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In This Issue:

South Georgia

June/July 2014




Lowndes County Schools

17 ITG Golf Tournament 21 Academic Athlete Andrew Greneker


Valdosta High School

27 A Golfer’s Mentality Davis Carter



Pine Grove School

28 Tift Pole Vaulter Katie Utley Tift County High School 31 Player Spotlight

Tarah Young

Deerfiled-Windsor School

Brooks County High School

35 Kemp Triplets

37 Freshman Focus

Also Inside South Georgia Athletics Headed in the Right Direction

13 Diamond Duo Logan & Madison May



Georgia High School Football: Lincoln County Football


How Exercise Increases Energy Levels


Food for Thought: How Specific Foods Affect Your Brain


Congratulations Valwood Tennis


Six Top Tips for Saving and Managing Money in College


Irwin County High School


Echols County High School


Fellowship of Christian Athletes The Journey of Imitation Part II




Bailee Flaherty

Lowndes High School

38 Program on the Rise

Hamilton County Athletics

41 Rising Star

41 51


Jayah McCoggle

Thomasville Middle School

45 Coach’s Corner

Patti Merritt

Colquitt County High School

51 Four Straight State Titles

Crisp Academy

45 Read. Subscribe. Share.



South Georgia

June/July 2014

From The Publisher It’s hard to believe that another school year has come and gone. Here we are in June and getting ready to take a one-month sabbatical. That doesn’t, however, mean a month away from work. It is a time to recharge our batteries and catch our breath after a hectic year, but it’s far from a rest period. As you read this, we are compiling information for our pre-season football edition, which will be out in just a few short weeks. That’s right; it’s football time again, and we will be with the teams in our coverage area every step of the way.

Publisher Mark Dykes

Editor Mark Dykes Kaitlynn Passmore

Graphics Jennifer Alexander

Cover Photography Micki Krzynski Micki K Photography

Feature Photography Micki Krzynski Micki K Photography Connie Southwell Southwell Sports Photography

Feature Writer Robert Preston, Jr.

Contributing Writer Cale Colby Jon Nelson Geraldine Herring

Copy Editors Crystal Hubbard Ashley Dailey Sarah Turner

Advertising/Marketing Mark Dykes Mike McGuire

As we close this year and reflect on what has happened over the last 10 months, I am amazed at the roller coaster ride we’ve had. We opened the year with the unspeakable tragedy of the accident that claimed the lives of three Brooks County football players. We went from there to seeing several of our athletes we’ve covered in the past win a national title with the Florida State Seminoles. Then, Tift County won a state basketball championship. And in this edition, we spoke with a couple of student-athletes who have multiple state championships on their lists of achievements. Katie Utley, a pole vaulter from Tift County, is finishing her career with three state championships and a state runner-up. Tarah Young, this month’s Player Spotlight from Deerfield-Windsor, is only a sophomore, but she already has two individual state championships in track and field under her belt. This is a testament to the caliber of student-athletes and programs that we have in our area.


Robert Preston, Jr.,

Features & Commentary

Kaitlynn Passmore, Editor

As we finish up the year, we have another great cross section of athletes and sports featured. We spent a few minutes with Andrew Greneker, this month’s Academic Athlete who is planning to attend law school just like his father. Greneker is Valdosta High’s number one singles player, and he only lost one region match this year. We have special features on the aforementioned Utley; a trio of eighth grade golfers (who, conveniently enough, are also triplets) from Brooks County (Marvin, Dalton, and MaryLyn Kemp); Jayah McCoggle, a talented young basketball player from Thomasville Middle School; Patti Merritt, Colquitt County High’s gymnastics coach; and the budding Hamilton County athletic program. It’s been a great year bringing you the very best and brightest studentathletes in South Georgia. We had a lot of fun this year, and we look forward to continuing our work here at In the Game High School Sports Magazine. Have a great summer, and we’ll see you in August.

Website Manager Kaitlynn Passmore

For distribution or subscription information contact: For advertising information call: 888-715-4263 Dykes Publishing Group, Inc. P.O. Box 812 Valdosta, GA 31603


In the Game High School Sports Magazine is published monthly excluding July. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in part or in full without written consent from the publisher. Dykes Publishing Group, Inc. makes no representation or warranty of any kind for accuracy of content. All advertisements are assumed by the publisher to be correct. Copyright 2014 Dykes Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1945-1458.

South Georgia Athletics Headed In the Right Direction by Robert Preston, Jr.


convenient thing to do at the end of any year is to take a few moments and reflect upon the events of that year. I guess that’s what I’m going to do here this month, but it’s not a cheap attempt to throw together a column and cruise into our not-so-restful rest period. Several things have impressed me this year, and I’d like to spend a few minutes discussing a couple of those items. Historically, South Georgia high school athletics has been competitive in the three major sports: football, baseball, and basketball. Over the years, we have shown that we can compete with the Atlanta schools in those sports. And while the metro area does appear to have an advantage in those three sports right now, we have certainly made some noise. Since I have been working with In the Game, teams in our area have won state football championships. We’ve had teams make solid playoff runs in baseball. And, of course, the Tift County Blue Devils won a 6A state basketball championship this year. It is the so-called minor sports, however, that have impressed me. In years past, anything outside the big three was an afterthought. Golf, tennis, softball, track – in many instances, those were sports kids who didn’t want to play the big three joined so they could get a letter. There was little depth and our teams weren’t competitive. In recent years – and in some cases, since I have been on staff here at ITG – we have narrowed the gap with the metro schools. While Atlanta-area programs

still have access to better facilities and more financial resources, our student-athletes are learning the importance of year-round training. Kids are swimming, playing tennis, soccer, golf, softball, even volleyball and wrestling, all year. They are paying closer attention to nutrition and weight training. Female athletes now have separate gyms and weight rooms in several of our schools, which is helping them develop into stronger, faster athletes. We now have track and field athletes, cross country runners, swimmers, golfers, tennis players, gymnasts, even marksmen, who are competing with kids from the metro area in state competition. From a writer’s standpoint, it’s nice to be able to talk to kids who play a wide variety of sports. Many of these sports are lifetime activities that these young adults will be able to enjoy for the rest of their lives. In the process, they are learning valuable lessons that transcend sport. Over the last six or seven years, I have been able to witness a portion of the transformation of South Georgia athletics. While football, baseball, and basketball – especially football – will remain at the athletic forefront in our area, we have some very talented athletes in other sports who are getting an opportunity to compete at the state level and play beyond high school if they so choose. It’s been fun to watch, and I for one am quite pleased to see our athletic programs moving in that direction. High school sports in South Georgia are in excellent shape right now, and they’re only getting better. ITG


Georgia High School Football Lincoln County Football by Jon Nelson, GPB Sports Correspondent

Let’s just say that it’s going to be very odd talking about Lincoln County Red Devils football without saying that Larry Campbell is the head coach. When I was writing my first book, Backroads and Backfields, I couldn’t do it without having a chapter on Lincoln County football and its place in the fabric of Georgia high school football. I was fortunate to see first-hand just how Larry Campbell and his family touched generations of people in that part of the state. I’m not just talking about all the talented athletes that got to further their playing time at the college level and the pro level. I’m talking about fathers and mothers who were fathers and mothers when Campbell took over the program from Thomas Bunch in the early 1970s and are now seeing grandchildren take part in Lincoln County High School activities. Coach Campbell and his wife, “Miss Connie,” shared their work ethic and philosophy with everyone at Lincoln. In Lincoln County: Fathers of the “Cheer Devils” cheerleaders bring one of those industrial-sized smokers to make enough food for their kids and the visitors so they would have a meal for a game well-played and a long ride home for the visitors. Generations of Red Devils would gather at a local hardware store for lunch on game days in Lincolnton to share stories and go over their game plans for making sure the Red Devils’ day - for players, coaches, and fans - went off without a hitch. The sidewalks in downtown Lincolnton roll up around 5 pm or so for their team, and if you want to get a seat, you better get there then. Even earlier if they’re playing Washington-Wilkes in the “378 War” at Buddy Bufford Field. It’s a town where you can leave your car doors open, and someone would leave a CD with a music suggestion for you on a Post-It note.

