Just like practically every other business or organization throughout the country, the Sumter Touchdown Club presented by FTC has been touched by the coronavirus pandemic as well.
The club will not be holding its weekly breakfast gatherings where …
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The club will not be holding its weekly breakfast gatherings where it honors players of the week and welcomes in guest speakers. However, the club's board members did decide if both the South Carolina High School League and the South Carolina Independent School Association play football this season, the club will honor its players of the week, albeit in a virtual format, in its 29th year, while guest speakers will appear through a submitted video.
Board member Regi Thackston said the reason the decision was made to recognize the student-athletes virtually was that social distancing, with the format of the meeting, would be a huge challenge.
"Last year, USC Sumter was so gracious and allowed the club to meet on their campus," Thackston said in a press release from the club. "We serve breakfast at the meeting and members are sitting really close together. We believe that to be responsible in this uncertain climate, we need to be responsible and not meet. "But we still want to honor our players for what they have done on the field. It's like we say every meeting: They are the reason that the Sumter Touchdown Club exists. We are going to miss the socializing that we do every Friday morning, but hopefully we can get everything back to normal next year."
For the past 28 years, the players of the week, who are chosen by The Sumter Item sports staff, are honored at the club meeting. This year, the plan is to produce a video each week with presentations and interviews with the players, the pick 'em contest results and a speaker. The video will be released to the members and sponsors and will also be shown on FTC NOW, FTC's Digital TV all-local channel.
Since the speaker will be done through a submitted video, the hope is to be able to have speakers, who in the past because of restrictions tied to the season and recruiting, were not able to appear such as Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney or South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp.
The high school league recently announced a plan to start a 7-game regular season on Sept. 11. The final regular-season game would be played on Oct. 23.
SCISA recently pushed back the start of its football season a week, from Aug. 21 to Aug. 28.
Because of all the uncertainty due to the virus, the status of the club's season-ending banquet remains in question. At last year's banquet, the club presented 10 scholarships of $750 to players entering college.
"COVID-19 has effected nearly every aspect of our lives," board member Lee Glaze said in the statement. "But we hope that the final product will almost be better. We can get some high-profile speakers to appear that we were not able to in the past. We hate that we can't meet, but with technology, we are hoping to keep the momentum we have built going. Our membership is strong and loyal and we hope to give them something that they will continue to enjoy. We also have an amazing group of sponsors and because of their support, the scholarships we have given has grown in number and amount. We don't want to lose that."
To join and receive the digital content, a $50 minimum donation is requested to help defray production costs. Those interested in becoming a member can go the website sumtertdclub.com or they can mail a check to P.O. Box 2871, Sumter, SC 21951.
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