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Courtney Courage Award honorees now up to four

Thanks to the courage and determination displayed through severe adversity by a local high school coach, an annual award recognizes recipients who mirror those “Admirable” qualities.

Farragut Admirals Football head coach Eddie Courtney, a cancer survivor, said “it’s a very moving thing for me, personally,” after handing out the fourth annual Eddie Courtney Courage Award Wednesday night, Jan. 19, in Neyland Stadium.

“Just the fact of how we’ve all handled it the same way, trying to make the best of our situations.”

The award, first given out in January 2008 to then South-Doyle quarterback Jonathan Mitchell, has become an annual recognition of a Knox-area high school football player, coach or referee whose courage and determination has helped them fight through daunting adversity.

Jordan Ritchie, Christian Academy of Knoxville junior who has battled cancer since early 2010 — Hodgkin’s Lymphoma similar to Courtney’s battle — was this year’s award recipient.

Other recipients have been DeAndre Purty (FHS senior running back, 2010) and Cole Lail (William Blount linebacker, 2009).

Courtney said all four recipients have been “hit with something out of nowhere,” adding the award is based “on how we’ve dealt with it.”

Courtney then listed “four things that are very important” about overcoming such adversity — something with which all four recipients are familiar, he noted.

“One, you find out about your true faith and belief in God,” Courtney said. “I think that’s the first thing you draw from it.

“The second thing, truly, is your immediate family and your friends around you that help support you through it,” he added.

“I think the third thing is certainly the game of football, it teaches all those lessons when you have to get off the ground and bounce back.

“The fourth thing is, you make a decision about what you’re going to do, and you stick with it, and you’re determined to beat what your odds are.”

Courtney said he was “surprised” about the award’s creation.

“And I didn’t know until [January 2009] that they were going to make that an annual thing,” he added.


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