Page 1

THE BRIGHT SPOT Sydney Jaudon, Brunswick High School

QUIET STORM

Emily Thrift Pierce Co. High School

Trading in Her

GAME SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

$4.00 / Issue

IN THE

June 2018

Sara Hitt, Ware Co. High School

In The Game | 1


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In The Game | 3


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In tThis Issue

8 12

Trading in Her Cleats

Sara Hitt, Ware Co. High School

The Bright Spot

Sydney Jaudon, Brunswick High School

16

Gator Guns Repeat

20

The Bird Dog Tennis Academy

26 34

Ware Co. High School

Also 25

Herons Stay on Top Brantley Co. High School

Michael “Buzzy” Thorp, Appling Co. Middle School

Coach Plus 1

Candice Boyette, Wayne Co. High School

Quiet Storm

Emily Thrift, Pierce Co. High School

In The Game | 5


FROM THE PUBLISHER

34 Congratulations to the class of 2018. Another school year is in the books, and graduates all over Southeast Georgia will be moving on to the next phase of their lives. SEGA had a great spring sports season with several teams and individuals playing for or winning state titles. Baseball did not disappoint, and we had several individuals win titles in track and field. The 2018 graduating class now hands the baton to the Class of 2019 as we make our way toward August and the start of a new school year. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been blessed to publish In the Game SEGA going into our 10th year. None of it would be possible without our outstanding advertisers, our fantastic readers, and the best staff on the planet, and I say humbly thank you all for allowing me to do what I love. It’s an honor and a privilege to help shed some light on the outstanding student-athletes of SEGA. It’s a tough call to know when to hang it up and walk away from sports. Some athletes stay too long and ruin a once proud legacy, and some leave too soon and have fans asking what if they played another season. Ware County senior Sarah Hitt has made the decision, at least for now, to hang up her

6 | itgnext.com

cleats and focus on the academic side of her college career as she pursues a medical degree. I guess time will tell if Sarah has left the pitch for good. “Golf is a mental sport.” No truer words have ever been spoken. Brunswick High senior Sydney Jaudon understands that golf is not only played on grass, it’s played on the six inches of space between your ears. Sydney has an outstanding 3.5 GPA and scored a 26 on the ACT. Both accomplishments allow her to focus on the golf course without the distraction of worrying about her grades or classes. We’ve done some unique stories over the years here at In the Game, but I think this ranks right at the top. Meet Candice Boyette, Wayne County boys soccer coach and mother-tobe. You read right: She coaches the boys soccer team, which is unique in itself, but this season will stand out from all the others to come because she is expecting her first child, daughter Olivia Rae. I told you it was unique. It’s tough being a defender in soccer. You’re not flashy, you’re not making the long runs with the ball, and you’re not scoring goals; but trust me, you’re just as important to your team as the striker. It took Pierce County senior defender Emily Thrift a bit to figure that out, but she’s excelled at the position with a little encouragement from coach Alvin Thrift. A true team player, coach Thrift knows the value of Emily in every Bears win in 2018.

Pick a court, any court, and this kid is ready to battle. Whether on the hardwood or the tennis court, Appling Middle School player Michael “Buzzy” Thorp is ready, but the tennis court is his true passion. When you are willing to travel two hours twice a week to practice, I’d say that you’re dedicated to your sport. Starting at an early age in rec league tennis, Buzzy has developed the reputation of being the best young player in all of South Georgia. Look for big things in high school and beyond form this young man. We hope you enjoy reading In the Game as much as we enjoy producing and publishing it. We are always open to suggestions as well as story ideas or ways you think we can improve our magazine. Please visit our website at www.itgnext. com and Facebook at www.facebook.com/itgnext. Follow us on Twitter @SEGAInTheGame and on Instagram at inthegamesega. Keep a look out for some exciting news coming soon on new online programing via our online radio station. While you’re online, don’t forget to nominate a deserving student-athlete or coach for one of our feature articles. You’ll be glad you did.

TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS!

Email us at info@itgnext.com to let us know what you thought of the May edition of ITG!

Contributors

Publisher Shawn Smoak Editor Mark Dykes Graphics Mandy Douthit Cover Photography Jennifer Carter Johnson Feature Photography Michael Brinson Jennifer Carter Johnson Andrea Heflin Jeffrey Griffith Feature Writers Rob Asbell John DuPont Phil Jones Evan Smoak Copy Editor Anna Limoges Advertising/Marketing Shawn Smoak shawn@itgsportsnetwork.com Mark Dykes mark@itgnext.com Website Manager Mandy Douthit SEGA Prep Sports P.O. Box 2960 Waycross, Ga. | 31502 Corporate Office: Dykes Media Group LLC P.O. Box 812 Valdosta, Ga. | 31603 In the Game is published monthly (excluding July). The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in part or in full without consent from the publisher. Dykes Media Group, LLC 2018 makes no representation or warranty of any kind for accuracy of content. All advertisements are assumed by the publisher to be correct. Copyright 2015 Dykes Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ISSN 1945-1458.