But someone will now have to take over for a legend in the sport, and I use that term knowing that Coach Campbell would never consider himself as such. Here are just some of the numbers thanks to my friend “Tradition,” and Reddevils provided us: • Youngest coach in world to win 300 high school football games • Youngest coach and only coach in Georgia to coach 400 games in only 30 seasons • Youngest coach and only coach in Georgia to coach 500 games in only 37 seasons • 5th nationally to win 400 games; 25th nationally to win 300 games; 11th nationally to coach 500 games • 200 wins in first 18 - 250 in first 22 - 300 in first 26 seasons - 350 in first 31 seasons, 400 in first 35 seasons • 200 wins at one field, 200 wins at home field, 107 playoff wins • Currently: #1 in Georgia active, #1 in Georgia alltime (3rd: Lincolnton native Dan Pitts (346)), #3 in USA alltime, #3 USA active And that’s just scratching the surface. Corky Rogers, the head coach at JacksonvilleBolles, will need probably five years more to pass Campbell on the all-time wins list. That will mean he will be in his 48th year of coaching to pull that feat off. If you really want to see what Lincoln County football’s footprint is in the state’s football history, go to their website. And, to the person who takes the job succeeding Larry Campbell: you’ll have a great sounding board, a great community behind you, and an expectation of titles in Single-A Georgia High School Football. You’ll have a tremendous challenge and legacy to follow, but at the same time, a great one to add to. Play it safe, everyone. I’ll talk to you soon.

Jon Nelson, GPB Sports Correspondent

Be a part of the family at In the Game Magazine by checking in with us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, if you want to catch up with me directly, you can do the same thing on the GPB Sports Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also download the Sports app on your smart phone and be caught up on everything high school sports .


Diamond Duo:

Brother and Sister, Logan and Madison May, Slug it Out! by Geraldine Herring photography by Micki K Photography


very family that has an athletic son or daughter knows the fun yet hectic routine: eat, sleep, play ball, repeat. Balancing school work, family commitments, practice, and games requires the time management skills of a high-powered CEO. Multiply that challenge by two, and one understands exactly what life is like for the Mays - father Chad, mother Tricia, oldest son Logan, daughter Madison, and youngest son, Dawson, an aspiring actor featured in several magazines. The two oldest Mays children, Logan and Madison, keep everyone busy with baseball and softball.


Logan May

On any given day, these sibling sluggers can most likely be found on a ball field, where they are either practicing or competing at the top of their game. For Logan May, a rising sophomore at Lowndes High School, baseball has been a passion since the age of five. Playing at right field in middle school, Logan later moved to first base in eighth grade, a position he considers a “heads up spot.” In addition to his work at first base, Logan has discovered another talent: pitching. He was approached by one of his ninth grade coaches, Rusty Beale, about the job, and after a few bullpen sessions, he became a closer this past spring. Keeping his pitches low and using his best curve ball, Logan was effective in shutting down opposing batters. Logan, a right-hander, also had a solid freshman year at the plate. Batting in the number three or four slot, he garnered an impressive .425 average and was a team leader in hitting. When asked the secret to his success, he says he always tries to stay ahead in the count and practices hitting to the opposite field. He hit his first homerun in seventh grade and has continued to be effective as a hitter. When not playing for the Vikings, Logan gets in extra work with his travel team, the Renegades, where he will pitch and play first or third base. With his favorite DeMarini CF5 bat, he has traveled the Southeast playing travel ball. He will also attend camp at Mississippi State this summer as part of the LHS Baseball Program. Madison May is also making a name for herself on the diamond. An upcoming eighth-grader at Hahira Middle School, she has excelled in softball, a game she has played since age five. Madison played for the local parks and recre-

Madison May

ation program through third grade before being selected to play for the Southern Pride Travel team. Her hot bat landed her the job of leadoff hitter, a role she has held for the past two years. Madison finished the postseason as a team leader in hitting, and she has not struck out since the beginning of last summer. Defensively, the right-hander plays short stop, and after going three for three in her final game, she looks forward to winning a region championship next year. Like her older brother, Madison is a member of an elite travel ball team, The Florida Select, out of Jacksonville, and she plays both middle infielder and outfield. She has played in numerous tournaments throughout Florida and is coached by Leah Bennett, a former Florida State centerfielder. Madison will begin her second year with Florida Select this August. Though softball consumes much of Madison’s time, she is also a standout student with a 96.3 grade point average. As for college softball, she is a fan of Florida, Florida State, and Georgia. Her favorite softball player is Jennie Finch, former collegiate All-American for the Arizona Wildcats and gold medal Olympian. Madison also models occasionally for Sylvia’s Models and Talent. The Mays are fierce competitors for their schools and travel teams, but off the field, they are loyal supporters of each other. Both wear number 15 on their travel teams, a number Madison considers lucky. From an early age, they threw and pitched to each other and practiced hitting together in their backyard batting cage. With a family that truly takes the team approach, there’s no doubt this brother-sister duo will continue their days on the diamond for many years ahead. iTg 15

4005 Bear Lake Road • Valdosta, GA 31601



Sponsored by:

Golf Tournament 2014 The third annual In the Game High School Sports Magazine Golf Tournament sponsored by Farmers & Merchants Bank was held on Saturday, May 10 at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta, Georgia. Many South Georgia area high school golf teams were in attendance including: Brooks County, Brookwood, Colquitt County, Cook, Hamilton County (FL), Lowndes, Tift County, and Tiftarea.

First Place: Tift County Coaches: Tony Anderson and Rusty Smith Athletes: Grant Metts and Anna Greer

Second Place: Lowndes Coaches: Randy McPherson and Billy Smith Athletes: Cole Young and Clay Peters

Third Place: Cook High Coaches: Josh Horton and Jon Lindsey Athletes: Alex Crowley and Chris Taylor


Anyone who has ever committed to a workout regimen and exercised regularly knows that exercise increases a person’s energy level. However, most of us do not understand exactly how exercise increases energy levels. The short explanation of a long physiological process is that exercise increases a body’s capacity to utilize oxygen. Pete McCall is an exercise psychologist for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). According to McCall, “If a sedentary individual begins an exercise program, it will enhance the blood flow carrying oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue improving their ability to produce more energy (the chemical adenosine triphosphate).”


How Exercise Increases Energy Levels

In other words, increase circulation and energy levels increase. So, the question is, which types of exercise promote an increase in blood flow? The answer is more complex than a simple statement of aerobic or anaerobic.

Which Exercises Increase Energy Levels the Most The energy the human body burns in order to function is called glucose. When the human body burns calories or burns fat, those calories and that fat is always in the form of glucose. There are two ways a human body can burn glucose: aerobically and anaerobically. Rudimentary definitions of anaerobic and aerobic are ‘’without oxygen’’ for the former, and the latter is characterized as ‘’with oxygen.’ ’ Anaerobic activity - exercise - is that which burns glucose extremely quickly. Anaerobic activity produces the most power and the most speed. Maxing in the weight room and sprinting at top speed are both anaerobic exercises. Anaerobic activities cannot be maintained for long periods of time because they burn through glucose stores quickly. Aerobic exercise requires less glucose to be burned per minute. That means aerobic exercises can be performed for longer periods of time. Examples of aerobic exercises are running or jogging long distances, mountain or road biking, and cross country skiing. Pure anaerobic exercises increase blood flow because they move large amounts of blood very quickly. Aerobic exercises increase blood flow because they move moderate amounts of blood over extended periods of time. So, which type of exercise is best for increasing energy levels?

