When Aiken shows up at Wilder Stadium on Friday night, the Green Hornets had best make sure their chinstraps are secure. The Clinton Red Devils have dedicated the football game to Mama.
Dedication Night, on Tuesday evening, was for the mothers of Clinton players or the women they deem most significant in their lives. The guest speaker was Clinton’s most celebrated mother, Peggy Nibert. The wife of longtime Presbyterian College basketball coach Gregg, Petty has nurtured 44 foster children in her home over the past 11 years, earning national attention for selfless acts. The Niberts also raised two sons who came through the District 56 school system.
At a catered dinner in the school cafeteria, each Red Devil player read a letter to the most crucial woman in his life.
Among the wise words imparted by Mrs. Nibert were:
A mother is “a person who does the work of 20 for free.” She spoke of raising the foster children as if they were her own and of “mending” the hurt in those children.
“Every child can be turned around if he or she has two things,” she said. “A child must feel love, and a child must feel safe. If they have those two things, they can overcome almost anything. A mother’s love is the fuel that inspires a young man to live a worthwhile life.”
Dedication Night was head coach Andrew Webb’s idea, though an ESPN documentary influenced him. Webb keeps a notebook to record his thoughts, whether on coaching beliefs, X’s and 0’s, or inspirational ideas. Dedication Night was a result of writing to himself, “Why, wouldn’t this be nice?”
It was a FAMILY dinner, translated into an acronym for “Forget About Me, I Love You.”
When he introduced the guest speaker, Webb noted that the Niberts’ pastime had been featured on SportsCenter, among other media sites.
“When we’re growing up, a lot of us dream about one day being on SportsCenter,” Webb said. “Peggy was on SportsCenter just for doing the right thing.”
The Niberts have been married for 31 years. For 28 of them, Gregg was head coach of Blue Hose men’s basketball.
“The whole purpose,” Webb said, “is to recognize the sacrifices you ladies give us every day.”
But, Peggy Nibert hastened to add, “Y’all get after Aiken Friday, OK?”