Loyalty and leadership

Flames Club hosts first fall luncheon, celebrating the arrival of football season

The Flames Club hosted its fall luncheon as a kickoff for Flames football Friday, Sept. 6, at Williams Stadium.

Football — Coach Gill and Flames football players speak at the kickoff luncheon. Photo credit: Macklyn Mosley

Football — Coach Gill and Flames football players speak at the kickoff luncheon. Photo credit: Macklyn Mosley

Keynote speakers were Head Coach Turner Gill, quarterback Josh Woodrum, cornerback Walt Aikens and defensive lineman
Cory Freeman.

As the commentary with the coach and players began, Gill extended his thanks and appreciation to all of the fans.

“We are grateful for the support you have given us in the past, that you are giving us here today and also as you continue to support us in the future,” Gill said. “We are going to represent you well. Both on and off the football field, we are going to represent you, but more importantly, we are working for
the Lord.”

Every week, the coaches lead the team with a word of the week. This past week’s word was “loyalty.”

“(Loyalty) is the most important thing that we need to have as we continue to move on each and every day, each and every game. We must trust. We must have righteousness. We must move forward all in the right ways.”

Aikens added to Gill’s statement, saying that the one thing that they have focused on this year as a team
is leadership.

“The leadership is a key ingredient, and along with that, you have to have loyalty,” Aikens said.

Woodrum, Liberty’s current starting quarterback, said his teammates have pushed him to work on his leadership this year.

“Coach Gill just kind of let the summer be up to us,” Woodrum said. “He let us take control of it and really put it in our hands. I think that’s one reason Coach Gill thinks we have some good leadership on this team.”

Freeman expressed how special the depth of the defensive line is and how many players are capable of performing well.
“My hat goes off to Coach Gill and Coach Singletary to be able to train us and coach us in a way where we can have guys step up and fulfill those roles for our team,” Freeman said.

Gill and the players also talked about the playing environment surrounding Liberty. As a long standing tradition before every game, the players come out of the tunnel following the fans’ chant of “L-U!” Aikens said that his anticipation for the game heightens in the tunnel.

“The tunnel is like a cave to us. It’s like dogs in there ready to get out,” Aikens said. “We can’t see people. We just see red everywhere.”

The Flames played their first game of the season at Kent State University on Thursday, Aug. 29. The Flames fell short, losing 17-Aikens said that if he could change one thing about the season so far, it would be winning that first game of the season.

“The only thing I would change is the final score of the last game,” Aikens said. “As far as the team and the people around our team, I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve grown to love all of these guys, and I know what they are capable of.”

According to the luncheon speakers, despite it being an away game, about 1,000 Liberty fans showed up to the game at Kent State in a sea of red.
“Our fans are the loudest, they’re the proudest, and they wear the most red,” Aikens said.

The Flames won their home opener 45-15 against Monmouth University. The next home game is Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. against Morgan State University.

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