Jasper, Ga — Looking to bounce back after a tough loss in the final seconds to the Heritage Generals on Tuesday, the Pickens Dragons hosted the Ridgeland Panthers inside the Dragons Den for another 7-AAAA showdown on Friday December, 11th. The Dragons came into the game 2-2 overall and 0-1 in region play. The Panthers came in 1-3 overall and 0-2 in region play. After a back and forth battle, the Dragons came away with a 67-53 win.
Both teams traded buckets for the majority of the first quarter. Pickens opened up a 16-7 to lead at one point the quarter. Going to the second quarter, the Dragons held an 18-10 advantage over Ridgeland.
In the second quarter, the Dragons were able to open things up a bit offensively, extending the lead over the Panthers to 17 at one point. Going into the break, Pickens lead Ridgeland 41-25.
The third quarter was pretty even as far as scoring goes. Both the Dragons and the Panthers added 16 points each in the third. While Ridgeland cut the Pickens lead to 9 for a bit, the Dragons were able to extend it by quarters end and take a 57-41 lead over the Panthers going to the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, the Dragons built up their lead to 20 points on two different occasions. Pickens, closed this one out and picked up their first region win of the season, 67-53.
Dragons leading scorers:
Tucker Lowe: 19 points
Noah Sutton: 15 points
Owen Moss: 10 points
Luke Rogers: 6 points
Kadyn Hampton: 6 points
Jasper, Ga — The PHS Dragonettes hosted the Ridgeland Lady Panthers on Friday, December 11th in another 7-AAAA meeting. With the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the season, this night was deemed Senior Night that way the players from the Nettes and Dragons, as well as the cheer and dance teams could be recognized. The Nettes, came into the game after a big region win over the Heritage Lady Generals on Tuesday, and looked to improve their region record to 3-0 and the their overall record to 4-2. Ridgeland, came in 1-3 overall, and 0-2 in region play.
The first quarter started off slow for both teams. Plenty of shots were going up, just none would fall for either side. Reagan Harwood got the scoring started for the Nettes as she was able to connect on a layup attempt. Amanda Nelson then followed with a couple of free throws. Towards the end of the quarter Pickens saw shots start falling more consistently. Harwood got another bucket, Emma Gleason and Cassidy Richards hit back to back three pointers, and Nelson made a bucket to give the Nettes a 15-0 lead over the Lady Panthers after the first quarter.
To begin the second quarter, the Nettes went on a 16-0 run. The Lady Panthers would end their string of bad luck with a three pointer, and a jump shot. The offense was on fire for Pickens in the second quarter scoring 35 points. Senior Kealy Hillhouse lead the way with several three pointers during the quarter. Heading into halftime, the Nettes held a 50-5 lead over Ridgeland.
In the third quarter, the Nettes got multiple players involved in the scoring as they continued to lead the Lady Panthers going to the fourth, 65-7.
In the fourth quarter, the Nettes closed things out and picked up their third straight win overall and in the region with a 78-7 win over the Ridgeland Lady Panthers.
Nettes scoring leaders:
Kealy Hillhouse: 19 points
Amanda Nelson: 14 points
Reagan Harwood: 10 points
Cassidy Richards: 9 points
Emma Gleason: 9 points
7-AAAA Girls Basketball Standings:
Pickens: 4-2 (3-0)
Cedartown: 2-0 (1-0)
Northwest Whitfield: 1-2 (1-0)
Heritage: 4-3 (2-1)
Central-Carroll: 3-4 (1-1)
Ridgeland: 1-4 (0-3)
Southeast Whitfield: 0-5 (0-3)
Jasper, Ga — On December 8th, the Pickens Dragons welcomed the Heritage Generals to the Dragons Den for a 7-AAAA battle. Pickens, came into the game 2-1 overall after beating Copper Basin and Fannin in the annual Thanksgiving Tournament. The Dragons were supposed to take on the Lions of Central Carroll last Friday, but Covid issues on Central’s part moved that game to the 14th. This would be the Dragons first game in a week. Heritage, came in 2-4 overall, but already 2-0 in region play. This one, came down to the wire.
The first quarter started off very slow for both teams as there were as many fouls as points in the beginning. Both the Generals and Dragons took turns with the lead a couple of times. After a free throw from Heritage, the Generals took a 14-13 lead over Pickens going to the second quarter.
After exchanging free throws in the early portion of the second quarter, the Dragons opened up a 6 point lead with two straight three pointers from Will Roland to go up 21-15. To close out the first half, the Generals went on a 14-4 run to take a 29-25 lead into the break.
In the third quarter, the Dragons went on a 5-0 run to tie things up with the Generals at 30 a piece. Heritage would take a 6 point lead, Pickens cut it to 2 at one point, but as the third quarter came to a close, the Generals took a 46-41 lead over the Dragons going to the fourth.
