Everson Walls knows teamwork. More specifically, he knows the difference between a bad team and a good team. As a cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, his team won only one game during the 1989 season, losing 15. The next year, he turned around and won the Super Bowl as a member of the New York Giants.

Everson Walls knows teamwork. More specifically, he knows the difference between a bad team and a good team. As a cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, his team won only one game during the 1989 season, losing 15. The next year, he turned around and won the Super Bowl as a member of the New York Giants.


So while there was much talk of teamwork at the Sherman Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards luncheon Friday, Walls’ words wielded weight. After delivering a verbose, impassioned keynote speech to the group of 200 recounting his professional career and post-football organ donation to a friend, Walls was asked what makes a good team.


"First of all, it’s got to be sacrifice, there’s no doubt about it. You have to sacrifice your time," said Walls, who spent more than 45 minutes signing autographs after the event. "If you know that you can do something better for your organization or for your community, and it may not go along with the status quo, than don’t be afraid to speak out."


It’s a double-barreled approach — sacrifice and a call to action — that Sherman’s community leaders have embraced. Lauren Roth, the Chamber’s event coordinator, said it’s a focus that begins at the top.


"I think we’re starting to have a lot more involvement from different groups — usually we have a core group of members that come to everything … but this year it seems like we’ve had a bigger variety and more of our members have gotten involved," said Roth. "One of the things that I think is causing that is our mayor has really tried to unite (Sherman Economic Development Corporation), the Chamber, and the city. Even when we’re not sponsoring events together, we all know what each other’s doing and we can promote things as we do them."


Sherman Mayor Cary Wacker confirmed that she has tried to make unity a focus of her first two years in office.


"It has been intentional, to get everyone working together, thinking as a team, because we have such great people working here anyway," said Wacker. "For Sherman to continue as a leader in the region and to keep moving forward, it takes everybody moving toward a common vision. We’re (trying) to give people that opportunity to have a voice and to become stakeholders in Sherman’s future. For the next year, that’s where we’re really focused."


That focus on community involvement was reflected in the three recipients of the Chamber’s yearly awards, which were handed out during Friday’s luncheon. The honors for Large Business of the Year went to TAPS, Small Business of the Year to Paramax, and Community Leader of the Year to Asa Jessee.


Bruce Maxwell, president and owner of promotional material manufacture Paramax, said it’s that "team first" mentality that guides his day-to-day decisions.


"It’s not just looking after my own needs, but looking after the community and being a part of the community — not just going about business to make money," said Maxwell. "It’s being an active member in the church, in the Chamber, in the schools, and so on, but also just being a part of making Sherman a better place."


Brad Underwood, who has aggressively expanded routes in Grayson County as executive director of TAPS, shared similar sentiments regarding his organization’s recognition.


"We don’t really ‘work’ at TAPS, we ‘serve’ at TAPS. We serve our riders, we serve one another, and we serve the community. We’re out there in the community every day, beating the street, trying to make a difference and help people get where they need to go. It’s just putting out the goodwill to the community."


Jessee was recognized for his work with the Sherman Chamber’s ambassador program, which deploys successful business owners as liaisons to entrepreneurs looking to hang a shingle.


"Sherman means a lot to me," said Jessee. "I feel it’s very important that people that work and benefit from the community maybe give back to the community."


It’s an attitude of self-sacrifice that Everson Walls could appreciate. Closing his remarks Friday afternoon — his still-imposing frame belied ever so slightly by a head of gray hair — Walls ended the story of his decision to donate a kidney to his best friend with a call to action for those in attendance.


"If someone needs your help — you guys in Sherman, y’all know what this is all about — please do not hesitate to lend a hand. Even if you can just offer advice, that (attitude) is what changed my life."