Just here to spark a little bit of fun debate during the off-season! Our writers blind voted on their favorite stadiums in our viewing area, and these were the results. I’m sure everyone will have their own opinion, so let us hear your opinions and what we got wrong!
Each stadium write up is written by a member of the schools community.
1. Fannin County High School
Fannin County High School Football Stadium comes in at #1 on our FYN Sports Top Football Stadium in our Coverage Area.
Although the stadium has no nickname, it is often been referred to in the past as “The Battlefield”
Fannin County may have the best entrance in all of Georgia. The Rebels walk out of their locker-room directly to a gigantic blow up Fannin County Football Helmet. Coach Cheatham usually is the 1st one to break open the facemask on the helmet and the Fannin County Football team walks onto the field with arms locked. The cannon fires, the smoke rises, music blares, lights go out and then flash from pole to pole. It is a striking entrance and one that every High School Football fan needs to see.
Yes, we mentioned a Cannon. And yes, it does fire. Every time Fannin County enters the stadium and scores a Touchdown the Cannon is shot and is heard throughout the town of Blue Ridge. Yes, we mentioned Lights cutting off and flashing. Every time a Touchdown is scored Fannin County’s LED Light system will flash from pole to pole igniting the roar of the Fannin County 12th man.
Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is played and PA Announcer Tim Towe famous “ITS 3rd DOWN” sparks the Rebel Nation to make noise on 3rd Down.
I think if you witnessed a game here during Fannin County’s magical season last season you would agree with our choice.
The Stadium is a true 12th man Atmosphere. Powered by everything we have mentioned and the award winning Fannin County High School Marching band, the cheerleaders and “The Blue Crew” ( Student Section) Fannin County is our choice for Top Stadium in our coverage area.
2. Murphy High School
David Gentry Field at Bob Hedrix memorial stadium is nothing short of picturesque. The location of the stadium is one of it’s best qualities, being right off the road and allowing passers by to honk their car horns and cheer on the Dogs, whether that be on Friday night or Tuesday afternoon at practice. Watching the team walk down the hill at 7:27 on Friday night just before kickoff is electric. The sun setting behind the visiting bleachers on a crisp fall evening is really something to behold. Dont even get me started on the sheer history of what’s been accomplished on that field. 10 state championship teams have played under those lights, and for the past 40 years, perhaps the greatest High School football coach of all time has coached on that sideline. Add to that JR Carrol shouting “1st and 10 Bulldogs” over the speakers, you’ve got a recipe for one of the greatest high school football atmospheres in the country.
They don’t call it “BULLDOG COUNTRY” for nothin’.
Former Dogs Head Coach & Hall of Famer David Gentry said, “There’s no better high than the one you get on Friday nights in Murphy between the hours of 7:30 & 9:30. That feeling you get for those two hours, it’s unattainable anywhere else.”
3. Robbinsville High School
Robbinsville’s Big Oaks Stadium is a rethink-your-ranking kind of stadium. A truly historical field, it has hosted the home games of over 50 years of Black Knight football teams without ever being moved to a new location. The stadium is also directly adjacent to the original “old rock” schoolhouse of the 1900s.
The field is not the only piece of historical significance—the players themselves, often generational descendants of fellow state champions, give the Friday Night aesthetic of a Robbinsville Black Knights’ football game the aura of dominance. These boys know the magnitude of what they are playing for.
With 14 State Titles earned on its grass, the Big Oaks guarantees you a night of knock-down and drag-out, old-fashioned football, complete with rows of aged-oak trees, and a sunset view over its Smoky Mountain backdrop. Being the true embodiment of the AC/DC rock hit—Back In Black—the Big Oaks Stadium is THE must see stop of any stadium tour.
4. Union County High School
We look to Union County’s Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium a.k.a “The Mike.” There are many great high school football venues; not many, however, pack a 1-2 punch with a beautiful view and electric atmosphere like this one.