20


Trading in Her

Written by: Phil Jones Photography by: Jennifer Carter Johnson

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Sara Hitt is one of the best soccer players you’ll ever see take the pitch. But, you may never see Hitt attempt another shot on goal. Ever. Hitt, a senior at Ware County High School, has been playing soccer all of her life, beginning in the second grade when,

according to her mother, she played with an Upward program, then with the local YMCA. In the fifth grade, Hitt began playing with the Golden Isles Soccer Association and with a travel team. She also played on the Waycross Middle School soccer team and has just completed her final season as a four-year starter on the high school team under head coach Mi-

chael Cook. Hitt played one season in the ODP program in Tifton and has attended the Lundy camps as well as summer soccer camp at UGA. Along the way, there have been numerous awards and achievements, enough to show that Hitt has what it takes to keep playing soccer once her high school days are over. But, as great of a soccer player


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as Hitt is, she will likely never play the sport collegiately, except for maybe for an intramural or club team. That is because Hitt wants to pursue a career in the medical field, and with the goal of obtaining an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia with a double major in biology and French, while preparing to head to medical school after that, there’s not go-

“It is very unusual to start a ninthgrader on the varsity program.” — Michael Cook

ing to be much time for soccer…or much of anything else. Hitt began showing a love for soccer as a young child, playing around in the yard with her family. According to her mother, Hitt would push herself to outplay her brother. Even in the causal environment of loved ones, Hitt started to show the fiery, highly competitive spirit that pushed her to do

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Floorball (Lacrosse and Field Hockey) In The Game | 9


her best; and her best is what she has given as an athlete and as a student. Hitt is the salutatorian of her class, numbering 363, at Ware. She has been named to the honor roll since 2014 as a dual enrollment student at South Georgia State College, where she has also earned 38 hours of college credit and has been named to the President’s List of Achievers. Hitt earned 10 | itgnext.com

“Moving Sara to defensive mid fielder this past season completely changed our team and made us a much better defensive team.” — Michael Cook

an additional 32 hours of college credit by taking Advanced Placement courses at Ware and has been named an AP Scholar with Distinction. Hitt has also been selected to attend a three-week residential summer program sponsored by Duke University, a program hosted by various universities around the Southeast. In this program, Hitt has already attended UGA for two


summers and Appala- Player for the 2016 seachian State for one sum- son; and has been chosen mer, taking college-level Scholar Athlete in both courses in a variety of soccer and cross-country areas. Last summer, Hitt for the 2016, 2017, and was also 2018 seasons. selected to take Cook, part in who just Vanderbilt completUniversied his ty’s Sum14th seamer Acadson as emy for head socTa l e n t e d cer coach Students, at Ware, another has had — Michael Cook threethe privweek resilege of idential program, similar watching Hitt grow as a to Duke’s TIP Program. In soccer player. He began the Vanderbilt summer coaching her in travel program, Hitt took Med soccer at the age of 12 School 101. It was this and coached her during course that allowed Hitt her four years at the high to perform clinical visits school level. Cook talkat Vanderbilt Universi- ed about how rare it is ty Hospital. In order to to have a player start so gain more exposure to young. the medical profession, “It is very unusual to she has worked part start a ninth-grader on time at Southeast Geor- the varsity program,” gia Pediatrics. Cook said. Hitt was recently honHe added that Hitt is ored by the Waycross/ the most complete playWare County Sports Hall er on the team and has of Fame and named the played every position on Mickey Rigsby Female the field during her career Scholar Athlete of the at Ware. That includes Year. This award is given an- moving her to defensive nually to one female and one mid-fielder this past seamale athlete at Ware Coun- son, a move, according ty High to Cook, that made School. Hitt is also quite an president impact on of the the Gas c h o o l ’s tors’ seaNational son. Honor So“Movciety and ing Sara is an acto defentive memsive mid — Michael Cook ber of the fielder this Beta Club. past seaOn the pitch, Hitt’s son completely changed accomplishments as a our team and made us a standout athlete rival the much better defensive academic achievements. team,” he said. She served as a threeTo perhaps underyear captain for coach score just how complete Michael Cook’s Gators Hitt is as a player, even from the 2016 season to though the move by Cook the 2018 season. She was was for defensive purposnamed Offensive Player es, Hitt still found a way to of the Year last season finish as the third leading (2017); Most Valuable scorer on the team.

