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Kick It Up A Notch • Safe At Home • Born To Coach • Riveted By Racing

MARCH, 2011 VOLUME 1, NO. 11

Photo by Randy Harris

Leading Off

24 A DREAM SEASON Murfreesboro’s Siegel High School is counting on their big men to deliver a state title during their recordsetting season









12 Kick It Up A Notch

With the departure of Ryland Hoskins, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum looks to the future and the next chapter in its 45-year history.

18 Safe At Home

Of the six Nashville area college teams, 43 percent of the players are from the mid-state (91 of 210 players).

28 Born To Coach

By the time he was in high school the future was set for Rick Byrd – and it clearly involved coaching


32 Riverdale’s Wild Ride

While Riverdale’s head coach John Wild downplays his legendary career the trophies keep stacking up.

36 Riveted By Racing

Mason Mingus may need to consider carrying around a mirror to make sure he knows which sport he is playing.

38 Jumping Back In

When 10-year-old Jay Fleming was pulled out of his classroom on Dec. 16, his classmates weren’t sure what their mild-mannered peer could have possibly done.

March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

Scoring Touch

In an effort to advance beyond the opening round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in team history, the Predators acquired center M i k e Fisher f r o m Ottawa. Page


STAFF Jane Hutson…………………………………Publisher Jim Muir……………………………Managing Editor Jim Harwell…………………Contributing Writer Dave DeRocher……………Contributing Writer Maren Angus………………Contributing Writer Jillian Davis…………………Contributing Writer Carol Stuart…………………Contributing Writer Joe Synkowski…………Contributing Writer John Ferguson……………Contributing Writer John Lee………………………Contributing Writer Steve Lee……………………Contributing Writer Rudy Kalis……………………Contributing Writer Greg Ruff……………………Contributing Writer Dr. James Lohse…………Contributing Writer Larry Woody………………Contributing Writer Greg Sage……………………Contributing Writer Kevin Pieper…………………Contributing Writer Kathy Steakley…………………Guest Columnist Autumn Boaz……………………Guest Columnist

ADVERTISING Peggy Simmons………Office/Sales Manager Randy Sharber………………Account Executive Jon Williams…………………Account Executive

ART Don N. Olea………Art Director/Photographer Joel Smith……………………………Photographer Kevin Pieper…………………………Photographer Kenn Stilger…………………………Photographer

Photo courtesy Randy harris

Roster OUR

32 Following last season’s state championship run and undefeated season the Riverdale Lady Warriors are poised to make another deep post-season.

Departments 8 10 35 42 45 46

Pre-game New Products & Innovations Shut Up & Serve Ask The Jock Doc Ask The Athletic Trainer Looks Between The Lines

Inside 12 Football In Tennessee 22 The Great Outdoors 34 Basketball In Tennessee


High School AD’s and Coaches Tennessee Sports Magazine is published monthly by Mad Kat Publications; 9050 Carother’s Pkwy Suite 140 #73, Franklin, TN 37067 ph: (615) 955-0545. Contents may not be reproduced without consent of the copyright owner. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. Tennessee Sports Magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, articles, photographs or artwork.

To submit information, photos or stories or to place advertising please contact Tennessee Sports Magazine at (615) 955-0545 or

Please email us your 2011 College Signees.Include your student athlete’s name, sport and college to


Munchak Ushers In New Era On Jan. 28 Titans fans bid farewell to Jeff Fisher, who held the distinction of being the NFL’s longest tenured head coach.


Sweet Talkers

Talkin’ Turkey In the spring the thoughts of a Tom turkey turn to romance, and the normally wily bird becomes a more gullible gobbler. See page 22

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Jump Ball Commodore junior forward Lance Goulbourne powers up for a rebound during Vanderbilt’s 84-74 victory over Ole Miss on January 19 at Memorial Gym. Photograph by Steve Green


Pinch Hitting by Jim Muir


reetings and welcome to the March issue of Tennessee Sports Magazine. You probably noticed by the picture at the top of this month’s pregame that the pleasant and familiar face of publisher Jane Hutson is absent. Please don’t be alarmed or worry – I’m only filling in this month while Jane attends to some family medical issues involving her father. So, before we get rolling perhaps a brief introduction is necessary before I tackle this month’s Pre-game. My name is Jim Muir and I serve as The month of managing editor and a partner at TSM. Additionally, I want to add that it’s a thrill for me March is to be able to reach out to you this month. without quesWhen Jane asked me to pinch-hit for her I was tion more immediately reminded of a situation involving a synonymous baseball game I attended last summer. Before I with a single explain the correlation between my attempt to try and fill in for Jane and a baseball game I should sport than any first point out that I’m a huge St. Louis Cardinals other month. fan and four or five times each summer I make the drive to Busch Stadium to see my beloved Redbirds play. On top of that, I’m also a big fan of Albert Pujols – the best player in Major League Baseball in my opinion. On one particular trip I was disappointed to learn that Pujols had been given the day off – a fact that definitely took a little luster off the game.

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols


March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

Such is the case this month with Jane’s smiling face and exceptional commentary missing from this space, which very well could bring a tinge of disappointment to our readers. On the bright side, Pujols’ replacement that day did an adequate job and didn’t make any major blunders – and the Cards won. So, with that thought in mind … my goal this month is to do an adequate job and not make any major miscues. And of course in my humble opinion our March issue, even with me pinch-hitting in this spot, is a winner. As far as my picture replacing Janes this month, well, it is what it is and there’s not much I can do about that. The month of March is without question more synonymous with a single sport than any other month. Think about it – baseball, football, track, wrestling – no other sport but basketball can boast a phrase like ‘March Madness.’ And in keeping with that annual hoops’ excitement we are heavy with basketball features this month including stories on the tall and talented Siegel High School boy’s team and the Riverdale High School girl’s – who both appear to be poised to make a deep post-season run. Along with those round ball features we also highlight the coaching excellence of Belmont men’s basketball coach Rick Byrd who recently picked up his 600th career win – an accomplishment that puts the personable coach in a distinguished league. And with the weather warming up that means one thing for sure, baseball is right around the corner. TSM’s feature writer Jim Harwell gets us set for some hard ball action by highlighting some mid-state baseball players who will be counted on for big contributions during the upcoming season. Finally, this month we also have our usual selection of interesting and diverse columns that are sure to satisfy the appetite of even the most die-hard sports fan. In fact, this month’s magazine is a veritable sports’ smorgasbord – a little something for everybody. So, roll up your sleeves, dig in and bon appetit. All the best to you and God Bless! ■

Sports Mom Spotlight

Fear Not


by Kathy Steakley

his simple command – fear not – should be easy to conquer. But even though the words are small, the message is immense. So immense, in fact, that they were chosen as the theme for Brentwood Academy’s Spiritual Emphasis Week. Twice a year, all students and faculty participate in Joe Campbell Service Day, choosing different locations in the community to serve. As Rian Berger, Spiritual Life Director, stepped on stage to begin this particular day, his backdrop consisted of two huge canvases. Both displayed the words ‘Fear Not’ and contained a very honest assessment of their stuShe desires to dent’s fears. bring dance Both middle and high school students had written instruction to a wide array of things they struggle with, including underserved everything from sharks, spiders, heights and big dogs, to a deeper level that spoke of failure, rejection, communities at a loneliness, the unknown, being made fun of or discounted rate, ignored. In other words, things that as adults, we giving children a still sometimes wrestle with. chance to study Several individuals who could relate to overcomdance … ing obstacles, hurdles and addictions spoke at the school, including Notre Dame graduate and football player Rudy Ruettiger, A.C. Green, of the Los Angeles Lakers, former professional poker player Stephen Bredfeldt and Phil Vischer, founder of Veggie Tales. But there was also a most intriguing young lady among this cast – 12-year-old Amiya Alexander who took the stage the first day, holding a captive audience with her infectious smile and dazzling dance clothes. On September 6, 2008, at 1:06 in the morning, a then 10-year-old Amiya woke from a vivid dream. She immediately shared the dream with her mom – she was in a giant pink bus riding down the street. A kid came in, and then more kids, and then she was teaching the whole world to dance. She sat down and sketched out exactly what her bus would look like, with bright pink walls and dance barres in place of seats. And with the help of her mom, that dream came true. One of Amiya’s goals is to fight the obesity epidemic in children in our country. After hearing Michelle Obama talk about this problem, she thought, “I can help her!” And she is doing just that. Amiya’s Mobile Dance Academy travels to inner city neighborhoods, schools and day care centers, teaching ballet, tap,

hip hop, salsa and jazz to kids even as young as two. She desires to bring dance instruction to underserved communities at a discounted rate, giving children a chance to study dance that might never see that opportunity. Amiya also works with an organization that accepts donations to offer scholarships for low-income families. There are some fears that go along with being such a young visionary. For instance, older people don’t always take her seriously. But Amiya is not one to give in to that fear. She feels like she should have the same opportunities as other owners and presidents. “I’m not that different,” she believes. There is a reason for her determination. Amiya explains that “God is the head of my life. I thank him for everything. He leads my path and I thank him.” One of the joys of her service is seeing these kids smile and get really excited. She feels like dancing helps give them confidence and self-esteem. One recent dance student was obese. At school, she was always left out. On the bus, that all changed. She felt welcomed, like she was a member of a giant family and not an outsider. Amiya is a great example of what one person, even at such a young age, can do to change the life of someone else in a positive way. To wrap up the morning, after an impromptu and quite hilarious salsa lesson for some select faculty members, Rian Berger spoke once more. He quoted II Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline,” encouraging these BA students never to fall into the trap of thinking “I’m too young to be used by God.” Amiya, for one, is safe from that trap. ■

