Brookwood athletes lunch with retirees

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Jared Munday, a lineman for the Brookwood Broncos, talked football over lunch Wednesday with a couple of residents at the Lawrenceville retirement community Ashton Hall.

Munday's lunch companions, Tony Kammerer and Jim McClure, shared their own memories from days spent on the high school gridiron -- both men played guard, while Kammerer did double duty as a linebacker.

The trio also compared notes on their favorite teams -- McClure is a Green Bay Packers and Ohio State fan, while Kammerer is loyal to his home state of Minnesota.

"Born in Atlanta, I have to go for the Falcons," the 16-year-old Munday said. "I go for the home team."

Visiting Ashton Hall is an annual event for Brookwood's football players and cheerleaders, a tradition spanning 15 years in which the athletes kick off their season by joining the residents for a meal and conversation.

The tradition started when Ashton Hall owner Curtis McGill's own sons, Curt and Max, played for Brookwood.

"Coach (Dave) Hunter came to me and was talking about it," Curtis McGill remembered. "They were trying to do something for community activities."

For Brookwood's current head coach, Mark Crews, the tradition is one that spans his nine years as head coach and six of the 15 years he spent as an assistant coach under Hunter.

"I think it's kind of a good outing for our team, something good for them to do," Crews said. "Hopefully some of them might gain the wisdom of some of those years that those guys are talking to them."

Brookwood's coaching staff and a couple of alumni filled plates with food as players and cheerleaders made sure residents were well taken care of at lunch.

"Brookwood was always built on tradition," said Curt McGill, a former Brookwood and University of Georgia football standout who works alongside his father and brother in the family business. "It just wouldn't feel right if we didn't have this forum every year to kind of kick off the season."

For quarterback and rising senior Ben McLane, Wednesday's event was about learning something about the residents with which he was able to spend time.

"I met big Ed Wallis over there and he had a few things to tell me about," McLane said. "He was in the Air Force and he loves brunette girls. He's 90 years old, so he's lived through a lot. It's awesome to talk to people like that. You don't get to talk to people like that every day. Your grandparents are dead or you don't get to see them a lot, you come to places like this and so many people have so much to tell. It's pretty awesome."

The McGills rolled out a Brookwood Broncos banner for Wednesday's event, one that flew over their RV during tailgating for the 1996 season football season when Brookwood brought home a state championship.

"Maybe it will encourage them to get another championship," Curtis McGill said.