“Her teammates really look up to her and look to her to set the tempo on the field.”

“She has the ability to play college soccer at any level. I have no doubt.”

“For a player to be on the field for mostly defensive purposes, yet finish the season as one of our leading scorers is just phenomenal - but that’s Sara,” Cook said. “Again, that’s why she’s the most complete player on the team.” Not surprisingly, Hitt is also one of the most knowledgeable players on the team, a trait, said Cook, that helped him in many ways.

“It’s like having a coach on the field,” Cook said about Hitt’s leadership. “Her teammates really look up to her and look to her to set the tempo on the field.” Could Hitt play collegiately? Just ask her coach. “She has the ability to play college soccer at any level,” he said. “I have no doubt.”

As Hitt looks to begin a new chapter in her life as a medical professional, one thing remains clear: If she gets the urge to play college soccer, there’ll be a lucky coach just waiting.

In The Game | 11


The Bright Spot Written by: Rob Asbell| Photography by: Michael Brinson

Sydney Jaudon steps up to the tee box at the first hole on Jekyll Island’s Indian Mound golf course – a par 4 straight shot 300 yards to the green. She scans the terrain to find the flag. Then she makes her plan of attack by visualizing the shot. “I make myself mentally see the ball in the air and landing where I want it,” Jaudon said. A solid student who makes A’s and B’s at Brunswick High School, Jaudon is able to concentrate on her game and block out other concerns. “Golf is a mental sport, so my grades are just one less thing I have on my mind,” she said. The senior has played golf for the Pirates since her freshman year. Back then, there were only three players on the girls team, and Brunswick barely had enough to qualify for matches. 12 | itgnext.com

Golf is a mental sport, so my grades are just one less thing I have on my mind.

— Sydney Jaudon

“I was really behind skill level-wise compared to the other girls, so I had to work harder to become better,” Jaudon said. She had to improve quickly because with only three players, Jaudon had to play in every match. The following year, as a sophomore, she hit her first big shot, landing a par 3 tee shot to within a foot of the pin, enabling her to birdie the hole. Her most memorable round came later and not because of great shots. In fact, just the opposite. It was a round of bad shots at the Okefenokee Country Club in Blackshear. “I played horrible the whole day,” she said. “I was 3 putting every hole, and I was feeling really frustrated. Then on the last hole, I putted it in on the first try.” Jaudon may never make it to the LPGA Tour or even play in college,


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In the Game with Sydney Jaudon What is your favorite course? “Indian Mound on Jekyll” What is your best club? “My best club is my 7 iron.” Why? “Even when I have bad days, I can always depend on my 7 iron to do exactly what I want it to do.” What kind of driver do you use? “Acuity Voltage”

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but she continues to work on her game. She keeps a positive attitude and said it helps her improve as a golfer. “If you step out on the course expecting a great day, you will (have one); but if you step out on the course with a negative attitude, you’re most likely not going to play well,” she said. “It’s all about your attitude.” That positive attitude, said her coach, is the strongest part of Sydney’s game. “No matter if she is having a bad day on the course, she will always have a smile and will be there to cheer her teammates on,” said Brunswick girls golf coach Erica Grady, who is in her first season leading the Pirates. With Grady’s arrival this year came a new practice regimen for the golf team that included running and conditioning drills. “Coach Grady pushes us hard each and every day, and even though it’s a lot of work and I may not always feel like it, it’s

If you step out on the course expecting a great day, you will (have one); but if you step out on the course with a negative attitude, you’re most likely not going to play well. It’s all about your attitude. — Sydney Jaudon

made me a much better player,” Jaudon said. Coming from Pierce County High School in Blackshear, Grady accepted the job as Brunswick’s head coach and met with the team. She recalled meeting Jaudon for the first time. “(She was) smiling and very bubbly,” Grady said. “I wish I had had all four years with Sydney. She is a good team motivator and has proven herself to have strong leadership qualities.” Jaudon didn’t start playing organized sports until she reached high school. Like many young people, she got her first experience playing golf by going to the course with her father. “I’ve always played golf with my dad for fun, but I didn’t get serious until I got to high school,” she said. Jaudon credited Grady and coach Daniel Peevy for helping her improve her golf game. According to Jaudon, they push the girls team in practice to excel in golf as well as life. Her favorite

part of playing the game of golf is the relationship it allows her to build with her teammates, whom she considers to be like family. The daughter of Greg and Mavis Jaudon of Brunswick, Sydney has a 3.5 GPA and scored a 26 on the ACT. She is a member of Brunswick High School Student Council, National Honor Society, Beta Club, and Anchor Club. She is also a member of the Glynn County Schools’ superintendent’s Student Advisory Council as the assistant student superintendent. She is active at The Gathering Place, a Christian-based

youth organization. In addition to golf, Jaudon is also a member of the Pirates varsity cheerleading squad coached by Lauren Davis. “Sydney is involved in a lot of other activities, and she has to time manage,” Grady said. “She does all of these things very well. Sydney adds character and laughter to the team.” After graduation, Jaudon will attend Florida A&M University in Tallahassee to major in business and pre-law. “I plan to one day become a lawyer and work for the United Nations,” Jaudon said.