Anaerobic or Aerobic? Neither or both, however you want to think about it. The truth is, the best means of increasing energy is to remain on the threshold between anaerobic and aerobic activity when you exercise. Aerobic exercise is defined as the range between 60% and 80% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). Anything above 80% of your MHR is anaerobic exercise. Maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. So, to promote the most blood flow for the longest period of time, workout at 80% of your MHR. That leads to the question, which exercises are the best for remaining on the threshold between anaerobic and aerobic activity?

by Ryan H

Best Anaerobic/Aerobic Threshold Exercises While any exercise, lift, or activity can be done at 80% of MHR, there are some exercises that are more naturally conducive to keeping your body on that threshold: bodyweight exercises. No other exercises inherently keep a person at 80% of their MHR like pushups, pullups, burpies, prison squats, jumping jacks, etc. Bodyweight exercises are the best exercises for increasing a person’s energy level! Source ACEFit-workout-advice-and-exercise-tips/ (1), http://www. (2), exercise/1_exercise_principles_rev3.shtml (3),


Andrew Greneker

His freshman and sophomore years, Andrew Greneker and the Wildcats finished fourth in the region and went to the state tournament. Last year and this year, they finished outside of the top four. Greneker, however, was named to the AllRegion team last year. As of press time, the All-Region teams hadn’t been released. Greneker, who during his career has never played any lower than number two singles and has spent the last two years as VHS’s number one singles player, only lost one region match this season.

Academic Athlete

Valdosta High school


Valdosta High Tennis Star Eyes Future Law Career by Robert Preston, Jr.


photography by Micki K Photography

ike father, like son. At least that’s the way Andrew Greneker, a senior tennis player at Valdosta High School, has his future plotted. Greneker, who will play tennis at Georgia Southwestern University in Americus next year, plans to follow his father’s footsteps into the law profession. Greneker’s father, Sam, is an attorney in private practice in Valdosta. Greneker would like to add his name to the list of Greneker family attorneys. In fact, he would like to attend his father’s school of law. “Dad went to Mercer. That’s what I’m interested in. I’ll have an option to come back here and work with Dad. I’m not sure what I’ll do after graduation, though,” he says. The top-ranked tennis player for the Wildcats, Greneker is also a fantastic student. He has done well in his years at Valdosta High and has carefully mapped what he would like to do in college and beyond. “I’ve never had to stress out over school. School has come fairly easy to me,” he says. Greneker will major in finance at Georgia Southwestern and then, hopefully, attend Mercer law school. So why law school? “I’ve always enjoyed arguing,” Greneker says. “And having my dad as a mentor is important to me.” While Greneker has been planning for the future, he’s also turned himself into one of the region’s top tennis players. Interestingly, tennis al-

most didn’t happen for him. When Greneker was 11 years old, he wanted to play baseball. However, he got his physical too late to go out for the baseball team. He heard the tennis team needed another player. Greneker had never played before but since he didn’t have anything else to do, he decided to go out for the team. “I had never even picked up a racket,” he says. He made the team and then, playing doubles, won his first match. After that, he was hooked. Greneker started taking lessons and never looked back. These days, Greneker relies on his power to wear down his opponents. He stays at the baseline and keeps opponents moving. He seldom goes to the net and isn’t much of a finesse player. He just sits back and pummels the ball. Greneker also has the ability to remain focused and believe he has a chance no matter what the score. Once while playing a high school match on Jekyll Island, Greneker lost the first set 6-2, and he was down 5-0 in the second set. He then went on a 13-game run and won the match. “That’s probably been my biggest moment,” he says. As he transitions from high school to college, Greneker believes that his best tennis is ahead of him. “Every night, I pray that I will play to the best of my ability. I don’t think I’ve peaked yet, and I know I have plenty of room to improve,” he says. iTg

Tennis player: Roger Federer Last movie: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Place to travel: The Caribbean Pepsi or Coke: Coke Superpower: Move through objects Subject: Science Sport you wish you could play? Lacrosse Person to meet: John Mayer Valdosta High School Senior Andrew Greneker signs to play college tennis for Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia Top left: Keith Childree Top Right: T.J. Gay Bottom: (Andrew with his parents) Sam Greneker Andrew Greneker and Molly Stevenson 23

How Specific Foods Affect Your Brain Did you know that what you eat can affect your memory? Your mood? How about how fast your brain reacts to stimulus? Fruits and vegetables improve your memory. It should come as no surprise that fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on your brain. Produce is overflowing with minerals and chemical compounds known as phytochemicals that aid in all kinds of important biological processes, including regulating your metabolism. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better off your memory will be. Peas, broccoli, artichokes, spinach, oranges, and beats are all particularly helpful since they contain high levels of folic acid, which can also stave off depression, keep your eyes healthy, and prevent strokes. Not that you needed another good reason to eat your fruits and veggies.

Meat can help boost your alertness. A steady supply of sugar will help keep your brain alert and better equipped to retain information. But don’t get too excited—we’re not talking about the sugar you find in a Snickers or a Dr. Pepper. Rather, you should be looking to provide your brain with lots of carbohydrates, an excellent source of glucose. In order to metabolize the glucose so you can use it for brain food, you’ll need a healthy level of iron. Chicken, dark meat in turkey, and oysters are great sources of iron. Additionally, without the proper amount of iron in your diet, you won’t be getting enough oxygen to your brain. This can cause fatigue and lackluster mental performance.

Whole grains and nuts keep you happier. Good carbs make an appearance again, this time in the form of mood-boosting wonder foods. Eating more carbohydrates, such as whole grains and legumes (fruits and veggies, too!), cause a boost in your levels of tryptophan, a nonessential amino acid. As more tryptophan enters your system, your brain synthesizes more of a substance called serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is known as a mood regulator since it is widely believed to contribute to your happiness and feelings of well-being.

Fast food can undo all of this. You won’t be shocked to learn that fast food has the opposite effect of just about everything listed above. Fast foods are typically very high in sodium, fat, and cholesterol and lack key nutrients found in healthier foods. For example, omega-3, a fatty acid, can have all kinds of positive effects on your brain. It improves memory, alertness, and your mood. However, for omega-3 to do its job, it must be properly balanced with another fatty acid, omega-6. The trans fats you find in fast food displace the amounts of these fatty acids, resulting in adverse effects on the brain. Fast food causes chemical imbalances in your brain that can raise your anxiety levels, cause depression, and even make you experience withdrawal symptoms if you don’t keep eating it. For those and many other reasons, you should limit your fast food intake and focus on getting as many healthy foods into your diet as possible.


Food for Thought:

by Dani N

Fruits, vegetables, meats, whole grains, and nuts are all majorly beneficial to your brain functionality, so never pass up the chance to choose those healthier options over fast foods.

Sources: http://newsroom. http://healthyeating.


A Golfer’s Mentality

Davis Carter weith his mentor, Guy Whidby by Cale Colby


avis Carter’s story as a golfer did not begin as a toddler with a set of specialty clubs chasing balls around the local country club. The eighth-grader from Pine Grove Middle School in Lowndes County was not up bright and early on Saturday mornings to accompany his dad or granddad for a hearty breakfast and a round on the links. In fact, no one in Carter’s family golfed. He preferred bass fishing and deer hunting to the idea of organized sports, but a close family friend saw untapped potential in the young man. In fact, it was just barely two years ago that this friend and mentor, Guy Whidby, first asked the young man to come “smack some balls around” at the Valdosta course. Whidby was so impressed with the boy’s natural talent that he asked Head Golf Professional-General Manager of Valdosta Country Club Cary Brown, PGA, to take a look at the formative golfer and perhaps offer some guidance. After offering a single lesson to the 11-yearold, the golf coach saw a spark of greatness. Brown said, “He had a lot of natural athletic ability right from the get-go. You could just tell he had something pretty special early on. Now, we’ve been working together for two years, and he has a lot of potential. I think if he keeps working the way he is right now, he can go just about anywhere he wants to go.” A year later, Carter joined the middle school team in Hahira. In his first year of competition, Carter says he played “okay” because he won a couple of matches, but he never won a tournament. Then, as an eighth-grader at Pine Grove, Carter tallied the lowest score in every match or tournament except one. He won low medalist for his region, and the team placed second in every tournament this season while winning the most matches in the region. He shot a 71 on multiple courses across South Georgia, and he scored a 34 in two matches. While natural talent may account for a lot of the young golfer’s success, Brown says work ethic separates him from the crowd. While many kids