In the fourth, the Dragons were on the comeback trail. Trailing by 5, Tucker Lowe hit a three pointer, and went one for two at the free throw line to cut the Heritage lead down to 46-45. The Generals then went on a small 4-0 run to make it 50-45. Owen Moss came back with a layup, Lowe hit a three to tie it, and Jaden Stewart, who had bad luck all game long, got a three pointer to fall to make it 53-50 Pickens. Heritage came back with another 4-0 run to make it 54-53 Generals. Luke Rogers then gave Pickens the lead back with a layup to make it 55-54. After a pair of fouls by the Generals, Lowe headed to the free throw line. He would make 1 of 2 to extend the Dragons lead to 56-54. After a Heritage timeout, they were able to hit a three pointer to take a 57-56 lead. A last second attempt at half court by Pickens fell short, and the Generals came away with the win.
Top scorers for the Dragons:
Owen Moss: 17 points
Tucker Lowe: 12 points
Noah Sutton: 11 points
Will Roland: 6 points
Luke Rogers: 4 points
Jaden Stewart: 4 points
7-AAAA Boys Standings:
Heritage: 3-4 (3-0)
NW Whitfield: 2-2 (1-0)
Cedartown: 1-2 (1-0)
Central-Carroll: 1-1 (0-0)
Pickens: 2-2 (0-1)
Ridgeland: 1-3 (0-1)
SE Whitfield: 1-4 (0-1)
Pickens, will be back home on Friday night as they host the Ridgeland Panthers for another 7-AAAA game. It will be Senior Night on Friday for the Dragons who will recognize 7 seniors. Tip off is set for 8:30.
Jasper, Ga — The Pickens Dragonettes welcomed the Heritage Lady Generals to the Dragons Den on Tuesday, December 8th for an early 7-AAAA region showdown. The Lady Generals came into the game 4-2 overall and 2-0 in region play. The Nettes, came in 2-2 overall and 1-0 in region play after going to Central Carroll on last Friday and defeating the Lady Lions 73-45.
The first quarter saw a back and forth start between the two squads as both were making shots early. Late in the quarter, the Nettes were able to pull in front 14-9 heading into the second quarter.
The second quarter started with the Nettes going on a 13-0 run to jump out to a 27-9 advantage. Pickens gave up only 4 points in the frame as they held a 33-13 lead over the Lady Generals as we hit halftime.
The third quarter began with a 9-0 run by the Nettes to make it 42-13 early on in the frame. Pickens outscored Heritage in the quarter, 28-9 to make it 61-22 going to the fourth.
In a shortened fourth quarter, the Nettes were able to cap off a big night and get their 2nd big region win in a row defeating Heritage, 73-27.
7-AAAA Girls Basketball Standings:
*these are from MaxPreps
Pickens: 3-2 (2-0)
Cedartown: 2-0 (1-0)
NW Whitfield: 1-2 (1-0)
Heritage: 4-3 (2-1)
Central-Carroll: 2-4 (0-1)
Ridgeland: 1-3 (0-1)
SE Whitfield: 0-4 (0-1)
Kealy Hillhouse: 15 points
Marlee McClure: 10 points
Amanda Nelson: 9 points
Carmyn Mullins: 8 points
Cassidy Richards: 8 points
Isabella Howell: 6 points
Reagan Harwood: 5 points
Caroline Mullins: 5 points
The Nettes, will be back at home on Friday as they host the Lady Panthers of Ridgeland in another 7-AAAA region clash. With how unpredictable this year has been and this season will be, Friday will be Senior Night for the Nettes. Tip off will be a 7 pm.
Jasper, Ga — The Pickens Dragons hosted the Heritage Generals on Friday the 13th in a big time 7-AAAA game. It was also Senior Night at Dragons Stadium as football players, football managers, cheerleaders, cross country runners, and band members were all recognized. The games with Heritage have been historically close and exciting ones over the past couple of seasons. The winner, would find themselves in 2nd place in the region. The Generals, were able to make some plays defensively and chew up the clock to come away with a 23-7 win.
The Dragons won the opening coin toss and elected to receive. Much like last week against Ridgeland, Pickens came out in their “wild Dragon” formation. Their take on the wildcat. The combination of Jarod Whitmore, Andrew Burrell, and Kadyn Hampton helped march down the field. With freshman Sam Streicher now under center, the Dragons converted a 4th down play as Streicher found Mykel Hand for the first. The drive was capped off by Devin Hand, who took the hand off on a sweep 11-yds for the touchdown. The PAT was good, and Pickens led Heritage 7-0 as we would head to the second quarter.
In the second quarter, both teams had their chances, but for the majority of the quarter the score remained 7-0 Dragons. The final seventy-one seconds of the first half is where things started to happen. The Generals got on the board for the first time with a 3-yd touchdown run to tie it at 7-7 with 1:11 left in the half. On the first play of the next possession for Pickens, Heritage recovered a fumble after a nice run from the Dragons. With 8 seconds left in the first half, Heritage turned that fumble into points with a 6-yd touchdown pass. Going into the break, the Generals led, 14-7.
In the third quarter, Heritage got the ball first to start the second half. The drive ended when Senior Mykel Hand made a leaping grab for the interception at the Dragons 9-yd line. The ensuing drive for Pickens stalled and they would be forced to punt. A high snap forced Whitmore to throw the ball away as he was being pulled down in the end zone. The officials ruled it intentional grounding and since it occurred in the end zone, it was ruled a safety. With 6:39 to go in the third, the Generals now led the Dragons, 16-7. Heritage ran down 5:39 of game clock on their next possession as they were able to score on a 1-yd run on fourth down to make it 23-7 going to the fourth quarter.