This venue offers a beautiful turf field and an even more astounding view of the crisp Blue Ridge Mountains. Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium is one that you’ll never forget, one that provides a bit of everything you could ever want on a Friday night underneath the lights!
5. Pickens County High School
Starting this year, #TeamFYNsports will be bringing you their top football games of the week for our local area football teams. This week, we have some rivalries on the horizon, with four local area teams going head to head.
Team FYN sports director Jake West and Fannin County Rec. Department Athletic Coordinator Tim Towe will also be giving you their picks to win these games of the week and we will be tracking their pick ’em record going forward.
- Fannin County Rebels @ Union County Panthers
If there was ever a year for Fannin County to be able to break their 6 year losing streak agains the Union County Panthers, it would be this year. Fannin is coming off an impressive 5-6 season last year, and with all the returning upper-classmen they have this year, this is the year that they have to make some moves. Even Coach Chad Cheatham said himself at media day, they are poised to make a run. Union County on the other hand is coming off of a 10-2 record last year, where it looked like they were going to go deep into the playoffs until losing a 7-14 game against Metter High School. Head Coach Brian Allison has turned Union County into a juggernaut over there in Blairsville, losing a combined four games in the past two years. However with the loss of their starting Quarterback Pierson Allison to graduation, we will if the newcomer behind center can handle the pressure of Friday Night Lights.
Jake’s Pick: Union County
Tim’s Pick: Fannin County
2. Gilmer County Bobcats @ Pickens Dragons
The Pickens Dragons finished 2019 with a 6-5 overall record and tied for third in their division. Their offense was crazy hot last year, putting up an average of 31.6 points. We will see if they have improved any on the defensive side of the ball however, where they managed to give up an average of 26.2 points per game in the previous season. When watching Pickens last year however, one of their more impressive games came against then region rival Gilmer, who they will be playing to kickoff this season. This season the anticipated Gilmer-Pickens game will not be a region game due to the realignment that took place in the offseason. Even though this is not going to be a region game this year, you can tell that it still means just as much to the players and coaches as it did when it counted against their region record. Gilmer is coming off of a 4-6 overall record last year in 2019. But, as rebuilds go it looks like Gilmer is on the backend of theirs and should start putting together some winning teams. Also, with Gilmer being bumped down a level, their opponents in their new region should play more to their level. I just think that the speed and power of the Pickens offense will be too much for the Bobcats to handle.
Jake’s Pick: Pickens County
Tim’s Pick: Gilmer County
Following the weekly meeting with the Sports Medicine Advisory Council, Georgia High School Association Executive Director Robin Hines announced that the GHSA will be moving forward with the September fourth football start date for the opening of the 2020 season.
After the Sports Medicine Advisory Council meeting, director Hines spoke with the Athens Banner-Herald in regard to the number of COVID-19 cases across the state, but was confident that the season would return on the now delayed football start date of September fourth.
Hines told the Athens Banner-Herald, “While the numbers aren’t what we would prefer right now, they’re trending down, we feel good about that, and pending some spikes between now and then, my recommendation is going to be that we go ahead and play.”
The GHSA has previously reported that there will be around 70 Georgia football teams of 425 total that are unlikely to play the first week of the season because of coronavirus concerns dictated by their school district or private schools.
Included in the list of teams that will be sitting out for the week of September 4th are 19 DeKalb County teams, 16 Fulton County teams, 8 Savannah-Chatham teams, and 6 Bibb county teams. Several other teams across the state will also be sitting out until given the OK from their administrators and school board.
Tennessee will begin their High School football season tonight, and they have already released their guidelines for spectators and fines which can be found HERE. Viewing this should help give GHSA fans a little insight in what to expect come September fourth when Georgia returns to Friday night lights.
The Georgia High School Association has released “strongly recommended” game-day operation guidelines in order for the high school football season to proceed as normal when it opens for good on September Fourth. These game-day guidelines and recommendations are given to spectators and parents in order to ensure that the football season will be able to continue and so that these student athletes are able to play a whole season. The whole list of guidelines can be found HERE.
