FLINT – If Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson ever steps down from law enforcement, he could easily have a future as a motivational speaker.
No one at Atwood Stadium was more excited Tuesday than Swanson when he addressed the players, coaches and media who were on hand for the announcement of the return of the Vehicle City Gridiron Classic football showcase after a hiatus in ‘a year.
The event will feature eight high school teams playing in four games from August 26-27 in Atwood and returns after being canceled last year due to season uncertainty following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Related: Gridiron Classic returns to Atwood after a year-long hiatus
Speakers included Tim Herman, CEO of the Flint and Genesee group who backed Powers Catholic at 21-20 against Rick Leach and Flint Southwestern in 1974 in Atwood, as well as Circuit Court Judge Duncan Beagle, Chairman of the Gridiron Classic Committee.
Herman explained that he still had fond memories of that victory over Southwestern, when Powers erased a 20-0 deficit in Game 1 of the season, and Beagle spoke of all the memorable events and the people who came through. the gates of Atwood.
Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy both made appearances at Atwood, Jackie Robinson played a baseball game for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1947, and future Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram rushed in. over 300 yards while playing for Southwestern at Atwood.
This set the stage for Swanson, the final speaker who addressed the players in attendance as well as those in attendance.
“You hear stories from people who have been through this place, all you can focus on is success,” Swanson said. “So many people who are watching now and who are going to come and play these games can remember a moment like (Herman) said. If there is one thing that any coach, player or person who has had to success can be said to be a key component to making it happen, this is called being a competitor.
“You don’t win in life if you don’t compete. You have to compete for your family. You have to compete for your health, compete for your business, your school, your team. And so come here and see what Judge Beagle has put in place… it’s because this city is a competitive city. Flint isn’t typing.
“Some of the names that were mentioned, you probably don’t know who they are, playmakers in the world, and it started because they are competitors. I can’t think of another sporting event that could unifying people (like) football I saw what football did when you saw how South Africa turned around. They used sport to bring a nation together.
“I like the unit. As a police officer… on our cruisers, I added this third discipline – protect, serve and unify. So for the coaches out there you get sleepless nights, you don’t get paid enough and you give and you give and you give. You want the best for these people. You want the best because you are a competitor.
“So stay competitive. When you show up at Atwood Stadium for the Gridiron Classic, you put on a show for these people, you give them a show and you show them what the competition is like because that’s what is going to make this community successful.
To further prove his point, Swanson – a 1990 Grand Blanc graduate – challenged Powers and Grand Blanc players to a push-up competition despite wearing a suit in the scorching sun and the temperature was above 80 degrees.
He took off his jacket and had fun with the players while easily winning the challenge near Atwood’s 50-yard line.