LAURINBURG — Faith, family and football weave an intricate web that forms the backbone of the Scotland County community, and now local residents can enjoy a little of all three Friday nights this fall.
Laurinburg church Lighthouse Nation is sponsoring a pregame tailgate at Scotland home football games this season, giving fans the opportunity to enjoy a quick meal with friends and family while allowing them to talk fellowship with volunteer church workers.
Delton Williams, who has attended Lighthouse for five years, is among those in charge of the initiative and he says “Faith, Family and Football” is a small way to bring a passionate community together on game day.
“When you look at Pate Stadium on a Friday night, there is no high or low or middle class, there’s no black or white, there’s just a community that’s there to support their kids and to me that’s what we want to strive for,” Williams said. “That’s a great place and an opportunity to give back to people and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
This is the third year the church will host a pregame event — the past two seasons, Williams and his staff of around 20 volunteers have set up shop in the Lighthouse Nation parking lot. This is the first year the event will be located on Pate Stadium grounds.
Williams said he wanted to relocate because “we haven’t reached the number of people we wanted to.” The festivities, which will feature free food, music and T-shirt giveaways, are set to take place just outside of the stadium gates.
“In the past, we basically cooked a big meal, people from the church came, we invited other people and we talked to people about fellowship,” Williams said. “This year we wanted to move out front, make it bigger, streamline things to where we can reach and see more people.”
An emphasis on having easier-to-serve foods was also a goal this year. Summer staples like barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers will be on the menu during the early part of the season, then when the temperature drops in the winter, hot foods like chicken and rice may warm the palates of game day goers.
“It’s something we can pass out to people and won’t hold up lines or anything like that, just keep it moving,” Williams said. “That was one of the problems before because we cooked a big meal and had to stop and make a plate. We were taking up a lot of time, and most people when they get there, they’re in a hurry to get on in the game and find a seat.”
Williams and his staff, which also includes members of East Laurinburg Baptist and Springfield Church of God, also bought custom blue T-shirts that read, “Faith, Family, Scots Football” in red and white letters. Cheerleaders at Scotland home games will toss the shirts to spectators in the stands during breaks in the action.
“Faith, Family and Football” is more than just another pregame tailgate, according to Williams — it’s the foundation citizens of Laurinburg and the surrounding area have built their lives on.
“To me, it’s a way to interact with people you might not see on Sunday or might not see everyday. It’s just a way to bless people,” Williams said. “The Lord has been good to us, let us put it back out there to let you know that we love you and that you matter.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.