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Power Team tells students character, perseverance just as important as athleticism

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
Ray Clark asked a group of students at Knox Middle School on Wednesday what Michael Vick, Pacman Jones and Terrell Owens have in common.
Several students spoke up, mentioning the athletic accomplishments of the three.
“They’re wonderful, great athletes,” Clark agreed.
Then he reminded students that none of the three have come close to realizing their athletic potential. Vick, the former quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, is in prison and has lost millions of dollars after being convicted of operating a dogfighting ring.
“You know why?” Clark asked the students. “Because he had no character whatsoever.”
Clark paused before continuing: “Talent will open the doors, but character is going to keep those doors open.”
Clark is a member of the Power Team, a group of athletes from Houston, Texas, who are in Rowan County this week speaking on the campus of a local church as well as at schools.
The physical strength of members of the Power Team grabs the attention of students. The message they deliver is one of hope and perseverance.
Through Sunday, Power Team members will be performing and speaking nightly at The Event Center on the campus of Cornerstone Church on Webb Road near its intersection with Interstate 85. Those performances are free and the public is invited. They start at 7 p.m.
Wednesday’s performance at Knox was sponsored by Livingstone College, especially the Rev. Darwin Little, the school’s minister, and Ginger Jenkins-Cartwright, the college’s attorney who heads its Gang Prevention Study. Livingstone is sponsoring a performance by the Power Team today at Knollwood Elementary and Friday at Southeast Middle School.
Clark, who possesses the type physique that Charles Atlas used to promise, is one strapping human being. He’s a former Marine who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 280 pounds. He bench presses more than 500 pounds and on Wednesday snapped a major league baseball bat behind his back.
The other member of the Power Team who performed Wednesday at Knox was Jonathan “Nitro” Caldwell. His physical attributes are similar to Clark’s. He ripped a huge phone book in half using nothing more than his bare hands, then tossed the shredded pages into the air like so much confetti.
It was a lively performance.
Clark did most of the talking Wednesday, reminding students that character is what a person does when no one is around to watch. He said he wasn’t always so big and strong, and said he was raised in a series of foster homes where he was often abused.
“I know what it feels like to feel abandoned by your family,” Clark said. “I was there once upon a time. I know what it’s like to go through tough times.”
He said his life took a positive turn when his grandmother took him in and raised him.
“She taught me to be a young person of character,” Clark said.
He then reminded students of a simple fact: “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”
Clark said everyone was brought into the world for a reason. We all, he said, have a purpose greater than ourselves.
“Sitting here could be the first female president of the United States,” Clark reminded the students. “True power is a young person who demands greatness of himself.”
While impressive, Clark and Caldwell said the physical skills they performed Wednesday were small potatoes compared to what they’ll be doing nightly through Sunday on the Cornerstone campus. There, they said, they and other members of their team will do stunts like snap police-issued handcuffs and break apart bricks of fire.
Members of the Power Team have been featured on ESPN as well as “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
The Rev. Little, the Livingstone minister who helped bring the group to Knox, said he’d seen Power Team members on television before and also saw them previously in person.
“They’re impressive,” Little said. “Very much so.”

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