The Dragons began the fourth quarter with the football, but couldn’t get anything going on the drive. After punting it away to the Generals, Heritage kept possession of the ball for what seemed like close to 10 minutes of game time. The Generals would eventually settle for a 36-yd field goal attempt, but it was pushed wide right and no good. On the next play, Heritage picked off a Pickens pass attempt and were able to take a couple of knees to close this one out. Final score, Heritage 23 Dragons 7.
Cedartown: 6-2 (4-0) 7-AAAA Region Champions
Heritage: 5-4 (2-2)
Central-Carroll: 5-3 (1-2)
Northwest Whitfield: 6-2 (1-2)
Pickens: 3-5 (1-2)
Ridgeland: 1-7 (1-2)
*(these may not be entirely accurate as maxpreps has the whole region screwed up and with covid cancellations things are pretty complicated. I’ve been trying to keep up with it myself. Apologies if these records are not all right)
Next week, the Dragons will be right back home for the third straight week to close out the regular season as they welcome the Northwest Whitfield Bruins to Dragons Stadium. Playoff implications will most likely be at stake in this game. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm.
Jasper, Ga — After the Dragonettes defeated the Lady Panthers in the opener, it was the Dragons turn to take the floor against the Panthers. Much like their counterparts, both of these teams made the playoffs last season. After a slow start, the Dragons picked things up and came away with a 68-37 win over Union.
The first quarter, was slow moving for both teams. The Dragons led 4-0 for the longest time before the Panthers got on the board. Heading to the second quarter, Pickens held an 8-3 lead over Union.
In the second quarter, the Dragons offense found their flow and extended their lead. Using a 24-9 quarter run, Pickens took a 32-12 lead over Union going to the break. Leading the Dragons in scoring at the half was Senior Tucker Lowe with 8 points.
In the third quarter, the Dragons offense struggled a bit as the Panthers tried clawing back into the game. Union outscored Pickens 17-14 in the third as the Dragons took a 46-29 lead into the fourth.
The Dragons, finished the ball game strong as they outscored the Panthers 22-8. The final in this one, Pickens 68 Union County 37.
Leading scorers for Union County:
Lake Hughes: 12 points:
Eli Underwood: 7 points
Leading scorers for Pickens:
Tucker Lowe: 19 points
Owen Moss: 11 points
Noah Sutton: 11 points
Jasper, Ga — The Pickens Dragonettes tipped off their season on Thursday night as they welcomed the Union County Lady Panthers to the Dragons Den for a preseason tilt. Both the Nettes and the Lady Panthers were coming off of playoff appearances last season. Pickens, using a style of play they like to call “the system”, were able to come away with an impressive 79-67 win over Union County.
One of the newer rules laid out by the GHSA for this basketball season is no opening jump ball. The away team will get the opening possession of the game. In what was a high scoring first quarter, the Nettes jumped out in front of the Lady Panthers, 23-16.
In the second quarter, Pickens extended it’s lead over Union with a 20-13 quarter advantage to take a 43-29 lead into the break. Leading the way for the Nettes at the break was Cassidy Richards with 8 points.
Both offenses came alive in the the third quarter as a combined 48 points were scored between the two teams. The Nettes, outscored the Lady Panthers 25-23 in the third to extend their lead to 68-52 going to the fourth.
In the fourth and final quarter, Union County would outscore Pickens 15-11, but the Nettes would come away with the win, 79-67.
Leading the way for Union County:
Ellie Cook: 24 points
Ava Hunter: 23 points
Leading the way for Pickens:
Caroline Mullins: 12 points
Carmyn Mullins: 11 points
Cassidy Richards: 9 points
Madison Powell: 9 points
Jasper, Ga — It was a rare Saturday night football game as the Pickens Dragons welcomed the Ridgeland Panthers to Dragons Stadium. It was the first game for the Dragons since playing at Cedartown on October 16th. Coming into the game, Pickens was 2-4 overall and 0-1 in region play. The Ridgeland Panthers, came in with an overall record of 1-6, but tied for second place in 7-AAAA at 1-1. Traditionally, the games between Pickens and Ridgeland have been very exciting and very competitive. This one, was no different. Overcoming not having played in twenty-two days and missing some players, the Dragons came away with a 27-18 win.
Pickens, as they have for the majority of the season, won the coin toss and elected to receive. The Dragons, came out in their version of the wildcat offense to begin their opening drive with Senior running back Jarod Whitmore taking the snaps at the QB position. The opening drive ended in points for Pickens as Whitmore ran it in from 5-yds out to give the Dragons an early 7-0 lead. The defense for the Dragons did a good job in the opening quarter against what can be an explosive Panther offense. Going to the second quarter, Pickens led Ridgeland 7-0.
