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Jeremiah Castille, left, speaks with Cullman High School Principal Kim Hall and Cullman County Schools’ T.J. Franey at Tuesday night’s 2017-18 Leadership Cullman County graduation at Terri Pines Country Club. (W.C. Mann for The Tribune)

CULLMAN – The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the graduation of its 2017-2018 Leadership Cullman County class Tuesday night at Terri Pines Country Club.

Former Alabama Crimson Tide football great Jeremiah Castille was the keynote speaker for the event. Castille played for the University of Alabama from 1979–1982 on the last team of famed coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Castile spoke on the importance of character and good leadership, key components of the Chamber’s program.

Castille said he learned from Bryant the qualities of a good leader and good leadership. “Great leadership knows about commitment… great leadership commits,” he said. He told the graduates about the importance of dedicating oneself to an individual because one never knows what someone may accomplish with a leader’s commitment to his or her success.

“It’s the little things that matter,” said Castille, who said a leader must not only be committed on a grand scale, such as a football coach to the success of a player on the field, but also on a more personal level, such as to a person’s individual needs.  He recalled Bryant telling him, “My door is always open.”

The ability to adapt to change was another quality Castille noted as part of being a good leader. Said Castile, “Change is inevitable. Great leaders learn to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”

2017-2018 Leadership Cullman County graduates:

  1. Dusty Baker: Cullman County Commission on Aging

  2. Keith Blackwood: Cullman Jefferson Gas

  3. Kristi Barnett: Wallace State Community College

  4. Bonnie Baty: Cullman Electric Cooperative

  5. Jessie Eidson: Culpepper Real Estate

  6. Meg Glover: Cullman Chick-fil-A

  7. Becky Goff: United Way of Cullman County

  8. Benny Guthrie: Fairview High School

  9. Kim Hall: Cullman High School

  10. Stanley Kennedy: Cullman Economic Development Agency

  11. Katie McClendon: American Proteins

  12. Katherine Morgan: Katherine Morgan State Farm Insurance

  13. Brian Poole: Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce

  14. Daniel Powell: T&S Perfection Chain Products

  15. Tanya Sears: Cullman County Economic Development

  16. Wesley Smith: Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce

  17. Tim Varano: REHAU

The Chamber presented Castille with a $500 donation to the Jeremiah Castille Foundation which aims to “provide a Christian environment to challenge inner-city youth to excel, provide positive role models in their communities, disciple youth and develop Godly individuals.”

For more information about the foundation, visit

More with Jeremiah Castille

Jeremiah Castille didn’t just play for Alabama; he played for the Bear.  He was on the last team Paul “Bear” Bryant coached, for the last four years of his career, and was the MVP of Bryant’s last game.  In the end, he paid the Bear one last honor by serving as one of the coach’s pallbearers.

What was it like to be on Coach Bryant’s team?

“Well, I tell people it was a great experience, an experience that helped shape my destiny: what I do today, what I did, my success in the NFL, my thought process, how I raise my family, ministry today.  I was sitting there talking with someone today about how Coach Bryant would have us meet after practice: meet handicapped people, terminally ill people. He’d say, ‘Men, I want y’all to go over there and sign them autographs.’

“And he was teaching us to give back.  And with what we do today in our foundation, you’re giving back.  That, to me, is one of the greatest things we can teach young people.  You might not think much of that, but when you’re 18 and you’re playing in a major (game), the last thing you want to do is go over there and do autographs.  I want to go to that locker room and get out of this old wet, stinky stuff. But I thank God that he had enough insight to know about the little things that would teach us to give back.”

Castille will be hosting his annual Castille Character Camp at Cullman High School on June 9. For more information or to register, visit

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