photoography by Kaitlynn Passmore

his age may make other choices, Carter chooses to spend as much time on the golf course as possible. As the PGA pro said, “The thing that is most impressive about him though is he has done it in such a short amount of time. To do it with good character is another big part of it. To me, that’s more important than any of it. We’re trying to make good young men. Carter has been a great leader and a great example for a lot of our kids. He is focused, and he is dedicated, and that’s a big plus.” Now, Carter says he plays nearly every day. Meanwhile, his mother, Amy Carter, states that an ideal day for Davis would include arriving at the course around 7:30 in the morning and playing until the sun sets after 8:00 that night. Additionally, the Pine Grove golfer says he maintains a daily workout regimen, and he regularly reads books to develop and improve his psychological prowess. He also works with a putting coach at Sea Island named Mike Shannon to improve his touch. Concerning the mental aspect of the game, Carter said, “I really think it’s the first priority. I’ve seen some really good swingers who get out there. They’re strong, and they’re killing it past me. They’re hitting great shots, then they come under pressure, and it all folds. I think a great strength of my game is being able to hit shots under pressure. I love being under pressure. I love coming down the stretch and knowing I have a shot at this thing, but it’s not just going to be handed to me. I’ve got to work for it.” This year, Carter will begin his freshman year at Lowndes High School. And, at 5’3” and 110 pounds, the golfer does not command the most intimidating stature against his fellow middle school athletes. Next season, he will compete against a bigger, stronger, and more experienced field of players. Still, he says he has been the shortest player on the field in a number of tournaments, but as long as he remains focused on his game and maintains the mental aspect of the game, Carter knows he can dominate just the same. While he admits that he is a good putter and

chipper on any given course, consistent ball striking is perhaps Carter’s greatest strength. He plays against guys who are 6’4” and 250 pounds who can drive the ball a country mile, but he says he always approaches that first tee knowing that “God gave [him] what he gave [him], and [he’s] got to use it another way to make things happen.” The upcoming Lowndes freshman will compete in the Future Master’s Tournament at Dothan Country Club in Alabama from June 21-28. While he has already played with the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour, this contest will mark the biggest tournament of his career to date. ITG

Davis’s Favorite Subject: Social Studies

Least Favorite: Math Last Book: Learn to Win One Shot at a Time by Dr. Morris Pickens

Favorite musician/singer: John Mayer Favorite movie: Step Brothers Favorite player on the PGA Tour: Harris English Favorite team:

Auburn University Tigers Cats or Dogs: Dogs; “I can’t stand cats.”

Superpower: Flight 27

Tift County Se One of the Sta by Robert Preston, Jr.


uccess can be defined in a number of different ways. No matter which definition you choose, Katie Utley, a Tift County senior pole vaulter, has had a successful career with the Blue Devils. A relative latecomer to the sport of pole vaulting - she didn’t start until the eighth grade - Utley is leaving Tift County High with three state titles, a state runner-up, and the 6A state record. Growing up, Utley tried a number of different sports. Her mother suggested that she add one more. She knew Charlie Polhamus, an accomplished pole vaulter and coach who lives in Fitzgerald. Utley obliged and within a year of taking up the sport, she had a state title to her credit. “Pole vaulting was always fun from the first time I tried it. Then when I won that state title, I

Growing up, Katie Utley enjoye basketball—just about anyth secondary. She ran cross cou It’s been a grueling schedule

Katie Utley Tift County High School

enior ate’s Best Pole Vaulters photography by Micki K Photography

realized I was pretty good at it,” she says. Entering the state meet that year, Utley was ranked third in Georgia. The top-ranked vaulter had a bad day while Utley had the best day of her career. “After that,” she says, “my goal was always to win state. I was shocked when I won that first championship. After the shock wore off, I was very proud.” Utley met her goal in the tenth and eleventh grades, winning state each of those years. How did she maintain focus and stay on task after experiencing success so quickly? “My parents have helped me along the way. They encourage me to go to practice

every day. We also have a good group of vaulters there, and we motivate each other,” she says. If you’re going to work with Polhamus, you’re going to work hard every day. There aren’t any days off, and he doesn’t accept excuses. His system is uncompromising; at the same time, his results cannot be ignored. Throughout her career, Utley bought into Polhamus’s system, and she’s done exactly what he asked of her. “He always told us that hard work pays off. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from him,” she says. That lesson will continue to pay dividends over the next four years. Utley has signed a scholarship with

Georgia Tech, where she will study biomedical engineering and compete for the Yellow Jackets track team. “There were a lot of schools offering me scholarships. I chose Georgia Tech as much for the academics as anything else. They also have a great track team, and I have family in Atlanta. I wanted to stay in state, and I liked Tech,” she says. Utley has worked year-round for five years to become and remain one of Georgia’s best high school pole vaulters. As a result, she has received a scholarship at one of the top universities in the country and in the process, laid a foundation for a bright future. Yeah, that’s a successful career. ITG

ed the typical menagerie of sports available to young ladies: softball, soccer, hing she could play. When she discovered pole vaulting, everything else became untry as a freshman, but other than that, it’s been all pole vaulting all the time. e, but it’s also been quite rewarding.


With Tarah Young’s athleticism, it’s only natural that other coaches would like to have her on their teams. In particular, the basketball coaches have been after her to play for them. “People think I’d be a good basketball player because of my height. My brothers were good players, but I’m not. I’m not coordinated, I can’t catch, and I can’t play. I’ve tried soccer and tennis. In soccer, I got kicked more than the ball. I’m dangerous with any sport involving a ball. The only thing I can do with my feet is get from point A to point B,” she laughs.

Tarah Young Deerfield-Windsor School

Player Spotlight

Presented by:


Sophomore Leads Lady Knights to Region Title, Wins Three Individual State Championships by Robert Preston, Jr.


hen In the Game called Tarah Young to interview her, we knew she was a talented track athlete with a bright future ahead of her. She and her Deerfield-Windsor Lady Knights had won region this year easily. She had toiled for three years, finally peaked this year, and would leave Deerfield-Windsor after a great senior season. Wrong. Quite wrong. She hadn’t been toiling for three years. She wasn’t leaving Deerfield-Windsor. And she certainly wasn’t a senior. Young is a sophomore. Very rarely does In the Game interview sophomores for its Player Spotlight feature. When told, Young laughed. “Yep, I’m just a sophomore.” Two more years. That’s how long the

photography by Micki K Photography

rest of GISA Region 3-AAA will have to deal with Young, a fact the region likely isn’t looking forward to. In a short period of time, Young has put together a career that any senior would be proud of. She went out for track her sixth-grade year. Two years later, as an eighth-grader, she was running on the varsity team. Young went to state with the varsity team that year and finished fourth in the 100-meter. In the 4x100 relay, she brought the Lady Knights from seventh to third. “I never thought I was that athletic. When I realized I could run a little, it motivated me to keep working and getting better. I wanted to show everybody I could run,” she says. That season, she let everyone across the state know she could in fact run. Two years later, she’s still running. And about

the only view her opponents have of her is from behind. In 2013, Young was fifth in the state in the 100-meter, second in the 200-meter, third in the 4x100 relay, third in the 4x400 relay, and eighth in the long jump. “I did the long jump, but I didn’t particularly like it,” she says. Young and the Lady Knights followed last year’s performance with a convincing win at region, taking the Region 3 championship without any trouble at all. And Young led the way with 17.5 points and won the high point award at region. She followed that performance at the state meet with second place finishes in the 100-meter and 200-meter, and first place finishes in the 400-meter, 4x100 relay, and 4x400 relay. Heading into the state meet, Young expected to do well. The meet turned out exactly how she figured it would. “I thought Katie Stone, who goes to Stratford, would beat me in the 100 and 200. I figured I could get her in the 400. And that’s what happened,” she says. Stone, a senior, has signed a scholarship to run track for the University of Georgia.