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


New Products & Innovations Photos courtesy evoShield


A Game Changer By Maren Angus


our years ago a group of athletes from the University of Georgia in Athens wanted to find a way to protect athletes using new technology while allowing the athlete to still have free movement. The result was a revolutionary product that is very different from the usual foams and plastics used in normal protective padding. EvoShield is a thinner, wider, stronger and more durable protective product designed for different parts of the body. Some of the products offered are chest protectors, rib protectors, elbow pads, shin pads, and wrist pads. Caleb Joseph, a Franklin High school grad and former baseball player at Lipscomb University, was introduced to EvoShield during his playing days at LU. “I wore the leg/ankle protector for my front foot while hitting,” said Joseph,

who is now a top prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization, “I also wore the wrist guard with the pad insert in it for defensive purposes.” Each product is made of a composite material that once taken out of the foil back, reacts with the air and hardens to fit the athlete’s body. The shape it forms will never change. “The best part about EvoShield is the fact that you are able to mold it to yourself,” said Joseph. Bob Pickney, CEO of EvoShield, describes the products as, “game-changing protective apparel.” EvoShield products were first introduced in Florida during Spring Training and it was very well received among the trainers. “I get a new one every year at spring training,” said Joseph, “I can go an entire 162 game schedule without it breaking down or busting.” Since the product was introduced EvoShield has been used by a wide array

ELITE COMPANY Chicago White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham, Sporting News' 2009 American League Rookie of the Year, wears EvoShied.

of athletes, from the beginner to the seasoned professional. “It’s really for kids along with elite athletes,” said Pickney. “It protects 8year-olds as well as it protects 20-year-olds.” Most recently, EvoShield was worn by Cody Ross and Josh Hamilton, the NLCS and ALCS MVP’s. EvoShield doesn’t want athletes to worry about playing hurt and with this lightweight product, athletes don’t even realize they have it on. “We use a different technology that doesn’t get in the way,” said Pickney. Another project, EvoShield has taken on is custom designing shirts for kids that have health con-

ditions. Pickney said they have made protective shirts for people with pacemakers, cancer patients with IV drips and they are currently working on a shirt to protect kids with enlarged spleens. With the custom medical work EvoShield has been doing it has really inspired Pickney. “That’s the real fun part of the job. Knowing you can make a difference in someone’s life.” Over the past three years, along with the World Series, EvoShield has appeared in the 2010 Super Bowl, the 2010 Stanley Cup finals, the 2010 College World Series and the 2010 NCAA Lacrosse Championship. ■

Jordan Lavender

University School of Nashville • Track During a standout career at University School of Nashville, Jordan Lavender blazed a trail – literally. Lavender, who recently signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Virginia on a track scholarship, is the TSSAA Division II state champion in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter and to complete the quadruple-gold, also the long jump. She is also the city and region champion in all four of those events. USN track coach Zaf Ahmed pointed out “Jordan was the only female listed in the Top 25 nationally in the four events that etched her name in the TSSAA record books.

Harrison Hawthorne

Ravenwood High School • Wrestling Ravenwood High School senior Harrison Hawthorne is a leader on the wrestling team, according to Coach Josh Peck. “He is a great leader and motivator and athletically he is the strongest wrestler that Ravenwood has ever had.” Hawthorne is currently 33-1 with 41 takedowns and 246 team points. Twenty-four of Hawthorne’s wins were by a single pin. Hawthorne also shines away from athletics, boasting a 3.65 grade point average. The Ravenwood senior also led the team to a third place finish in Class AAA in the state duals February 4-5.

Zac Swansey

Tennessee Tech University • Basketball Zac Swansey, a transfer from the University of Georgia, is quickly making a name for himself with the Tennessee Tech University basketball team. Swansey is a junior point guard from Dunwoody, Georgia. “Zac has had a tremendous impact on our team and league already,” said TTU men’s basketball coach, Mike Sutton. “He leads the OVC in assists and is one of the top 5 ranked nationally as well. He has great court vision and his ability to deliver the basketball to players in scoring position is critical. If anything, I would like for him to look for his own shot more often. He is an outstanding young man who has done a wonderful job in the classroom, will graduate this spring, and still have another year of eligibility to compete for the Golden Eagles next year.”

Haley Felker

Harpeth High School • Basketball Look the word ‘consistent’ up in Webster’s Dictionary and you’re likely to find a picture of Haley Felker, of Harpeth High School. A senior, Felker is a four-year starter for the Indians and with 1,500 points is the second all-time scoring leader in school history. As a freshman Felker averaged 12 ppg, as a sophomore 13.5 ppg., as a junior she upped to average to 15 ppg and is currently scoring at a 19 ppg. clip for Coach Jimmy Mitchell. On top of that Felker is scoring the nets from the charity stripe where she shoots 85 percent. Felker, an honor student with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, will take her considerable athletic and academic talents to Trevecca Nazarene University next year on a basketball scholarship.

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Kick It Up A Notch The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is looking for a higher level of visibility By John Lee


Photographs by

ith the departure of Ryland Hoskins, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum looks to the future and the next chapter in its 45-year history. In the same spirit of inspiration a coach might use to push an athlete to reach for a higher goal, Ryland Hoskins, who served as longtime executive director, has a similar message for his successor: kick it up a notch, and take it to the next level. Hoskins is no stranger to starting from scratch with only a vision and a blank slate. Over the past 10 years Hoskins has helped to develop, market, and manage the site of the state’s only hall of fame and museum dedicated to “honoring and preserving outstanding sports achievements in Tennessee.” “If it hadn’t been for his labor of love, I don’t know that the hall would exist,” said current TSHF board president Bill Emendorfer. Most Tennesseans and even sports fans don’t realize that the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame


Don N. Olea

unofficially began back in 1966, created by the Middle Tennessee Sports Writers and Broadcasters Association in Winchester, Tennessee. That same year, the very first TSHF inductee banquet was held and was personally financed by the writers and broadcasters for

Clarksville sprinter Wilma Rudolph over-came wearing a leg brace as a child to winning three gold medals in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

TSHF Executive Director Ryland Hoskins has been the face of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame since its inception.

$300. Regardless of the fact that there was not yet a building to house the TSHF, for the next 28 years the officers would come together once a year and hold its annual banquet. The officers would recognize and record the inductees, while working to preserve and chronicle the state’s rich sports history as far back as the 1800s. Early supporters such as the late Bernie Moore, retired commissioner of the SEC, and the late Bishop Frank Julian kept the young, often struggling hall of fame together and moving forward through tough times. “The organization has had its peaks and valleys over the years,” said Hoskins. A major milestone took place in 1994 when the state legislature unanimously passed the “Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Act” allocating $1.5 million to build a hall if a place was found, and officially creating the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. A 25-member board was also formed with the east, middle, and west regions of the state

equally represented, and for the next few years, set about searching for a permanent space for the TSHF to call home. The TSHF continued to exist mainly only on paper, until the deal to build the new arena in Nashville was finalized. Thanks to the efforts of Doug Dickey, then Athletic Director at UT and TSHF president in 2000, working with then Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen and MDHA Commissioner Gerald Nicely and others, the arena deal also allocated a space for a hall and museum, a 7,500 square-foot permanent home on the main level. “I give so much credit to Doug Dickey,” said Hoskins. “There are board members and there are board members, but you have to have someone who is passionate about it and who cares about it.” The challenges for the new TSHF executive director were many. “When we came down here in 2000, there was an empty space and

GRIDIRON GREATS The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum preserves much of Tennessee’s rich gridiron history, including honoring greats like Reggie White and Peyton Manning.