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Lie down on a bench with your left glute and left shoulder blade on the bench and right glute and right shoulder blade off the bench. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and hold on to the bench above your head with your left hand. Slowly lower the weight until your elbow is horizontally level with your shoulder. Return to the starting position. Complete 10 reps and switch sides.

5 Exercises to Do Before Going Out on the Course 1. Seated Rotations Sit straddling a bench or squeeze a pad or towel between your knees. Hold a club behind your back with your arms so it sits in the crooks of your elbows. Set your palms flat on your stomach and maintain your posture. Without moving your hips, rotate your torso to the right and hold for two seconds. Return to the starting position, then continue to the left and hold for two seconds. Alternate sides, 10 to a side. 14 | itgnext.com

2. Handwalks Start standing up. Bend forward at the waist and set your hands on the ground so you're on all fours. Slowly walk your hands out into a pushup position. Then, making sure to keep your knees straight, walk your toes toward your hands. Once you're starting to feel a stretch, walk your hands back out and repeat for a total of 10 reps.

Lie on one side with the bottom leg straight and the top leg bent with the inside of the knee on the ground. Rotate your trunk back, attempting to put the top shoulder blade on the ground. Hold two seconds, return to start position, and repeat for 10 reps. Switch sides.


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Written by: Evan Smoak | Photos Courtesy of Ware County High School

State championships are the driving force behind programs and have become the measuring stick for them as well. If that is true, then Ware County’s rifle team is one of the top programs in the state. The “Gator Guns” just captured their second consecutive state championship. On April 28, the GHSA’s annual riflery state championship was held at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit's Pool Shooting Complex at Fort Benning, Georgia. Fifteen teams consisting of more than 97 members competed at the state’s highest level of shooting.

16 | itgnext.com

The Gators themselves banded together and shot a resounding score of 1,169. That score was good enough for a state championship and a new state record. Back in 2016, the rifle team of East Coweta shot a score of 1,168 to claim a new state record. This year, by one shot better, the Gators broke it. The icing on the cake for the Gators was that the 1,169 they shot at state wasn’t even their best score of the year. The 1,169 wasn't even in the their top three. The highest score the Gators shot this year was back in January,


when they faced Bradwell and shot a scorching 1,177. The Gator championship team was led by freshman Laci Jewell and sophomore Benjamin Smith Jr., who both shot 294 out of a possible 300. Sophomores Tyler Hanson and Rayne Riggins rounded out the top four scores for the Gators by

shooting a 292 and a 289 respectively. Sophomore Bryce Young, the Gators’ fifth-place shooter, finished the state match with a score of 278. However, the Gators weren’t just looking for one state championship. The individual title was still up for grabs. All 97 shooters shot for a chance at the individual fi-

nals match. Jewell, Smith, and Hanson all secured a spot in the finals. The Gators ended the day with two medalists and three in the top eight. Jewell finished first overall in the state, Smith secured the bronze, and Hanson finished seventh. As well as their top eight finishes, Jewell, Smith, and Hanson were named

to the Georgia All-State Team for the 2018 season. All-State members are the top 10 shooters in the state decided by scoring averages of 10 or more GHSA matches. Coach Maurice England said: "The team has worked very hard for this championship match, and it showed. Their hard work paid off. I'm so

proud of each and every one of them.” The Gator Guns may just be building a dynasty. With all of this year’s core shooters being underclassmen, the future is bright for the squad.