In the second quarter, both teams, especially the Dragons, had chances for points, but just couldn’t connect. At the 6:40 mark of the second quarter, the Panthers broke through with a 5-yd TD run. The PAT was no good and Pickens kept the lead, 7-6. The Dragons had another good chance just before the half, but we would head into the break with Pickens ahead of Ridgeland, 7-6.
The Panthers, got the ball first to start the second half and turned their first possession into points after a 50-yd TD run. the two-point conversion attempt was no good. With 10:33 left in the third, Ridgeland took the lead for the first time, 12-7. The Dragons came back with a good drive of their own as Junior Collin Kellogg, who took over at QB after the first possession of the game for Pickens, found Whitmore streaking down the middle of the field for a 28-yd TD. With 5:53 left in the third, the Dragons were back on top, 14-12. As time was running off the clock in the third, the Panthers scored on a 40-yd run. The snap on the PAT attempt was mishandled and the try was no good. Going to the fourth, Ridgeland held an 18-14 lead over Pickens.
The Dragons were down, but definitely not out as they turned their first possession of the fourth quarter into points. After a bad snap pushed Pickens from the 6-yd line to the 22-yd line, a holding penalty was called on the Dragons on their fourth down play. The penalty was accepted, and the ball was moved back, making it fourth and goal from the Ridgeland 32-yd line. Kellogg, lofted it up to the left corner of the end zone where Senior WR Mykel Hand fought two Panthers defenders and came down with it to give the Dragons the lead. With 8:51 left in the game, Pickens went ahead, 20-18. On the ensuing kickoff, and without his regular kickers, Dragons head coach Jeff Nelson decided to go for an onside. The gamble paid off as Pickens recovered it. The Dragons cashed in on the recovery as Sophomore Kadyn Hampton took it in from 20-yds out. The PAT was good, and Pickens extended their lead over the Panthers to 27-18. Needing a big play, Ridgeland turned to the passing attack. Junior Conor Browning, picked off a pass attempt, and helped seal the win for the Dragons. The final, 27-18 Pickens.
Cedartown: 6-2 (3-0)
Central-Carroll: 5-2 (1-1)
Pickens: 3-4 (1-1)
Northwest Whitfield: 6-2 (1-2)
Ridgeland: 1-7 (1-2)
Heritage: 4-4 (1-2)
Next week, the Dragons will again be at home as they welcome the Heritage Generals to Dragons Stadium. The game will be on Friday, November 13th. Kickoff is set for 7:30 in this 7-AAAA match up.
In a game that was pushed back to Wednesday due to weather, the Pickens Dragons welcomed the Lumpkin County Indians to PHS for some baseball action. In a game that only featured six combined hits between the two teams, it was the pitching performance by the Dragons that helped lead to a 6-0 victory.
Nothing was doing for either team in the first inning as both teams went down in order to start the game. In the top of the second, Lumpkin got a two-out hit, but the runner was left stranded. In the bottom half of the inning, back to back walks would come into score for the Dragons as they took a 2-0 lead going to the third.
Senior Colby James collected his second and third strikeouts in the top of the third to keep the Indians offense at bay. Pickens, had a potential threat going in the bottom of the third after first baseman Chad Pacas was hit by a pitch and catcher Austin Chester drew a walk with two outs. Lumpkin was able to get out of it to send us to the fourth with the Dragons still on top, 2-0.
In the top of the fourth, the Indians were looking to cut into the Dragons lead after Nick Turner got hit by a pitch and was able to swipe second base. After going to his first full count of the game, James ended the threat with his fourth strikeout of the game. James then led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, the first hit of the game for Pickens. The Dragons added to their lead when Alex Snelgrove drove in Colby Brooks to make it 3-0 going to the fifth.
In the top of the fifth, Lumpkin again was looking to cut into the Dragons lead after a walk and a single with two outs. James was able to get the ground out he needed to end the scoring chance and send us to the bottom of the frame. In the bottom of the fifth, Seth Densmore added to the lead for Pickens as he was able to bring in Tyler Vreeland. Going to the sixth, the Dragons led the Indians 4-0.
In the sixth, Snelgrove came on in relief of James and he would strikeout two of the three batters he faced as he sat them down in order to send us to the bottom of the inning. After a lead off single and a steal of second by Parker Rhodes, Snelgrove would drive him in with his second RBI of the game to make it 5-0. Snelgrove would also come into score as Hunter White would drive him in to make it 6-0 Dragons going to the seventh.
Drake Sutton came in for the Dragons in the top of the seventh to try and close this one out. A two-out walk is all Sutton would surrender as Pickens held on to defeat Lumpkin, 6-0.
Brady Moore: two walks drawn
Hunter White: one RBI
Tyler Vreeland: one run scored
Chad Pacas: one walk, one hit-by-pitch, and one run scored
Austin Chester: three walks drawn
Seth Densmore: one RBI
Colby James: 1-3 with a single and five innings pitched, four K’s, one walk, one HBP, zero earned runs on 69 pitches
Drake Sutton: one walk drawn and one inning pitched with one walk, zero hits or runs on 22 pitches
Parker Rhodes: 1-1 with a single, one stolen base, and one run scored
Alex Snelgrove: 2-3 with two singles and 2 RBI and one inning pitched with two K’s, zero hits, runs, or walks on 12 pitches
Colby Brooks: one run scored
Jarod Whitmore: one run scored
The PHS Dragons varsity baseball team recently broke in their brand new baseball facility and started the 2020 season on Thursday with a 6-5 win over the Murray County Indians. On Saturday, they hosted the Union County Panthers, the Lumpkin County Indians, and the Coosa Eagles for a day filled with baseball. The Dragons faced off against Union County and Coosa. First up, Union County. Pickens used a big fourth inning to get the win over the Panthers, 12-4.
