Sports talk Thursday with Lauren Hunter-This one’s for the girls

All of TeamFYNSports, Featured Stories, Sports

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.

Erin Andrews is one of my all-time favorite sports reporters because she knows her stuff!

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.

Kelsey Wingert is another admirable reporter because of her on-air delivery and relationship with fans.

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.

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Sports talk Thursday with Lauren Hunter-For love of the game

All of TeamFYNSports, Sports

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.

Why else would my friend Erin and I bundle up in the freezing cold for playoffs? Because we love football!

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.

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Sports talk Thursday with Lauren Hunter

All of TeamFYNSports, Featured Stories, Sports

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.

Papa Skip, Nana, my momma and I at the Georgia v. Florida game in 2017

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.

My senior year of high school I was elected Homecoming Queen. This was the moment after my name was called. Look at my dad’s face!

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.

I worked for the Gwinnett Braves (now Gwinnett Stripers) for three seasons. Here I’m in my third season as a member of the Promo Team.

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!

Lauren Hunter

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Dragons End Spring Practice With Scrimmage Against Dawson

Team FYN Sports

It was a hot one last night in Dawsonville as the PHS Dragons football team made the short trip over to Dawson County to take on the Tigers in the finale of spring practice. The last several years these two teams have played against each other in the spring game. Both teams are coming off of playoff appearances in the 2018 season, and looked to build momentum heading into the 2019 season.

 

The story for the first half, which was played by the varsity squads & the takeaway from the first half was defense. Neither offense could get anything going as the defense for both squads were very impressive for having been together for just two weeks. In the Dragons case, they were led by new defensive coordinator Grant Myers. Coach Myers came to PHS from Splading High School. The defensive line is still intact from last year, but other than that, there are many new faces in the linebacker & DB groups. Speaking of the DB group, a familiar face has been tasked to lead them as PHS Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Jordan Shaw, has returned to PHS to coach the DB’s. Another new defensive coach that is set to join the Dragons staff is new LB coach, Seth Deering, who will come to PHS from Denmark High School.

 

The varsity portion of this spring scrimmage ended in a 0-0 deadlock. The good thing about these spring games is, both teams have something to look at and improve on heading into the summer workouts & into the start of the new season.

 

The 2nd half saw the younger kids get into the action, & that’s where the scoring really picked up. Dawson, got the scoring going in the 3rd with a 1-yd TD run. The extra point was converted & the Tigers led the Dragons 7-0. The next offensive play for Pickens, QB Jarod Whitmore found a streaking Devin Hand who snuck behind the Tiger defense & scored a 65-yd TD connection. Sophomore kicker Jose Sanchez drilled the extra point through the uprights to tie things up at 7. Just before the 3rd quarter ended, the Tigers attempted a 46-yd uncontested field goal, & converted it, giving Dawson a 10-7 lead going to the 4th.

 

The game featured a running clock throughout the contest. The last minute or so saw the final scoring by the two teams, Dawson, added to their lead with a 10-yd TD pass, making it 16-7 with 1:11 left. Pickens, drove down the field, & got in field goal range so Sanchez could attempt his lone field goal of the night. Sanchez would knock the 34-yd field goal attempt through, giving us a final of 16-10, Dawson.

 

  • As mentioned earlier, the score in these games isn’t the important thing. It’s seeing where the players & the team is at heading into the summer & getting a feel for what needs to be worked on. Pickens, will break for a couple of weeks, & comeback in early June to continue preparation for the 2019 campaign. The Dragons, will host the Denmark Danes at Dragons Stadium for their 2nd scrimmage on August 16th, & open up the 2019 season at home against Stone Mountain the following week.

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Dragons Battle In State Tournament Against Num. 2 Team In 4A

PHS Baseball

Yesterday, the PHS Dragons varsity baseball team headed down to Atlanta to take on the Marist War Eagles in the 1st round of the GHSA 4A State Baseball Tournament. Coming into the game, the Dragons were the #3 seed out of region 6-AAAA, while Marist, came in as the #2 seed out of region 7-AAAA. Marist was also ranked as the 2nd best team in 4A coming into the state tournament.

 

Game 1:

In the top of the 1st, the Dragons got a 2-out walk by Tyler Vreeland, but that would be all they would manage to begin the game. The War Eagles, plated the 1st run of the game in the bottom of the first, taking a 1-0 lead.

