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PEOPLE & PLACES: Nickie Templeton's Message
First of Two Parts
Determination was the message of evening Jan. 26 as Clinton High School Athletics Director Nickie Templeton presented a message to the players, cheerleaders, coaches and parents of the Clinton Little Devils tackle football program.
Templeton was the featured speaker for the annual appreciation dinner for the football program, winding up its first year affiliated with the NFL-sponsored Pop Warner Football program.
“Clinton High School supports this organization – football is king here, it’s been that way for how many years,” Templeton said. “Friday night lights, (but) everybody wants to know what kind of feeder program do you have? It is an essential part, so we support this organization and we will do what we can on our end. Coaches, cheerleaders and all the players, we’re going to give you season tickets. We want you watching what goes on that field, and aspire to that.”
A young Nickie Templeton had little to aspire to.
She had little modeling of success, though she did learn early the value of hard work. Much more so, however, her life seemed destined for welfare.
Now, with a doctorate of education administration, she has made it her mission to teach other teachers how not to give up on students of poverty.
“I’m blessed,” she says. “We’ve endured a lot. Where are we going to be in our future years without our children? As children of poverty we do our jobs – we survive. Our responsibility as we get older is to live and live well. Pain is not inflicted on people for no reason at all. Everything that’s happened in my life gives me permission. I have three degrees, I’m very educated. But, to children, it’s just fancy paper with a frame on it. (Education) gives you permission – you need a permission slip to do things on your life.
“I want no pity. I won’t take it if you offer – we need to teach that to our children. Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. We as adults make life too easy. The percentage of suicides is through the roof among young people. The percentage of single-family homes is through the roof. Our children don’t know how to deal with hardship.”
There’s something about a mill village. It screams experience – a sink or swim mentality. Nickie Templeton unashamedly tells her story of seeing domestic violence, drug use, poverty, and dealing with the emotional aftermath of these things. “I am a child of an addict – I’ve saved her every way I know how, and I’ve prayed for her every way I know how.
“Drugs are a powerful thing. They have taken over our children. My mother is also a child of an addict. If you know anything about patterns, I was supposed to be an addict – not today, Satan. Not tomorrow, either.”
Nickie Templeton doesn’t try to impress anybody. She just speaks it plain. “I was just a white girl in the hood just trying to live a life.”
“I knew, at an early age, I wanted a different life. I knew that when I was sweeping floors in a dirt barn where we lived out by the airport. I saw my dad get up every day and grind – a blue collar mentality.
“But there was never enough money.”
She spoke directly to the Little Devils tackle football players and cheerleaders. “There are 3 things – concentrate now. Education. Talent alone gets you nowhere but home. Respect for teachers – you’re going to have to deal with people you don’t like. Lose the entitlement mindset - you are owed nothing. Attitude. If you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, you need to realize you have a bed.
“Change your attitude.”
Templeton knows where she came from. 90 Palmetto Street. “I lived with my granny, known on the block as the White Madea. I started to see myself beyond 90 Palmetto Street. I am proud that I am from Lydia Mill, South Carolina. It doesn’t make me any better than anyone to want better. Good people make poor decisions – place judgment on no one. Help them up. I had these internal wars – will this make me look better than my family? Some people don’t want to see you succeed, and some of those people are in your family.”
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