I’ll be the first to tell you that growing up I was never athletic. People always seem to find that hard to believe since I’m a sports reporter. But there was a time that I was really interested in trying softball.
When I was little (aka the age I should’ve started playing a sport if I wanted to be any good at it) I never really knew about or watched softball. When I got into middle school, I had a friend who played and showed me an incredible video of a softball player shattering a piece of glass from her fast-pitch. It was obvious that she was extremely strong and worked very hard to be one of the best in her sport.
I was inspired to say the least, and I almost signed up to join a church league with another friend of mine. But sadly at that point it was too late for me, and I think it was for the better anyway. Combine my age and lack of experience with my lack of athleticism and I probably would’ve been a guaranteed bench warmer.
Anyway, the point of this week’s edition of Sports talk Thursday is not to mope about my sad past with athletics, but to praise these hardworking ladies for what they do. And covering the Lumpkin County Lady Indians softball team as well as some of the other local high school teams has truly opened my eyes to what an incredible sport softball is. And while most of my experience is with Lumpkin County because I cover them on a regular basis, these are observations that I’ve made about high school teams across the board.
The first thing I love about softball is how encouraging the players are for their teammates. Unlike softball or basketball that are typically played in louder conditions, the atmosphere for softball is fairly quiet. So it’s easy for the players to make themselves heard when they’re cheering each other on, and I assume it’s also necessary in some instances to keep them going! There’s never a quiet moment at a Lumpkin County softball game, because whether it’s for the batter when they’re at the plate or the pitcher when they’re on the mound, the Lady Indians are always chanting words of encouragement. And when I’ve traveled to cover the team at other high schools, the other team is the same way. And not only do the teams encourage their own teammates, they’ll also give a shout out to players of the opposing team if they make a good play.
The athleticism of the players is another thing that blows me away about softball. I’ve seen basemen go into full- on splits to make a catch for an out, numerous running catches and a couple diving/rolling catches. On offense there have been several out-of-the-park home runs (a couple lead-offs!) and other perfectly timed triples, doubles and singles to bring the team ahead. This isn’t to say that I would expect anything less from a group of hardworking women, but it amazes me nonetheless. Possibly because there’s no way in this world I could do that stuff myself!
As a sports reporter it’s always exciting to catch that perfect moment on camera when the ball connects with the bat for a home run. Then to be able to share that moment with the player or their family makes the job so rewarding. I know as a reporter I’m not *technically* supposed to show favoritism at a game, but there have been several times I’ve had to sit on my hands to keep from cheering when there was a great hit or awesome play on defense.
Long story short- these young women work hard, you should come watch them, and I’ve enjoyed covering them.
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.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Two coaches spoke during the Gilmer Board of Education’s (BOE) Public Comments this week on a policy change close to approval.
The item is in its second reading this month for the BOE and is set for the vote on Thursday, March 21, 2019. The contention on the policy comes with changes to Community Coaches. The policy, IDFC Community Coaches, is seeing changes in requirements, pay, and eligibility for those wishing to serve, as noticed by the strikes and bold print in the policy. Those who spoke had each had one issue in common, though. The pay limit on community coaches, “lay coaches” as they are also called.
First to speak, Softball Coach Kim Charles addressed the board saying that as a head coach, she had always wanted to make the major decisions for her team. She felt that the revision was restrictive to the teams who use lay coaches more. She advocated for these coaches calling them “great people” and “very involved in the community.” She went further saying she wanted to remain loyal to these lay coaches who have and will serve in sports programs to the benefit of the students involved.
Charles said she didn’t want this to be a cut to current coaches, turning into a force to drive off those who have volunteered loyally over the years. She said they are the ones who have tried so hard to build and improve the kids when the head coaches need help. These coaches, said Charles, have proven themselves in their areas. She also pointed out that several of the sports that have seen success over the years have had long years of the same lay coaches, providing the stability needed to foster that kind of success.
Second to speak, Track Coach Josh Snider echoed the feelings that restricting and limiting the community coaches of the county would only detriment the sports and those students involved. He noted that the track programs work with three lay coaches and go through certifications at their own costs to become certified for their positions. The revisions in this policy also require GHSA community coach training and a rules clinic and assessment to become certified to coach their desired sport.