Game Day Venue Restrictions
- Local school administrators, in consultation with local health departments and health care professionals should determine what personnel (cheerleaders, band, mascots, dance team, etc.) should participate in events. It is strongly recommended to take into consideration the venue’s ability to safely allow for and enforce proper physical distancing.
- The media accommodations will be handled by host school personnel.
- GHSA member schools should follow the guidance of local, state, and federal recommendations as it pertains to spectator events and stadium capacity restrictions if such information becomes available.
- It is highly recommended that spectators have their temperature assessed prior to entering the competition venue and should be denied entry if higher than 100.4 degrees.
- It is highly recommended that spectators always wear a facemask/covering possible. □ Spectators should be restricted from direct competition areas and from visiting with student athletes and personnel before, during and after events.
- Spectators should always practice social distancing whenever possible. Household members are excluded.
- Local school administrators, in consultation with local health departments, should determine whether “to-go” meals for their student-athletes in individualized, single packaged containers should be permitted.
- If sales at concession stands are permitted, they must follow state guidelines for “Restaurants, Bars, and Banquet & Catering Facilities/Services” as outlined in the current Governor’s Executive Order
- If sales at concession stands are permitted, concession workers should wear masks and gloves in accordance with state mandates.
- Any worker should be screened before they are permitted to perform work duties in the concession.
- If sales at concession stands are permitted, individuals in line for concessions should practice physical distancing.
- If sales at concession stands are permitted, precautions for social distancing should always be adhered to.
The GHSA has reported that over 600 players and coaches have tested positive for COVID since voluntary workouts began on June 8th.
The Georgia High School Association sent out and email on Tuesday, where they confirmed that they have had a reported 655 positive tests, including over 1,000 screen outs. Screen outs are when a player or coach is held out of practice due to a high temperature check or health questionnaire.
Several local area teams have stopped and started workouts since the June 8th restart, due to complications with the virus.
These numbers that he GHSA has released are not entirely accurate, as the GHSA does not require positive tests to be reported to the association, however it is encouraged so that the data can be compiled and used in the decision making process.
“The data is aggregate and for decision-making purposes,” GHSA associate director Don Corr said in Tuesdays email. “It is our belief that this data is incomplete and varies due to individual infectious disease plans formulated by each member school.”
6 GHSA teams have reported to the GHSA that they are shutting down their practice’s this week. There could be more since the GHSA also does not require practice activity to be reported either. The teams that are not practicing currently are Morgan County, Putnam County, Greene County, Social Circle and Lincoln County in east and central Georgia and Lakeside in DeKalb County.
Each school district has their own protocol in dealing with the positive coronavirus cases, as the GHSA has decided to give the power to the schools instead of setting a governing body of rules.
The players for the Pickens football team that were selected as TeamFYNSports Player of the Week during the 2019 season were recognized Thursday, Jan. 30, at the high school. Each player received a gift certificate for a meal and a commemorative T-shirt.
The players were:
Week 1, CJ Streicher: In a 28-18 win against Stone Mountain in Jasper on Aug. 23, the 6-foot, 210-pound, senior quarterback went 9-of-11 for 116 yards and two touchdowns passing, while carrying the ball 15 times for 103 yards and a score.
Week 2, Jarod Whitmore: In a 34-20 loss at Pepperell on Sept. 6, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior running back caught five passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, and carried the ball nine times for 31 yards.
Week 3, T.C. Jarrett: In a 27-20 loss at White Co. on Sept. 13, the 6-foot senior linebacker had nine total tackles, including three solo and six assists.
Week 4, Tucker Lowe: In a 44-3 win against Chamblee in Jasper on Sept. 20, the 5-foot-9 junior tallied two interceptions.
