Leadership Symposium draws guests from other military junior colleges; Coach Bill Curry delivers keynote speech

Leadership development is ingrained in the curriculum at Marion Military Institute (MMI), from interactions with peers in the cadet rank structure to studying the powerful leaders of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. On special occasions, MMI cadets have the opportunity to hear from inspirational speakers on the subject of leadership. Such was the case Wednesday afternoon, when Bill Curry, three-time NFL champion, college football coach and former ESPN analyst, served as the Coleman Keynote Speaker at the junior college’s 2016 Capstone Leadership Symposium. 

The event drew attendees from each of the nation’s five military junior colleges, to include visiting Wentworth Military Academy (Missouri), Valley Forge Military Academy & College (Pennsylvania), New Mexico Military Institute, and Georgia Military College.

Standing in the historic MMI Chapel (1857), Curry engaged the audience by sharing challenges and memorable moments from his football career—both as a player and coach. His chosen theme was “Unleashing Your Personal Magnanimitas,” defined as greatness of spirit and soul that is unique to you. Curry went on to highlight mentors and teammates who he believed had fully developed their magnanimitas—including Green Bay Packer greats such as Bart Starr, Willie Davis, Ray Nitschke and legendary coach Vince Lombardi. As a rookie NFL player picked in the 20th round of the draft to the Packers, the Georgia native and 215-lb. center from Georgia Tech found himself in a life-changing environment far outside of his Southern upbringing.

With a dose of humility, the coach recounted some personal mistakes and hard lessons learned. In between laughs, he asked the young leaders in the audience to seriously consider six characteristics of champions: “showing up, singleness of purpose, unselfishness, acts of kindness, being prepared and never quitting.”   

Of course, many Alabamians in the audience related to Curry’s later years (1987-1989) as Head Football Coach at the University of Alabama, where he led the Crimson Tide to an SEC Championship. One question he fielded from an Alabama fan related to his disciplining of wide receiver Prince Wimbley on the sidelines (for dancing) during the 1990 Sugar Bowl.  Curry took it in stride and retold the story with a sense of humor.

Following his presentation, the MMI Corps of Cadets honored Curry with a pass in review on the quadrangle. Graduating cadets and guests then joined him in the Ireland Athletic Center for a luncheon and book signing of his Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle. Proceeds from books sold at the event were donated to his wife Carolyn Curry’s non-profit foundation, Women Alone Together.

The prior evening, cadets were engaged in leadership discussions, broken into two groups, to kick off the Symposium. On April 12, Army ROTC cadets and males in the Service Academy Program (SAP) were invited to a Senior Leaders Panel featuring Col. David J. Mollahan, USMC (Ret), MMI President; Col. David F. Kelley, Commander, 1st Brigade, U.S. Army Cadet Command; and Col. Jimmy L. McConico, Army Advisor to Air University and Air War College instructor. Female cadets in the civilian Leadership Education Program and SAP females attended the Women’s Leadership Seminar, led by Mrs. Leslie Sanders, Vice President, Alabama Power Southern Division.