Wednesday morning, I had an article nearly prepared for this op-ed. 

I wanted to talk about remaining focused. But sometimes you get stopped in your tracks and just after lunch Wednesday, that happened.

I meet and work with a lot of leaders as mayor of Meridian. Elected officials, CEOs, many have the titles that come to mind when I think of the word "leader."

However, my favorite leaders are those like Calvin Hampton, the head football coach at Southeast Lauderdale, who died in a car crash on Wednesday. 

Coach Hampton led where he was.

He made immeasurable impacts in the lives of the youth of our community. He led without hesitation, no matter his title.

If you knew him and watched him, you knew he did what the Lord called him to do.

Good coaches make more of an impact on young student athletes in one season than others can in a lifetime. Think about that – leaders like Coach Hampton are what make this city.

They do not identify problems and lay them at the feet of others. Coach Hampton identified problems and became the solution.

Social media posts have flooded our timelines, a tribute to his life’s work. One post that impacted me the most was a screenshot of a text exchange between Hampton and Southeast Middle School Principal Brittney Chaney.

Sent just two days before his untimely death, he told Chaney about a student he wanted to help. 

"Whenever he has an issue could you text me about it? I’m going to try to build him up.”

Nothing could more clearly articulate who Coach Hampton was. He knew that child needed him and he planned to do something about it.

Meridian is full of leaders who are not boastful. They never receive the recognition they deserve, and they do not care. I am talking about the people that truly serve,  who want to make a difference, those that do.

Many of your jobs are thankless, underpaid, or not paid at all.

You take meals, you clean neighborhoods, you mentor our children, you help the homeless, and you are the real difference.

Thank you to those leaders like Coach Calvin Hampton. Keep doing what you do. This city loves you.

Percy Bland is the Mayor of Meridian. 

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