GRANITEVILLE — Friday marked the third consecutive year that the Debbie Knight Charity Golf Tournament was held at Midland Valley Country Club. The event, played in memory of the late wife of Midland Valley High School football coach Rick Knight, continues to raise money for scholarships at the school.
This year, more than 140 players participated in the tournament. Many more individuals and area businesses supported the cause through sponsorships, gifts, services and donations of money.
“The community really helped,” said Knight, who has been busy soliciting support for the tournament and sponsorship. “We see a lot of good in people through this and we appreciate it, all the good things that folks do.”
The generosity reflects the spirit of the woman the tournament memorializes. Debbie Knight was an ardent supporter of Midland Valley’s football team, the athletic program, the school and especially its students.
Without attention or fanfare, she did what so many high school coaches and their families do when they see a child in need. She made sure no player or student went without the basic fundamentals so many take for granted. If a student was hungry, she provided food. If a student had no way to get somewhere, she provided transportation. If a student didn’t have the money needed to get supplies for school or to purchase the varsity jacket they earned by playing for the team, she provided the funds.
“It’s the things that a lot of coaches do over the years,” Knight said of supporting students in need. “When I first started doing it, I told Debbie ‘this is what I do. It’s my life and my kids.’ It was something Debbie jumped on and did. That’s just the way she was.”
When Debbie Knight died of a brain tumor in 2010, it was a major blow to those associated with the program. That was a motivating factor in starting the scholarship fund in her name. In just two years, 27 Midland Valley High students have benefitted with scholarship prizes from money raised through the golf tournament.
Nine $1,000 scholarships were awarded following the first tournament. This past year, Knight said there were even more students that met the criteria of winning the scholarship awards. He said deciding which students would be rewarded was greatly debated. Ultimately, in the spirit of the scholarship, he said the decision was made to help all of the qualified students. To that end, 18 $500 scholarship awards were granted.
“The more the better,” Knight said, adding that money raised isn’t used exclusively for the scholarships. There’s a live account that is used to help students throughout the year with all of the necessities they might otherwise be missing. “That’s the other purpose. During the school year we take requests to help.”
While family, friends and other supporters turned out in droves for Friday’s tournament, they were rewarded with more than a round of golf. Each participant was given meals and gifts, courtesy of the corporate sponsors. Among the most generous was Mike Reeder & Associates, which offered several prizes, including a Harley Davidson motorcycle for any player that made a hole-in-one on the eighth hole.
“We do everything we can to give back to the schools and community,” said Mike Reeder, who played along with his brother Billy Ray Reeder for their company based out of Greenwood. “It’s a way to reach out and help. We’ll be here from now on.”
Having generous benefactors helps Knight reach his goal of keeping the tournament a must-attend event.
“Everybody goes out of here with something,” Knight said of the prizes and fun that have helped keep the tournament at capacity three years running, along with supporting Debbie Knight’s memory and the cause in her name. “We try to go first class so people want to come back. We hope to go bigger and bigger each year.”
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.
2013 Debbie Knight Memorial Scholarship Recipients
• Nicholas Bell
• Matthew Bryant
• Christopher Bryant
• Paris Cameron
• Carl Cato
• Anna Clark
• Ashton Crow
• Matthew Dennison
• Stephanie Flores
• Jaysen Jones
• Lexus Leach
• Kayla Morris
• Reggie O’Conner
• Savannah Parsons
• Brook Regan
• Holly Rittenberry
• Garrett Scott
• Tevin Williams
Staff photo by Noah Feit Midland Valley High School football coach Rick Knight addresses a field of more than 140 golfers participating in the annual Debbie Knight Charity Golf Tournament at Midland Valley Country Club. Money is raised from the event for a scholarship fund in memory of the coach’s late wife.×