I recently stayed in a hotel while traveling. The hotel was on the water with a road across the river. At night, the lights of the cars speeding down the road would (unbeknownst to themselves) reflect on the river, providing a subtle, but amazing, light show.
As I sat looking out my window, it struck me that today’s volunteer award winner is like those cars. Simply going about his business, doing seemingly (to himself) nothing spectacular, yet adding a unique and invaluable presence to all those around him.
For generations in the Laurinburg/Scotland County community Raymond Moody has served as part coach, part chauffeur, part father-figure, part disciplinarian, and all heart to countless youths.
While he “wasn’t much of a high school athlete,” jokes Al (The Legend) Blades, “he was an incredible coach that taught kids not only the game on the field, but how to grow off the field.”
While the kids called him “Moody,” Blades sometimes called him “Molasses” because of his speed — or lack thereof. “I used to tell Raymond it would take him an hour-and-a-half to watch “60 Minutes” because he was so slow,” kids Blades. “But he always made sure he had time for the kids.”
While practice, school, and home life can take up time, Moody always made sure his players (while often on the run) had something to eat. His car often resembled one of those clown cars in the circus – he would pull into the ballfield and sometimes all nine baseball players would somehow roll out of the car.
He is more than a coach says Laurinburg Police Chief “Duke” Williams who has coached with Moody for years. “When Raymond came back from North Carolina A&T he committed to helping the next generation,” says Williams. “He looked to enhance their minds, not just their physical wellbeing. Raymond has always focused on making these young men and women better people.”
A mentor for all seasons, Moody coached pretty much every sport including baseball, football, and basketball. After years as a volunteer, in 1998 a job opened up at Scotland County Parks and Recreation. Al Blades and others jumped at the opportunity to hire him. “He knew all the kids, they all knew him. As soon as we posted the job we knew he would be perfect…and he was,” says Blades. He worked with Parks and Recreation until 2014 – all the while continuing to be a beacon to the kids.
A heart attack a few years ago provided a scare. While coaching in Pemboke, Moody collapsed. CPR was applied and he pulled through. Though those that know him acknowledge if he had died that day he would have died happy – on a ballfield, coaching baseball, helping kids. “God showed him a favor that day, but he deserved it,” says Chief Williams.
The impact of a Raymond Moody runs deep in a community. Sports often provide youth their first sense of purpose. Athletics provide structure and teach us to be disciplined with our time and emotions. The youth that Raymond has helped shepherd through life grow to be leaders in our schools and the foundation for tomorrow’s Laurinburg. Want some proof of his impact? “Ask Coach Bailey about the impact of Raymond on his teams,” says Blades. “Many of the players on the Fighting Scots got their start with him. They learned how to be winners by being around Raymond.”
“You don’t define your legacy,” said Chief Williams. “What you leave behind defines you. There are a lot of kids excelling on life because of Raymond Moody.”
It is because of coaches and mentors like Raymond Moody, and Al Blades and Chief Williams, that Laurinburg and Scotland County continues to move towards a better tomorrow.
Therefore, we would like to recognize Raymond Moody with the presentation of the “The Honour of the Long Leaf Pine for Distinguished Service.” Raymond, this award is in recognition of the efforts and guidance you provide, but also the love you have for the youth of the community. It is this bond to the young people of Laurinburg, and the community that helps make Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to live, work, and play.
Thank you sir. Thank you.
Cory Hughes, executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.