Week 5, Whitmore: For his second Player of the Week selection of the season, the junior carried the ball 22 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns, while also catching a 23-yard touchdown pass in the 35-23 win against Gilmer in Ellijay on Sept. 27.
Week 6, Streicher: For his second Player of the Week selection of the season, the senior went 7-of-16 for 133 yards and three touchdowns, while carrying the ball eight times for 190 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-14 win against Southeast Whitfield Co. in Jasper on Oct. 4.
Week 7, Alex Snelgrove: In a 21-20 loss at Heritage on Oct. 11, the 6-foot-2, 193-pound senior caught six passes for 93 yards and a touchdown, carried the ball twice for eight yards, and netted six total tackles (three solo, three assists) and two tackles for loss.
Week 8, Sy Chadwick: In a 35-10 win against Northwest Whitfield on Oct. 18 in Jasper, the 6-foot, 245-pound junior had eight tackles, including four solo, four assists, and two tackles for loss.
Week 9, Aidan Sanchez: In a 41-28 loss to Ridgeland on Oct. 25 in Jasper, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound senior tackle played a dominating game on the offensive line.
Week 10, Streicher: For his third Player of the Week selection of the season, the senior went 8-of-14 for 166 yards and a touchdown, while carrying the ball 25 times for 237 yards and six touchdowns in a 49-45 win against LaFayette in Jasper on Nov. 1.
Week 11, Snelgrove: For his second Player of the Week selection of the season, the senior played a solid game on both sides of the ball in a 45-24 loss at North Oconee in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Editor’s note: TeamFYNSports would like to thank our sponsors for the 2019 Pickens football season. Without their support, coverage of the Dragons would not have been possible. A big thank you to Circuit World, Graphic Expressions, Day’s Chevrolet, Salon 84, Woodmen Life, Johnny’s Pizza, North GA Metals, Judge Brenda Weaver, Alan Home State Farm, Country Financial, and Renasant Bank.
On Wednesday I stopped by one of the local rec departments to iron out some details for an upcoming event that Team FYN Sports plans to cover. As often happens in small towns where time seems to move a little slower, you can’t go into a place where people are as close as a rec department and just have your meeting and leave. You end up talking about something like, in this case sports, that leads into one topic after another. Add a couple more people into the mix that you haven’t seen in a while and soon enough you glance down at your watch and you’ve been there for two hours with no idea where the time went. Southerners especially know what I mean.
Anyway, naturally with this being SEC country we had to talk about college football. And even more so when one of the people in the conversation was a Tennessee fan (you know who you are!)
Eventually our conversation turned to memories of our first college football games. The memories spanned years and were entwined with heartfelt stories of family, friends and Sanford stadium. There were tales of witnessing games where records were set and broken, of firsts and lasts. A couple of us could even recall games with rivalries so bitter that a rowdy fan from the opposing team was either physically injured or injured with glares.
For each of us that was sitting in the room we had a look of wonder in our eye. We were recalling memories that were so precious to us that we wouldn’t trade them for all the University of Florida defeats in the world. Especially the ones were loved ones were involved. Those are always the most precious.
Hearing those glorious tales took me back to my own first University of Georgia game. I couldn’t tell you who they were playing, but I remember watching the team run out with the big Georgia flag and feeling a since of pride I hadn’t felt before. I was with my mom and my grandparents. I had never seen my Nana get so rowdy. And my Papa Skip was especially proud to have the three most important women in his life with him and dressed in red and black. And a new love was born for me.
As a side note, my brother would later commit the ultimate sin in that side of the family and declare himself to be a Florida fan. I’m sure it broke Papa’s heart at the time, but he soon got over it when he had someone to accompany him to the Georgia/Florida game besides my Nana. Such is the seriousness of rivalries in the Southeastern Conference.
I know I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I firmly believe that nothing besides religion brings people together like a football game. Which is probably why it’s so common to refer to football as a religion in the South. You may hate someone during the week, but come Saturday morning if you’re both wearing red and black you’re going to at least be cordial.
