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!
Friday, May 31st, 2019 – Tee times will begin @ 9:00am
Shot Gun Start 4 Man best ball
WhitePath Golf Club
Registration opens at 8:00- Cantaberry will sponsor lunch
Raffle Prizes, Trophies for Winning Teams, Longest Drive, and
Longest Putt Contest. Mulligans sold day of Tournament.
Ronnie Thompson Ford Will be giving away a NEW
F-150 for Hole in one and many other prizes.
Cost per Player $75 or Team $300. – Payable at Registration
Cash / Check / Debit Card / Credit Card
Complete form and email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to
Bobcat Booster Club, Inc., P. O. Box 1992, Ellijay, GA 30540
For more info about team registration call or text:
Scott Stephens (770) 891-4413 Jackie Ellington (706) 889-8199
Joseph Sisson (706) 515-5451
BOBCAT SCRAMBLE SPONSORSHIP INFO
– – – – $100 per Hole – – – –
Fill out information below and mail with check payable to
Bobcat Booster Club, Inc. to:
Bobcat Booster Club, Inc. P. O. Box 1992, Ellijay, GA 30540
Hole Sponsorship Form Must be Received by
May 17 , 2019
For More Info on Hole Sponsorships Call or Text:
Scott Stephens (770) 891-4413 Jackie Ellington(706) 889-8199
Joseph Sisson (706) 515-5451
Please Email LOGO to email@example.com
Business Name on Sign: ____________________________
Contact Name: _____________________________________
Contact Phone: _____________________________________
Contact Email: _____________________________________
Number of Signs: ________ x $100 = _________ (Amount Enclosed)
All proceeds support the Gilmer Bobcat Football Booster Club and
Gilmer Bobcat Football
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer High School celebrated today, April 29, with family and friends of four athletes who ceremonially signed commitments to colleges and universities, advancing their sports careers to the next level.
The special day saw not only those friends and family members, but coaches, school administrators, and even Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs present to honor the work and achievements of these four at the “Spring Signing Day” event.
Tyson Elliott signed his commitment to the University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, where he plans on playing football. Elliott is currently looking to play Right Tackle. He says his next goal is to join the travel squad his freshman year and hopes to continue working hard towards that goal. He will be studying to major in Mathematics Education and possibly minoring in Coaching as he hopes to one day become a coach at either the middle school or high school levels.
As he transitions into collegiate sports, Elliott said he is excited about the coming challenges. Having put in the effort to get to this point, he said that he feels like it’s all paid off to have a college offer him a spot and to take that step to the next level. He went on to add, “Pretty much it’s everything I’ve been looking forward to. It’s kind of hard to explain, honestly.”
Grace Pleasant signed her commitment to Berry College, located in Rome, Georgia, where she plans on competing on the swim team. She swims the 100-meter breaststroke and some freestyle. Attending Berry College, Pleasant said that she plans on completing the dual-degree program. Then she plans on transferring to the Georgia Tech. She wants to major in Environmental Engineering.
As she transitions into collegiate sports, Pleasant said it has been a major impact on her life as she never thought she would be able to keep swimming into college. She started swimming at 10-years-old and also swam for a club team in Dalton. Noting the passion she has had for swimming all her life, Pleasant was excited to have Berry College give her the chance to continue that saying, “I’m really honored that they would want me.”
David Smith signed his commitment to University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, where he plans on playing football. Smith is currently looking to play at the Quarterback and Receiver positions. He said he is excited for the challenge of the next level of his sports career as he faces harder challenges and what he calls the “learning experience” as he sees the differences between high school and collegiate football. He plans on majoring in Education in order to come back to the high school level to coach football.
As he transitions into collegiate sports, Smith is looking forward to both aspects of college as he says he will get to play the sport he has been a part of his entire life while also having that pay for part of his tuition. He went on to say, “It’s gonna be a big step, like the workouts are going to be harder. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be exciting to be on a bigger team.”
