Football stars are guests at chamber meal

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

VIDALIA, La. &045; The flags were hung, jerseys laid out and helmets ready to go Thursday night as about 145 Vidalia supporters gathered at the Comfort Suites.

This was no ordinary event, but a chance for all involved to &uot;Score big with a winning team, your Vidalia Chamber of Commerce&uot; at the chamber’s annual dinner.

The celebrities of the evening were signing autographs at the front door, to greet the guests &045; Chuck Hinton who played for Ole Miss and the New York Giants; Allen Brown, who played for Ole Miss and the Green Bay Packers; Chick Graning, who played for Georgia Tech and in the CFL; and Joe Fortunato, who played for Mississippi State and the Chicago Bears.

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Along with them was the speaker for the evening, who spoke of having a vision and building a winning team, Gus Kinchen, a member of the 1958 LSU National Championship team.

Kinchen spoke of his own experiences, about vision &045; what it means and why it is important.

Kinchen first spoke of his son, Brian, who had a vision to play in the NFL years ago and has now been in the league 13 years. &uot;A week from Sunday, he’s going to play for the World Championship&uot; in Super Bowl XXXVIII with the New England Patriots as a deep snapper, Kinchen said.

Then Kinchen told of his journey to play for LSU, being called by Coach Paul Dietzel in 1955, along with high school teammate Warren Rabb.

&uot;He began to speak to us about his vision,&uot; Kinchen recalled. &uot;I want you to help me build something significant for the university,&uot; Dietzel told Kinchen.

&uot;I didn’t think much of it then, but I never forgot it,&uot; Kinchen said.

And in 1958, Kinchen said they began to see Dietzel’s vision take shape after some disappointing seasons. The team went undefeated that year. Kinchen said he was always asked if he would feel less significant if another LSU team won the national championship and he said &uot;no.&uot;

And when LSU won another national championship Jan. 4, 45 years later, &uot;it was like the vision Coach Dietzel raised that day came to fruition,&uot; Kinchen said.

Another national championship just &uot;validates the vision my coach gave to me,&uot; he said.

&uot;What’s your vision for the city of Vidalia?&uot; he asked the attentive audience. &uot;Whatever it is, it isn’t going to take place in a couple of days Š a couple of years Š and it won’t until it is in the hearts of all.&uot;

By itself a vision is nothing, Kinchen said, but it encourages dreams, lays plans and is a challenge for people to join.

&uot;We don’t work for rewards but for fulfillment of the vision,&uot; Kinchen said. The rewards will come with the fulfillment.

And Dietzel always told them, Kinchen remembered, &uot;What I give I always have. What I keep is lost forever.&uot;

He told a story of people that held back what they had, what everyone else needed to live, because they could not get over their prejudices to others.

&uot;Know that it takes all kinds of people to make a team,&uot; Kinchen said.

To make the team work, Kinchen said everyone must feel important. On that 1958 team, no one felt like a second class citizen but all felt important &045; the key to their winning team.

So he challenged everyone Thursday night to dream and get everyone around them to buy into the dream.

&uot;It is something we can carry away form this room,&uot; Chamber President Gina Buckley said after Kinchen spoke.