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Last Monday, the Flames Club hosted a highly successful meet and greet event in Atlanta, introducing new head football coach Turner Gill to several generations of football supporters and former players.
Over 60 people attended the event held at the Embassy Suites in Alpharetta, Ga., an area that represents one of the largest concentrations of "Flames Nation" (a mixture of Flames Club members and donors, Liberty University alumni, Liberty University online students and fans in the greater Atlanta area).
During the evening event, Gill shared his vision for Liberty Football and his assessment of the program following his first spring practice season. Gill noted that he was pleased with the talent he will have for the upcoming 2012 season and that his coaching staff has emphasized speed, explosiveness and playmaking during spring workouts.
Gill identified the defensive line, defensive back field and the running backs as some of the positions of greatest strength on the team. Gill also told those gathered for the event that his focus as Liberty's head football coach was to develop players spiritually, academically, socially and athletically, while operating a program that was consistent with the mission of Liberty and that was an excellent representation of the University.
"This is the first time that we have held an event featuring our head football coach this far from Liberty, and we were very pleased with the response and turnout, especially considering it was planned and executed in just over three weeks' time," reflected Bob Good, Flames Club director. "The success of the event was a reflection of the excitement surrounding Liberty Football, particularly the hiring of Coach Gill and the possible move to the FBS level."
Good stated that evening would not have been possible without the help of several Liberty University staff members who were also in attendance, including Lauren Thom (Flames Club membership coordinator), Paul Rutigliano (Assistant AD for Football Operations), Kevin Keys (Associate AD for External Operations) and Bethany Conrad (Student Recruitment representative).
One of the many former players in attendance at the event was Chip Smith, the program's first-ever scholarship student-athlete and a member of the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame. Smith closed the event in prayer and shared how the Lord used the later founder Dr. Jerry Falwell and first Liberty head coach Rock Royer to bring him to Liberty.
Good noted during the closing of the event that the Flames Club plans to hold other similar events in the future in different areas of the country next May.
Liberty opens its football season on Sept. 8 at Wake Forest and holds its home opener against 2011 NCAA FCS Playoff participant Norfolk State on Sept. 15.
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