In the top of the first, the Panthers got on the board first as they scored one run on three hits to take an early 1-0 lead. The Dragons came right back in the bottom of the first with two runs on one hit to take a 2-1 lead into the second inning.
The second inning saw Pickens extend their lead to 3-1 over Union County after Hunter White drove in Drake Sutton. In the top of the third, the Panthers had runners on second and first after a two-out double and single. Dragon starter Alex Snelgrove was able to get out of the jam as Pickens kept their 3-1 lead.
The fourth inning saw a lot of scoring. First, the Panthers retook the lead 4-3 with three big runs in the top of the frame. Not to be outdone, the Dragons would bat around in the bottom half of the inning scoring nine runs to take a 12-4 lead over Union.
Pickens held on to their 12-4 lead over the final three innings to get their second win of the young season.
After Lumpkin played Union and Coosa, the nightcap of the full day of games saw Pickens take on Coosa. Much like their game against Union earlier in the day, the Dragons used a big inning to propel themselves over the Eagles, 11-1 in five innings.
After nothing doing for either team in the first inning, both teams plated runs in the second inning. Coosa scored in the top of the second with one run to take a 1-0 advantage. In the bottom half of the inning, Pickens nearly batted around and scored four times to take a 4-1 lead going to the third.
In the bottom of the third, the Dragons again showed off the offense as they would bat around and plate seven runs to take an 11-1 lead over the Eagles.
Pickens held on over the final two innings to defeat the Coosa Eagles 11-1 in five innings.
Pickens, will have another busy week next week as they will have a home and home series with the Lumpkin Indians. The first game will be at PHS on Tuesday with a first pitch time of 5:30. The Dragons will then travel up to Lumpkin on Thursday with the same first pitch time. Pickens will end the week with games against Dalton and Dominion Christian on Saturday at PHS.
It might have been Valentine’s Day, but it was also game day for the Pickens Dragonettes as they traveled down to Watkinsville to take on the Oconee County Lady Warriors in the first round of the GHSA 4A Girls State Basketball Tournament. Coming into the game, the Nettes were the #3 seed out of region 6 while the Lady Warriors were the #2 seed out of region 8. After a tough battle back and forth, Oconee County came away with a 67-49 win.
The first quarter started out slow for both teams as neither team could find a bucket early on. Halfway through the frame, the scoring started to come more frequently as the Lady Warriors took an 11-6 lead over the Nettes going to the second.
In the second quarter, Pickens cut into the Oconee County lead several times, including only being down by one on more than one occasion. To end the first half, the Lady Warriors went on a run to stretch their lead over the Nettes to 32-23 going into the half.
In the third quarter, the Nettes continued to fight as they attempted to climb back into the ball game. The Lady Warriors kept finding answers for anything Pickens would do it seemed as they outscored the Nettes 15-10 in the frame to take a 47-33 lead into the fourth.
In the fourth and final quarter, the Nettes battled until the very end as they never quit the entire game. The Oconee Lady Warriors got the win in this one, 67-49.
Leading the way for the Nettes were:
Mykenzie Weaver: 31 points
Sarah Morris: 8 points
Cassidy Richards: 4 points
Carmyn Mullins: 3 points
Reagan Harwood: 3 points
Recently I’ve started watching the show Friday Night Lights again. Let me just say- this is partially important because I’m not a big TV show person. I don’t have the patience to sit through an hour-long episode nor do I usually have the time to keep up with a series. But I figure with pre-season football kicking in and the fall season quickly approaching, revisiting a show that revolves around high school football is one of the best ways to get me hyped up for what’s to come.
Watching this series has also made me think about a couple of things. For one, why do we as a society rally so much around a sport that’s played by boys no older than 18-years-old? Second, do we put too much pressure on athletes who play the game? And finally, is the hype and the pressure truly worth it?
I think the answer can be summed up pretty easily- yes. And why? For love of the game.
But the love of the game is different for each of us. We’re not all going to attend every single football game or spend thousands of dollars to sit in Sanford every Saturday. We all have our limits, and in my opinion that’s perfectly okay.
I like to say that there’s something about having a team that you love that will get inside of you and never leave. I find it fascinating that there are towns across America like Dillon, Texas that will show up in the thousands to support their Panthers. Coaches and players are local celebrities, and you get your butt in the stands every Friday night just as religiously as a pew on Sunday morning. I came from a high school of nearly 4,000 students and a county of almost one million people, but the same spirit that rallies much smaller towns across the country still pulses through mine.