nothing on a computer,” said Hoskins. “They had officers at that time and would keep the names and info in boxes.” The TSHF also had never had a staff, with the exception of the P.R.

firm representing the organization before the move. “Ryland has been pretty amazing because for the most part he has been a one-man band along with a part time assistant,” said

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


The Hall and Museum features many unique displays and exhibits, honoring Tennessee’s world-class athletes, including Nashville’s own three-time Olympic gold medalist Tracy Caulkins-Stockwell.

deal with as a free standing strucEmendorfer. “He has done what ture.” most halls would do with three to Yet, being comfortably inside the five staff members.” arena with no visibility on the exteThe state funds were used to rior has been one of the biggest chaldesign and build out the space and lenges for public awareness and also to purchase artifacts. The hall recognition for the TSHF. and museum receives no state fund“Awareness and visibility for the ing for operational costs. “Like all nonprofits, we rely heavily on corporate sponsors,” said Hoskins. “In the last three or four years with the economy the way it is, that has been a challenge to say the least.” The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and Museum belongs to the people of Tennessee – housing the plaques of inductees, written history and testimoTennessee’s relatively new and exciting era of nials, photographs, top-tier professional sports is being preserved interactive displays, here, recognizing great athletes and coaches. and over 500 artifacts of Tennessee Sports History. Yet, one of the greatest hall is limited because there is no challenges the TSHF faces is public advertising budget,” said Hoskins. awareness and support. “We desperately need some street “It is an excellent location and a front signage on this building, and wonderful building,” said Hoskins. even a green city sign would go far “Being in a building like this, there to help visibility.” are a lot of issues we don’t have to


March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

Current board president Bill Emendorfer sees the TSHF and its board not only facing the challenge of replacing Ryland Hoskins, but also making the decisions to plot the direction of the hall, and what the hall should be in order to reach its potential. “We need to build a more symbiotic relationship with the Bridgestone Arena, so that the museum and the arena kind of become synonymous,” Emendorfer said. “We need to be an asset to Nashville and have a presence at any sporting event in the city. It’s time to crank it up a notch with technology and we need to be a little different and get out of the box. We want to embrace more exhibits that might rotate, be it from Memphis or Knoxville to create new energy and new reasons to come down to the museum. It’s got to be a form of entertainment.” The TSHF reaching out and striving for more visibility is certainly not a goal limited to Middle Tennessee. “We need to go out and reach all regions and all different aspects of the state,” said Emendorfer. “We’ve got a rich sports heritage in this state and we need that to be a part of the process where people feel good about being involved.” More growth of course means the need for more funding. “We are looking at creating a new budget,” said Emendorfer. “I think it will involve a significant capital campaign and fundraising project for a few years. There are a lot of good things to come, but it will take some time, effort and some money to do it.” The TSHF is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is adults $3 and children $2. For memberships or sponsor information call 615-242-4750 or ■

For The Record

Munchak Ushers in New Era By John Lee On January 28, with

mixed emotions Titans fans bid farewell to Jeff Fisher, who held the distinction of being the NFL’s longest tenured head coach, and with that an era of Titans football ended in Tennessee. For 16 seasons Fisher had led the Oilers/Titans with a 147-126 record including a Super Bowl appearance in 2000. Jeff Fisher was not only the face of the team for most Titans fans, but his many contributions to Middle Tennessee and the city of Nashville deserve our gratitude and appreciation. All of us here at Tennessee Sports Magazine join in expressing our thanks to Jeff and wish him the best in his next endeavor. Truly, thanks for the memories, coach. After more than a week of speculation and interviews, on Feb. 7 the Titans announced the inhouse promotion of offensive line coach and thirty-year franchise veteran and NFL Hall-of-Famer Mike Munchak to the position of head coach for the Titans. Munchak took over the head coaching spot with several key staff vacancies to fill. The Titans have seen nearly an entire coaching staff transition, including the firings of defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil and offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger. However, so far with

regards to the Oilers/Titans, Munchak has kept many of his choices “in the family.” Chris Palmer, a former head coach for the Cleveland Browns and quaterbacks coach for the New York Giants has been named offensive coordinator. Palmer’s connection to the franchise goes back to the early 1990s when he was a wide receivers coach for the Oilers. Terry Gray, a former Titans assistant coach has rejoined the organization as the new defensive coordinator. A longtime fan favorite returns with fellow hall-of-famer and former Oiler/Titan Bruce Matthews rejoining the staff replacing Munchak as offensive line coach. There are also still many questions regarding the quarterback situation after it was announced that Vince Young would not be returning to the Titans. With the Collective Bargaining Agreement between team owners and the NFLPA still in limbo as of this writing and a lockout looming, the Titans must look at all options and scenarios for finding a new starting QB either in looking to the draft or signing a veteran quarterback. Regardless of what direction the team has taken in filling these key spots, it is a new and very different era for the NFL in Tennessee. “No excuses, no whin-

PROMOTION Mike Munchak, the Tennessee Titans' new coach, speaks during a news conference Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, in Nashville.

ing, just do it,” said Munchak during his press conference. “Right now to me anything is’s not the same old, same old...” added

Munchak. “Anything is possible.” Our congratulations to Mike Munchak for this career milestone. Much more to come, Titans fans. ■

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


For the Record

Predators Redmond Honored


Rinne's Star Shines Bright Editors note: As the NHL's 'Three Stars' of the month for January were not released in time for inclusion in our Feb. issue we at TSM did not want Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne's outstanding achievement to go unnoticed. Rinne started 11 of the Predators' 13 games in January, tying for first in the NHL in wins (eight), ranking first in goalsagainst average (1.71) and second in save percentage (.947). He allowed just a single goal five times. Rinne kicked off 2011 by winning seven of his first eight games, four of which came on the road; the team played only three home games during January, a franchise low for home games in a month. He picked up two of three wins during Nashville’s second-ever sweep of California Jan. 5-8, making 40 and 42 saves in defeating Anaheim and San Jose, respectively. Two of Rinne’s eight wins came via shootout, where he hasn’t yielded a goal in three consecutive appearances. The Kempele, Finland native ranks second in the League in goalsagainst average (2.11) and save percentage (.929).

Nashville Predators Athletic Trainer Dan Redmond was recently named the Professional Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Tennessee Athletic Trainers’ Society (TATS) at the organization’s recent annual meeting. Redmond has been with the Predators since their inaugural season (199899) and has been in the athletic training profession for 22 years. “This award could not have been bestowed on a better person,” Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “In the 20 years I have worked with Dan, he has exemplified professionalism and ethics to the highest standard. Dan’s work is a model for athletic training and the honor is well deserved.” Redmond is a certified

member of the N a t i o n a l A t h l e t i c T r a i n e r s Association and has worked more than 1,600 professional hockey games. Prior to joining the Predators in July 1998, Redmond spent five seasons as the athletic trainer of the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League (where he worked with Trotz) and four seasons with the AHL's Baltimore Skipjacks. He also spent three years (1987-89) in the Cleveland Indians organization as the athletic trainer for their developmental clubs. He served two stints as a graduate assistant with Radnor High School

(Radnor, Pa.) and Temple University Sports Medicine Center. Redmond cites his most memorable prof e s s i o n a l moment as working in the Stanley Cup Finals with the Washington Capitals while working with their affiliate in Baltimore. He resides in Lebanon, Tenn., with his wife, Barbara, daughter, Danielle and son, Sean. The annual award is named after former Vanderbilt University athletic trainer Joe Worden and has been given annually since 1990 to the individual who best exemplifies the qualities that Worden demonstrated in career. ■

Back To Back Brentwood’s Geoffrion First Player in 16 Years to Win Award The American Hockey League announced that Milwaukee Admirals center Blake Geoffrion has been named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Feb. 6, 2011. In two games, Geoffrion recorded two goals, five assists and a plus-5 rating. Geoffrion becomes the first AHL player in more than 16 years to be named Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks, since Portland Pirates goaltender Jim Carey did so for the periods ending Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, 1994. Geoffrion came out of the all-star break with a fourpoint performance on his own bobblehead night, scoring the game-winning goal and assisting on three oth-


ers to lead Milwaukee to a 42 win over Rockford on Friday night. Then in Grand Rapids on Saturday, Geoffrion picked up a goal and two assists in a 6-2 Admirals win, keeping Milwaukee tied atop the West Division with the best record in the Western Conference at week’s end. In recognition of his achievement, Geoffrion was presented with an etched crystal award prior to a recent Admirals home game. In winning the consecutive awards, Geoffrion has notched 13 points and a plus-8 rating in four games over the last two weeks. A rookie out of the University of Wisconsin and the reign-

March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

ing Hobey Baker Award recipient as the top collegiate player in the U.S., Geoffrion now has 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 37 games for the Admirals this season, good for a tie for eighth place on the league’s rookie scoring list. The former Brentwood, TN resident, is the grandson of former NHL Hall of Famer Bernie Geoffrion and the son of former NHL forward Dan Geoffrion.

