Charlie Daniels Says He Learned Lessons on the Football Field That Served Him His Entire Life

By Terence P. Jeffrey | November 10, 2017 | 12:03 PM EST

( - American music legend Charlie Daniels said in an interview with that he learned lessons playing high school football that have served him his entire life—“not just as a professional musician, but as a person.”

In his newly published memoir—“Never Look at the Empty Seats”—Daniels writes about spending his high school years in Gulf, North Carolina, where he attended nearby Goldston High School.

“Goldston High School was actually an elementary, middle, and high school combined,” Daniels writes in the book. “With all twelve grades under one roof, the student body constituted a little more than three hundred, and, with the rare exception of a few people like me, they went to school together for all twelve years.

“It was small by any standard,” he wrote. “We didn’t have some of the advantages of larger schools, but in my book, the advantages far outweighed the disadvantages.”

In his senior year, when he was playing center on the football team, Goldston upset the larger and favored Pittsboro High School.

That game and the game of football itself made a lasting impression on the young man who eventually would write and record many hits songs and be inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame.

Referencing what he writes in the book about playing high school football, asked Daniels: What is the value and virtue of young men playing football.

“Well, I think the value and virtue is that you have got to demand a lot of yourself, that you become part of a team, that you realize that you don’t do very many things in this world that you can do by yourself without help from somebody else,” said Daniels.

“And that when you do operate as a team and you make it work, that it works out very well, that is very gratifying to give it all you’ve got and go up against a bunch of other kids who have worked as hard as you have, and to go ahead and win, actually winning, actually competition--not feel good prizes or anything that everybody wins, because everybody doesn’t win,” he said.

“There is never a time when everybody wins, unless it’s a government program,” Daniels said. “Everybody has got to work for a living and the more you work the better you learn to exert yourself and to be a responsible person, the better you are going to do.”

Daniels noted that although football was the only sport he played in high school, he believed “that probably other sports, too, would give you that feeling.”

“I think that discouraging competition among young people is a disservice to them because they are going to be in competitive fields all their lives,” said Daniels. “And that early learning, that early feeling of winning, of having to work hard and winning, is worth a lot. So, I think it is a disservice not to encourage competition.” asked Daniels if he learned lessons on the football field at Goldston High School that served him all his life as a musician.

“I do,” said Daniels, “not just as a professional musician but as a person.”

“That one game that I brought up: As I mentioned, a little tiny school playing another slightly larger school that had a bigger pool of talent and that was supposed to win that game, and to be an underdog and to actually, everybody works together, everybody works hard, and you give it everything you’ve got and you come out winning? Of course you learn something,” he said.

“Of course you learn what a thrill it is to win for one thing,” he said. “And then you learn: How did we do that? We did it because we actually worked at it. We practiced hard. We tried to go up there with the best we had and we put the best we had against the best they had and we came out on top. That’s a heck of a feeling.

“I was euphoric all weekend long,” Daniels said. “I took my football jersey home and I wore it around I think all day Saturday after the game on Friday. I was very influenced by that.”

Watch the full interview with Charlie Daniels here:

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