In The Game | 17


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In The Game | 19


The Bird Dog Tennis Academy Written by: Rob Asbell Photography by: Andrea Heflin

As Buzzy Thorp tosses has set the standard so the ball up to serve from high in tennis.” the baseline, his mind A few years ago, a goes blank. family member, Keith “I have a million Morris, invited Thorp to thoughts that go through learn how to play tennis my mind before I serve, over dinner one night. but when “GrantI toss the ed, this ball up to was after I serve, I go him in Something about beat into a zone,” a baskettennis just drew me ball game,” Thorp said. A n said. in,” he said. “It’s so Thorp eighth“So it begrade tengan.” challenging. nis player To this — Buzzy Thorp at Appling day, Morris Co u n t y and coach Middle School in Baxley, Patrick Brannen work with Thorp has a passion for a small group of up and the game. coming players at Morris’ “Something about ten- clay court. nis just drew me in,” he “On Tuesday and said. “It’s so challenging.” Thursday, we meet up In addition to tennis, and work and have a he also plays basketball good time,” Thorp said. for the middle school. “Thursday is burger night. Michael Ezekiel Thorp After practice, we go to is known as “Buzzy” to my house, and my mom everyone who has ever and dad fix burgers for met him, a name that was the Bird Dog Tennis Acadpassed down from his late emy. That’s our non-offigrandfather. cial name.” “Buzzy has it all,” said Thorp got his start Rams tennis coach Ashley playing tennis at a friend’s Wright. “He brings hard house just kidding work and dedication to around. the tennis program. He “In fact, his mom told

20 | itgnext.com


me to stick to football and ern Level 3 tournament. laughed,” Thorp said. Thorp was facing the Wright convinced him No. 2 seed who had big to try out for recreation strokes and hit the ball league tennis in fifth hard. Thorp remained grade. patient and kept bat“I did and fell in love tling, going on to win the with the game,” Thorp match. said. By sixth grade he was Before long, Thorp playing first doubles for was playing in tourna- the Rams tennis team. ments all over the South- The following year he eastern U.S. In an early moved up to first singles match, he started to real- and continued to be the ize his potential as a ten- team’s No. 1 this spring. nis player while playing Thorp said coaches an opponent from Ath- Wright and Brannen inens. spire him and keep him “This kid on the right had been path. Both playing a of them long time, encourage I played hard and and support and I was just beginloved every minute Thorp, and ning,” Thorp he considsaid of of it. And I knew then ers them to the match, I was going to train be part of which he his family. e v e n t u a l - hard and be a great He has ly lost. “I three rules tennis player. played hard for imand loved proving as — Buzzy Thorp every mina player: ute of it. And I knew then “Practice, practice, pracI was going to train hard tice,” he said. “I am always and be a great tennis ready to play tennis with player.” anybody.” Fast forward to recentThorp travels the two ly in Augusta at a South- hours from Baxley to Ma-

In The Game | 21


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He pushes me to work as hard as I can. He has a saying that I try to train by: ‘You must love the battle more than the victory.' — Buzzy Thorp

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con twice a week to train at Idle Hour Tennis Academy under coach Craig Jones. “He (Jones) has been in the tennis world forever and knows the game inside and out,” Thorp said. “He pushes me to work as hard as I can. He has a saying that I try to train by: ‘You must love the battle more than the victory.’” Thorp also practices with members of the Appling County High School team. “He pushes the high school boys to get better,” Wright said. Thorp travels to Bradenton, Florida, to camps and has played in tournements in Sarasota, Day-

tona Beach, Macon, Birmingham, Jekyll Island, Brunswick, Valdosta, Savannah, and Augusta. He won his first Universal Tennis Rating tournament at Inspiration Academy in Florida last November. “My favorite part of playing tennis is the battle: Not only is it physical, but mental and emotional too,” Thorp said. He plans on playing in high school for the Pirates next year. The son of Vicki and Bobby Jones, Thorp has a 97.8 GPA, and his favorite class is math. He would like to pursue a career in dentistry at a major college. His ultimate sports dream is to earn a scholarship to play tennis collegiately.

“I'm expecting to see Buzzy in college or beyond playing tennis,” Wright said. Although he practices every day, when Thorp gets free time he hangs out with friends playing basketball and riding four-wheelers. He has also taken on the task of coaching young players in the recreation league.

“Appling County youth has really shown an interest in tennis,” Thorp said. “We had over 80 go out for rec tennis last summer. I hope to be a leader and role model for these kids.”

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In The Game | 23


Please join us

FOURTH ANNUAL Southeast Georgia High School Media Day Presented by:

Saturday, July 28 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Epworth by the Sea 100 Arthur J. Moore Dr. St. Simons Island, GA

Come kick off the 2018 high school football season with the Fourth Annual In the Game SEGA and Coastal Pines Technical College Media Day on St. Simons Island!

Area head coaches and key players from the In the Game SEGA coverage area teams will address the crowd and media on the upcoming 2018 Football Season.