I know that it may be more intense in other college towns, but in Athens people will arrive a full day early to claim their tailgating spots. Red and black tents flood the streets of downtown on every plot of grass that grows. Women (including myself) will go to get their nails and hair done ahead of time, and dress to the nine in ninety degree weather. There is no telling how many hundreds of thousands of dollars get spent on food and drinks for one weekend of tailgating alone.
I was recently watching an old episode of the show Designing Women. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, it’s about four women running an interior design firm in Atlanta. In one scene Julia Sugarbaker, who is the sharp-tongued primary owner of the firm, is leaving for a football game with one of her co-workers. Sadly, she was going to a Georgia Tech game, but we’ll overlook that part for now.
As the two characters are heading out the door, Julia says that she and her husband used to plan their weekends around the Georgia Tech games. She quips, “In the East, football is a cultural exercise. In the Midwest, it’s cannibalism. In the West, it’s a tourist attraction. But in the South, it’s a religion!”
Over the last week and a half BKP and I have been going from school to school interviewing head football coaches for our North Georgia Coaching Series. Now if any of y’all know BKP, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he’s been doing most of the talking and I’ve been doing most of the observing. But this doesn’t bother me, it gives me a chance to learn more about the programs I’ll be spending a lot of time with this fall.
With that being said, there’s one thing in particular I’ve been noticing in our interviews, and that’s how much these coaches truly care about their players and their programs.
Now me saying that might make some of y’all think, “Well, duh. That’s what they’re supposed to do.” Well, maybe. But I like to think I’m pretty good at picking up when someone is just putting on an act for appearances. And I can say with all sincerity that none of these coaches are doing that.
Obviously when BKP and I go into these interviews, he asks questions about what the teams have been doing during the summer and how they’re planning to prepare for the regular season. But he also asks the coaches if they can highlight a few players that have really stood out. This point in the interview, I believe, is where a coach who didn’t care would possibly just say a couple names and move on.
But these coaches not only name the players, they tell us about why they stand out. And it’s a sign of the hard work of these athletes, but there’s also a sense of pride from these coaches as they name them. A couple of coaches have mentioned that it’s hard to name just a few, because all of their players have worked hard. And it’s not that the rest of the team doesn’t matter or that they don’t care about them, but the ones that they mention they do so without hesitation because they’ve been there with them through the summer truly coaching them. There’s no so-so about the commitment these coaches make- they’re all in.
Another thing that has amazed me about these coaches, not just in the interviews but learning about them off the field, is how much they care about their community as well. A couple of them, such as Chad Cheatham at Fannin County and Chad McClure at Hayesville, are natives to their communities. It’s home to them, and they’re not going to be just halfway in their commitments to their programs.
When Coach Caleb Sorrells of the Lumpkin County Indians was first named as head coach, the school hosted a meet and greet for him. It was one of the first stories I covered in this position.
In his address to the parents, Sorrells promised to not only invest in the team as players and athletes, but as men who would one day be employees and fathers. I remember being caught off guard at first because I was expecting him to talk about plans for the future of the program, the summer schedule and what not. He did talk about these things, but I believe by telling the parents that he was going to invest in the players as men showed that it was going to be a priority.
Although I know more about the commitment that Sorrells has made because I’m positioned in Lumpkin County, he’s not the only one in the area who gets involved in the community and works to build up the athletes’ character.
Tim Cokely with the White County Warriors has an entire wall of his office decorated with signs of good character qualities to instill in the team. Chad Cheatham, who I mentioned earlier, referees basketball in the football off-season just because, and the community loves him for it. I’m sure that many of the other coaches in the area do similar things and I just don’t know about it yet.