Yes, oftentimes I’m afraid that means we put too much pressure on the athletes who play the game. In my own personal experience, at the high school level we had so many students that it was nearly impossible to know the daily goings-on at the field house. But it was that age-old cycle of that when we would win, the coaches and players would be praised. One loss and the attitude switched faster than the direction of a twister.
But one of the many great things about this country is we have the freedom of choice in many of our decisions. Even though the athletes and coaches who play these games catch a lot of grief, they still have the choice to walk away. Some do. But for those who don’t? I’d venture to say it’s for love of the game.
When it comes to putting pressure on athletes, especially young ones, I believe the relationship is a two-way street. They should know what they’re doing, but despite all the love we have for the game, we need to understand when enough is enough. I’ve heard the term “daddy ball” thrown around a lot before, and it makes me sad to think that there are parents out there who try to live through their children. It’s important to love and support them, but even more important to let them develop their own love for their game.
Finally, like I mentioned earlier, everyone’s love for the game is different. My Papa Skip, who I probably talk to the most about sports, has a different appreciation for them than I do. I’ll use UGA football as an example. He attended classes at UGA- I never have. He still goes every year to the UGA/Florida game in Jacksonville- I’ve only gone once. He pays each year to have season tickets for the home games- I CERTAINLY don’t do that, although when he doesn’t want them I get first dibs (thanks Papa!)
The point I’m trying to make is while we all may say we love sports, we each love them differently. We each have a certain line we’re willing to cross. But at the same time, come Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday or playoffs, we rally behind our team. And we each get our butts in the stands. Why? For love of the game.
About five years ago I told my dad, who is one of my biggest fans but also one of the most blunt people you’ll ever meet, that I wanted to be the first female head coach in the NFL.
“You can’t do that, Lauren,” he said.
“Why?” I argued.
I was expecting some drawn-out response about how I didn’t know enough about football.
“Because you can’t go in the men’s locker room,” he said flatly.
Ah, I hadn’t thought of that.
That was my senior year of high school, and never did I think I would be where I am now.
I grew up an UGA fan; my grandad attended college there in the ’60s and the red and black passed down into my veins. I learned to spell Georgia by chanting the fight song in my head (I still do subconsciously whenever I have to write it out!) I had an UGA cheerleader outfit and one of my baby pictures has me holding a stuffed bulldog. One of my nana’s fondest memories is of dancing around the living room with me as an infant when Georgia scored a big touchdown against Georgia Tech. I’ve never considered myself athletic, but I believe I owe a lot of my passion for sports to Papa Skip and Nana.
Flash forward a few years and the first time I stepped foot on a sideline was as a cheerleader for the 8th grade Mill Creek rec football league. Cheerleading was not for me, and within a year I traded in pom poms for a six-foot flag pole as a member of the Mill Creek High School Colorguard.
In high school I lived for Friday night lights, and I have many fond memories of screaming myself hoarse for the Hawks while in the stands with the marching band. It was a well-known fact that I was the most spirited person in the band when it came to football, and while my coach would be yelling at me to pay attention during our warm-ups I’d be busy trying to figure out how much yardage we’d gotten from the last pass.
I guess my fellow classmates took note of my love for the game as well, because they voted me their Homecoming Queen my senior year. That is still one of my all-time favorite memories from high school- hearing my name called while standing on the 50 surrounded by family and friends.
I graduated from Mill Creek in 2015 but I had a hard time staying away from Markham Field. The University of North Georgia doesn’t have a football team, and Mill Creek decided to get really good the year after I left (this was the fall of 2015, the year they got knocked out by Colquitt County one round before the state championship.)
In the spring of 2016 I heard of an opportunity to work for the Gwinnett Braves, Triple-A minor league affiliate for the Atlanta Braves. Needing a summer job but hoping to avoid retail, I took it. I spent the next two summers as a Guest Relations Representative scanning tickets and welcoming fans. In addition to my already-sound knowledge of football, I learned all I could about America’s favorite pastime and a new love was born.
I spent one more summer at Coolray Field before graduating college, and this time it was as a member of the Promotional Team. That may be the most fun I ever had at work. Our team set up the on-field promotional games, signed up contestants, sold 50/50 raffle tickets and overall worked to make sure people had a good time. I certainly did- the memories I made with my team that year will forever be some of my favorites.
For a while I told people that I wasn’t interested in sports journalism, but the Lord as he fortunately often does had other plans. I got the opportunity to intern with the UNG Athletic Department my senior year of college, and I left Gwinnett County to plant some roots in the North Georgia mountains.
Two months ago I still wasn’t certain that I’d ever work in sports again, but when baseball started back up I knew I couldn’t live without it. I was fortunate enough to find an opportunity to apply with FetchYourNews.com, and even more fortunate to get an offer. And here we are.
I don’t tell you all this to brag on my accomplishments or give you some long-winded biography. I want to be just as much a part of your community as you all are now a part of my daily life. When I come to your sideline I want to know each of you and each of you know me. Part of being a great sports reporter is establishing a relationship with your team and community. Part of that relationship includes establishing trust, and how can you can trust someone if you don’t even know them?