Contact Shawn Smoak at 229.834.9044 or at shawn@itgsportsnetwork.com


BRANTLEY COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL HERONS STAY ON TOP Written by: Patrick Stieve | Photos Courtesy of Brantley County High School Brantley County High School’s tennis teams once again had a pair of stellar seasons. Both the Herons and Lady Herons repeated last year’s performances with the boys and girls each winning their region championships. This is the first time that both teams have been repeat champions at the same time. After graduating five of their seven starters from last year’s region championship team, the Lady Herons stayed on track and did not miss a beat. They ended this season with a 15-7 overall record and 6-0 in region play. Brantley’s girls secured the No. 1 seed in the region playoffs before beating Tattnall in the region semifinals and then knocking off a strong Appling County team in the region championship. In the state playoffs, the Lady Herons beat Worth County 5-0 in the first round before sneaking past a talented Westside Macon team 3-2 in the second round. Brantley’s playoff run came to an end versus Calhoun in the Elite Eight. With only one senior on the girls team (Tori Blaisdell), the future for the Lady Herons looks promising. The boys team (17-6 overall, 6-0 region record) won their region title for the fourth year in a row. The Herons haven’t lost a single region tennis match within this four-year span (currently 34-0). Led by their two seniors (Grant Jacobs and Nick Alligood), Brantley’s boys earned the No. 1 seed for the region playoffs, beating Tattnall in the semifinals and then beat a good Pierce County team in the championship. The Herons ended their season with another deep playoff run. They defeated Dougherty County, Islands High School, and then Calhoun to advance to the Final Four for the second time in three years. Brantley traveled to Westminster for the state semifinals before losing 0-3 to the reigning state champs. With both region titles this year, coach Matt Thrift has now won 10 region championships and advanced to the state Final Four seven different years.

“This has been a good run for our seniors,” Thrift said. “Between the three of them, they have won six region championships. They have truly set a high standard for our younger players”.

In The Game | 25


Coach Plus 1 Written by: Rob Asbell Photography by: Jeffrey Griffith

To be a coach, you but I have a great group must have a strong de- of kids, and we worked sire to win; some would through it,” she said. She was amazed at call it a craving. But Wayne County boys var- the respect the players sity soccer coach Candice showed her as a female Boyette also has cravings coach in a boys varsity for watermelon and ice sport. “It shows cream. the maturiIf she “As much as ty level of looks different, you are she kicks, we this awenot seeing some group hope she’s a things: She and respect is very preg- soccer player." of their p a r e n t s ,” nant, due — Candice Boyette Boyette said. in July with The Jeher and husband Rance’s first child, sup native was a Wayne a daughter they have County Yellow Jacket herself coming up. Alnamed Olivia Rae. “As much as she kicks, though she didn’t play we hope she’s a soccer soccer in college, she was a cheerleader, which kept player,” Boyette said. In fact, her bundle her active. She learned of joy occasionally kicks the game of soccer from during soccer games, watching her brother play especially when it gets in- in high school. She got her start as tense. When she became the head coach, Boyette an assistant coach at was already five months Arthur Williams Middle pregnant. School for one year then “The boys were a little took over as head boys shocked when I came out, coach at AWMS in 2016. 26 | itgnext.com


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In The Game | 27


9 Athletes Who Got Better With Motherhood Courtesy of www.mnn.com

That season the team was an interest and was of- where their season end10-2 and went on to win fered the job. ed. the Southeast Georgia “She came into the Along with boys socMiddle School Confer- season and immediately cer, she is also the Yellow ence Chamgot to work Jackets varsity cheerleadpionship in a trying to turn ing coach. Earlier in the “That day the our season game she will season, the Jackets faced boys went out a r o u n d , ” the Ware County Gators never forget. “We were Payne More, in a region contest. It and played playing our senior goalie was a day when Boyette’s cross-town and captain, duties as a cheerleading with more rivals, which said. “She coach overlapped with a heart than I thought was a great soccer game. Communiwas amazing any group of coach, and ty coach Robbie Brownbecause the we would’ve ing and girls coach Jenny two middle athletes I had done a lot Fulton stepped in until schools in our ever seen.” better had Boyette could arrive at county were we had her halftime. The game came — Candice Boyette the No. 1 and the whole down to a tie and went 2 teams in the into penalty kicks. The season.” entire southeast,” Boyette This year, in her first mood was immediately said. set when More season as boys It’s even more amaz- varsity blocked the head “She was first ing considering her team coach at Wayne kick. had been counted out County High “He (More) a great and never given a chance School, she led went on to coach, of winning the title. the Jackets to block three of “That day the boys six wins, a rethe four kicks and we went out and played gion record of that came at would’ve him,” Boyette with more heart than any 4-4, and a playgroup of athletes I had off appearance. done a lot said. ever seen,” she said. A final regular The first better had block gave conMany of the players season loss in that she coached at Ar- double over- we had her fidence to the thur Williams Middle time to Ware underclassmen the whole taking the shots School also played for her County made on the varsity level this the Jackets the secured season.” and season. When an open- No. 4 seed from the 3-2 victory. — Payne More ing for the boys coaching Region 2-5A. “It brought my team position was announced They traveled at the beginning of the to middle Georgia to face together and really year, Boyette expressed Veterans High School, changed the mood for 28 | itgnext.com