What is the key to Young’s success at such a relatively early age? She has figured something out that many high school runners never fully grasp: the art of pacing. Most high school runners take off wide-open as soon as the gun sounds. They have no concept of pacing, settling in, and letting the race develop in front of them before they make a move. Young utilizes a different, more effective strategy. “I let my opponents go at the start of a race. I don’t start out as fast as I can run. I build up to my fastest pace as the race goes on. Then I run them down,” she says. That strategy has led Young to personal bests of 12.07 in the 100, 24.9 in the 200, and 55 seconds in the 400. Despite the success she has enjoyed after just a few short years on the track, Young remains remarkably grounded and humble. She has high expectations, but she is keeping everything in perspective. “My expectations are to keep winning. But I know someone out there is always faster than me. If I can’t beat them, I’ll keep working as hard as I can until I do,” she says. ITG

Tarah’s Favorites:

Subject: English or Latin Last book: The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey Pepsi or Coke: Pepsi Superpower: Fly Person to meet: Robin Thicke Sport you wish you could play: Basketball Place to travel: Paris



Triplets Brooks County Middle School




Triplets plan to put Brooks County Golf on the map by Robert Preston, Jr.


olf takes years to master. Some people play the game for a lifetime and never get a handle on it. The Brooks County trio of Marvin, Dalton, and MaryLyn Kemp are already well on their way to figuring out golf - at least as much as a person can. “They’ve all three come a long way. They haven’t been playing very long, and we can already see tremendous improvement,” says their father, Hal Kemp, a golfer himself and the reason why his trio plays to this day. Golf runs in the Kemp family. A few years ago, the children started going to the course with their father. He generally took one at a time, and they rotated who would go on a given Saturday. Marvin and Dalton began playing in the sixth grade, MaryLyn in the seventh. Their primary coach has been their father. They’ve listened to what he’s told them, and they have improved accordingly. This year, at the season’s last match, Marvin shot a 39 while Dalton carded a 41. MaryLyn turned in a 50. These scores were all personal bests. “This year, I feel like we started to come into our own,” says MaryLyn. Hal Kemp agrees. “Their progression has been steady, and it’s been fun watching them get better,” he says. Golf clicked with Marvin first. Dalton followed a little later. Since he has truly embraced the game, he has improved dramatically. The key to a good golf game, believes Hal Kemp, is the short game and the mental side. So much can happen from tee to green some of it good, a lot of it bad. But a great short game can make for mistakes made on the way to the green. “We emphasize chipping and put-

photos submitted by Cargile Family

ting. A good short game is extremely important in golf. We also work on the mental side of the game, and I can see that developing in each one,” he says. As the triplets look back on their seasons, all three are pleased with how they turned out. They competed each time they stepped on the course. They got better as the year went on. And they had a lot of fun along the way. “We just want to go out and be competitive and get better each round,” says MaryLyn. If the triplets keep working, they will most definitely make significant improvements through their high school years. Their swings are solid but could use a little tweaking. Over time, they will work out the kinks. “Golf is such a difficult game to teach. But they’ve come a long way in two years, and I believe they’re about to hit their next level. They all want people to think about golf when they hear Brooks County,” says Hal Kemp. ITG

Not only do they want to put Brooks County golf on the map, they also want to earn scholarships to play golf in college. They’re just finishing up their eighth-grade years, but they’re already thinking four or five years down the road. “Scholarships. That’s what they want: scholarships,” laughs Hal Kemp.


She’s seen the looks. She’s heard the whispers. She’s answered their questions over and over. Yes, Bailee Flaherty wrestles. In a high school sport dominated by boys, she has worked hard, trained harder, and proven that she belongs there - not because she is female, but

Making Her Move:

Lowndes Wrestler Takes the Mat by Geraldine Herring


s a girl, Bailee Flaherty surprised everyone when she went out for the maledominated sport of wrestling, but she’s earned her position on the team through hard work and determination. For the past year, Flaherty has devoted her time and energy to being the best wrestler in her weight class for both Lowndes High and the South Georgia Athletic Club’s Devil Dogs. As a fan of younger brother Ryan, who has wrestled four years, Flaherty began to take an interest in the sport several years ago. When she first asked her parents, Kurt and Kelli Flaherty, if she could wrestle, their response was “No.” But over time, they realized her interest was genuine, and she began the training process. She took gymnastics from second through sixth grade and ran track in middle school, both of which would help prepare her for her sport. In March 2013, Flaherty officially made her move into wrestling, first with a regimen of conditioning: running, calisthenics, and endurance and strength training. The next month, she and her parents spoke with Devil Dogs coach Jason Griner, who convinced them to give it a try. After weeks of practice with her local club, Flaherty competed in two tournaments in Atlanta. Thinking she had not done well, she actually impressed other coaches and wrestlers who thought she had wrestled several years. That experience gave her the confidence to move on to Body Bar, a national freestyle women’s tournament in Orlando, Florida, where she earned third place. Entering her freshman year at Lowndes High last August, Flaherty was eager to represent her school on the wrestling team. With 83 students competing for 40 available spots, she knew she had to be at her best. After a week of intense conditioning and wrestle-offs under the guidance of Coach Spencer Graybeal, she waited anxiously for the final roster. She had promised

photography by Micki K Photography

because she’s earned it.

Bailee Flaherty

herself that if she didn’t make the cut, she would simply work harder. But she did make the team in the 126-pound class, a position she proudly says she earned. Though there were a few skeptics at first, Flaherty knew that she belonged on the roster. At her second tournament at Kennesaw Mountain, she lost her first match but secured a win in less than a minute in the second match. In a third match, she found herself working against a 16-6 deficit. Her opponent went to run the half, and the referee was ready to count back points, when all of a sudden she popped her arms out from a take-down, turned the young man over, and stuck him for the pin. This move would prove to be a turning point in her career. At the last high school tournament, Flaherty had a close match with a wrestler from Tifton who was in the lead. He went to “go shoot” when Flaherty sprawled and landed on top of him and held him for the last few seconds. With that move, she earned the win, a great finish to her freshman season. After the high school season, Flaherty traveled to Greenville, South Carolina, in February to compete in the “War of the Roses,” a national tournament for folkstyle, girls only competition. In March, she traveled to Marietta for another “War of the Roses” tournament. At both venues, she placed second, excellent finishes considering she had only wrestled freestyle for four months. In April, Flaherty competed in Oklahoma City in the Girls National Folkstyle Tournament as a member of Team Georgia. Now training in both freestyle and Greco Roman, Flaherty is looking forward to wrestling at Body Bar in Irving, Texas, and later in Fargo, North Dakota. The Fargo tournament is considered a major event for prospective collegiate and Olympic hopefuls. In the fast-growing sport of women’s wrestling, she is working hard to make both of these dreams a reality. ITG 37

Hamilton County Athletics

A Program On the Rise

Blair Armstrong Brings Championship Resume to Hamilton County, Florida by Robert Preston, Jr.


lair Armstrong has spent most of his career rebuilding lagging programs. After more than three decades on the job, he feels like he has one more left in him. In 2013, Armstrong left Georgia after 13 years of coaching in the Peach State and returned to Florida, the state in which his career began. Specifically, Armstrong came to Jasper, where he took over the Hamilton County athletic program as athletic director and the Trojans football program as head coach. “I grew up in Monticello, and I knew the area very well. My mother, who was still living there, had gotten sick, and we were looking for an opportunity to get closer to her. This job came open, and we felt like it was a good fit,” said Coach Armstrong. He came to Jasper with a twofold task: Revamp the athletic department as a whole and, more specifically, establish a winning tradition with the football program. Prior to Armstrong’s arrival, the football program hadn’t enjoyed much success. Throughout Armstrong’s coaching career, he has taken 38

photos submitted by Hamilton County Schools

a number of programs that weren’t particularly successful and turned them around. It’s something he’s familiar and comfortable with. “I guess I’ve built eight or nine programs in my career. I figured I could do it one more time,” he said. In the process, he has won a pair of state titles – one with Jefferson County, Florida, and another with Peachtree Ridge. One of the keys to turning around any program is to change the expectations. Kids have to believe they can win. They must understand that when they step on the field, they are as prepared and ready to play as their opponents. To facilitate that, the players must trust their coaches and believe that their coaches are doing what’s best for them individually and as a team. “We had to bring in a positive attitude. We came in with a new style of play and a positive attitude. I’m a positive motivator, but I’m also a disciplinarian. At the same time, I want the kids to have fun. That’s why they play football – to have fun – and I want to make sure it’s fun for the