Snider also commented that he wanted to add to the policy that community coaches might also have their past experience in the sport with Gilmer Schools under consideration when they apply. When this is considered, Snider noted you might have a coach who meets the requirements but didn’t “mesh well” with the coaching staff or students in that sport.
He further agreed with the sentiments spoken by Charles as he noted several sports who are seeing success and past lay coaches who have also been well received and went on to further and enhance their sports and areas.
The third speaker, District Athletic Director Rodney Walker, began his address quoting a statistic of Gilmer Schools utilizing 75 percent of its coaches as certified staff coaches and 25 percent of them as lay coaches. Walker urged the board to move forward with the revisions. Though he said he had no issue with lay coaches, he noted that having so many puts the county at risk. He said he was thankful that the county had many willing to serve and admitted that there has been success with community coaching. Walker pointed out that the intent isn’t to get rid of lay coaches, instead limiting them in favor of certified personnel.
Walker said, “There’s no way that a guy that goes to college, or a lady goes to college, and they train and they get paid to do this job. And then we’re bringing people off the streets, and they may be good people, they may be great people, great coaches. But they shouldn’t make the same thing as a certified personnel. That’s just not right.” Walker pushed for the limited pay saying that the county needs to hire the best qualified people to teach in the school and be a part of the programs.
Walker also noted accusations that the revisions was put in place to give the football coaches more money. He said they have one coach they hired. He also said they were fortunate enough last year to have hired three coaches that now coach a second sport. He noted that his biggest push was to get coaches who are also in the school teaching. Walker said that these coaches who teach and coach build better relationships saying, “If we can get these people in the building, that’s what I think helps. You can’t tell me it doesn’t help to be able to have them.”
Ultimately, Walker said he is trying to take care of the system, to protect it.
This issue is already in the second reading before the board, meaning that if citizens are wishing to speak at the meeting or weigh in on the subject they must sign up with the Superintendent before Thursday to be allowed to speak at the regular session. Additionally, citizens are encouraged to speak with board-members about how they want their district’s representative to vote.
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.
The Gilmer County Park and Recreation Baseball and Softball Parade was held last Saturday in downtown Ellijay. Park and Rec. Director Kevan White said there are about 400 kids in the program ranging from three years old in Tee Ball to 13-16 year old teams.
Follow #TeamFYNSports on twitter @fetchyournews. During the season, send your Baseball and Softball pictures and updates to Kevin Hensley, Director of #TeamFYNSports, email- kevin@FetchYourNews.com.
#TeamFYNSports, “Always looking to spotlight young athletes in a positive manner.”
Scroll down to watch parade video.
Daughter of Tara and Josh, Savannah Chalfant has played softball for 12 years now, and looks for many more as she prepares to move to Ohio with her family for one final semester in high school, in which she will play another season of Softball in the spring before attending college under a full ride scholarship at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Florida.
Though she came to Gilmer in her Sophomore year, Chalfant has definitely left her mark as one of Gilmer’s Greats as she became a powerhouse on the mound. Achieving a record breaking 251 strikeouts in one season, Chalfant also was highlighted as the Max Preps National Player of the Week for the week of September 17 after throwing a no hitter and a pair of complete game shut-outs. She pitches an average speed of 66mph with a high of 72mph as she said she clocked at throughout the year.
As she moves forward with her career pitching in Ohio, Chalfant spoke to FYN about plans to move on to a larger team after a year or two at Northwest, slipping out names and hopes like the Volunteers at University of Tennessee or maybe Ohio State to be close to her family.
Like most students preparing for college, Chalfant has not settled for sure on her major, but said, “I think I’m gonna go with Business Management so I can do just about anything.” On the field, however, Chalfant has hopes to set another strike-out record and “keep my ERA below 0.”
The Gilmer High School Lady Bobcats softball team clinched a state title birth and first round home series with a second place finish in the Region 7-AAAA tournament, held at Heritage Park in Dalton Georgia. The Lady “Cats” stayed unbeaten throughout the tournament before falling in both games of the Region Championship to Heritage to finish as the Runner-Up and the number two seed. (more…)