For the Record

IN AN EFFORT to advance beyond the opening round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in team history, the Predators acquired center Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Nashville’s first-round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft and a conditional pick in the 2012 Draft. The conditional pick is Nashville’s third-round selection if the Predators win one round in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and turns into a second-rounder in 2012 if the team wins two-or-more rounds. “We were seeking a top-six forward and Mike Fisher was the player we set our sights on,” Poile said. “He plays playoff-style hockey all season long. He plays on the power play, kills penalties, is strong on draws and can match up against any opposing line.” Fisher, 30, was tied for the Senators team lead in goals (14) and ranked third on the club in points (14g-10a-24pts) in 2011-12, his 11th NHL campaign. The Peterborough, Ont., native has amassed 348 points (167g-181a) in 675 games, all with Ottawa, since 1999-2000, hitting the 20-goal mark in four of the last five seasons. The 6-foot-1, 208-pounder notched career highs in points (53), goals (25), assists (28) and powerplay goals (10) a season ago and was a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the

Don N. Olea/TSM

Preds Add Scoring Touch

QUICK START Mike Fisher got an assist on an empty netter and the win in his debut and notched his first goal with the Predators in a 31 win against Vancouver on Feb. 17.

NHL’s top defensive forward in 2005-06. Selected 44th overall by the Senators in the 1998 Entry Draft, Fisher has 28 points (14g-14a) in 75 postseason games, more than any current Predator. “Mike’s playoff experience will be invaluable to our team and he immediately makes our team stronger and deeper,” Poile said. ■

OTTAWA POP RADIO station 105.3 KISS FM has sent Carrie Underwood to the penalty box. Following the trade of her husband, Mike Fisher, a 12-year veteran of the Ottawa Senators, to the Nashville Predators, the signal has pulled all of the country star's songs from its playlist. "Since MikeFisher is getting traded to Nashville ... we are banning Carrie Underwood from our radio station!," reads the station's Twitter feed. "It'll be kind of like going home for me. I'm sure my wife won't be disappointed, either. I think it's a great place for me and family," Fisher told SENS TV. Added Underwood in a statement, "Mike has been such a big part of the

(Ottawa) community, and I will never forget how they welcomed me with open arms. We obviously love Nashville, and the teams' decision for him to now play with the Predators is an exciting opportunity for Mike. I support him wherever he plays!" KISS program director Gayle Zarbatany says the station has no plans to lift the ban on Underwood "This is a wretching announcement and the city is completely upset. He's the (team's) second-most popular player and it's awful."

Don N. Olea/TSM

Underwood Banned In Ottawa

Diamond Stars Amateur baseball talent in Middle Tennessee is as strong as ever. Of the six Nashville area college teams, 43 percent of the players are from the mid-state (91 of 210 players).

MTSU Preview The MTSU Blue Raiders have 17 mid-state players on their roster of 33. Highly popular coach Steve Peterson, now in his 24th season at the helm, has over 740 wins at MTSU.

NAIA Champs The defending NAIA National Champion Cumberland Bulldogs look to repeat their outstanding 2010 results. The team finished 58-9 and ranked No. 2 in the nation before winning the NAIA Championship.

In 2010 Taylor Hill of Vanderbilt started a team-high 17 games. Photograph courtesy Vanderbilt University

Baseball In Tennessee


Safe At Home Local diamond stars making a big impact in college baseball By Jim Harwell


mateur baseball talent in Middle Tennessee is as strong as ever. Of the six Nashville area college teams, 43 percent of the players are from the mid-state (91 of 210 players). Several of these diamond stars are leading their teams this season and plan to play professionally.

Vanderbilt’s Sonny Gray and Taylor Hill

Two of Vanderbilt’s top starting pitchers are Sonny Gray from Smyrna and Taylor Hill from Mt. Juliet. The two friends have been a big part of Vandy’s return to being a national power. Vandy began this season ranked No. 5 in the nation. They finished last year ranked No. 15 and just short of the College World Series. In all, Vandy has nine mid-state players on their 36man roster. In 2010, Gray and Hill led the team in innings pitched (Gray 108.2, Hill 107). Gray, a junior, is a preseason AllAmerican and was All-SEC last year. Scouts consider him one of the NCAA’s best pitchers and a probable high 1st-round pick in the MLB draft. Gray feels that the team’s unity is one of their keys to success. “Everyone’s really close on the team,” Gray said. “We trust each other off the field, and that translates onto the field. We’re teammates 24/7.”

This past summer, Gray was one of Team USA’s most productive pitchers, on a squad filled with the nation’s best amateurs. He was 3-0 with 0.38 ERA, second lowest on the squad. Team USA finished 13-4 against some of the best amateur competition in the world, including teams from Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Cuba. Sonny’s story is truly inspirational. When he was just 14 years old, the Gray family tragically lost husband and father Jesse in a car accident. Smyrna High graduate and Coach Shawn Middleton is very close to Sonny and the Gray family. Middleton recalls that Sonny dealt with the tragedy with tremendous maturity. "He basically took his two sisters and his mom under his wing and handled it," Middleton said. Sonny’s coaches believe that Gray’s character is one of the biggest reasons for his success. Both Middleton and Smyrna High baseball coach Barry Vetter coached Sonny at Smyrna. “Sonny’s a special young man,” said Vetter. “It goes back to his parents. Family is important to him. The loss of his father has impacted him deeply. He cares about people.” Gray faced the tragic loss with courage and fortitude. "You have to face adversity head on,” said Gray about the tragedy, “and that is what we tried to do...not just myself, but my whole family." Vetter says that as an athlete, Sonny exhibits that same courage and determination. “He is a great competitor,” said Vetter. “If you put him in a competitive situation, no matter what it is, he’s gonna find a way to win.” Gray credits coaches Tim Corbin and Derek Johnson with a lot his success.

WORK HORSE Last year Sonny Gray pitched a team high 108 innings for Vandy.

“Coach Corbin and Coach Johnson have had a strong impact on me,” he said. “They know how to help you go beyond the limits you put on yourself and help you have more confidence.” He also feels that his Vanderbilt education has been an important part of his development. “Going to school, getting this education and competing on the field, I feel like I’ve gotten tougher mentally,” said Gray. Taylor Hill grew up in Mt. Juliet and through his hard work developed into a top NCAA pitcher and pro prospect. He is 6-feet-4-inches and weighs 225 and throws in the low 90s. In 2010, he started a team-high 17 games (4.48 ERA). “Taylor’s a workhorse and trains for the game extremely well,” said Corbin. “It has shown in his pitching development. He is an

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Baseball In Tennessee

IRONMAN Last year Tim Egerton played in 50 of 51 games for Belmont and was one of the top team leaders in stats with a .323 batting average, 15 doubles, 48 RBI's and 10 stolen bases

unselfish, tough, competitive kid who fills up the strike zone.” Hill cites his father David as his biggest influence, saying that “my dad shaped the way I played sports.” He is also very close to his older brother Ryan, a teacher and assistant baseball coach at Mt. Juliet. Ryan played college ball at Belmont before an injury cut his career short. Taylor was asked what advice he would pass on to youngsters. “You’ve got to have a dream and know you can do it,” he said. “You have to work harder than anyone else. And choose your friends wisely.” Hill’s high school coach Mark


Purvis knows Taylor and the Hill family well. He saw Hill grow up. Also, Taylor’s mother Teresa teaches at Mt. Juliet. Purvis describes some of Taylor’s keys to success. “He was always that guy that made everyone around him better,” said Purvis. “He has a tremendous work ethic. He has a charisma, but he wasn’t a prima donna. He was just one of the guys.” Purvis noted that Hill’s hard work is one of the reasons for his success. “Early in high school, he was just a skinny, lanky kid, but he was the hardest worker in the weight room and he developed. And he always did well in the classroom.” Hill feels the team’s chemistry is strong. He hopes to pursue a pro baseball career. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play pro baseball,” Hill said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Belmont’s Tim Egerton and Vinny Casha

The Belmont Bruins have 10 mid-state players on their 29-man roster. In all, Belmont has 10 states represented on the team. Senior Tim Egerton has developed into one of the Bruins’ most versatile players. From Smyrna High and Columbia State (2 years), Egerton starts in right field and plays second base and pitches as well. In 2010, he started 50-out-of51 games and was among team leaders in most stats (.323 BA, 4th on team; 15 doubles, 48 RBI, 10 SBs). Head Coach Dave Jarvis,

March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

now in his 14th season as head coach at Belmont and his 29th year as a college coach, likes Egerton’s approach. “Tim is a quiet competitor,” said Jarvis. “He’s not the rah-rah type. But he has a real fire to compete and win. He’s a tremendous part of our team.” Egerton was a teammate and remains a good friend with Sonny Gray. Egerton has recently worked with the Smyrna program and his high school coach Barry Vetter. “Tim is an outstanding young man,” said Vetter. “He is very athletic and a hard worker. He helped our program here at Smyrna last summer. I actually look for Tim to be a coach after his playing days.”

