ELLIJAY, Ga – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners are moving forward with plans to seek state recognition of the school system’s major success in the wrestling world with a proclamation of Gilmer as the State Wrestling Capital.
Parents and Coaches filled the Commissioner’s conference room on Wednesday, September 12, to ask the board for a sign at the county line claiming Gilmer as the wrestling capital of the state in honor of the 17 state titles the county has brought home in the sport.
Coach Mark Waddell spoke first for citizens in the work session saying that what Gilmer has accomplished is “pretty unprecedented.” Noting the 17 team state titles, he said that these were only the team’s titles, not individuals.
As each student practices and becomes part of the team, several parents noted in the work session that their kids have become entirely different people. From the discipline to the camaraderie and the inclusion of faith into the program, many of those present threw support behind the idea, lauding the coaches who have done so much and pushed these athletes to accomplish even more.
One parent even said, “They carry themselves differently.” The changes the students go through during the program was constantly repeated emphasizing its importance to them.
Waddell asked for the support of the Commissioners in placing a sign to highlight the 17 combined titles. He noted that part of the success is that it is a singular program. It doesn’t individualize the middle school, the youth, and the high school. With the whole program on track to a singular vision, the success follows with the students accomplishing everything they can.
Coach Sam Snider also spoke about the program’s state recognition sharing stories about the numerous times that Speaker David Ralston brought Gilmer Wrestling to the capital to highlight their championships. Students from Gilmer are spreading across the country, Snider pointed to those who wrestle on scholarships in college and others who use what the program teaches to further their careers in other areas.
Honoring their success, these and other coaches want to highlight the students with a sign acknowledging them. As Snider said, “A sign that says Gilmer County has accomplished this rewards success.”
Coaches weren’t the only ones pushing for recognition of these students as several parents were present at the Work Session. Some spoke of the program’s influence, but Jim Fox emotionally recalled one of the parades they held for winning the state championship, “The memory I have is right across the square during the parade. People were coming out on the sidewalks from the different stores. And out of the city barbershop comes a man with shaving cream on half of his face and a bib trailing behind him… We were escorting all the trucks down the road and I got a view of the sunrise, the flags, and people cheering and wondering what was going on. They were coming out of the store saying, ‘Why is traffic stopped?'”
Fox continued saying that they were explaining that they were celebrating the young people involved in the state wrestling title when he was asked, “Gilmer County won a state wrestling title?”
Fox says he replied, “No, they won two.”
No less emotion came to the Commissioners Regular Meeting when coaches returned with part of the wrestling team. This time, though, it wasn’t parents or coaches to share what the program meant. It was a wrestler, Thomas Chastain, who stood before the Commissioners saying, “It helps everybody grow as a team. Most people don’t think wrestling is a team sport, but it is because you all have to work together to get a team score to get first. Not just one person can get first in duals.”
Addressing the request for a sign calling Gilmer the capital, Post Commissioner Travis Crouch said the state would only give the county one state-level recognized “capital” sign. Though that didn’t stop the board from planning to seek state-level recognition without the sign.
Additionally, Crouch brought up an older discussion that the county seek a county-owned sign at the line recognizing the Wrestling Capital among other things.
Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris noted that an electronic sign of substantially larger size than requested was something the county could feasibly look at next year as they move forward seeking the state’s recognition as well. Engaging in talks with Speaker Ralston, they hope to have the item in the legislative session early next year.
In the last few moments of discussion during their regular meeting, one of the coaches offered his deepest thanks to the commissioners for listening and for what they do.
Paris responded by saying, “This is not so much something that we are doing as it is something that ya’ll have earned.”
And with that, an unanimous decision was made to move forward with both options.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Entering its second season as an official team, the Cartecay Youth Bike Team has already achieved greatness by producing a state champion in its inaugural season.
Even though the actual race season runs through September, October, and November, the team is already preparing for early training and meetings. Involving parents of the students on the team is part of the process through the next three months of April, May, and June as Coach Larry Alonso prepares for practice season and eventually the races.
Preparing the team in its first season, Alonso said he and his wife expected only a handful of members with their own children making at least half of the team. Today, Alonso celebrates 10 state finishers last season with Hannah Calabretta being a state champion in her first season of competition.
Alonso points to his Mountain Bike Team and the sports as more youth development focused than competitive. Separating the competition from other sports, Alonso said the constant focus on self alleviates much of the back biting and negativity of many other sports. Additionally, Alonso commented on how competitive mountain biking builds on active lifestyles and growth through training like many other sports. Competitors must be fully sufficient on the course for any repairs and on-the-spot fixes needed as accepting outside help carries a penalty in the competition.
Alonso said teaching these skills is so much more than just a sport. He teaches the mechanics of the bikes, skills for sufficiency, and the physical conditioning itself.