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the rest of the season,” she said. Boyette counts among her coaching influences her high school drama teacher, Kay Cagle, who pushed her to be a good person; college cheer coach Elaine Stephens, who taught her that coaching is not just pushing athletes on the field but also encouraging them in life; and Wayne County competition cheer coach Katie Stephens Ward. “All three of these women have been monumental in developing me not only into the coach and educator I am today but also the mother I hope to be to my little girl, Olivia Rae,” Boyette said. Some of her team-building exercises are considered to be “outside of the box,” like taking her middle school team to play paintball for a day to teach them the advantages of working together. She tells her players that soccer is a gentle-

man's game and that it should be played with respect for coaches, referees, opponents, and team mates. “I want my athletes to be successful on and off the field,” Boyette said. “I not only believe that sports teach responsibility but also how to be successful citizens in the community. I truly believe that kids who are willing to be coached will more than likely have a successful life.” While she has enjoyed success as a coach, her greatest accomplishment is yet to come.

“Being a mom has always been a dream of mine, and I truly believe that no matter where my coaching career takes me, being a mom to Olivia will be my greatest accomplishment,” Boyette said.


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In The Game | 31


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Coastal Kitchen: A Dream Realized Written by: Rob Asbell

It has quickly become the place to go for incredible local cuisine and amazing scenery in the Golden Isles. Coast102 al Kitchen has fresh local seafood and a variety of other menu favorites all set to a breathtaking view of the St. Simons Sound. Coastal Kitchen was a lifelong dream realized by owners Chef Archie Prince and award-winning mixologist Niles Paden. After 25 years in the restaurant business running kitchens for other owners, Prince got the opportunity to purchase his own establishment in 2017. While he knew his way around the kitchen, he realized he would

need help with running tables refinished. Finally, ham and tasso nage – the restaurant business. Coastal Kitchen was ready pan seared and served Paden, who was a to open in the Morning- over ginger-spiked but● Dock tobartender Table ●star Waterfront Dining Marina on Lanier ternut ● squash with piswell-known in the Pier Village on St. Island just before St. Si- tachio meuniere and Marina Drive Saint Simons GA 31522 Simons Island, was •also mons Island. AtIsland Coastal • haircot verts. Originally looking to start his own Kitchen, everything is from Nashville, Prince has restaurant. A mutual made fresh with local in- worked in kitchens from friend introduced them, gredients. Louisiana to Charleston, “We are a dock-to-ta- including the Bistro at and Coastal Kitchen became a reality. ble restaurant and only Mason De Ville in New “He runs the back and serve fresh seafood,” Orleans. Formally trained I run the front,” Paden Paden said. “Everything: and first in his graduating said of the partnership. Sauce, dressings, slaw, class at the New Orleans Together, Paden and chips, and fries – to name Culinary Institute, Prince Prince have orchestrat- a few – are all made in- has had the chance ed a fresh and exciting house, even the fried through Coastal Kitchen to unleash his ideas and reboot of the local culi- pickles.” nary staple that is Coastal Prince is a two-time his own spin on southern Kitchen. Shrimp and Grits Festi- seafood. The journey started val winner on Jekyll IsPaden has had a paswith a month of construc- land. His signature dish is sion for bartending since tion followed by painting, shrimp and scallops with early in his career. He has floor work, and having butternut squash and a won multiple awards in-

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cluding best bartender on St. Simons Island. At the bar, Paden is a dedicated mixologist, creating libations to please any taste. “My favorite drink is definitely the rosemary margarita,” he said. “(It’s) all organic and fresh rosemary.” One of his specialties is margaritas, and there are several types to choose from. Come join them for lobster nachos and a selection of local beers out on the porch or dine inside. Coastal Kitchen is located at 102 Marina Drive at the east end of the Torras Causeway on St. Simons Island. Call them at 912-638-7790. You can also like them on Facebook or check out their website at coastalkitchenssi.com. They’re open Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. “We want people to know that we are premier waterfront dining with fresh local seafood and homemade almost everything,” Paden said. “Since we both own and run, we take great pride in everything we do and would love the chance to prove it.”

