Faith helps coach, players cope

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Whisenhunt

Arizona Cardinals coach and Richmond Academy alum Ken Whisenhunt was forced to deal with the heartbreak of a last-second Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh in February. He will tell you that he's still dealing with it today.

 

The feeling of narrowly missing a chance at a title is something that Augusta State basketball players Daniel Dixon and Garret Siler know all too well. The Jaguars have fallen just shy of a national championship each of the past two seasons, losing in the title game in 2008 and in the national semifinals in March.

So when the three met for the first time prior to the Greater Augusta chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet at Warren Baptist Church on Tuesday, it was a chance for the two Jags to share their experiences and how they dealt with it.

"We both shared stories on what it was like to go to a national championship and we both had similar ideas on how appreciate what we went through," said Siler, who also is a graduate of Richmond Academy.

Whisenhunt expressed his disappointment in failing to win the Lombardi Trophy, but says the experience of going through the playoffs and reaching Tampa was still something worth celebrating.

"We will still benefit from (reaching the Super Bowl) because we did something special with our football team. That's really what it's all about," Whisenhunt said.

Along with the bittersweet memories of a championship loss, Dixon, Siler and Whisenhunt also share in a strong Christian faith.

"I think it's phenomenal that he can take it to this level where as a child or even as our peer we can look up to an individual and see how they're carrying on the title of 'follower of Christ,'" said Dixon, who will be a senior next season.

With the Cardinals wrapping up minicamp recently, Whisenhunt is making his usual charitable rounds. He took part in a Cardinals Charity Celebrity Golf Classic in Arizona on Monday before making the trip back to Augusta for the FCA event.

"My wife, Alice, and I strongly believe in giving back to the communities in your area," Whisenhunt said. "We were raised that if you're in position like we are where you have some success and it helps to generate funds and resources to these charitable causes, to me, that's important."

Reach Joey Jones at (706) 724-0851 or joey.jones@augustachronicle.com.

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