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Here's hoping Beaufort coach makes most of 2nd chance

Five "games" over a nine-day span, three of which are preseason scrimmages.

That's what Beaufort High School baseball coach Brook Dixon will miss as a result of being found guilty Tuesday of driving under the influence in August 2009.

Dixon is a lucky man.

He's lucky he didn't kill himself or someone else, and he's lucky he still has a job.

"We're not in the business of destroying people," Beaufort High principal Dan Durbin told The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet on Thursday. "We're in the business of helping them get back on their feet and do the right thing."

That's a noble stance -- though Dixon's actions, not Durbin's, would have been responsible for the destruction -- and Durbin's philosophy certainly has served him well in the past. He hired Eagles football coach Mark Clifford two years after he pleaded guilty to receiving stolen goods for his involvement in a Sumter School District 17 embezzlement case, and Clifford has proven to be an excellent coach and an asset to the school.

Durbin and the district better hope this situation also has a happy ending.

My experience with Dixon has been limited to covering his baseball team, and I've always found him to be a nice guy and a good coach. People who know him far better than I do consider him a good man and a good role model.

But his reputation as the latter, at least, takes a hit, considering he was charged with DUI twice in a 16-month span. Dixon was found not guilty on the 2008 charge in a bench trial, but he admitted at the time of the arrest that he had been drinking, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office incident report.

I'm in no position to throw stones when it comes to stupidity involving alcohol. Like Dixon, I'm one of the fortunate souls who were lucky enough to avoid harming myself or others after getting behind the wheel after drinking. I made that idiotic decision more times than I can count, and I'm ashamed.

I never spent so much as a night in jail -- though I did make a shameful ride down the main drag of my hometown in the back seat of a police cruiser one Friday night, and I sat at the station until my furious grandmother came to drag me home.

It took far too many missteps before I finally figured it out -- I haven't had a drink in more than 11 years, and I don't intend to have another one as long as I live -- but I was not in a position to be a role model to high school students, either.

Durbin said he hopes Dixon and his players learn "a really hard lesson" that one mistake can wash away all the good things a person has accomplished, but Dixon's light punishment doesn't seem to send that message at all.

I believe in second chances. Without second, third and fourth chances from many people in my life when I faced my own alcohol-related issues as a young man, who knows where I would be. It certainly wouldn't be here.

But I also believe in suffering the consequences of one's actions, and I've found most people need to endure such consequences before they can make lasting change in their lives.

Perhaps Dixon's punishment will be enough to affect that change.

For his players' sake and his own, I sincerely hope it is.

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