'I am trying to lead the same way they led'
By By Matthew Nascone
A role model can be many things to a person. It can be a person to follow and admire, it can be a person to look up to and most importantly it can be a person to pattern one's life around.
Lawrence Marshall said he has had many role models in the sporting world. And not one of the men mentioned are nationally known. They are all good ol' fashioned Atmore citizens.
"I looked up to these guys when I was growing up and now I am trying to lead the same way they led me," Marshall said.
That leadership from Weldon Vickrey, Charlie Wicker, David Smith, Ladon Stafford, Larry Davis, Doodle McDonald, Butch Black, Cornell Torrence, Bob Zorm and Melvin Middleton helped Marshall lead the Atmore Rotary Club Mustangs of the Atmore Fast Pitch Softball League 13-16 year olds division this year.
"They have all been like father figures to me and that was great to have when I was growing up," he said. "These guys were a big part of my life and they always will be. And I have tried to pattern my style of coaching around theirs. And that is to be laid back, but know when to jump in and say something."
Torrence was Marshall's basketball coach in high school, Zorm was his ninth-grade football coach and Middleton was his varsity football coach. The rest of his role models were coaches on the many teams he was on in youth league baseball as a child.
Marshall said he took a bit from each of his previous coaches and made that his coaching style for Babe Ruth softball.
"I might not always express myself on the field, but I have a passion for the game and there is no substitute for heart out there," Marshall said. "You have to want to succeed or you will not do so."
Marshall's 14-year-old daughter, Michaela Norman, is the pitcher for the Mustangs and Marshall said she is the reason he began coaching.
"I have been coaching Michaela since she was seven years old," he said. "And it is a great way to do something with her and be with her outside the house."
The memories from his days as a little leaguer are special to Marshall.
"I played for many years and had a lot of great memories along the way," he said. "And those memories are something that I will never forget."
Marshall is a 1992 graduate of Escambia County High School. He was a three-year letterman quarterback for the football team and a four-year starter on the basketball team. He was part of the last team to win the area tournament for ECHS before the 2005-06 Blue Devils accomplished the feat.
He works at Smurfit-Stone in Brewton in the shipping department as a forklift operator. He has worked at Smurfit for five years and worked for Masland Carpets from 1997-2001 and as a dispatcher for the Atmore Police Department after graduation in 1993-97.
Having success in athletics is a good thing, but Marshall said his most memorable event in his life was the day he tied the knot with his wife of nine years, LaShonda Marshall.
"That was the best day of my life and definitely the most memorable," he said. "I believe I was reborn that day. We make a great combination because she is the militant type of leader and I am laid back, so it is a perfect union. And she is always there for me when I need her the most."
As far as accomplishments go, Marshall said the facet of life he is most proud of is being alive and striving to be the best husband and father to his family.
"I just want to be an all-around good person," he said.
The desire to be a good person has led Marshall to help out in the community whenever he can.
"I try to give back to the community by coaching these girls and being a positive influence on them," Marshall said. "I try to be a role model for the children of the community by being myself and talking to them. A lot of adults don't understand that kids are watching them all the time and I just try to be there for them when they need me."