Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

June 25, 2013

Former NFL stars headline golf classic

BRISTOL, Va. — Fancy footwork was not the primary reason Dallas Cowboys’ Hall-of-Fame running back Emmitt Smith amassed 18,355 career rushing yards, still an NFL record. They were mostly compiled by utilizing arguably one of the best offensive lines in NFL history and a charging North-to-South running style that produced extra yards at times when perhaps a back of lesser ability would have gotten none.

But being deft on his feet was certainly the central element to his winning the third season of Dancing With The Stars along with professional dance partner, Cheryl Burke.

 Appearing at the 2013 Niswonger Children’s Hospital Golf Classic held at The Virginian Golf Club on Monday, Smith admitted that while his cotillion experience was fun, it was challenging as well.

“I had a blast. I enjoyed it and had a great time dancing, performing, and entertaining the folks. But it was hard work.”

At the charity event, Smith neither ran the football nor danced a Cha Cha, but he did play a round of golf, a sport he was introduced to in 1990. He believes, along with many others, that golf is one of the most difficult sports to play and, unlike football, is a sport in which you have to keep your emotions in check. “Golf is about you taming yourself and controlling your emotions,” said Smith, a once-a-week golfer. “It’s about controlling your swing and repeating it over and over consistently. It affords you the opportunity to be on top of it mentally for four hours, every shot.”

 Other former and current Cowboys in attendance were safety Bill Bates and Elizabethton, Tenn., native and eight-time Pro-Bowl tight end Jason Witten. Also among the 18-celebrity contingent were Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, defensive end Bruce Smith of the Buffalo Bills, Champions Tour professional golfers Corey Pavin and Larry Mize (the 1987 Masters’ winner), and current and former head football coaches Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech) and Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee).

Smith takes great pleasure in sharing his knowledge and experiences with younger players, as he did with Witten on Monday. His imparted wisdom included those things that went well for him and those things that didn’t go well. But the 10-year veteran tight end has proven himself quite capable of magnanimous accomplishments, as evidenced by his NFL single-season record for receptions by a tight end (110 catches in 2012) and his annual free football camp in his hometown. “I love the way he has handled his success,” Smith said, a three-time Super Bowl winner. “Obviously to be awarded the Walter Peyton Man-of-the-Year Award says a lot about him and what he has done for his community. That’s a beautiful thing.”

 Smith is a huge believer in giving back to those who are less fortunate, particularly children. He credits Scott Niswonger, Chief benefactor of Niswonger Children’s Hospital, with his philanthropy.

“I think what Mr. Niswonger is doing is great for the community. Kids don’t ask for a handout; they ask for a hand up. Mr. Niswonger has certainly extended his hand to try and do his part.

“A lot of us should take note. All of us can give back in some shape or form, whether it be in time, resources, or relationships. These opportunities are not reserved just for athletes or the wealthy. All of us are called humans and all of us should do humanitarian things.”

 The Niswonger Children’s Hospital (formerly The Children’s Hospital at Johnson City Medical Center) was established in 1992 and serves more than 200,000 children in a 29-county radius in northeastern Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, southeastern Kentucky, and western North Carolina.

The estimated proceeds generated from this year’s golf event will exceed $700,000 and be used to purchase syringe pumps for the Children’s Hospital. These pumps utilize a “smart pump” technology and cost $5000 each.

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