kids. I keep motivating, encouraging, building up. That’s the way I was coached, and I don’t know any other way,” he said. These are objectives he applies specifically to the football program, but they are applicable to any sport at any school. And while no one sport is more important than another, Coach Armstrong has found that it is often the football team that sets the athletic tone for the rest of the sports. “It starts with football. It’s often the most popular sport in a community, and it’s the earliest sport in the year. The kids and the community rally around football. It creates energy for the other sports. If you can be successful early in the year, it breeds excitement for the rest of the program,” he says. Armstrong, who arrived in Jasper in April of 2013, brought with him a 5-3 defense and a wing-T offense. This year, he is moving away from the traditional wing-T and spreading things out a bit. It’s a hybrid type of offense that will utilize multiple formations and sets. Some folks call schemes

like Armstrong’s a sling-T. He doesn’t particularly like that description, but the moniker does put everyone on notice; the Trojan offense will be versatile, fastpaced, and hard to defend. While there are a few changes in terminology and a lot of changes in terms of expectations, Armstrong’s schemes aren’t that different from what the Trojans ran before he took the job. “It’s not a big change for them. The basic scheme is very similar to what they did in the past,” he says. How did the kids react to the changes last season? Upon Armstrong’s arrival, he had 24 players. There were that many or more walking the halls of Hamilton County High who had played in the past but weren’t participating when Armstrong took over. He and his staff went to work, trying to get some of those kids back in pads. By the end of the season, there were 52 players on the team, and the Trojans had finished 5-6 and made a trip to the playoffs for the first time in several years. Coach Armstrong gives the kids all of the credit for the success they enjoyed last year. They bought into what he wanted to do, and they worked extremely hard to get better each and every week. “We spent a lot of time in the weight room. That’s important to our program. We also installed a complete program – offseason conditioning and speed drills, weight room work, everything,” he says. “The kids weren’t afraid to work. They’re rural young men who don’t mind going to work and getting dirty and hot.”

In the playoffs, the Trojans lost to eventual state champion Trenton High School. Hamilton played Trenton close but lost two key players during the game. In the second half, Trenton pulled away at the end. “The kids saw how close they came last year to beating a state champion. This year, they want to win it all. They want to win the gold,” he said. Coach Armstrong had achieved one of his primary goals with the success of the football team. So how did the rest of the Hamilton County athletic program do? The softball team went to the playoffs. The baseball team made the postseason with a first-year head coach and, like the football team, lost to an eventual state champion. The basketball team, which had been one of the more consistent teams at Hamilton County, played for a state championship this year. “We taught the kids to fight, to never give up, to never quit. There were games this year that they battled through when they may have given up in the past. They also got in the weight room this year, which is something they hadn’t done as much of in the past,” said Coach Armstrong. All in all, Armstrong is very pleased with how his first year as athletic director turned out. “I’ve said it takes a community to build a program. The teams here have been competitive, but we had to put it all together. We have a great administration, a positive staff, and great support. That’s why we came here. What programs need to succeed is there in most communities. You just have to light the fire,” he said. ITG 39



Rising Star

Thomasville Middle School

Athletics Run Deep in TMS Eighth-grader’s Family by Robert Preston, Jr.

That Thomasville Middle School eighth-grader Jayah McCoggle is an excellent basketball player should come as no surprise to anyone who knows her family. Her late grandfather, Dr. William McCoggle, was a basketball coach for over 30 years at Palmetto High School in Miami and is a member of the Florida A&M Athletic Hall of Fame. Her father, Tavarius McCoggle, was also a coach and a very good player in his own right. An uncle played basketball overseas. The ques-

tion never was would Jayah McCoggle be a good player. Instead, it was how good of a player would she become? The interesting thing about McCoggle is, prior to her sixth-grade year, she had never played competitive basketball. She had been to camps, and she had worked with her father on the fundamentals of the game. She hadn’t, however, played any organized basketball. That year, she went out for the team and earned a roster spot. The reason

photography by Micki K Photography

she wasn’t able to play basketball was simple: her schedule wouldn’t allow it. McCoggle was also participating in gymnastics, and there wasn’t time to do both. So she worked out with her father at the gym and went to gymnastics the rest of the time. By the time she was in the sixth grade, she had rearranged her schedule so that she could go out for basketball. “I just love basketball,” she says. “I just love the game. That’s all I can say.” One thing McCoggle immediately picked up 41

from the coaches in her family is the importance of hard work and being coachable. She trusts her coaches, and she does what they say. As a result, the shooting guard/point guard, who averages about eight points per game, played up this year with the junior varsity team. “I wasn’t intimidated playing with the high school girls. It was a little shaky at first, but when they saw I could play, they opened up to me,” she says.

ing the other team out of the net seriously. She is an integral part of a talented TMS team that went 8-1-1 this year. “I love playing keeper. I can help our team win if I keep the other team from scoring,” she says. As hectic as her schedule is, academics always come first. Her mother, Shemika Lucas, is uncompromising in the expectations she places on grades. “It’s all or nothing. She is going to

As one might expect, growing up in a family of coaches, Jayah McCoggle has been getting advice her whole life. What is the most significant bit of advice she has received? It came from her father. “He taught me to work hard, keep pushing, and most of all, have fun.” McCoggle has the kind of talent that allows her to completely take over a game, even when playing against high school girls. For example, against Worth County this year, most of her teammates ended up in foul trouble. The game was tight, and someone needed to step up and lead the team. McCoggle took the team on her back, scored at will late in the game, and helped guide Thomasville Middle to a one-point victory. Performances like that earned her a spot in the eighth-grade all-star game at Valwood School in Valdosta. McCoggle played point guard in that game and scored 10 points. In addition to basketball, McCoggle cheers, plays soccer, and takes tumbling classes. Of the other sports, soccer is her next favorite. A midfielder/striker turned keeper, McCoggle loves soccer almost as much as she loves basketball. “Somebody told me I looked like I could play. So I started playing in the sixth grade,” she says. She loves playing keeper and takes her job of keep-

make good grades in everything or she isn’t going to play anything at all. I’m impressed with how she plays all these sports and keeps up her grades. She has her own system of getting things done that works for her,” says Lucas. McCoggle isn’t the only one affected by such a hectic schedule. “She keeps me on my toes. I’m finishing my doctorate, and I have to watch my grades. I can’t bring home a grade that I wouldn’t tolerate from her. She checks up on those kinds of things,” laughs Lucas. ITg

Jayah’s Favorites: Basketball team:

Miami Heat Player: Dwayne Wade

Sport you wish you could play: Softball

Subject: Math Least favorite: Social studies

Person to meet: Michael Jordan 43

Let’s Win Together. We play to win! Hit, run, catch. The fundamentals of a winning game plan.

Don’t get caught in extra innings. Develop a strong financial game plan, live within your means, save for the future and borrow wisely. Now that can be a home run. Come see us at CBC Bank today and let’s run the bases together.


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Patti Merritt

Coach’s Corner

Colquitt County High School

Colquitt Gymnastics Coach uses Encouragement and Positive Reinforcement to Develop State-Caliber Gymnasts by Robert Preston, Jr.


