NEW ORLEANS – Thousands of fans, alumni and students from Grambling State University and Southern University come to New Orleans every year for one of the biggest college rivalries in Louisiana, the Bayou Classic.
Prior to this year’s annual Bayou Classic, there was a coaches’ luncheon at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, Nov. 26, where two athletes, one from each team, were recognized for their leadership.
Head coaches from both teams – Lyvonia “Stump” Mitchell, Southern University, and Rod Broadway, Grambling State University – gave speeches in front of players from both teams, their families, friends, and Marines from the Marine Corps Recruiting Command.
During the speeches the coaches both gave their predictions on how the game would turn out in the end. They also bragged on their school’s history and football players.
Then Col. Grover C. Lewis III, Marine Forces Command, assistant chief of staff for the Department of Public Safety, stepped to the podium to play his role in the 37th Annual Bayou Classic.
He was there to support recruiting command’s efforts to raise awareness among the attendees about potential career choices in the Corps and to talk about his 28 years as a Marine.
Lewis called up two athletes after his story to recognize them for repeated examples of leadership on and off the field. Excellence in Leadership awards to Southern University senior linebacker, Sir Edward Toussaint Staten and Grambling State University sophomore wide receiver, Van Alystin Phillips Jr., had been selected to receive the “Excellence in Leadership” awards that Lewis presented them.
The annual award is presented to one student athlete from each university who has demonstrated Marine Corps leadership traits in the classroom, on the field, and in all aspects of their daily lives. Staten and Phillips each demonstrates leadership on the field by helping their teams work together according to their coaches. They demonstrate courage by making big plays on the field, and mature judgment by staying out of trouble and keeping their teams on the straight and narrow off the field.
The Grambling State Farm Bayou Classic is a NCAA football game for the two historically black universities.
Going into the Classic, the Grambling State University Tigers, with eight wins and two losses, had the top scoring offense in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Both teams had 18 wins in the Bayou Classic, which increased the significance of this year’s game because it was a historical tie breaker.
The Grambling State University Tigers came out on top and broke the tie with a 38 – 17 win over the Southern University Jaguars.