'Mabee Babies' turn out super
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Sunday, February 07, 2010
2/08/10 at 11:03 AM
During the 1980s, Spencer Tillman preceded a lengthy NFL career by winning a national title at OU. In 2000, Renaldo Works and Rocky Bright were members of the Sooners' national championship team.
Two years ago, R.W. McQuarters made big plays during the New York Giants' drive to the Super Bowl. Felix Jones has become a star for the Dallas Cowboys.
In Sunday's New Orleans-Indianapolis Super Bowl showdown, Robert Meachem lines up at wide receiver for the Saints.
One common distinction defines them: They are all "Mabee Babies" — kids who spent countless afternoons and evenings at Tulsa's North Mabee Boys & Girls Club.
Meachem's Super Bowl moment will be savored by three North Mabee figures: Jo Bright, Rocky Bright's mother and the club's longtime director; Darryl Bright, Jo's husband and a North Mabee football coach for 25 years; and Harold Williams, who has been a volunteer coach for 22 years.
"I'll be here until I find someone who can take my place, someone I can trust to do the right thing by these kids," Williams says.
Meachem reflected on his North Mabee experience during a recent interview with a writer for The Salvation Army, which helps fund the club's football program.
"The North Mabee club was like a home away from home," he said. "Mrs. Bright pushes you to be the best you can be, both in academics and sports. She's like a mother to the kids at the club."
Jo Bright says the club's mission is "to serve children at the point of need."
"When these children are entrusted to me for several hours a day, I have to make sure they do the right thing," she said. "If you're going to be here with me, you're going to follow the rules."
Williams held a paid coaching position at Bishop Kelley during the '80s. One day, he was at the club and tossed a football with some kids. As he was about to leave, a boy said, "See you tomorrow, coach."
"I didn't have the heart to tell him that I wasn't going to be his coach," Williams said. "I kept thinking about that little boy. It just kept wearing on me. I never went back to Bishop Kelley. I came back here, and I've been here ever since. These kids were hungry for guidance."
Bill Haisten 581-8397
Robert Meachem (center), who will play for the New Orleans Saints in Sunday's Super Bowl, was just a boy playing football at the North Mabee Boys & Girls Club when this photo was taken many years ago with North Mabee volunteer coach Harold Williams. Courtesy
Jo Bright (left), director of the North Mabee Boys & Girls Club, stands Thursday with longtime youth football coach Harold Williams. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World