 

In the top of the 3rd, Pickens struck for the first time as starter Colby James hit a 2-run, 2-out single, knocking in Hunter White & Brady Moore to give the Dragons a 2-1 lead over Marist. In the bottom of the inning, the War Eagles re-took the lead by scoring two runs over their own & now led, 3-2.

 

In the bottom of the 4th, Marist added to their lead by plating a run to make it 4-2 over the Dragons. In the top of the 5th, Pickens, never one to stop fighting, scored 2 runs as both Jacob Kirchoff  came to score on a passed ball, & Moore scored when James got walked for his 3rd RBI, tying the game at 4.

 

In this back and forth opening game of the series, the War Eagles plated 2 runs in the bottom of the 6th to re-take the lead, 6-4. In the top of the 7th, the Dragons got a 1-out double from Caswell Smith, but he was left stranded as Marist held on to take game one, 6-4.

 

Stats:

Brady Moore: 2-4 with 2 doubles, & 2 runs scored

Caswell Smith: 1-2 with a single, & 2 intentional walks

Tyler Vreeland: 1 walk

Colby James: 1-3 with a single, a walk, & 3 RBI

Hunter White: 1-2 with a single, a walk, & 1 run scored

Jacob Kirchoff: 1 run scored

 

Game 2:

Game 2, saw Pickens as the designated home team & saw senior & College of Charleston signee Caswell Smith get the start. The Dragons, were looking to get a win here in game 2, to force a 3rd and deciding game.

 

Smith & the Dragons, were in a little bit of trouble in the top of the first as Marist had an early threat. Pickens, got out of it & we headed to the bottom of the 1st tied. Brady Moore, led the bottom of the 1st with a walk, but would be left stranded at 3rd, keeping the game scoreless.

 

In the top of the 2nd, the War Eagles plated the first runs of the game, taking a 2-0 lead. Marist added to their lead in the top of the 3rd, scoring 4 times to make it a 6-0 lead over the Dragons.

 

In the bottom of the 4th, Pickens broke through. The Dragons, socred 4 runs on 5 hits, getting a 2-RBI knock from Chad Pacas, and an RBI each from Jacob Kirchoff & Moore. Going to the 5th, the War Eagles lead was cut to just 6-4.

 

Marist, re-took the lead in the top of the 5th by scoring 5 runs. Pickens went quietly in the bottom of the frame, & we’d head to the 6th, with the War Eagles up, 11-4.

 

In the bottom of the 7th, now trailing 16-4, the Dragons would put up one last fight. Getting an RBI from Tyler Vreeland, Colby James, Austin Chester, & Hunter White, & scoring 6 runs before Marist was able to get the final out. Final score, Marist 16, Pickens 10. Pickens finishes the season at 19-13.

 

Stats:

Brady Moore: 1-3 with a single, a walk, 1 RBI, & a run scored

Caswell Smith: 2-4 with 2 singles, & 1 run scored

Tyler Vreeland: 1-4 with a single & 1 RBI

Colby James: 2-4 with a single, a double, 1 RBI, & 2 runs scored

Will Lawrence: 3-3 with 3 singles & 2 runs scored

Austin Chester: 2-4 with 2 singles, 1 RBI. & 2 runs scored

Chad Pacas: 1-2 with a single, 2 hit by pitch, 2 RBI, & 1 run scored

Hunter White: 1 walk, 1 RBI

Jacob Kirchoff: 1-4 with a single, 1 RBI, & 1 run scored

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Dragons End Regular Season By Sweeping LaFayette

PHS Baseball

Yesterday, the PHS Dragons varsity baseball team hosted the LaFayette Ramblers at PJHS for a doubleheader to close out the regular season. Pickens, defeated the Ramblers on Tuesday at LaFayette, 2-0, behind a complete game shutout by Colby James, & looked to win the series, & to finish 3rd in the region heading into the state tournament. It was also Senior Night as the Seniors were recognized in between games.

 

Game 1:

Senior & College of Charleston signee Caswell Smith started game 1 (game 2 overall of the series) & he pitched a masterpiece.

In the bottom of the 1st, the Dragons struck first with 2 runs to take a 2-0 lead. Pickens added to that lead in the bottom of the 2nd, as two more runs would come home, making it 4-0 Dragons. One more run would score in the bottom of the 4th as Pickens extended it’s lead to 5-0 over LaFayette.

 

With the way Smith pitched, the Dragons only needed 1 run as Smith tossed a complete game, no-hit shutout as the Dragons took the first game of the doubleheader, 5-0.