HEADED HOME Will Skinner is the starting rightfielder for MTSU and last year batted .307 with 16 home runs.

Baseball In Tennessee

CATCHING ON The Blue Raiders’ Tyler Acker batted .364 last year and will be the starting catcher this season.

Senior Vinny Casha has started throughout his four-year career at Belmont. The Father Ryan graduate plays catcher and DH. “Vinny has been an outstanding signal caller for us,” said Jarvis. “He has real versatility. Also, he’s taken on a leadership role in recent years.”

MTSU’s Tyler Acker and Will Skinner

The MTSU Blue Raiders have 17 mid-state players on their roster of 33. Highly popular coach Steve Peterson, now in his 24th season at the helm, has over 740 wins at MTSU. In his 29 years of coaching college ball, Peterson has over 890 victories. Two senior leaders on the club are Tyler Acker from Donelson Christian High and Will Skinner from Riverdale. Acker, now the full-time starter, batted .364 last season. He’s an all-around player. “I consider him one of the best leaders on the team,” said Peterson. “Tyler’s probably the

best athlete we’ve had at catcher since 1990,” comparing Acker to a player who made it to the majors. DCA Coach John Berti considers Acker a leader as well. “He’s the most outstanding young man I’ve coached,” said Berti. “He’s a great leader in many ways. Baseball’s not his whole life. He’s got great balance.” Acker’s foremost focus is his Christian faith. He is studying physical therapy at MTSU. Skinner starts in right field and bats cleanup. Last year he batted .307 with 16 homers (second on team) and 49 RBI. He spent two years at Walters State before MTSU. “Will is a stand-up guy,” said Coach Peterson. “His bat does his talking for him. He’s the kind of player you can build a lineup around.” Skinner was asked about his keys to playing at the D1 level. “It’s important to do work on your own,” he said. “Lift, run, hit, make time to practice every week. You have to keep the right mindset.” The Blue Raiders plan to battle in the tough Sun Belt Conference this season.

Cumberland’s Antonio Butler

The defending NAIA National Champion Cumberland Bulldogs look to repeat their outstanding 2010 results. The team finished 58-9 and ranked No. 2 in the nation before win-

ning the NAIA Championship. Legendary Coach Woody Hunt returns for his 30th year after being named NAIA National Coach of the Year last year. On this year’s roster of 49 there are 25 players from Middle Tennessee, most heavily from Lebanon (9), Gallatin and Mt. Juliet (6 each). Players also hail from many other states, from Florida to New York, and from Canada. A newcomer who will contribute this year is Antonio Butler from Gallatin, an outfielder who transferred from Lipscomb. Butler played in high school for Hunt’s son, Gallatin head coach Scott Hunt. Butler combines speed and power in his 6-2, 170-pound frame. As a freshman at Lipscomb, he was an All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection. That season, he batted .283 in 48 games (33 runs, 5 HRs). At Gallatin, Butler was a threesport star and a two-time AllRegion selection in baseball. During his career, Butler has maintained a positive attitude and has faced adversity with courage. He does not let being in the minority as a black in baseball affect him. He cites his mother as a strong influence, especially during her struggle with breast cancer. “My mom really impacted me,” said Butler. “In high school she was fighting breast cancer, but she was always there for me. The way she faced the disease was inspiring.” Today, Sharon continues to s u p p o r t Antonio, going to every game she can – especially the games at Cumberland. ■


The Great Outdoors with Larry Woody


n the spring the thoughts of a Tom turkey turn to romance, and the normally wily bird becomes a more gullible gobbler. But that doesn’t mean he’s a pushover for hunters who will take to the fields and forests for the April 2May 15 Tennessee turkey season. “It’s not too hard to fool a little jake (a year-old male) but a big old Tom has more smarts,” says Lebanon’s Clarence Dies, a nationallyrenown turkey hunter and maker of hand-crafted box calls. “That’s especially true as the season goes on. A turkey that’s been hunted SWEET TALKERS Clarence Dies, left, and Roy Denney with a pair of Tennessee gets smart fast. I’ve called gobblers. many a big gobbler almost into shotgun range, only to for successful game-management and first used by Native Americans have him hang up 50 yards away and programs. In 1970 there were only and pioneer hunters. refuse to come any closer. He’ll strut an estimated 2,000 turkeys in There are “locator” or “shock” around, gobbling and fanning his tail Tennessee. Shortly afterwards the calls that mimic a crow, an owl and feathers. It’s like he’s taunting you. Tennessee Wildlife Resources even a peacock. They are intended to That’s what makes turkey hunting Agency began trapping turkeys from startle a roosting turkey into gobso challenging and so fascinating.” existing flocks and transplant them bling and thereby giving away its Dies has been a student of turkey in new areas. By 2004 the turkey location. (Often a Tom turkey will talk for many years, and uses that population had exploded to an estirespond to a sudden loud noise – experience to fine-tune his calls. mated 300,000 birds, and continues even a clap of thunder or the slam“A turkey can make a wide variety to grow. ming of a car door – with a booming of sounds and each has a different Last spring a record 36,781 gobble.) meaning,” Dies says. “You not only turkeys were bagged, breaking the While calling in a wild turkey is have to be able to sound like a turkey, 2009 mark by 4,700 birds. Slightly considered one of the most challengyou have to know when to make that more than 1,000 additional turkeys ing endeavors in the outdoors, veterspecific call.” were taken during the 2010 fall hunt. an turkey hunter Roy Denney notes There are yelps, clucks, purrs, Projections are optimistic for that “every bird is an individual, and cackles, putts, “kee-wees” and gobanother big harvest this spring, even that means every one responds difbles. A lonesome hen may start out though last May’s flood took a toll on ferently. I’ve had a big gobbler literwith a few yelps, then turn to a newly-hatched turkeys in some ally running across an open field seductive purr. A feeding bird often areas. toward me, and other times I can’t putt-putt-putts as it putters along, “I think we’ll have a good season get one to come anywhere near scratching in the leaves. based on the large number of birds I where I set up. That’s what makes The various kinds of calls include saw in the fall,” says Denney, a supeach hunt exciting. You never know diaphragms (inserted in the mouth), porter of the National Wild Turkey what’s going to happen.” box calls, friction calls, push-pull Federation. “I feel very positive Tennessee’s restoration of the wild calls and wing bone calls – the latter about the future.” turkey has become a national model ■ made from the wing bone of a turkey


March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

Larry Woody/TSM

Sweet-Talking A Turkey Takes Talent

The Great Outdoors

Leapin’ Lizards!

Who’s No. 1 in Salamanders?


ccording to a recent newspaper story, Georgia leads the nation in salamanders. I suspect that Georgia would rather be No. 1 in the college football polls, but I guess you take a top ranking when you can get it -- even if it is for having the most slimy little critters in the Union. The story didn’t explain how it was determined who has the most salamanders. Does someone from the federal government go around in each state, looking under rocks and counting them? (“Hello. I’m from the Federal Bureau of Salamanders and I’m here to count your lizards.”) A creek runs through my back yard and it’s slithering with salamanders. Yet I’ve never seen anyone from the government making an official Salamander Survey. Maybe I should call the feds tell them they’ve overlooked some. The story didn’t say where Tennessee ranks in the Salamander Poll but if they’ll count the ones in my creek it will definitely boost us in the ratings. According to the story, Georgia has 58 species of salamanders, more than a 10th of the salamanders known worldwide. Maybe Georgia should change its nickname from the “Peach State” to “Salamander Heaven.” What’s the big attraction? A salamander scientist says Georgia has a “moisture-rich Southern Appalachians habitat” that is ideal for the little amphibians. The latest find – perhaps the one that put Georgia over the top – was a “patch-nosed salamander” that is the world’s smallest. It’s about an inch long. That means it’s too small for fish bait, which is what we used salamanders for as kids. Back then we called them “spring lizards” and they were deadly bait for every species of fish, especially big bass. We’d go down to the swampy bottoms and lift logs and rocks and catch a bucketful of spring

If there’s a state that has more chiggers than we do, I don’t want to live there. I don’t know how to determine if we’re the nation’s No. 1 Chigger State; the tiny red dots are harder to count than a bucket of salamanders. But even without an official chigger census I’m sure most hunters, fishermen and campers will support my contention that we have more than anybody else. I think we should go ahead and declare that we’re No. 1 in the little pests. If some other state wants to challenge our chiggers, bring ’em on. We’re itching for a fight. ■

lizards. Then – if we weren’t too tired from lifting logs and rocks – we’d go fishing. Old-timers claimed there wasn’t a better bait than a fresh, wriggling salamander. When a bass wouldn’t bite anything else, it couldn’t resist a juicy spring lizard. I guess you could say that Georgia is also No. 1 in fish bait. The story got me to thinking: I wonder what sort of outdoors critter in which Tennessee might rank No. 1? Based on a camping trip last summer, it might be chiggers. By the time we broke camp even my bumps had bites. I felt like a giant Chigger Happy Meal.

