Never Too Late To Learn
by Brian North

Ayden-Grifton High School in Pitt County has a new head football Coach this year. But Paul Cornwell's story to the top of the Chargers program is not your normal success story. It is a lesson about not giving up.

Cornwell played football at A-G and graduated in 1987. He took a few community college classes, but was never really into the next level of education. Cornwell found a pretty good job with the Red Cross, and the hours allowed him to stick around football. He became an assistant coach at North Pitt High School.

But then the Red Cross down sized, and Paul was out of a job. He did what ever he could to make ends meet. He sold cars, he did computer technical support, he did landscaping, he sold insurance,

Then at age 31, Cornwell woke up one morning and it was clear as the nose on his face. He wanted to be a teacher and football coach. So Paul quit work and went to school full time. He attended East Carolina and shared classes with students more than 10 years younger than him. But the dream kept him going, and despite some struggles, Cornwell graduated from ECU with a teaching degree. He became the first member of his immediate family to graduate from college.

Then things fell into place. A job came open at his alma mater. He became an assistant coach to B.T. Chappell at Ayden-Grifton. Then when B.T. retired, Paul interviewed for the job, and he was chosen to take over the Chargers program. At his introductory press conference, Cornwell had to fight back the emotions. He had taken a chance in midlife when most people are settling into their ways, and the gamble paid off.

Paul Cornwell, ECU grad, shows us it's never too late to learn. And dreams, no matter how big or small, can come true if you really believe and put forth the effort. Ayden-Grifton will open the Paul Cornwell era this Friday night at Pamlico, and there will be no one with a bigger smile on their face at kickoff.

Brian North