olquitt County High Head Gymnastics Coach Patti Merritt took an around-theway trip into education. The Valdosta State University graduate originally went to work for the Department of Family and Children’s Services before becoming a middle school social studies teacher. It didn’t take long for the former gymnast and collegiate cheerleader to find a spot on the Colquitt County High coaching staff. And she’s been there ever since. Merritt grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she participated in gymnastics until ninth grade. With no schools in Florida fielding gym-

nastics teams, Merritt had a decision to make: continue with gymnastics at the club level or turn her full attention to cheerleading. She chose cheerleading and would eventually cheer for two years at VSU. “They didn’t have scholarships for cheerleaders, but they did buy our books for us if we made the team. That was a pretty big deal for us back then,” she recalls. After graduating, she worked with the state for a few years before changing careers completely. Merritt became a teacher in 2005 and soon found a spot coaching cheerleading and serving as an assistant with the gymnastics team. After

photography by Connie Southwell

two years of working as an assistant, she was named head gymnastics coach. Coaching gymnastics in South Georgia isn’t easy. Few schools in the area have teams; besides Colquitt, only Bainbridge, Tift, Thomas County Central, and Lowndes have teams. Overall, about 40 schools throughout the state have gymnastics teams. As such, the region alignments as they exist for other sports are different. All the South Georgia schools compete against each other. Occasionally, South Georgia schools travel outside of the region to compete against schools in the metro area. At the end of 45

the season, teams compete for the area championship. The top six teams move on to state while the top 12 individuals in each event and the all-around advance to state. This season, Colquitt did well. Two individual gymnasts went to state. The Packers narrowly missed earning a berth in the state meet as a team; they finished seventh by a mere .3 of a point. “Every year that I’ve been here but one we’ve had girls qualify for state,” says Merritt. One of the biggest successes of Merritt’s career is starting a gymnastics program at the middle school level. The high school team needs a feeder program, and the best way to develop good high school gymnasts is through a middle school team. Merritt’s daughter Meghan, now a

senior, was one of the first middle school gymnasts to come through the program. “I’d like to see more schools jump on board,” says Merritt. “This is a very competitive sport, and we need more girls and teams competing.” Coaching gymnastics isn’t easy. It’s a very demanding and difficult sport. The mental side of gymnastics is more grueling than the physical side, and as such, many of the gymnasts spend much of their time under a great deal of stress. “I try to be very positive with the girls. That’s my main thing: be positive. A lot of our girls, especially those who compete at the YMCA, are very stressed. So I try to be positive and encouraging. You have to let them know they can do it and build up their confidence,” she says. ITG

At Colquitt County High, Patti Merritt has had the opportunity to coach her daughter Meghan. A Level 9 gymnast, Meghan has flourished under her mother’s tutelage. “I coached her until Level 7 at the Y. Those years were tough for us. When she came back to me, it was nice. We both enjoyed it, and it was a unique experience. She was a great leader for our team and coaching her was easy,” says Merritt.



Valwood Girls Tennis Team Wins State Championship Valwood’s girls tennis team captured the 2014 GISA State Championship with a win over Westwood in Macon. Valwood defeated Westwood in a third set tie-breaker to capture the title. The Valiants took down Frederica Academy in the semifinals to advance to the showdown against the Wildcats. Congratulations to Ashley Manwell, Olivia Cox, Isabel Langdale, Grace Flemer, Maggie Scruggs, Hailee Hathcock, Kamie Hartley, and Head Coach Wright Kimbro for bringing the championship trophy home to Valwood! 48

Going to college is an exciting experience, especially when you have money sitting in your pocket, wallet, or bank account.Without money, though, college can be somewhat stressful. Now, this isn’t to imply that having money will make college easy, but it most certainly will make it more enjoyable. For those of you who have parents who are funding your college endeavors, you should be very grateful. Still, it’s important that you try to save as much money as possible. And this rings true for those of you who are supporting yourself through college, too. While we’re at it, let’s take a quick look at six top tips for saving and managing money while you’re in college.

Tip #1: Write down due dates

It doesn’t matter the type of bill that it is--Internet, electric, water--you need to write down the due dates of each bill and cross them out each month when you pay them.

Tip #2: Purchase a meal plan

Unless you’re eating off the dollar menu for each meal, eating fast food is going to get expensive. Not to mention that it’s not very healthy. One of the best ways for you to save money while in college is to purchase a meal plan and eat the foods provided by the school. Oftentimes, there will be campus restaurants that are included within the meal plan, meaning you will have a wide variety of meals to choose from each and every day.

Tip #3: Take part in healthy activities

Most healthy activities won’t cost an “arm and a leg” to take part in. Unhealthy activities, such as doing drugs or bar hopping, will. In fact, one night out bar hopping can cost several hundred dollars. It’s best to avoid such activities altogether.

Tip #5: Get a roommate

Room and board can cost quite a bit, so if possible, consider renting a house or apartment on campus. You can often save a considerable amount of money by doing this, especially if you get one or more roommates to split the rent payment with you.

Finance Fitness

Six Top Tips for Saving and Managing Money In College

Tip #6: Always use your student discount When you’re a college student, you will qualify for a wide range of discounts. From car insurance discounts to saving money at local gyms, make sure you take advantage of all the money-saving opportunities that being a student allows for.

by Whitney W

Your college years will most likely be some of the best years of your entire life. Make sure you get the most out of them by properly saving and managing your money.

Tip #4: Open a savings account

It’s never too early to start saving. Even if you’re fresh out of high school, you should consider opening a savings account. Although you might not have much to contribute to it, a small amount of money will go a long way over an extended period of time. For example, if you can save just $50 a month, that’s $600 a year.


Four Straight State Titles for Lady Wildcats Basketball by Cale Colby


fter blowing out the Lady Jags from Thomas Jefferson Academy in the state basketball championship in March, the Crisp Academy Lady Wildcats claimed their fourth title in as many years. Overall, the girls from Cordele ended yet another nearly impeccable season with a perfect 9-0 record in 1-IA. Meanwhile, the team racked up 30 wins while only suffering two close losses on a remarkable 2013-14 season. But, the story of this South Georgia basketball dynasty has been decades in the making. Crisp Academy’s head coach Gina Mitchell took over the Lady Wildcats basketball program after former coach Cliff Ranew retired in 2011. Mitchell played high school basketball for Coach Ranew at Worth Academy, and under his leadership, the Sylvester team won two state championships. “He was just an awesome coach,” Mitchell recalls. “He stressed fundamentals, and I’ve always coached my team the way we learned in high school. I learned from the best, and anywhere I coach, I try to teach my kids the same things.” Carrying on the tradition that her predecessor started, the similar coaching styles between Ranew and Mitchell provided a nearly seamless transition for the players. In the four years Mitchell has coached at Crisp Academy, the

photos submitted by Coach Gina Mitchell

Lady Wildcats have claimed four consecutive state championships. And the girls hold a staggering overall record of 110 wins and only 14 loses. According to the coach, experience has paid dividends as each new class steps up to fill the shoes of the seniors who graduated before them. “You’re only as good as your senior leadership, and the last four years we have had really good seniors that love to play, they don’t miss practice, and they work hard. They know what is expected of them,” the Lady Wildcats’ coach explains. The Cats were stacked with six seniors for the 2013-14 season, and some of these girls played varsity ball while they were still in the eighth grade. So, the team is well prepared to compete at a higher level. They know their roles, they play hard, and they bring home championships in phenomenal fashion. Additionally, three of the seniors in 2014 have been named All-State players in multiple seasons. Madi Mitchell, Coach Mitchell’s daughter, was named to the All-State team for five consecutive years, dating back to her eighth grade season when she began playing at the varsity level. Kayla Childers was recognized as an All-State player for two years, though she probably would have earned a third nod if not for

tearing her ACL in the region championship as a junior. Kara White was also named an All-State player for two consecutive years, and Maddie Crouse was recognized in her senior season. On the other hand, these six graduating seniors will leave a huge void to fill in the Lady Wildcats’ roster for the season ahead. Coach Mitchell expects the four up-and-coming Crisp Academy seniors to step up in a big way for the 2014-15 schedule. She’s also expecting big things from her freshmen and sophomores this year. “It’s going to be really hard, but the kids are used to working. They’re used to winning, and they know what it takes.” The new class of champions will have an opportunity to prove themselves in the weeks to come as Crisp Academy will take on a range of public school teams, including Tift, Turner, Colquitt, and Coffee Counties, to gain experience against some of Southwest Georgia’s toughest teams. While the girls began practicing for the upcoming season last month, a slew of scrimmage games are scheduled for June. ITG 51

Ocilla, GA • Irwin Varsity Baseball Highlights

Surrounded by his family and coaches, Irwin County High School’s Kyle Posey signs a letter of intent to play college baseball for Brewton-Parker College.

Austin Phillips, senior, was named Region 2-A Co-offensive Player of the Year and will sign May 8 to play college baseball at Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tennessee. Jonathan Martin, sophomore, was named Region 2-A Co-Pitcher of the Year with 82 strikeouts and a 2.03 ERA.