These are commitments that we see played out by coaches in movies and don’t always think to look for in real life. And because I grew up in Gwinnett County, population one million, if there was this sort of commitment by coaches I didn’t always see it because there were so many people. I love living up here in North Georgia in a smaller community where an act of kindness, especially where sports are concerned, rarely goes unnoticed.
We think about football as a sport that instills a since of discipline, but why is that? Because there’s a coach that sets that standard and inspires the team to do the same. As a community we love football and we love our team, and we can thank a coach for that.
If any of you are under the age of 18 and reading this article, then I imagine this week was probably a tough week for you. I say that because the majority of schools in the state of Georgia started back this week.
I can remember being in high school and having a knot of dread in my stomach the night before the first day of school. I’ve never been a morning person, so having to get up early was my first problem. Add in all of the homework and having to spend my days in one building…it was easy to tell I wasn’t a school person.
The good news is there was always one bright spot in all of this gloom, and that was football season. I know I’ve said it before on our sports show, Instant Replay, and probably in this column as well, but in high school I lived for football season. I never missed a game, home or away. Granted I was in the colorguard with the marching band, so most of the time I HAD to go. But I can still remember a handful of games where we weren’t required to go, and some of my friends got together and still went anyway.
Those were good times, but I dare to say that these are even better. I’m thankful to have a job that pays me to follow a sport that I love. But on the other hand, it’s a job that’s helping me to get an inside look on other sports that are sometimes forgotten, especially in the South where football is a religion.
I covered my first softball game on Tuesday. I have watched and worked softball games in the past, so in my defense I knew what to expect, but it was my first time reporting on a game. It was the Lumpkin County Lady Indians against the Pickens Dragonettes in the Lady Indians home opener. One thing I loved about this game was that it wasn’t just smooth sailing, if you will. Just to give a brief recap, the Nettes put three runs on the board first. By the fifth inning, it was looking as though the Lady Indians might lose their home opener. But as with all great teams, the Lady Indians weren’t going down without a fight and ended up coming back to win 4-3. Ironically, I went to the next game where they played each other tonight and the Nettes ended up winning 9-4.
Softball is just one of several high school sports that is played in the fall. There’s also volleyball and cross country. While I haven’t gotten the chance to go cover either of these events yet, I know that I probably will be in the near future.
I’ve never personally played volleyball competitively, but I know several people who have. And from what I do know about it, there’s more technique to setting and hitting the ball than there seems. Whenever I play for fun at the beach I just feel lucky to get it over the net. But there are certain ways to prepare before you serve the ball and where to place your feet when you’re in an official match. I don’t see how players keep up with everything, other than that they practice. I know it’s got to feel great whenever you take all of your frustration out by smacking the ball.
Now I enjoy running, but I could never run cross country. I’ve seen the joke that says “my sport is your sport’s punishment” and to be honest, that’s how I feel because I don’t know how they do it. I can remember talking to cross country runners in high school, and them telling me that they would get up at 6 a.m. to run. And for some of them, the distances they would run blew my mind. But the other incredible thing to me about cross country is how much of a mental sport it is. Not only do runners have to be trained physically to maintain a certain time, they also have to be trained physically to encourage themselves to keep going.
The point I’m trying to make is that even though I’m still learning about other sports, I respect them because I do know how hard they work. I see the social media posts, I know people that play, and I see the teams out practicing well before their season starts. And even though the summer is ending and we’re back to school, the exciting thing is we’re past the days of camps and well on our way to the actual competition. I can’t wait to see what all of these young athletes accomplish.
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Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
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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!
FYN learned this morning the head coach of Pickens County Dragons, Coach Chris Parker, has made a decision to step down. He has plans to remain as the District Athletic Director as indicated in his release below. Coach Parker had a winning season this year which made history for the Pickens County Dragons. TeamFYNSports will interview Coach Parker soon to discuss the future goals for the program. TeamFYNSports and the entire FYN staff wish Coach much success in his continuing role with these young athletes and the Pickens School system.