Moving into his second season now, Alonso is beginning to build on his successes as he hopes to increase the size of his team, but also to increase the team’s connection and involvement in the county. The team appeared at the Board of Commissioner’s March meeting for Alonso to speak to the commissioners about the county’s trails system.
Part of his presentation to the commissioners focused on the benefits his team and sport could provide for the county. Alonso has already begun work on an “Ellijay Invitational” event to bring teams all over Georgia to Gilmer County as the Mountain Biking Capital of Georgia. Alonso admitted he has already hit a wall in the event for parking and access for the major crowds seeking to attend and view the event with family.
Dreaming bigger, Coach Alonso noted ideas of partnerships for trails through or around local apple orchards and more adaptations for major competitions to point to Gilmer as the Mountain Biking Capital and hold events as such. These events, on average, see upwards of 800 racers and potentially 5,000 people attending the race. A major event like this also exposes people to the county for tourism in addition to the immediate economic in town.
The growth continues across the state, according to Alonso, who stated, “There’s no better place for the state championship race than at the mountain biking capital.” Gilmer provides everything needed for the events with varying difficulties across the county, but an event like this could show the mountain views across harder trails to make it a peak destination for the sport.
The races these students on Cartecay Youth Mountain Bike Team face changes across the minimum sixth-grade riders to do one lap around a five to six mile course and finish. Junior varsity riders do two or three laps to finish, and varsity hit four to five laps totaling around 20 miles before the race ends.
Cartecay continues building on its success and is inviting students and parents interested in the team to attend their team meeting on April 10. The event is one of six preseason events the team is allowed to hold before the end of June.
Less than a week after finishing second place to Cass at the Blackbeard Duals, the Gilmer High Bobcats turned around and dominated a 21 team tournament at Etowah to take top honors; and they were able to do so by beating the very team that trumped them just a few days earlier in the week.
With huge wins over Cambridge, Northwest Whitfield, Woodland-Cartersville, and Cass; the Cats were relentless in their pursuit of victory on the mats and would not be denied.
Their second team finished 2nd Place in the JV tournament as well.
When we reached out to the Gilmer coaches, we gained some insight as to the strategy involved from a coaching standpoint and the impact it can have on the team’s overall results.
“We wrestled well at Allatoona just a few days before and Cass was really tough. They have a couple of kids that are experienced and have wrestled in the state tournament,” Bobcats head coach Joshua Ghobadpoor told TeamFYNSports. “We made some adjustments with our roster going into [Etowah] with some weight adjustment and it gave us a more favorable matchup. The team wrestled hard and even with a couple of forfeited matches we knew we had a chance to win and we did.”
Results from the Allatoona Duals:
Gilmer vs. Carrollton (Win)
Gilmer vs. Allatoona (Win)
Gilmer vs. North Forsyth (Win)
Gilmer vs. Woodland-Cartersville (Win)
Gilmer vs. Cass (Tough/Narrow Loss)
Playing varsity all four years, Taylor Boling has signed to East Tennessee State University for softball.
Though she has played other positions, like shortstop her freshman year, Boling is now a pitcher only, meaning she never bats. This is a position she herself says she loves. Boling says she was attracted to East Tennessee because it maintains the mountain setting while giving a more “big city” feel than Gilmer. Moreover, East Tennessee will have Boling playing on a full scholarship. Not a common thing, Boling says she couldn’t say no to the opportunity.
The scholarship translates to academics for the young athlete as she states the university offers experts in medicine through Olympic trainers on staff. Boling states she was excited to study medicine under professionals of that caliber. Majoring in biology to become a physician’s assistant and considering a dermatology specialist, she is also looking forward to continuing into the medical school on campus after the biology major.
Already preparing for the path, she is currently in her final class of the Sports Medicine Pathway at Gilmer High School and prepares to take on Work Based Learning at a local dermatology office next semester. Boling also considered Troy University, University of North Georgia, Mercer University, and even Georgia Tech.
Brooks Rosser has pitched since childhood and the first leagues where he was allowed. Signing with Truett-McConnell, Rosser says they were “the best feel” outside of baseball.
In fact, much of Rosser’s talk of Truett-McConnell didn’t focus on sports, but rather the people, coaches and staff there that will further his life and faith. He went on to say it was Head Coach Mike Croley that really sold him on playing there. Croley consistently spoke to and guided Rosser during the process. The “personal touch,” Rosser says, showed him that he wasn’t just another recruit, but he felt they wanted him specifically and did everything they could to get him there. “It wasn’t just another email. It was a text. It was a phone call. It was everything,” Rosser added.
