5 questions with Russ Carreker: Returning the many benefits of football

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 5, 2014 

As a former Auburn football player, where are you going to watch tonight's BCS championship game?

In the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Do you keep up with any of your former teammates, such as Bo Jackson or athletic director Jay Jacobs?

I do keep up with a lot of them.

I stay in touch with Jay just because I tend to be in Auburn often enough to see him pretty regularly. Bo's a little tougher to keep up with as you might imagine. I do see him about once a year at some Auburn related event.

I also keep up with many of the guys that I played with -- Jeff Burger, Stacy Searels, Ray Corhen, Steve Wallace, Benji Roland, Yann Cowart and many others. The Football Letterman's Club does a great job of keeping us in touch with each other across several decades of players though several charity and social events.

You have been a volunteer football coach at Brookstone. Has that been a good way to keep football in your life?

It has been a great way to stay involved in the game. You can probably ask most guys that played in college, and even in the pros, and they will tell you that the most enjoyable time they played the game was in high school.

There is just something about playing with friends that you have grown up with and in front of people that have often helped to raise you. That makes high school football really special.

While many think that you are giving back when you are a volunteer coach, you really get so much more in return compared to what you give when you are around young men playing high school football. The effort, the teamwork, the commitment to the team, the passion, the sacrifice of self for the good of others -- all those things that help make the game of football so wonderful -- are the same things that we need in our businesses and homes every day. The guys that I was lucky enough to coach at Brookstone inspired me to pursue those attributes every day that I was lucky enough to be around them.

You are a native of Southwest Georgia but have been in Columbus for almost 30 years. How has this community changed?

I came to Columbus in 1989 and knew very little about it. I soon sensed that we had a pretty low self-esteem as a community. However, in my opinion, a few things quickly changed that. As a community, we were willing to tax ourselves to improve things. I think it started just before I moved here with the "Cool Our Kids" campaign and extended through several other self-taxing measures that produced many of the facilities that help make Columbus a much better and more interesting place to live today.

But hosting the Olympics softball competition is the one thing that really seemed to change peoples' attitudes about our hometown. We started believing in ourselves. Suddenly, people were itching to get involved and make good things happen here and that momentum continues to this day.

We can see it in Uptown and Midtown and all the Gateway projects. It is evidenced by whitewater, the RiverCenter, bike trails, the Soldier Marathon and the National Infantry Museum. That list can go on and on.

Columbus has totally reinvented itself over the past 25 years. Without a doubt, we still have a lot to do, but we have accomplished so much more than most cities have over the last quarter century.

What is the best-kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?

MercyMed on Second Avenue. Dr. Grant Scarborough and his team have one of the most amazing Christian ministries I am familiar with. At a very low cost, they are providing excellent health care to some of our neediest neighbors. At the same time, they are helping patients with their psychological and spiritual needs.

They are literally helping to heal minds, bodies and souls. This group of caregivers is a great example of people giving up much of their own lives to give others a helping hand. They are living out the Bible in a real-world way for the rest of us to see and hopefully be inspired to do something similar.

VITAL STATS

Name: Russ Carreker

Age: 49

Job: President of Starrett-Bytewise Measurement Systems

Hometown: Americus, Ga.

Current home: Columbus

Family: Wife, Patti; daughter, Avery

Education: B.S. in Ag Econ and B.S. in Animal Science from Auburn

Favorite book: Ferroll Sams' trilogy that included "Run with the Horsemen," "The Whisper of the River" and "When All the World was Young"

Favorite movie: "Good Will Hunting"

Favorite restaurant: Local, Deorio's

Favorite quote: "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." -- Teddy Roosevelt

Best concert attended: George Strait

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