Hightower ensures his coaches know they’re part of athletics honor
Picking Stillman College was a no-brainer for Chester Hightower, and he’s never once questioned that choice.
“The summer of 2007, I had about two days to report to Valdosta State. (My uncle) gave me the phone call: hey I got you in,” Hightower said. “Mom rented a van. (We) packed up everything and loaded it in the van. Instead of going 45 minutes to Valdosta, we end up traveling six hours to Tuscaloosa.”
In 2007, Stillman College offered football and track. Valdosta State only had football. That made all the difference for Hightower.
“I think track and field can teach you life lessons,” Hightower said. “Track workouts are going to be tough, it’s going to be hard — and so is life.”
Fifteen years later, Hightower still believes in the power of track. He’s a high school track coach and an assistant football coach at a school in southwest Georgia where he’s hoping he can be a positive influence just like his coaches were at Stillman.
When Hightower learned he would be part of the first class inducted into the Stillman College Athletics Hall of Fame, he was just in time to share the news with his college track coach, Kevin Bell, who died in January.
“Just to have that connection and to know he was part of my journey,” Hightower said. “Just being able to tell him, ‘hey, you started me off on this path and this is where it ended.’ Just having that joy and just having him being blessed to have him be a part of my journey.”
Hightower is one of three student-athletes who were inducted into the hall of fame. The others are Jeffrey Henderson (track, 2012) and Jamila McKinnis-Riley (volleyball and women’s basketball, 2014).
Three coaches inducted include Richard Cosby (baseball, cross country), William Riley (tennis) and Donny Crawford (baseball).