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October 13, 2010

Don Brandon's Erskine Award speech

— As you know, I announced my retirement from Anderson University last summer to be a the end of the 2010 season, and what a great year it was. Led by Cody Young and four other seniors, the 2010 team won the HCAC championship and captured my career win No. 1,100 on the last game of the regular season. This team was special as it was the No. 1 offensive team in the nation in over 400 NCAA Division III schools. The Ravens were No. 1 in batting average, most total bases, slugging percentage and home runs.

The season was capped off by having Chris Jarrett drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cody Young by the Baltimore Orioles. Along with Cody, graduate Aaron Vogel is representing this great team. Aaron graduated with over a 3.0 GPA in communications, journalism and public relations.

Under the fine leadership of our new head coach, David Pressely, I predict the 2011 team will go further in postseason play than the previous year. The best is yet to come! David comes from a coaching family, state champion team, five years playing baseball at a Division II university, my assistant for three years. He is an outstanding coach! The fact that we both came from Alabama is a God thing. It was not by our plans.

I want to express my great thanks to my athletic director Marcie Taylor and vice president for student services Dr. Brent Baker, and to president Dr. James Edwards. They have been tremendously supportive. I want to express my appreciation and love for Coach (Carl) and Betty Erskine. He started being my hero in my teens before I knew him and he still is. To my wife of nearly 48 years, Janet, you are the best. Thanks for being such a great partner.

To the Rotary Club, I say thanks for honoring Carl Erskine and in doing so honoring our baseball program.

And now, let met turn my attention to our 2010 recipient of the Carl Erskine Award of Excellence. Cody Young is truly an outstanding human being, a fine Christian young man and a talented athlete. Jon and Karen Young have four fine young men and all are talented athletes. The youngest, Logan, broke most of the state records in receiving last year and is on a football scholarship as a freshman at Indiana University. He doesn’t know it yet, but Cody is the best athlete of the four. I like to stoke the competitive fires, as if they needed to be stoked.

I have never had a player develop more in four years of college than Cody. He grew 2 to 3 inches in height, increased his speed to a 6.6 seconds in the 60, changed from an average arm to one that throws 90 mph from the outfield. Cody played this spring 6’4” and 205 pounds. Cody is a outfielder, but this summer with the Orioles minor league team he had a 0.0 ERA as a pitcher. That is another good story.

I have a theory for this unusual growth and development while in college. Cody, how old where you when you looked the doctor in the eye and asked him if you are going to die? Cody had a phase 4 cancer. Those surrounding the situation didn’t give Cody much hope, but thank God there was hope by the doctors and the great physician.

Cody graduated in May with a 3.0 GPA from the Falls School of Business. He was a member of the student athletic advisory committee, he worked three years at the Hopewell Center, and he was an outstanding leader on campus and in the community. Please take time to look on the front and back at the list of accomplishments placed on each table.

Cody has put the team and his teammates above himself. He has been a greater leader by bringing out the best in his teammates and those around him. Service to others is a big part of Cody’s life and he excels in endeavors off the field.

It gives me great pleasure to present to you, the Rotary Club and to your president, Dr. Janet Brewer, and to Coach Erskine, the 2010 recipient of this fine award, Cody Jackson Young!

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