Mark Your Calendar LICENSE REMINDER: Hunters and fishermen are reminded that their license expired on Feb. 28. They can be renewed at most outdoors outlets or on-line at There is a wide array of licenses available from the basic hunting/fishing license to the all-inclusive Sportsman’s License that covers biggame fees, trout license, TWRA lake permits, free subscription to Tennessee Wildlife Magazine and other benefits. The Lifetime License is growing in popularity, especially as an enduring gift to young outdoorsmen from parents or grandparents. Cost of the Lifetime License is based on age. For a list of licenses, what they include, and their cost, consult the Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide or visit ■ ■ ■ TURKEY SEASON: The spring turkey season runs April 2-May 15, with a season limit of four bearded birds, not to exceed one a day. For details about legal hunting gear and hunting hours, consult the Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide or visit The 2011 fall turkey season and regulations will be set at a later meeting of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission. ■ ■ ■ HUNTING FOR A CURE: Applications are being taken for the 7th annual Hunting for a Cure in Savannah. The two-day guided turkey hunt (March 26-27) is designed for youngsters, some with life-threatening ailments. Proceeds go to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Guides volunteer their services and outdoor companies donate items to be auctioned off. Several Nashvillians are involved in the project. Last year a Titans cheerleader participated, and country music stars have aided in the past. Gibson Guitar will donate an instrument to the auction. Last year’s event generated over $56,000. For information visit or call Mike Davidson: (731) 225-8597.

DEER HARVEST DOWN: Last season’s deer harvest of 159,305 was down slightly (533) from the previous year, but maintained an acceptable level, according to biologists. This fall’s seasons and regulations will be announced later this spring. – or the Tennessee Fishing Guide. — L.W.

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Cover Story Siegel boys basketball coach Ben Dotson is big on catchphrases. He uses motivational mottos to drive his team, which has responded by running roughshod through the regular season.

Born To Coach By the time he was in high school the future was set for Rick Byrd – and it clearly involved coaching.

Riverdale’s Wild Ride By the time he was in high school the future was set for Rick Byrd – and it clearly involved coaching.

Siegel’s junior guard Treyton Harris (1) drives for a layup against Riverdale High School. Photographs by Randy Harris

Basketball In Tennessee


Dose Of The Post Siegel leaning on big men during record-setting season By Joe Szynkowski Photographs by Randy Harris


iegel boys basketball coach Ben Dotson is big on catchphrases. He uses motivational mottos to drive his team, which has responded by running roughshod through the regular season. Dotson’s Stars like to overwhelm opponents with a “dose of the post.” He promotes a family atmosphere by telling his players, “once a Star, always a Star.” He equates the fierceness of his team’s rivalry against cross-town Oakland to “two brothers playing in the backyard.” But Dotson isn’t just about words. He inspires action. “He pretty much demands perfection from us,” said 6-foot-10 forward Stephen Hurt. “He wants us to go 100 percent all of the time.” The Stars went undefeated in District 7-AAA play this season, becoming the first team to do so in the past 12 years. This accomplishment comes on the heels of last season’s disappointing finish in the first round of the state tournament. A couple of key injuries kept the Stars from reaching their ultimate goal, but also allowed then-juniors like Hurt and UNC-Wilmingtonsignee Cedrick Williams to earn valuable experience. “Those key players are gone, but the guys who are now seniors got a lot of exposure on the biggest stage last year,” Dotson said. “They’re battle-tested. I think there’s been some close games this year that instead of hoping we could win them, now they believe that we’re going to win.”

‘Dose of the Post’

Siegel is big. Hurt and Williams (6-foot-9) are a handful for most teams, and two of the main reasons the Stars have been ranked top-five in the state for much of the season. “We like to give everybody a dose of the post,” Dotson said. “That’s our little quote. When you’ve got a 6’ 9”

CAROLINA BOUND Siegel forward Cedrick Williams (40), who averaged 13 points and 12 rebounds, has signed with UNC-Wilmington.

with a 6’ 10”, not too many people mid-state will be able to match up with one, let alone two guys that size.” Hurt averaged more than 15 points and 10 rebounds per game through the regular season, while Williams added 13 and 12. The duo combined for 31 points in Siegel’s Feb. 8 win over Riverdale that wrapped up the undefeated district run. The victory was a reward for the intensive work the Stars put in during the offseason. “We did a lot of conditioning,” Hurt said. “We got a new strength and conditioning coach. I think this is the best condition the whole team has been in since I’ve been playing.” “We’ve been together for a long time so we kind of know what each other is going to do,” Williams added. “Whenever we get doubled we have to have faith in our shooters to knock down the outside shots.” One of those shooters is senior Kyle Adams, whom

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Basketball In Tennessee Dotson calls his “sniper.” The 6-foot-2 Adams’ specialty is the 3-point shot. Filling out the Stars’ regular starting five are senior wing Oscar Butler and sophomore point guard Treyton Harris. Senior transfer Taj Adbul-Kaudeyr and Damien Clark also played big roles off the bench, giving Dotson options when starters were nicked up during the season. “Hurt missed four games due to a knee injury,” the third-year coach said. “Ced missed a couple … Butler three. But key players stepped up. One of our strengths is depth. It’s somebody different every night for us.” The same held true when standouts Kerry Hammonds and Levon Tate were hobbled for the state tournament last March after combining for an average of about 50 points per game during the regular season. The Stars shot only 30-percent against eventualchamp Memphis Melrose, and fell 78-55 in the first round. Hammonds is now playing hoops at Middle Tennessee State, and Tate at Carson Newman. They may be big shoes to


fill, but the Stars are up to the task – and the numbers prove it. Siegel eclipsed last year’s win total (24) early in February. “We didn’t really have a lot of room last year since they had all five senior starters,” Adams said. “But now we’re the starters and the experience we got really helped us get ready for this season.”

‘Two Brothers Playing in the Backyard’

One of Siegel’s defining wins of this season came against cross-town rival Oakland on Jan. 14. The 52-49 overtime victory kept the Stars unbeaten in district play and helped them exact some revenge after losing three games to the Patriots last season. “They just bring out the best in us,” said Harris, who scored a team-high 12 points in the January win. “They’re right across town. Most of us are good friends until we’re on the basketball court.” Dotson said even though the overtime win came relatively early in the season, the way his team battled back from a fourth-quarter deficit

March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

WIDE LOAD At 6-foot-10 forward Stephen Hurt averaged more than 15 points and 10 rebounds per game while missing four games with a knee injury.

may have set the tone for the rest of the campaign. “We like to say that’s like two brothers playing in the backyard,” said Dotson, who has seen some classic games between the two since joining the Siegel staff as an assistant in 2005. “You’re going to get each other’s best shots and it’s going to come down to the end. Once they got over that hump they really started clicking.” Siegel High School was founded eight years ago after Oakland High School’s facilities became unfit to host an expanding student population. Some Patriots jumped ship to become a Star, resulting in an instant,

passionate rivalry. “That really didn’t help the whole thing,” Dotson said. “There’s definitely no love lost between us.” Another big win from even earlier this season came after a trip back from a tournament in the Bahamas. Yes, that’s right, the Bahamas. The Stars fell behind by 23 points in the third quarter at McGavock, but battled back to pull off a 6057 win. “We were kind of jetlagged and were down pretty big in that one,” Dotson said. “That was a pretty impressive comeback.”