In The Game | 33


Quiet Storm Written by: John DuPont | Photography by Jennifer Carter Johnson

Over the past four seasons, Pierce player. She just gets her job done and expects others to do the same. As a County High School has been among the most improved girls soccer prodefender, it’s not as easy to put onto paper how great you are, grams in Class 3A. The Lady Bears have post- "She just gets her job but she is an asset to our ed respective season team, and she has played totals of 13, 14, 17, and done and expects others a part in every win we 18 wins, culminating this to do the same. As a de- have tallied.” Two other socseason with a region title fender, it’s not as easy and an Elite Eight berth. cer-playing siblings from to put onto paper how Mirroring that ascension the Thrift family compethas been the team’s great you are, but she ed for Pierce – brother right back, Emily Thrift. is an asset to our team, Aaron and sister Hannah The daughter of Rodney and she has played a – before Emily, who first and Renee Thrift, she was up the game in elpart in every win we took named Most Improved ementary school. From Player for the Lady Bears have tallied.” rec ball she advanced — Alvin Thrift through the middle as a junior and served as school ranks and also a leader during her senior season of 2018. competed for club teams. But when Pierce head coach Alvin Thrift said: high school rolled around, she sud“Emily is a kind and quiet person by denly found it tougher to break into nature. She will never bark at other the starting lineup.

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“When Emily was a freshman and sophomore, she found herself playing behind four defenders that were older than her,” coach Thrift said. “To be honest, they were some of the best defenders I ever coached, so she did not receive as much playing time as she probably deserved. She never complained about this, but she wanted to know what she had to do to get better. I told her, and she did just that.” Several of the girls starting above the young defender wound up as her good friends: Mariah Aspinwall, Allie Smith, and Katlyn Alvarez. Emily Thrift longed for key playing time alongside those stalwarts and well remembers a conversation with her coach one day after practice. That’s when they identified the x-factor that had been keeping her on the sidelines.

“Not being aggressive,” she said. “He would tell me that I wasn’t a fighter, that I needed to have more fight in me. I think toward the beginning, I was more intimidated by those older girls, but him encouraging me and telling me how great of potential I had really helped.” Ultimately, that band of seniors went undefeated in region play their last two seasons of high school. The 2018 postseason included wins over Dougherty and Rutland before Pierce fell to Bremen in the quarterfinals. It was a fun ride for Emily and fellow seniors Laine Bennett, Ansley Stovall, Bennett Strickland, and Ragen Taylor. “We always hang out together outside soccer and always end up staying at Bennett Strickland’s house watching a movie or swimming,” Thrift said. “I’ll always remember when we played Tift County last year and they were expected to be really good. We beat them 6-0. We were all really nervous to start out, and then we scored our first goal. Everybody was like, ‘No way we just did that,’ and then everybody just kept scoring.” Scoring high in the classroom is another trademark for Thrift, an honor graduate. With a 3.9 GPA, she graduated in the 85th percentile of a class numbering more than 240. She scored 1090 on the SAT and 22 on the ACT. Extracurricular affiliations include Beta Club, Student Council, and Special Olympics. She was also a member of the homecoming court and, fittingly enough, was voted Best All Around along with classmate Klay Allen.

“Emily is a model student-athlete,” said Dara Bennett, Pierce County High School principal. “She has always done a great job working as an office assistant at PCHS through the Work-Based Learning Program. She is kind to her classmates and is always willing to go the extra mile in all that she does. Emily exemplifies excellence in the classroom and in her job, as well as on the soccer field.”

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When she walked across the graduation stage last month, Thrift already had a full year of college under her belt via dual enrollment, having been accepted to Georgia College and State University. “Aside from a beautiful campus, they have a smaller campus, and their teacher-to-student ratio is about 17:1,” she said. “I’m pretty sure I want to be an occupational therapist. I want to be able to work with kids that have special needs. We have something that’s part of the kids ministry at my church called DC 139 for kids with special needs. We’ll take them to their classes, and if they get upset or the noises are loud, we’ll take them to the sensory room and calm them down.” Destination Church in Waycross is Thrift’s home church, where her father serves as pastor. She is also active in the youth and food ministries there. Additionally, she participates in the music program. She ties her passion for mission work with school work via the Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle at Pierce. She has also run competitively as a member of the Pierce cross country team. Citing family as instrumental in her growth, she now looks to her next horizon.

38 | itgnext.com

"I want to be able to work with kids that have special needs." — Emily Thrift

“(I’m working on) making myself become more outgoing, not being afraid to show my personality,” she said. “When I am with my family I talk more. My family does their best to be at everything and always encourages me whenever I feel discouraged. I was in my college English class, and I had turned in my final paper and made an A. I was telling my sister there was no way I made that well, and she basically told me I had to stop being so critical about myself. So when people talk about being their own worst critic, I definitely was. Now I am definitely more confident in who I am.”


In The Game | 39


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Southeast Georgia June 2018 Edition  

In the Game Magazine

Southeast Georgia June 2018 Edition  

In the Game Magazine