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CLINE: Student's lesson in reliability

If 90 percent of life is just showing up like Woody Allen says, John McWilliams is well on his way to success. The recent Norcross High graduate finished his school career never having missed a day due to sickness or anything else.

Think about that. If you called in sick last week you can't match McWilliams. If you called in sick in the last month you can't match him. Heck, if you've called in sick any time in the last 13 years McWilliams has you beat.

So what's his secret?

"I always joke around with people and say that whenever I got sick my parents kicked me out of the house," McWilliams said. "It's just an expectation. You're supposed to go to school every day.

"(Toward the end) the more people talked about how amazing it was, the more I wanted to do it. But it takes some luck, too.

"My parents will always say that whenever I got sick it was over Christmas break or during the summer. I've really never had anything worse than a sore throat."

There's something to be said for dependability, and McWilliams' dedication speaks to more than an amazing immune system. His leadership and always-there mentality made him an important part of the Blue Devil football program and earned him a role as a team captain.

"He's like what every parent wants their kid to be," Norcross head football coach Keith Maloof said. "All your life you look for leaders (like McWilliams). We needed him to lead by example, and he did that in the classroom, in the community and on the field."

A middle linebacker, McWilliams doesn't profess to be the tallest, quickest or best around. But he is always around, refusing to give up while getting the very most of the talents he has.

"I never skip out on a rep or a play, and that kind of goes for everything I do, not just school," McWilliams said. "Every team I've ever played on I've had to prove myself beyond what the coach could see right away ... a short guy who isn't that fast."

McWilliams will attend college at Valdosta State University, where he'll be a preferred walk-on for the football team. That means he's back at square one with no scholarship, only a chance to make an impression. But that fits McWilliams' mindset just fine.

"My goal is to earn a scholarship while I'm at Valdosta State," McWilliams said. "But whether I do or not, I'll wake up and go to practice every day and do the best I can."

And if someone else gets sick or decides to take a day off, you can be sure McWilliams will be front and center, ready to take advantage of the opportunity.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/toddcline.