‘Once a Star, Always a Star’

Basketball In Tennessee have gone on to play Division-I basketball. “We don’t focus too much on our history but we do show them the banners,” he said. “And we tell them ‘once a Star, always a Star.’ We’re a family here.” Siegel’s players are each doing their parts to keep this family thriving. “(Dotson) is a really good coach,” Adams said. “He cares about us a whole lot and there’s a real family atmosphere. He’s like an older brother to us. He makes sure we stay on top of our grades and we know how to act out in society. We do lots of stuff out in the community and he’s shaping us to be better people.” Joe Szynkowski is a freelance writer for TSM. He can be reached at joeszynkowski@hotmail.c om.

two things. You’re either going to hate your teammates or your going to love them. These guys really bought into this.” Dotson is passing down lessons he learned during his nine-year college coaching career. Before getting the Siegel job, Dotson worked all over the state. He was an assistant coach at White County, director of basketball operations at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and an assistant coach at Hiwassee and UT-Martin colleges. Dotson knows the benefit of getting guys away from home. HEAD MAN Siegel coach Ben Dotson “They got to is big on catchphrases and uses moti- see Pearl vational mottos to drive his team. Harbor last year,” Dotson said. “It was obviously basketball that had a lot to do with us being there, but the cool part was these guys experiencing some things they might not ever see in their lives. This year with the Bahamas, they learned the process of using a passport and going through customs. They learn how to act in hotels and how to go out to a nice dinner. We had two guys who had never been in water except for showering.” His players, like any other teenager, look forward to their winter trips to tropical

destinations. But it’s not all fun in the sun. “You find out that we’re pretty privileged here,” Adams said. “We’re all Nike’d down for our games, and even though the other teams don’t have that, they work just as hard and give 110 percent, too.” “It helps because we play a lot of teams with different styles and it helps us become closer as a team,” Harris added. “We always come back from trips with more chemistry.” Chemistry could make the difference this year for the Stars. Dotson, catchphrases and all, is focused on adding to the short, yet rich, tradition that he has helped build at Siegel. It’s a tradition that boasts four state tournament appearances and a host of players who

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011

This team from Murfreesboro is not afraid to leave Rutherford County. The Stars enjoy loading the bus or plane and heading for tournaments out west – really far west, in some cases. “We went to the Bahamas this year, Hawaii last year, Memphis, Knoxville and some other places to get a different variety in the style of play,” Dotson said. “These seniors are a close-knit group. One of the benefits of traveling so much together is you’re going to do one of

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By the time he was in high school the future was set for Rick Byrd – and it clearly involved coaching

Photo courtesy

Born to Coach By Carol Stuart


ven as a teenager Rick Byrd knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up. Now the coach at Belmont, Byrd first coached a junior basketball team while still in high school and the rest, as the old saying goes, is history. “I hadn't learned anything about coaching at that point,” Byrd said. “But I enjoyed it when the team won and they were excited, and then when they responded to what I asked them to do. I don't think I ever wanted to do anything else but coach, ever. I didn't want to fly planes or be an astronaut.” During his days as a point guard at Doyle High School in Knoxville, Byrd was always interested in what he calls “the strategy of sports.” He played a lot of baseball and also tried football twice – once quitting after two days, he said. And, of course, he spent all those games watching underneath the press row table at the University of Tennessee while his dad, former Knoxville sports writer Ben Byrd, covered basketball. “He would make up games,” recalls Billy Henry, now a Belmont volunteer assistant golf coach after retiring as UT assistant athletic director. Henry also was a Florida assistant and head coach at Union University and Maryville College, where he hired Byrd as his assistant after college. “He and I both are golfers,” said


ALL SMILES Coach Byrd shares a smile with Associate Head Coach Casey Alexander following a 2007 Atlantic Sun Championship victory.

Henry. “We would play in his yard. He had coffee cans in the yard, and we'd play around the corner, over the house, and so on and so forth. He was the kind of person that obviously was always thinking how to be really competitive.” Now, four decades later, Byrd has become one of 12 active college basketball coaches with 600 victories and has put Belmont University on the Division I college basketball map shortly after a move up from NAIA. The Bruins made three straight NCAA Tournaments in 2006-08 including a one-point near-miss against No. 2 seed Duke – and could be on the verge of another trip as favorites in the Atlantic Sun tournament March 2-5 in Macon, Ga. As a high school player, Byrd was “quite good,” the epitome of the coach on the floor as the playmaker, Henry

March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

said – a good passer and ball handler who also was a decent shooter. After attending his Union camp with such Division I players as Vanderbilt’s Lee Fowler and Steve Turner, Henry helped Byrd land a scholarship with Central Florida Junior College. A humble Byrd halfway jokes when he said he peaked around age 12, when he was a big scorer before other kids caught up. “I've always enjoyed games, competing and trying to figure out ways to win games,” Byrd said recently amidst the frenzy of February before the madness of March. “We're all given different gifts,” Byrd said. “Some people have things I didn't have, gifts of size and of strength and of great athletic abilities. And some players are much physically and mentally tougher than others are. I think my strength was compet-

ing in terms of understanding strategies of the games.” Belmont redshirt senior Jordan Campbell, a 6-feet-5-inch wing player from Indianapolis, says he thinks he can picture what kind of a player Byrd would have been in high school. “I can definitely tell in his attitude and the way he's so competitive that he was a hard-nosed type of player, and he wouldn't have backed down from anyone,” Campbell said. “And I feel like this year’s team has embraced that characteristic. We feel like we can play with anyone in the country.” Byrd says he wasn’t physically ready for college ball and left after a disappointing year in which he didn’t play much. He returned home to attend UT, where he later played junior varsity a year, then became a student coach, and got to practice two years against the likes of Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King. “That was a huge plus. I played that year (as a junior) and I also practiced with the varsity every day,” said Byrd, asked by former UT All-American A.W. Davis to join the JV team formed after freshmen first became eligible. “I was out there five hours a day and saw and heard a lot of coaching and learned a great deal. And then the next year, my senior year, I stayed on as a student assistant, but I would practice with the varsity. “Occasionally, Coach Mears would send me somewhere to scout a team they were going to play at that time … which is pretty exciting for a young guy to get to go and watch SEC games and try to think you're helping the team.” His dad’s job afforded him a “powerful experience” and access – getting to visit his heroes in the locker room and watching SEC games courtside after selling programs before UT games. But Byrd says a huge break was going straight into the college ranks at Maryville, where he became head coach two years later. “For all I knew before I got the job at Maryville College I was going to be an assistant high school coach,” said Byrd, who also was a Tennessee Tech assistant and Lincoln Memorial head coach. “I get emails and letters and phone calls from high school coaches all the time wanting to do anything to get

into the college level,” he said. His philosophy evolved over the years, borrowing from opposing coaches including former Lipscomb great Don Meyer. He was also among the first coaches to grasp the importance of the 3-point shot. “Rick is still one of those guys who believe and have the wherewithal that they can win,” Henry said. “If you watch his games after most every time-out, you'll usually see him run a pattern that results in a layup.” Suitors came calling in the mid-’90s when he was NAIA National Coach of the Year and made two semifinals, and then again after the NCAA appearances. Belmont gave him a contract extension after the latter. “I think by the time I'd reached that point in my career I valued a kind of happiness for where I lived and where I worked – more than I did then maybe for what the pay raise could give me, in a place where I'd be unsure about the people I worked with and for,” Byrd said. “Belmont allowed me to recruit the kind of young men that I love to coach and I could recruit them without

being afraid of telling them, ‘Hey, we've got some standards here that some other people don't have.’ ” Byrd says Belmont and the basketball program have never even discussed making exceptions on academics for athletics – he even embraces the higher standards. “That may narrow our pool but it brings in a quality of young man that oftentimes is an achiever and they're very unselfish and they've been raised right oftentimes by good parents and all of that has helped us. It's helped us immeasurably on the basketball floor,” Byrd said. Henry ranks Byrd right up there with the Bobby Knights and the Mike Krzyzewskis of coaching, even though Byrd didn’t focus on climbing the ladder. For Byrd, “It's not about the thunder and lightning of big-time athletics as much as it is about the development of young men,” Henry said. And he believes Belmont wouldn’t have made it into the NCAA spotlight so fast without Byrd. “I must confess that I thought it would be extremely difficult for Belmont to move from NAIA to

The Sweater Vest So what’s the story behind Rick Byrd’s vest? RICK BYRD WORE the standard

coat and tie at his first head coaching jobs at Maryville and Lincoln Memorial and early in his career at Belmont. But one night, he saw a television game where thenVanderbilt Coach C.M. Newton and his staff wore sweater vests with golf shirts against Duke. “To me, it looked comfortable – a lot more comfortable. And it still looked pretty classy,” Byrd said. Vanderbilt didn’t wear the attire again, but Byrd decided to adopt the look except for adding a dress shirt for a little dressier touch. “The coat and tie are just hot once you start moving around and get into a game, and you see a lot of coaches take their coach off,” he said. “And a tie's pretty restrictive.” Byrd said it’s not superstitious –

his team w o r e coaching shirts the last two years with t h e Coaches vs. Cancer sneakers g a m e s and when they went to Hawaii, England and France. He says he tries hard not to be superstitious about anything. “You can be afraid to use a different kind of shampoo or deodorant or drive a different way to work or home. You can go crazy with that stuff,” Byrd said. “I may lose a game in a sweater vest and I'm not going to go out and buy new ones, because we lose too many games to have to throw them away.”

