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Watson helps build character

By BY LYDIA GRIMES Feature Writer
Football season is well upon us these days and one wonders just how did those teen boys get to be able to play football so well? Some of them don't get started playing until they are in middle school and there are many who believe that is soon enough. There is a great deal of controversy as to whether younger children need to get into a rough and tumble sport such as football. On the one side, there are those who believe that a child is too young to have his bones and his fragile brain put to the rigors of playing football. Playing too early makes the kids burn out on the game before they reach high school.
Then there are those who believe that children have to start early to be able to play well enough in high school. They believe that cautions should be taken but that a child's body is supple enough to stand the blows that come in the game.
Thomas Watson is one who believes the latter. He is the president of the Brewton Youth Football Association which is in charge of teaching youngsters the fine art of playing football.
There is no doubt that there are lessons to be learned from getting started early. Children learn a lot of good things by being on the football field and competing against each other.
There has always been someone interested in seeing that the kids are well organized and protected while they play the game. Watson credits much of his interest in the youth program to Charlie Ballard.
Watson was born in the small community of Brandenburg in Monroe County. He was part of a family of nine children and his father worked for a branch of T.R. Miller Mill Company. When the branch closed the family moved to Brewton so his father could work at the mill. Watson was about five at the time and all of his schooling took place in Brewton. He attended T.R. Miller and played football. He graduated in 1980 and entered Jefferson Davis Junior College on an art scholarship. He later transferred to the University of West Florida with another scholarship in art.
As happens many times, love stepped in and sidetracked Watson from college. He met and married his wife, Dollia, in 1985 and dropped out of school to earn a living for his family. His wife brought two children, Alex and Valerie, to the marriage and they would later have a son, Thomas Jr.
He got employment at the old Sheltex plant and stayed there for a couple of years until the plant closed.
He then went to work at Miller Investments in maintenance and he is still working there today.
It was after he started to work at Miller Investments that he became interested in working with the youth football program. He became assistant coach of the midgets for a year. Those are the 11- and 12- years olds just before they get into football in the middle school.
He was later asked to become the vice president of the Brewton Youth Football which, at that time, was a part of the Escambia County Youth Sports Association.
He became park president in 1995 and has continued to hold that position until now. The program in Brewton consists of around 120 kid and three teams, one mite, one mini-mite and one midget team. Each team plays a game on Saturday.
Watson says he likes to do carpenter work. His family lives in a mobile home and with the additions he has made, he says that no one would know what it was originally. He is interested in yard work and does some of that with his job. He also likes to work in his own yard and is very proud of what he has accomplished there. His love of art has not vanished either. He would still like to get back into that someday.
If kids are going to play football, and they will, it is good to know that someone like Thomas Watson is there to make sure that all goes well.