Published On: Fri, Apr 26th, 2019

ON THE SIDELINES: Support honorary EBCI membership for Will Poolaw

A resolution has been submitted to Tribal Council to grant honorary membership in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to Will Poolaw, left, who is shown being congratulated by Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, second from right, during the Cherokee Braves State Championship Ring Ceremony at Ray Kinsland Stadium on May 4, 2018. Also pictured are Isaac Long, Wolftown School Board representative, second from left; and Dr. Debora Foerst, Cherokee High School principal. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)





I just read something in the Tribal Council agenda for Thursday, May 2 that made my day – it’s not often that anyone can say that.  A resolution has been submitted by Francine Watty to grant honorary membership in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to the biggest Cherokee Braves and Lady Braves fan on the planet – Will Poolaw.

Four years ago, I started this On the Sidelines sports column, and Will was the subject of my very first column.  He was actually the person I had in mind when I comprised the idea to start the column.  His love for sports, and especially Cherokee High School sports, is unparalleled by anyone that I know.

Watty’s resolution states that Will came to live with John and Henrietta Gloyne after his grandmother passed away, “…at the time, it was unknown to anyone that he would blossom into the number one Cherokee Braves fan in the nation, and his obsession and love for his beloved Braves is known throughout his family, this Tribe, and across the map, even in Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Florida.  His dedication to the Cherokee Braves is unlike any other…”

Will was awarded the Frell Owl Award in December 2015 for his contributions to the community and youth.  During the award ceremony that morning, Henrietta Gloyne, Will’s aunt, read a statement from the family that stated, “We, as a family, have learned a great deal over the years from William.  He reminds us on a daily basis the true meaning of thoughtfulness and love.  He knows our likes, our dislikes, our teams, our team’s scores, team rosters, and much more.  There is not a day that goes by that someone in the family does not receive a phone call or text asking how their day is…”

During that same award ceremony, Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, then serving as Vice Chief, told Will, “I think the thing I appreciate the most about you is your passion.  You’re so passionate about the Braves.  You’re passionate about what you do.  You mean so much to us and this community, and I just want to say thank you for all that you do for our community and for our teams.”

And, I can attest to all of that and more.  As I’ve written before, there isn’t a time that Will doesn’t ask me about my beloved Packers.  Will loves talking about sports, and he knows sports inside and out front ways and back ways.

Following the Braves historic win in the 2017 1A football state championship game, I would have been remiss if I didn’t interview Will.  On that snowy day, he could hardly contain his excitement but, in true form, thanked the team’s supporters, “This one is for Mr. (Ray) Kinsland for all he does for us and our coaches.  Thanks to all of the fans who came to Raleigh from Cherokee.”

Will does what he does because he loves it and he loves this community and this Tribe.  He doesn’t do it for plaques, to be mentioned in a sports column, or to receive an honorary membership in the Tribe.  And, that is the main reason why he deserves all of those, especially the last one, so much.

Watty’s resolution ends fittingly by stating, “Will has a heart of gold and loves everyone he comes in contact with.  Not only is he devoted to his family, but he is devoted to his community.  His warm welcome and genuine concern about everyone will truly melt your heart.”

I’ve covered Tribal Council for over two decades and I’ve never been so sure a vote was going to be unanimously yes in all of those years.  Will, you truly inspire.