kids soon followed Wise and his coaching staff's efforts.

Just to name a few: UGA commit and Brooks County Trojan Malkom Parrish, Alabama-Birmingham lineman and former Albany Indian Roscoe Byrd, Deerfield-Windsor's Kh'Ron McClain all played under the "circle pride" mentality, meaning they committed to a life of more than just sports.

"Not just playing, but teaching me life skills such as responsibility, hard work, discipline. This kind of bridged the gap of it just being a sport toâ|this could be my career," 2008 Dougherty grad Jeremee Davis said.

Davis is playing professional basketball overseas, giving a lot of credit to his former youth football organization.

Whether it be fishing, mentoring or taking their players to church, the guidance off the gridiron is often more important to Wise. The "leave no child to chance" motto teaches a P.R.I.D.E. player more than fundamentals.

"If you're down or if it's a late game situation (in a game) and things aren't going right, you have to just keep battling and keep fighting and that's just the way life is also," Davis said.

A program so successful continues to push and pride will continue to lead the way for Wise and his dedicated staff.