One of the biggest reasons I keep working in sports is because of the the communities they create and the people I get to meet. There’s something about having a team to rally around that gets inside of you and never leaves. The people I have met so far and the connections I have made are priceless and will forever be a part of who I am and a big reason for why I do what I do.
So here’s to the journey ahead, and here’s to memories that are yet to be made and the relationships yet to be formed. I can’t wait North Georgia!
The U.S. Women’s National Team has been making headlines recently for victories as a team, and as individuals for political statements.
Last week, the team won their second back-to-back World Cup. Shortly after the game, player Allie Long was seen dropping an American flag during the post-game celebration. Her teammate Kelley O’Hara recognized the significance of a flag being dropped on the ground, and immediately scooped it up.
One report from The Daily Wire explained that Long dropped the flag to participate in a celebratory dance with teammate Megan Rapinoe. But the video quickly went viral and comments poured in criticizing Long for her carelessness and thanking O’Hara for stepping in.
It’s very possible that Long meant no disrespect, but just got caught up in the moment and didn’t know that an American flag is NEVER supposed to touch the ground. Nonetheless, millions of viewers were not happy.
If you watch the video, it doesn’t appear that Long is trying to make any sort of political statement by dropping the flag. However teammate Megan Rapinoe has CERTAINLY been making headlines recently for her statements.
Although Rapinoe is mainly known for being a phenomenal soccer player (she won both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards this year), her progressive ideals have, let’s just say…raised eyebrows. Rapinoe is very outspoken about her homosexuality and dislike of President Donald Trump. She has followed the example of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick by refusing to sing or put her hand over her heart during the National Anthem. The pose she makes after scoring a goal of standing with her arms outstretched is supposed to be a symbol of fighting for equal pay, race relations and issues at the United States/Mexican border.
For years athletes have used the attention given them for their athletic success as a means to shed light on their social platforms. There’s nothing wrong with that if they’re promoting awareness for a disease or a foundation that supports children with special needs. But should we as a society draw a line when it comes to political issues?
Some would say there’s no problem- depending on what they do to make the statement. Certainly being a famous athlete gives one more media attention than the average person. Like I mentioned in my last column post, there’s no difference in an athlete and an actor or actress, and they supply their endorsement all the time!
When Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the National Anthem in 2016, many Americans were outraged. Not necessarily because of his protest of police brutality, but because he chose to do so in a way that many Americans found disrespectful to those who have served in the military. I was, and still am, one of those people. In my opinion Kaepernick and now Rapinoe are missing the mark. Kneeling or not showing respect during the National Anthem is to turn a blind eye to those who have sacrificed everything to give you the freedom to play your sport. It doesn’t have anything to do with first responders.
Nowadays there’s a gray area between sports segments and political talk shows. The two intersect on a daily basis. Just the other day on our live sports show, Instant Replay, my co-host Dave Garner and I had an entire segment dedicated to Nike’s decision to pull the sneakers with a design of the American flag sewn by Betsy Ross on the back. This decision was made after Kaepernick insisted that the flag had a racial history.
I suppose the whole reason this gray area exists is because of the technological advancements of the media. Celebrities who want use their status as a means to promote a certain viewpoint can do so more quickly because of how easy it is to post to Twitter. And in a society that demands news at every moment, something has to take up time in a sports show!
So back to the original question- should there be a line, and if so, where?
Here’s my opinion- sports is sports and politics is politics. Part of the reason I watch a football game or a baseball game is because I want to watch a football game or a baseball game. We are living in a time where politics are more divisive than ever before. One reasons sports are as big as they are today is because of the communities they create. Why should we mix something that causes so many problems to interfere with something that is supposed to help solve them?
When I turn on ESPN, I don’t want to listen to people debate over what is considered disrespectful to the National Anthem. And the next time I watch Fox News, I DARN sure don’t want to hear the name Colin Kaepernick.
As many of you reading this probably already know, it’s not uncommon to see a female reporter on your TV screen for sports outlets like ESPN or Fox Sports. Women are branching out into the sports world unlike ever before, with just as much if not more knowledge than their male co-workers.
Unfortunately, despite the strides already made, I believe sexism still exists in the sports world. I think some men find it hard to believe that women are getting into sports because it isn’t “feminine” or a hobby that they should naturally enjoy. These men don’t realize that a woman’s enjoyment of sports often begins with spending time with a loved one. I always like to mention my Papa Skip, and the football knowledge I gained from being around him and spending Saturdays in Athens.
But whatever reason people have for why a woman shouldn’t work in sports, this post is dedicated to those women who haven’t been listening.
I’ve always been a fan of Erin Andrews, mainly because the girl knows her stuff. Although she’s primarily spotted on the sidelines of NFL games, Andrews has covered everything from College GameDay on ESPN to the World Series. Outside of sports she’s had the opportunity to contribute news to Good Morning America and currently co-hosts on Dancing with the Stars. Side note: she also spent some time in nearby Atlanta covering the Braves, Thrashers and Hawks for Turner South. Whenever people think of successful women in the sports arena, Andrews is usually one of the first ones that comes to mind.
