Livingstone’s West End Classic honors the community

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2016

By Laurie D. Willis

Livingstone College News Service

SALISBURY — Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins knows it’s vitally important for the institution to have a good relationship with its neighbors – one of the reasons he created the West End Classic.

The classic, always commemorated during the Blue Bears’ home opener, represents a collaboration between Livingstone, the city of Salisbury and members of West End Pride and West End Community Organization.

“Just as improving Livingstone College for its students, faculty and staff is important, so is improving our relationship with our neighbors,” Jenkins said. “We held our inaugural West End Classic in 2014, and it was a success. Last year’s classic was even better than our first one, and we hope our Third Annual West End Classic will be our best yet. We also hope Salisbury residents will come out en masse to support our student-athletes and coaches in their first home game of the season. Our student-athletes have been practicing hard this week, and they deserve to have a stadium full of enthusiastic fans cheering for them.”

In last year’s classic, Livingstone thrashed Central International University, 40-0. This year, the Blue Bears are hosting Edward Waters College of Jacksonville, Fla., for the big game.

Livingstone is eager to notch its first win of the season after losing, 5-3, to Benedict College in a defensive struggle last weekend in Columbia, S.C. Coach Daryl Williams said his players are determined to put more points on the board this week and to represent Livingstone to the best of their ability.

“We’ve had a good week of practice and we’re really looking forward to playing at home this weekend,” Williams said. “We’ve made a few corrections from last week’s output, and we’re excited about the chance we have this week to get our first win in front of our home crowd. We’re also excited about playing in The West End Classic because of its importance to the college and the community.”

Deedee Wright is a Salisbury resident, strong supporter of Livingstone College and a member of West End Community Organization. She’s participated in the past two West End Classics and plans to be at Livingstone on Saturday to root for the Blue Bears. Wright and other WECO members, as well as members of West End Pride, have been helpful in getting the classic off the ground.

“I’m grateful Dr. Jenkins and other Livingstone administrators saw fit to establish a classic commemorating their relationship with area residents,” Wright said. “A lot of people talk about unity, but Dr. Jenkins is putting his money where his mouth is. Through the relationship that’s been established, we’ve planned some initiatives that should enable Livingstone students to get more involved in the community, particularly with respect to tutoring some of our youth. The college and community need to work together to ensure we uplift each other and also to steer students who want to obtain a college education toward Livingstone, which is a good institution. I’m very excited about our partnership and look forward to cheering for the Blue Bears on Saturday.”

The game kicks off at 3 p.m. Next week, the Blue Bears travel to Davidson College for a 7 p.m. game against the Wildcats. Davidson will be a tough opponent, but for now Livingstone is concentrating solely on Edward Waters.

“We’ve learned it’s best to take our season one game at a time and not look ahead,” Williams said. “My coaches and I are trying to keep our student-athletes focused on Edward Waters and the challenges they will present to us on the gridiron.”

Jenkins said he’s confident Williams and his student-athletes are well-prepared for this week’s contest and reiterated his desire to have a strong showing of support from the community.

“We had a very good season on the gridiron last year and hope we’ll have an equally good, if not better, season this year,” Jenkins said. “I’m excited for Livingstone to be hosting its Third Annual West End Classic on Saturday, and I look forward to seeing a lot of fans in the stands to support Coach Williams and our mighty Blue Bears.”