The rain broke and the sun came out Monday just before University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart ripped his first tee shot at Coosa Country Club, starting off the charity golf tournament to benefit the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes.
Several members of Smart’s staff at UGA — including defensive analyst and Darlington grad Will Muschamp, offensive line coach Matt Luke, Director of Football Administration Mike Cavan and former UGA and NFL linebacker Brandon Tolbert — made the trip to Rome to help raise funds for the five youth homes.
Smart said he does not play in a whole lot of golf tournaments, but he was more than willing to help his many friends in the Rome area.
“I get to play in a couple there by the lake (Oconee) in the summer, and then this one,” Smart said. “Harry Pierce asked me to come. It’s important for me to be here.”
The coach said that events like the golf outing help impact the lives of so many young men across the state.
“We change lives one by one,” Smart said. “We brought a couple of staff members up and are hoping to have a good time and raise some money.”
Coach Luke said this was the first time he had played in such a tournament.
Sheriff Dave Roberson said he was hoping the event would net at least $20,000 for the series of five youth homes.
“This is the first time for us to do this,” Roberson said.
Several Georgia sheriffs also participated in the tournament, including Brad White from Lamar County, Johnny Moats from Polk County, Scott Chitwood from Whitfield County, Stacy Nicholson from Gilmer County. Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes, also came to Rome for the tournament
Special events like the golf tournament are a huge supplement to the budget for the youth homes, Norris said.
“We run about a hundred kids a year though the campus. Some don’t stay very long, but there are about 50 that are living with us full time right now,” he explained.
Shayne Goddard, director of facilities and fundraising for the youth homes, said the program started in 1960 has impacted thousands of lives.
“They come to us through no fault of their own,” Goddard said. “These kids just need a chance. By doing this, you’re helping us keep going.”