Signing a roughly 75 percent scholarship, he says that Truett-McConnell’s focus on “what kind of man you’re going to be outside of baseball” was the academic draw. Looking to obtain an MBA and focus on supply chain management or marketing, Rosser has several plans beyond college already. Part of his draw to even begin looking at Truett-McConnell was their Pitching Coach Ross Roberts who has already had two players drafted to the majors. With only three years at the school, Rosser is eager to join the program believing the future looks even brighter than the already two drafted athletes.
However, when asked about potential hopes to be drafted into the minors or even major league. Rosser said he focused on the now: “I set small goals to achieve the larger ones.” He also stated the potential for accomplishments in the game are “unlimited.”
Hopes spread to his current coach, Jeff Thurman, who praises Rosser’s ability saying that his pitch variety is one of Rosser’s greatest strengths that he takes to Truett-McConnell and possibly further. Being able to continually locate a fastball, curveball and slider, as well as Thurman saying he can do change-ups well too, adds a lot to his already high ceiling and continuing to grow could lead Rosser very far.
ELLIJAY, Ga – The Gilmer County Board of Education (BOE) is moving forward for a change on one front while maybe avoiding change on another for next year.
First, the BOE has approved a motion to begin the process to change the board members compensation from $50 per meeting to $400 per month. Initial response from citizens have been conflicted with such a drastic increase. However, with this approval, the item will be sent to the General Assembly to be considered in the next session in early 2018. Then, if approved, Gilmer County Board of Education Member Michael Bramlett tells FYN that the change will not take effect for board members until the next time their seat is elected.
This means that the current Board of Education members will have to be re-elected before they, or the newly elected member, could take advantage of the compensation change, and that is if it is approved at the General Assembly.
Gilmer County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes told FYN the Board has never set anything about compensation previously, which means it was automatically set at $50 per meeting. But a feeling now that the $50 was insufficient for the work put in ushered forth the motion for a change.
Wilkes also stated that this is already being done by neighboring Fannin County. The switch means going from some months with only the work session and regular session and some with at least five or more meetings. Wilkes stated it was likely, more when the Board was searching for a Superintendent before she was hired, to a set rate for the month regardless of the number of meetings.
As for avoiding a change, the BOE listened to one citizen who signed up to speak at their regular meeting. Brian Pritchard spoke to the board to ask them not to change the leadership of their football program. The Gilmer Bobcats football team has seen a lot of change over the last three years with continuing shifts in coaches across two 0-10 seasons. While Pritchard never mentioned names, he stated the current leadership was what the kids needed. It was a leadership “they would play for.”
The point to note came later in the meeting when the Board approved its November personnel changes. No resignations, terminations or retirements were shown on the list. While personnel was discussed earlier in the week during executive session, before Pritchard’s comments, it will be something they say they consider moving forward.
The Gilmer Bobcats have officially competed in their first wrestling tournament of the season, and it was a successful performance overall. The Cats have enough wrestlers to make up two separate varsity teams, and that’s exactly what they did as they took a team to compete in the Spartan Slam Invitational at West Hall while a second team traveled to Woodstock to compete in the River Ridge Varsity Duals.
The Spartan Slam Invitational boasts some of the toughest wrestling competitors in the state, with a 16-team turnout and so many wrestlers that the event had to limit individuals to only 5 matches.
The Cats finished 3rd overall (out of 16) and scoring was led by first place finishers Caleb Waddell (152lb class), Ryan Crump (195lb class) and Anthony Zilke (285lb class). A complete list of individual results is listed below.
Gilmer coach Joshua Ghobadpoor was pleased with the effort of his wrestlers and excited about the future. “We wrestled hard and with a purpose, team atmosphere was great, and we had success,” Ghobadpoor told his team after the meet. “[We] still have a lot we can improve upon which is a great position to be in! Couldn’t be more proud of the effort that was displayed by all our wrestlers!”
– Varsity Team #1: Spartan Slam Invitational Results:
Team took 3rd overall.
113: Gabe Reimer: 5th Place
120: Logan Bentley: 2nd Place
126: Cameron Martin: 7th Place
132: Javier Jacinto: 2nd Place
132: Tristain Kendall: 3rd Place
138: Alex Repetin: 3rd Place
145: Hoyt Stover: 4th Place
152: Caleb Waddell: 1st Place
160: Chase Calvert: 8th Place
170: Grant Ledford: 3rd Place
182: Chad Weaver: 3rd Place
195: Ryan Crump: 1st Place
285: Anthony Zilke: 1st Place
285: Jhaydon Ragsdale: 5th Place
– Varsity Team #2: River Ridge Varsity Duals Results:
*individual stats for this event not yet reported, but there were several wrestlers that were undefeated on the day
Overall Record: 3-2
– Dunwoody (Forfeited to us)
– North Gwinnett
Gilmer will compete on Tuesday in a Quad Match against Dawson County, Murray County, and Riverside Military Academy at Gilmer County High School.