Sheriff Leon Lott discusses winning, leadership, and life beyond football
By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott addressed the coaches and players of Benedict College’s football team during an all-hands team meeting at the Benedict Football offices, Saturday, July 29. Lott was joined by former standout Benedict Tiger defensive lineman Wendell Gerrod Bing, today a newly hired deputy with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD).
Among the topics Lott discussed were the importance of creating a culture of winning, leadership, developing life skills for the future, and life after football.
“Not all of these young men will go to the pros,” said Lott. “Most won’t: the NFL and other professional football leagues are extremely competitive, and these players need to understand and prepare for their professional careers beyond college and college football.”
Lott added: “Benedict’s relatively new head coach Chennis Berry is doing a great job of preparing these young athletes both on the field and instilling in them the importance of the classroom for their futures.”
Doing a great job, indeed! Under Berry’s leadership, the Tigers made history twice last season when they first went undefeated in the regular season (10-0) followed by a post-season 58-21 victory over Tuskegee University, making it 11-0, to become Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions, another program first.
“Last season is a clear reflection of Benedict’s newfound culture of winning under Coach Berry,” said Lott, himself a lifelong athlete having played baseball at USC-Aiken and later pitching for the semi-pro Columbia Braves. “Winning in games can be equated to and carried over into winning in life.”
According to Lott, “There are many ways to win and different manifestations of winning: And I think these players clearly see that when they see one of their own – a 6’4,” 305-lbs. former Benedict football player like Wendell Bing – now wearing the uniform and badge of a Richland County deputy sheriff.” Bing, who attended and played football at nearby C.A. Johnson High School, was positively influenced as a teenager by his RCSD school resource officer.
Lott regularly speaks to Midlands-area college athletics programs, everyone from Benedict College to the University of South Carolina’s football and basketball teams among others.
The Benedict Tigers will open their season vs. Shaw University (Raleigh, N.C.), Sept. 2, at Benedict’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium in Columbia.
– Pictured is Sheriff Leon Lott speaking to the Benedict College football team, Saturday, July 29. Benedict Head Coach Chennis Berry is standing in the background.