Austin Daman signed his commitment to Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, where he plans on playing baseball. He plans on pitching for the team. Coming off of a tear of his UCL tendon in his arm, Daman has already conquered one challenge as he recovered faster than expected and is already pitching again in preparation for his collegiate years. He plans on majoring in Business and minoring in Sports Management. Though he didn’t comment on any future plans after college, he did not he wants to see where life takes him.
As he transitions into collegiate sports, Daman said it means a lot to even be able to play college baseball after his injury, even more that his hard work has paid off to continue pitching and to be in the position he is now. He said, “All glory to God for him to be able to get me to where I am. I couldn’t have done it without him.” Daman also gave credit to his Dad for his pushing and support and instilled his drive and belief to put forth the effort that was necessary to achieve this goal.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Despite only being halfway through the school year, the Gilmer Board of Education is already preparing for 2019 and the coming years with two resolutions in their December meeting.
Approving next year’s meetings sets the schedule for 2019 as the Board moves forward. With January set from last year, the board has added it as a note. Different from Monday’s meeting, the board change the work session to Tuesday for January 2020 as the original Monday date falls on Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. These Meetings are:
Additionally, the board has also formally approved a resolution to reflect the county’s elections in November. The results of 7,408 for and 4,432 against set the Board in position for the next ESPLOST Cycle. Though this resolution is officially the next step, Board Members have already discussed speaking with attorney’s about Bonding the next ESPLOST Cycle for the projects listed. As made public earlier this year, the survey results from the public are to also include the new performing arts center among a new elementary school and other projects.
The Board also approved personnel for the month of December. Though many thought this might include a new football coach, none was included. However, Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs made a special address to the issue that later saw a Special Called Meeting for next week.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County has been searching for a new coach since the official announcement of the resignation of Casey Wingard.
It seems that Gilmer’s Christmas present could be a new coach. Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs announced that she expected a meeting to be called for next week in which information on the new head coach would be released. She stated, “Once the final selection is made and references are checked, then I will ask the Board to hold a called meeting next week so that we can name that coach before we go home for Christmas break.”
With 55 people showing interest and 44 of them completing applications process. Eventually, the Board narrowed this to seven people selected to be interviewed.
That meeting has now been announced. On Monday, December 17, 2018, the Board of Education will be holding a Special Called Meeting. There are actually two items on the agenda, one simply states personnel, if approved this personnel item could hold the name of Gilmer’s newest football coach.
The other agenda item relates to recent events regarding the resignation of Board Member Nick Weaver. Appointment for vacant board seat” is the item on the agenda. Yet, no indication has been made yet if this is to actually announce the newest member or simply to begin open board-discussions.
One meeting could, hopefully, fill two large gaps in Gilmer County’s School System by Christmas.
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – It may seem like a small gesture to some, but for those in Gilmer County, Georgia, a simple jersey is relating a lot more than meets the eye as they receive a memorial jersey to honor Gilmer’s middle school principal, the late Larry Walker.
With a special moment before the middle school football games between these two schools on September 19, Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney took to the field with Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs and Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee for a special ceremony in order to present the jersey hosting the emblems of both Gilmer and Fannin.
After a few words about Walker’s life and a moment of silence honoring him, Gwatney and Downs shared their own moment holding the jersey together. The announcers explained the meaning of the ceremony saying,
“The jersey being presented to the Gilmer Middle School football team bears the name of Walker with the #1. Also on the jersey is the Fannin County School insignia and the Gilmer County School insignia. The jersey being presented is in memory of Larry D. Walker, principal of Gilmer Middle School, and signifying Fannin County and Gilmer County are together as one, both in spirit and community.”
With the funeral today, many are still dealing with the loss as they prepare their final respects. Others are coping in their own ways. But as a community comes together and the true reach of one man comes into focus, they are responding to the show of support. Kayann Hayden West offered her thanks on social media saying, “Thankful for the support of our community and the Walker family up and down the 515 corridor. Rivals on the field but united in purpose and heart.”