 

Game 2:

The 2nd game was started by another senior, & another college signee. Will Lawrence, who is signed with Wallace State to continue his baseball career, took the mound for the final game of the series. Lawrence got off to a good start, striking out the side in the top of the 1st. In the bottom of the 1st, Brady Moore, led off with a walk, stole 2nd, stole 3rd, & scored after the ball got passed the 3rd baseman. Dragons led, 1-0.

 

Pickens, held that 1-0 lead over the Ramblers until the top of the 4th, when LaFayette plated 2 runs to take a 2-1 lead. Their first lead of the game & of the series. The Dragons, retook the lead in the bottom of the 5th with 2 runs of their own to make it 3-2. LaFayette answered right back with a run in the top of the 6th, to tie things up at 3 a piece.

 

With 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, catcher Tyler Vreeland got on base with a single. Jarod Whitmore would then be brought in to courtesy run for Vreeland. Whitmore, would steal 2nd, then make his way to 3rd after the ball got passed the infield & into the outfield. Whitmore, would  then come home to score the game winning run on a wild pitch. Pickens, finishes the regular season in exciting fashion winning 4-3.

 

Pickens, finishes the regular season at 19-11, & 12-6 in region play. The 19 wins are the most in a season for any PHS Baseball team. The Dragons, will represent 6-AAAA as the 3rd seed & take on the 2 seed out of region 7, the Marist War Eagles, in the first round of the 4A State Baseball Tournament. First pitch is set for Wednesday at 5:30.

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PHS Golf Defeats Gilmer On Senior Night

Team FYN Sports

It was a beautiful day at Bent Tree yesterday as the PHS Golf team celebrated it’s seniors, & hosted the Gilmer golf team. This match, would be the final home match of the season for the Dragons & Dragonettes. They looked to gain momentum heading into the region tournament, by winning this match against their 515 rival.

 

Win the match against their rival they did. The Nettes defeated the Lady Cats 153-158, while the Dragons defeated the Bobcats, 200-218, sending the seniors out with a win.

 

There will be one more regular season golf match as Pickens will head to Dahlonega on Thursday to take on Lumpkin at Achasta. Tee off is set for 4 pm. After that, PHS will head down to LaGrange for Area Tournament. They will have a practice round on Sunday the 28th, the Dragons will then play their tournament on the 29th, & then the Nettes, will play theirs on the 30th.

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Dragons Fall To Lumpkin In Non-Region Action

PHS Baseball, Team FYN Sports

Yesterday afternoon, the PHS Dragons varsity baseball team, made the hour or so trip up to Dahlonega, to take on the Lumpkin County Indians in a non-region ball game. This game, was scheduled for earlier in the season, but was postponed due to weather. Pickens, was coming off of a tough 3-game series against Northwest Whitfield, & looked to strike gold against the Indians heading into their final series of the regular season next week.

 

The Dragons, got off to a good start early in this one as Caswell Smith led off with a hit, then Colby James followed with a hit, then Tyler Vreeland drove them in with a 2 RBI single to give Pickens a 2-0 lead over the Indians, going to the bottom of the 1st. The bottom of the frame saw Dragon starter Ben Miller need only 7 pitches to send us to the 2nd, Dragons up, 2-0.

 

Miller, would strike out the side in the bottom of the 2nd, but in between that, Lumpkin was able to score 2 runs on 1 hit, to tie things up at 2, going to the 3rd. In the bottom of the 3rd, Lumpkin took the lead scoring 4 times to make it 6-2, going to the 4th.

 

In the top of the 4th, the Dragons cut the Indian lead in half as Hunter White drove in Chad Pacas, to make it 6-3. In the bottom of the inning, the Indians got that run back, scoring once to make it 7-3, going to the 5th.

 

In the bottom half of the 5th, Lumpkin added to their lead by scoring 5 runs to make it 12-3. That score would hold up over the final two innings as the Lumpkin Indians get the win, 12-3.

 

For Pickens, they can now put this week behind them and focus on next week, as they begin a 3-game series with the LaFayette Ramblers. The Dragons are currently in 3rd place in the region at 9-6. The first game of the series is set to begin on Tuesday, with a first pitch time of 5:30.

 

Stats:

Caswell Smith: 1-2 with a single, a walk, & 1 run scored

Colby James: 2-3 with 2 singles & 1 run scored

Tyler Vreeland: 2-3 with 2 singles, & 2 RBI

Chad Pacas: 1-3 with a single & a run scored

Austin Chester: 1-3 with a single

Hunter White: 1 RBI

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