Unfortunately her fame from her work as a sportscaster has not made her immune to those who want to tear her down. In 2008 a man filmed her completely nude through a hotel door peep hole and posted the video online. The video went viral, and Andrews sued the man along with the hotel company and several others. Although Andrews eventually won her case, the time period from when the video was filmed until the suit ended lasted eight years. I can only imagine the embarrassment and anxiety that she endured during that time. I admire her strength and perseverance.
As a die-hard Braves fan, another reporter I’ve watched a lot of and enjoy seeing is Kelsey Wingert. I love Wingert’s delivery on camera because it comes across as so natural. While she does typically have a notebook on hand, she does not use a teleprompter to read a script. In other words, she also knows her stuff.
I follow Wingert on social media, and another thing I like about her is her constant interaction with fans. There have been numerous times I’ve scrolled through my Twitter feed and seen her respond to a fan asking for a chance to meet her during a game. It’s always met with a yes, as soon as the Braves are finished batting.
I could talk all day about female athletes who have also made waves in sports. On Tuesday, the United States women’s national soccer team defeated Thailand 13-0 in the first game of the world cup. Of course we all know the controversy in recent years about the players receiving less pay than their male counterparts.
A fellow reporter told me a story the other day about a young female athlete he once covered who wanted to play baseball in Louisiana. The locals were not having it, and despite all of her hard work throughout the season, she missed out on being able to play one of the biggest games of that year. However, as is the theme for this entire post, she didn’t let that stop her from continuing to work hard. I haven’t mentioned yet that she was also a phenomenal basketball player, and she is Kim Mulkey, head coach of the Baylor women’s basketball team.
The point I’m trying to make here is that there’s no point in trying to hold women back from sports, when we’ve proved time and time again that we know what we’re doing and we can do it really well. I’m sure if you asked each of these women I’ve mentioned if they agree, they would.
I’m thankful for the people along the way, most of them men, that have helped me to see I can do whatever I set my mind to. I’m afraid that sometimes as a society we still judge people based on how they look before we look to see what they can do. Fortunately for me, I have these women who I have already mentioned, and many more who have blazed the trail for me. I believe it’s partially my job to make sure that path continues to stay lit for those after me.
When University of North Georgia (UNG) freshman Daniel Shearer first learned he was a semifinalist for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), he was reluctant to celebrate. The member of UNG’s Corps of Cadets was excited, but he wasn’t a finalist — until now. “I feel very fortunate to have won,” he said. “I honestly didn’t have high expectations, but I am glad.”
Shearer and three other UNG students were glad to learn March 1 that they were selected as CLS finalists. The scholarship program is a fully-funded overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. Its goal is to broaden the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries.
Out of UNG’s eight semifinalists announced in January, the four finalists are:
- Shearer, who is pursuing a degree in East Asian studies with a concentration in Japanese studies and a minor in leadership, will be in Japan.
- Josh Shepherd, who is pursuing a degree in Chinese and a minor in Spanish, will be in China.
- Donnie “Jamar” Shumaker, who is pursuing a degree in East Asian studies with a concentration in Chinese and a minor in Chinese language and culture, will be in China.
- Rachel Wilson, who is pursuing a degree in finance and a minor in Chinese, will be in China.
Of the remaining semifinalists, all four were named alternates. They are:
- Daniel Barker, who is pursuing a degree in mathematics and a minor in Russian.
- Hannah Chisholm, who is pursuing a degree in communications with a concentration in multimedia journalism and a minor in Korean.
- Leah James, a member of the Corps of Cadets who is pursuing a degree in nursing and a minor in Arabic.
- Julia “Rhiannon” Smith, who is pursuing degrees in psychology and modern languages with a concentration in Russian.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, CLS is highly competitive, with acceptance rates of 10 percent, said Dr. Victoria Hightower, UNG’s assistant director of Nationally Competitive Scholarships. This makes UNG’s accomplishment of four finalists and four alternates significant.
“UNG’s four finalists and four alternates reflect our commitment to cultivating academically talented global leaders,” Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president for research and engagement at UNG. “This also indicates UNG’s prowess in teaching critical languages.”
Hightower, associate professor of history, agreed.
“In addition to our students’ qualities of determination, perseverance, and persistence, this success also reflects the encouragement they receive from their mentors throughout the university,” she said.
The four finalists and four alternates also mark an increase in UNG students selected. Last year, three were selected as finalists, and two were alternates. UNG had one finalist and one semifinalist for both 2016-17 and 2015-16 academic years.
Lin said more students are encouraged to apply to scholarships such as CLS after hearing of previous winners.
“I predict we will see more applications and winners in the future because of a growing commitment to scholarships on both the part of our students, faculty and staff,” she said.
Shearer, a freshman from Suwanee, Georgia, plans to use the study abroad experience as a springboard for his future.
“I intend to commission through UNG, and as I am pursuing a degree in East Asian studies, I would love to have a duty station over there,” he said, adding the CLS program will give him an advantage. “Through this scholarship, I will have a greater fluency in Japanese through immersion in the culture that comes through living and working there.”
Students interested in learning more about nationally competitive scholarships should contact [email protected] for more information. Students wanting to learn about funding and programs to study abroad may visit the Center for Global Engagement website.