PASCAGOULA - Keith Crawford's athletic career at Pascagoula High School was full of accomplishments, but coach Chad Coleman and members of the Pascagoula Athletic Foundation believed he deserved one last reward.
Crawford was awarded a championship ring this week to honor his Class 5A state title in power-lifting, his second in as many years.
"You could see it in his face when he got it," Coleman said. "He's always smiling and always in a good mood, but to see his face, you could tell he was real proud of it. It was a big feat."
In the 308-plus-pound category, Crawford lifted 1,610 pounds in April to win his weight class for a second straight year.
Crawford flashed a wide grin as he showed off his new ring Thursday.
"It feels awesome," he said. "I'm on top of the world right now."
Crawford will attend Delta State on a football scholarship starting in August after becoming one of the top offensive linemen on the Coast for the Panthers the last two years.
Coleman, who coaches power-lifting and serves as the defensive coordinator for the football team, called members of the foundation and asked if there was a way they could help purchase a ring for Crawford before he leaves for Delta State.
"Weight-lifting doesn't have a booster club and of course a school can't buy rings," said Lance McCarty, a local construction executive and foundation member. "Keith has done a great job for last two years winning a state championship.
"Coach Coleman knew the foundation and has been a part of it since the start. He contacted us and asked 'Can we get Keith a ring?' Of course we can. That's what it's about. A lot of people see the foundation as strictly football. It's not just football. The guidelines are set up for where we can help the high school, middle school, the girls tennis team all the way to track. It's a good opportunity to show we can help these kids."
Joe Davis, a long-time trainer for Pascagoula and a member of the foundation, believes there is much more the foundation can do in the future.
"I think the minor sports benefit the most from what we're trying to do because they don't have the overall financial support of baseball and football," Davis said. "Where the foundation can step in and help out is in situations like this."
As for Crawford, he hopes the ring is first of many.
"I plan on putting it up and trying to go get me some more," he said Thursday.
Crawford expects to either play guard or see time time as a blocking back in his freshman season with the Statesmen.
"I'm going to miss the Coast, but I've got to go out there and get my education and make a name for myself," he said.
As for replacing Crawford in football and power-lifting, that will be a challenge for Coleman and the rest of the football coaches.
"He's been awesome," Coleman said. "You never hear him complain about anything. You ask him to get in and do something, he'll do it and say yes sir, no sir. He does a great job."