Named after the late longtime educator and coach in the Luxora school system, the recreation center was the site for a full day of activities for Mississippi County children and for a successful native Arkansan to return to Northeast Arkansas and visit with friends.
"I'm just so happy to be back home and come back to Mississippi County and come back to a community that my father was such a big part of," said Strong. "He was a coach and educator here ... It's such a special day."
Making the day even more special for Strong was the county proclamation that Friday, July 12, 2013 be "Charles Strong Day."
"It's just so special that I could have a mentor like that. Someone that you can follow and continue in his legacy."
Strong touched on his own recent success -- namely Louisville's victory in the 2013 Sugar Bowl. In his third year, Strong and his young squad exceeded many experts' expectations with a huge win over No. 3 Florida.
|"What the Sugar Bowl did for us is it raised the expectation level at the university. No one really gave us a chance. No one ever thought that we were going to win that football game. Then we had the national stage and that night we had the national spotlight."||While the Cardinals may have exceeded expectations in the 2012 season, he said the 2013 season is about having even higher expectations.|
"The only thing that's happened since we won the Sugar Bowl has been the excitement and the enthusiasm in the community," he said. "And now that you have a winning football team, you have a lot of expectations."
He spoke about his team possibly having a target on their backs after the big post season win. Strong said the philosophy will remain the same.
"You always want to feel like you're still the hunter," he said. "Sometimes people will say you have that target on your back but we want to make sure that we stay focused on what we want to get accomplished and know what our goals are. As long as we continue to work and have that passion and energy, we should be able to be a team that will move this program forward."
Mississippi County has had a number of talented athletes who have had success at the college level and even on to the pros. This year alone has seen former Osceola All-state football player, Korliss Marshall, head to Division I University of Arkansas and former Rivercrest Colt, Cortez Kennedy, inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame. Strong said, from a recruiting standpoint, it may be tempting to just head to the larger metropolitan areas but athletes in smaller communities can have some intangibles not usually seen in the big cities.
"A lot of times people think that large communities are the ones that create great players but you can go just right down the street to a small town and there's some really great players there. It's all about evaluation and when you do recruit, it's all about their character and who they are. A lot of times when you get them out of the small communities, they've been raised the right way. They understand and their values are so strong."
Even with all of his own success on the national stage, Strong always reverts back to the success his father had in the little town of Luxora and the impact his life had on Mississippi County and beyond.
"He was an important part of this community," he said. "It's so good when you come back to the community and you share the stories with a lot of people and what they have to say about him. It just makes you so proud."