Are you ready to be the 12th man?

Published 12:18am Sunday, August 26, 2012

With the second week of high school football in this season’s history book, local teams are beginning to settle in and start jelling.

Hundreds of books have been written on teamwork and how to build teams. Some of our area coaches have it down to a science.

But not all teams come together so easily or quickly.

It’s part inspiration, hard work and a desire to be involved with something greater than one’s self.

But a team is more than just the players and the coaches.

The impact of cheering, supportive fans on a team’s success cannot be underestimated.

At Texas A&M University, some 90 years ago, the phrase “the 12th Man” was coined after a reserve player was called down from the stands and prepped to go into the game.

He didn’t play, but stood ready if needed.

Today, members of the Aggies’ student body carry on the tradition and stand during the entire game. The tradition is so much a part of A&M football that they trademarked the phrase “12th man.”

Clearly, they realize the absolute importance of supporting their team en masse and without fail.

Most of us have been at a football game — either as a player or a fan — when the support of the crowd seemed to lift the game’s play to a higher level.

When it happens, it’s truly something special and inspiring.

Rallying around a favorite football team is easy, particularly compared to something that’s a little less exciting and that takes years rather than four quarters to determine success.

For at least a couple of decades, our community’s economic development team had most of the components necessary to succeed.

The team had some talented players and presumably had adequate funding. The community’s resources — its people, land, river and infrastructure — were relatively set.

But somehow our team couldn’t score well or win consistently.

Frustrated, the folks cutting the checks at the time — county leaders — threw up their hands and vowed to stop their support for the team.

That’s when Natchez-Adams County’s 12th man stepped in to help. Local business leaders couldn’t image what would happen if the area really gave up on having a professional economic development team.

Like the Texas A&M player from the 1920s, they stepped down from the stands, suited up and stood ready to go into the game.

That was how Natchez Inc. was formed — by the business community saying, “We can do this better, and we’re willing to get in the game ourselves.”

The public-private partnership includes involvement from the city, the county and — most important — the private business community.

The private sector appoints five of the seven members to the Natchez Inc. board.

If you’ve been sitting in the stands, watching the team play and wondering how you might get involved, now is the time.

Natchez Now, the private fundraising source for Natchez Inc., is seeking new members. Are you someone who loves Natchez and Adams County and wants to see it succeed? If so, call 601-445-0288 or send a quick e-mail to:

The Natchez-Adams team needs your help, your involvement and your support.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or