The White County Warriors had an impressive 2017 football season. Coming off an abismal 1-9 season in 2016, the Warriors came out swinging and scored some big wins early in 2017; defeating Franklin (33-0), Lumpkin (66-14) and Habersham Central (24-21) before dropping a tough loss to Rabun County (49-26).
The Warriors came back the following week and knocked down North Hall (28-18), who’s only other loss to a AAAA power came in the final seconds against Pickens County (42-35) where the Trojans marched down the field and came up just short as time expired.
In 2018, the Warriors will once again have an exciting schedule to kick off the season, and there’s no doubt they’ll be looking to duplicate and even improve upon their 7-4, 2-2 season from last year.
With games at Lumpkin County and then home against Habersham Central, the Warriors kick the season off much like they did in 2017. However, put a big red circle around the Sept 7 game at Pickens County, where PHS head coach Chris Parker is likely reloading rather than rebuilding this season. The game pits two quality AAAA programs against each other in non-region play, with White representing Region 7-AAAA and Pickens representing Region 6-AAAA. Both teams were eliminated early in post-season play last year, but both teams proved to be fearsome opponents on the gridiron regardless of home/away.
After the Pickens game, the Warriors schedule doesn’t let up.
The Warriors enjoyed a 10-pt victory over North Hall last season, but the Trojans played much better football as the season continued, and was the #TeamFYNSports Most Improved Team in Region 7-AAA last season. The Warriors will look to defeat the Trojans (9/14), before taking the drive over to Marist for their first game in region play. Marist, as the whole world is aware, is the defending region champion in Region 6. What’s interesting about Marist is although they won their region, defeating rival Blessed Trinity 25-24 early in the season. Two months later, the two teams met again in the State Championship and Blessed Trinity defeated the War Eagles 16-7. Undoubtedly, Marist will look to return to the final in 2018, but they will have to go through White County first.
Perhaps the best part of the Warriors’ schedule this year is the break between facing Marist (9/21) and Blessed Trinity (11/2), although the Warriors will need to defeat Flowery Branch, West Hall, Denmark and Chestatee during the interim.
How will the 2018 season fare for the Warriors of White County? It’s too early to tell. Rest assured the team will be preparing accordingly and TeamFYNSports looks forward to reporting on the 2018 season from the sidelines this fall.
The Mountain Football League playoffs have finally reached their final destination for 2017: Super Bowl Saturday. This weekend, several of North Georgia’s finest young athletes will meet on the gridiron at Fannin County High School, battling to take home the league’s top honor of Super Bowl Champions.
Here are the results from last weekend’s final round of the playoffs:
6U: Fannin defeated Gilmer 22-0. Will play East Hall in the Super Bowl. East Hall defeated Chestatee 34-0.
7U: Fannin defeated Dawson 32-0. Will play Gilmer in Super Bowl. Gilmer defeated Pickens 46-0.
8U: Union defeated Fannin 20-0. Will play Chestatee in Super Bowl. Chestatee defeated Gilmer 25-19.
9U: Chestatee defeated West Hall 34-8. Will play Pickens in Super Bowl. Pickens defeated Dawson 26-0.
10U: Fannin defeated Gilmer 29-0. Will play Dawson in Super Bowl. Dawson defeated Union 12-0.
11U: Chestatee defeated Fannin 20-7. Will play Gilmer in Super Bowl. Gilmer defeated Dawson 7-6.
Follow us on Twitter @teamfynsports next weekend (or on Facebook) as we will have complete Super Bowl coverage from the sidelines on Saturday.
Updated Game Times:
6u Super Bowl
East Hall vs Fannin 10Am
7U Super Bowl
Fannin vs Gilmer 1145Am
8U Super Bowl
Union vs Chestatee 1:30pm
9U Super Bowl
Chestatee vs Pickens 3:15Pm
10U Super Bowl
Dawson vs Fannin 5pm
11U Super Bowl
Gilmer vs Chestatee 6:45 Pm