The 2014 Indians: (sitting) Cyrus Johnson, Michael Griffin, Seth Young, Cole Sumner, and Ty Hogan; (middle) Jonathan Martin, Grant Hudson, Ethan Ethridge, Kyle Posey, Nathan Tucker, and Blake Sumner; (standing) Coaches Jared Luke and Troy Fletcher, Tyler Smith, Cam Morgan, Austin Phillips, Willie Harris, and Coach Brad Weir.

Irwin Tennis Spring has been very active at Irwin County High School. All spring sports were hampered by severe weather conditions. Many games/matches were canceled, and make up competitions took a full week of hitting the fields, tracks, courts, and courses. Now the spring season is coming to a close with Irwin teams in the play-off rounds in the state tournaments and meets. Irwin Tennis Irwin’s girls and boys tennis teams have had a great season. Their regular season records speak for themselves. The girls finished first in the region and the boys third in the region. Both teams advanced to the first round of the state playoffs. Coaches Luke Roberts and John Tuggle have worked with their teams to reach team goals to advance to the state tournaments. Coach Roberts scheduled the non-region games with larger schools in preparation for the postseason. Round one, Irwin girls defeated Mitchell 5-0, but Baconton Charter bested the boys with a close 3-2. The Indian girls hosted Commerce to put another win in the books with a 3-0. May 6, the girls will travel to Camilla for the Final Four competition with Baconton Charter. Irwin Fans are cheering for this to be “The Indians’ Year” to reach the top.


Blake “Catfish” Sumner, senior, was named as a Region 2-A Second Team utility player. Cyrus Johnson, sophomore, was named as a Region 2-A Second Team outfielder. Irwin feels good about the 2015 season. They have experience returning and have an outstanding talented freshmen class that gained experience on the 2014 JV team. Irwin County High School

The 2014 Indian baseball team completed their season in the Sweet Sixteen state tournament. The season record was 17-12, including some 6A schools (Glenn Academy and Coffee). Coaches Brad Weir and Troy Fletcher wanted to really prepare the team for the tough competition in Region 2-A. The Indians capitalized on their hard work, completing the season with a region 11-3 record. Kyle Posey, senior, was named First Team short-stop for Region 2-A, and signed to play college ball with Brewton Parker in Mt Vernon, Georgia.

Head Coach Luke Roberts and his girls tennis team; alternates Abi Walker, Peyton Posey, number one doubles Jordyn and Jayden Jankiewicz, number two doubles Kaley Youghn and Maggie Martin, number one singles Maddie Carlton, number two Alex Rhodes, number three singles Summer Pridgen, and Assistant Coach John Tuggle.

Ocilla, GA • Irwin 2014 Track ter; Ryan Peterson, third in the 100-meter; Luke Gamble, fourth in the 800-meter; Jacob McCormick, eighth in the 200-meter. Unfortunately the girls had a bad day and Dacia Graham was the only state qualifier on the team with her 4-06.00 high jump. Boys qualifying for state include: Jakyron Young (first, high jump, 46’7.25”), Ryan Peterson, (fourth, 100-me-

ter), Qua Tucker (fifth, 100-meter), and Ryan Peterson, Tyler Bethune, Ziaire Andrews, and Qua Tucker (sixth, 4x100). Jakyron Youngs’ sectionals first place 46’7” triple jump set a new ICHS school record; the old record was 45’1.” Senior Dacia Graham completed her track career at ICHS with a ninth place in the state girls high jump. The boys state meet will be May 8.

Jakyron Young nails the sectional first place triple jump, a new school record.

Dacia Graham Single A ninth place.

Irwin County High School

Track suffered from cold and rainy weather, cutting many practices and canceling many meets. Coaches Brian and Leigh Chestnutt began their season without some of their key athletes due to injuries earlier in the year, but to their advantage, they had experienced athletes on both teams. Irwin entered the area I qualifying meet ready to hit the track and field. The girls team was down to only four competitors. They finished eighth overall, qualifying three of the four girls for sectionals: Dacia Graham (fourth, high jump), Gabbie Floyd (fourth, 400-meter), Garisha Johnson (fifth, 100-meter and 200-meter), and Dacia Graham (sixth, 200-meter). The boys finished fourth overall. They had impressive individual scores, also: Micah Powers, fourth in the discus and fourth in the shot put; Jacob McCormick sixth in the long jump; Jakyron Young, second in the triple jump; Qua Tucker, Ryan Peterson, Jakyron Young, and Ziaire Andrews, third in the 4x100; Luke Gamble, sixth in the 1600-meters; Kameron Williams, fifth in the 400-meters; Qua Tucker, second in the 100-me-


Echols County Wildcats Statenville, GA • Echols County Jordan Lessman She was awarded the Lady Cat award in soccer, Offensive Award in softball, and was named Most Valuable Player for the basketball team as a senior. In addition, to these local awards, Lessman made the All-Region Team in softball all four years, in soccer her sophomore, junior, and senior year, and in basketball her senior year. Lessman was named to the All-State Class A Team in basketball her senior year. She creates a positive vibe, pushing herself, her teammates, and coaches to work harder, looking at victory and defeat as a learning experience. She is the first one to practice and the last one to leave. Lessman is always putting in the extra time, working on off days and weekends, being a leader to her teammates by pushing them to put in the extra time for the overall achievement of her teams. In the classroom, she displays the same type of leadership. She maintains a high GPA, displays achievement/knowledge within her classes, and also is a great teacher to her fellow classmates. Jordan Lessman is an overall great student-athlete because she allows herself

to accept failure as a step in reaching her full potential. She will succeed in life with her “do or die” attitude, setting her individual goals high, and striving in everything she does to make a positive impact on society.

Echols County High School

Lessman is the prime example of what it means to be a student-athlete. She exemplifies the characteristics in such a manner that she not only makes herself better, but she makes everyone around her better, also. She displays great leadership on the court and field, as well as in the classroom. Lessman has lead her softball, basketball, and soccer teams to new levels of competition due to her work ethic, knowledge of games and competitors, and relationships with teammates and coaches. She has received numerous awards in all of the sports that she has participated in because of the impact that she has made, not only on her teams, but throughout Region 2-A and state competitions. Beginning in her freshman year, Lessman received the Rookie Award in softball and the Field Award in track. Her sophomore year, she received the Lady Cat award in basketball, Player to Watch in softball, and Coach’s Award in soccer. During her junior year, Lessman was honored with the Lady Cat Award in softball and soccer and the Defensive Award in basketball.

Senior Jordan Lessman


The Journey of Imitation - Part II Galatians 2:11-21

Last month we talked about realizing that we are all slaves to something or someone. As a result of that slavery, we imitate. According to Google’s dictionary, to imitate is to “take or follow as a model.” Who or what we imitate or model our lives after is who or what we enslave ourselves to. Our goal as Christian athletes is to imitate Jesus Christ. This month, the journey to understand imitation continues. Sometimes, even good people can imitate traditions or prejudices that are not a reflection of Jesus. For example: My story. Right kind of guy. Lived the right kind of life. I was even called into full-time ministry. BUT remained enslaved in some areas of my life that I never fully submitted to Him. If you are like I was, Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit, all in one, come to where you are and plead to embrace you and separate you from imitating things that will keep you from Him. We see that even Cephas, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, was prejudice. Isn’t it easy to look down on others, talk about their shortcomings behind their backs, yet never address the issues with them directly? Matthew 18:15 says, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” SEGA FCA

When Paul saw that Cephas, an Apostle, was misleading his followers, he called his boy out to his face! You are on one of two sides of this conversation right now: 1. You need to call out a brother or sister or teammate who is imitating something or someone other than Jesus; or 2.. You need to be called out. This whole theme of imitating is a serious deal! Paul says that we are not bound or enslaved to the laws or traditions of people, but that we are crucified, dead, and buried to imitating lies, laws, traditions, prejudices, and lifestyles that are not welcome in a relationship with Jesus. When we die to our desires and cling to Christ, by faith, in full surrender, we truly live! We live for God! We have spent the past two months learning how to become imitators of Christ. Maybe right now is your time to die to whatever it is that is hindering you from living with Jesus. In His Grip, Danny R. Broyles Area Director SEGA FCA SEGA FCA Office 229-245-1717



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June/July 2014 South Georgia Edition  

In the Game High School Sports Magazine

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