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2010


Division I, that's kind of an unheard process,” Henry said. “Very few schools do it. Butler has had tremendous amount of success in the last year or two, and that's all due to their coach, too. It takes a rare individual to accept the challenges.” Men’s basketball has brought Belmont national recognition, as had famous music graduates like Byrd’s golfing buddy Vince Gill and American Idol’s Melinda Doolittle. Outside Byrd’s door is a framed front-page USA Today centerpiece when Belmont made its first NCAA tourney. When Campbell was recruited out of high school – with teammates now at major colleges such as Indiana and UT – he hadn’t heard of Belmont and didn’t even know where it was located. After he signed, Belmont earned its first ticket to the big dance, and then he accompanied the team as a redshirt freshman. After he played in the Duke game as a sophomore, people back home also knew about Belmont. He received

about 50 or 60 text messages. “They had a great year and ended up making the tournament my senior year and I saw potential in the way the players played on the floor and played for each other,” he said. “So I knew it was possible, but I really didn't think that I would be on two teams -- I felt like maybe a year we could go. “I'm just hoping I can make this year my third time going to an NCAA tournament.” The Bruins received five votes in the most recent Associated Press poll at press time and had gotten votes in either the AP or ESPN-USA Today coaches’ poll for four consecutive weeks this season. With narrow losses only to Vanderbilt, rival Lipscomb and twice to Tennessee (once by a point) in its first 26 games, Belmont was one of four DI teams with at least 22 wins and had an RPI rating of 66. Byrd says March Madness doesn’t bring so much anticipation as it raises the anxiety level -- for both coaches and referees, since the season is long. In February, which he called a tough

Coach Byrd draws up a play during a timeout.

month for coaches, he was focused on trying to complete a regular-season championship – even though the ASun tournament winner gets the automatic bid and all the glory. “Even if we win this conference championship outright, we know to get in the NCAA tournament you pretty much have to win three games in March,” the Bruins coach said. ■

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Basketball In Tennessee

Riverdale’s Wild Ride Riverdale girls’ basketball is poised to make another deep post-season run By Jim Muir


Photographs by

iverdale girl’s basketball coach John Wild often uses phrases such as ‘lucky,’ ‘blessed,’ and ‘fortunate’ when describing his ultra-successful high school coaching career. Wild also likes to point out, that in some instances, he’s simply ‘been in the right place at the right time.’ While Wild downplays his legendary career the trophies keep stacking up, providing solid proof that he ranks among the elite coaches in Tennessee high school coaching annals. “I’ve been very fortunate through the years to get to work with some great people,” said Wild. “And I’ve also been blessed to have kids that bought in to what I was trying to teach about basketball.” Following last season’s state championship run and undefeated season Wild and his Lady Warriors are poised to make another deep post-season. Wild was an assistant on last year’s team but took over the head coaching position this year when Hillary Hodges left Riverdale after her husband, Tom, was named women’s basketball coach at Morehead State. A native of Atlanta, Wild is the first coach in Tennessee to win boys and girls state titles in consecutive seasons – Moore County boys in 1999 followed by the Bradford girls in 2000. The Bradford team finished with a perfect 36-0 mark. Wild went to Lipscomb only because some friends had and then later walked on and played basketball for coach Don Meyer “After playing for Coach Meyer that really set the tone for my career,” said Wild. “He laid the foundation for me about the way the game should be taught. There’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat and there’s a thousand different ways to


Randy Harris

coach basketball … but I took what he gave me at Lipscomb and ran with it.” Wild was asked what he garnered from his association with the legendary Meyer. “First of all you have to get your team to play really, really hard,” said Wild. “After that you have to try and get them to play together and the last thing is you have to try and teach them to play smart basketball. And after those three things you have to teach them the fundamentals of the game and then implement that in whatever system you run.” Despite the fact that it has been more than two decades Wild said the fundamentals of the Lipscomb system still hold true. “Certainly, I still use the things I learned from Coach Meyer in practice and games,” said Wild. “I gathered a lot of great ideas through my 21 years but I would say that 75 percent of what I do with my teams have come from the Lipscomb system.” Wild coached at the boy’s high school level for nine years, winning a state title in 1999. “Moore County was a wonderful opportunity; small town with lots of comDOUBLED UP Riverdale center Shacobia munity rah-rah,” said Wild. “I was there four years and Barbee averages a double-double for the you get to see kids grow up. undefeated Lady Warriors. First three years got beat in sub-state but in year four the kids I started out with Wild said he made the transition as freshmen went on to win the from boy’s basketball to girl’s basstate championship. It was really a ketball simply because of his coachrewarding experience.” ing style. The move paid immediate

March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

Basketball In Tennessee dividends as Wild’s Bradford team went 36-0 and won a state title and then finished 32-2 his second year there for a combined two-year mark of 68-2. “I got in the girl’s game because I felt what I had learned from Coach Meyer was better suited to the girl’s game,” said Wild. “I think the girl’s game is a lot more fundamental and the X’s and O’s come into play a lot more. I think what I’ve found and the majority of coaches that have made the transition will tell you the same thing is that girl’s are a little bit more coachable – they go that extra 10 to 20 feet for you everyday. I’m not saying that guys are not coachable but girls are just a little more coachable.” Wild said he found another factor, a very important one for any coach, at the girl’s level.” “The enjoyment level is higher for me Riverdale Coach John Wild is coaching girls,” the first coach in Tennessee to said Wild. win boys and girls state titles With three in consecutive seasons – Moore starters and the County boys in 1999 followed top reserve back by the Bradford girls in 2000. from last years’ AAA state cham-

I gathered A LOT OF GREAT IDEAS through my 21 years but I would say that 75 percent of what I do with my teams have come from the Lipscomb system. pionship team Wild knew that this year’s Riverdale edition would be good but also knew that along with that label there would also be a bull’s eye on the team every single game. Wild said that fact has made him work harder as a coach. “Naturally, there was a high level of expectations going in to this year,” said Wild. “I took that as a personal challenge and with the success during the past two years it definitely made me a better coach. I’ve prepared harder, watched more film, taught harder because the bar is so high. For me, it’s a personal challenge that I’ve accepted. I’ve got a great staff and we’ve worked hard for these kids and this program.” The Lady Warriors are led by 5-foot-10 junior Shacobia

Ashley Henry, the only senior in the Riverdale lineup. Jones has moved into a starting role this year after being the first player off the bench during last year’s state championship season. Wild said looking at Jones’ stats (8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists per game) explains the type THINK PINK The Riverdale girls are wearing the player she is and pink Nike shoes throughout the month of February the contribution to promote Cancer Awareness Month. she makes. “Olivia is just your typical bluecollar player,” Barbee, last year’s player of the year said Wild. “She is just the type kid named by The Tennessean and also you want on your team. She is the the MVP of last year’s TSSAA Class type you love to coach, she puts the AAA state tournament. Barbee team above herself and is tough and averaged a double-double last year gritty.” (18 points and 10 rebounds per Henry plays the two-guard spot game) as a sophomore and has for Riverdale and has improved an matched those numbers again this already-good shooting percentage year during her junior campaign. from last year. “Shacobia is just an outstanding “Ashley shot 41 percent in 3player,” said Wild. “She is ranked in pointers last year and has improved the top 60 players nationally for her that to 45 percent this year,” said class (2012) and is being recruited Wild. “She is a great defender and by several DI schools.” maybe one of the most coachable Tyisha Petty is the Riverdale kids I’ve ever had in 21 years.” point guard and along with adding The Lady Warriors also have a four assists and three steals per deep bench with Jessica Azor, game is also chipping in 17 points. Toyree Hopkins and Lauren Only a sophomore, Petty is also conCantrell all making contributions to sidered one of the top players at the the Riverdale success. national level. While Wild is downplaying this “Tyisha runs our offense and just year’s team as they mow down oppodoes a great job,” said Wild. “She is nents other coaches have taken very unselfish with the ball and note. that’s what you want from your "They're playing really well, with point guard.” some new players, some new kids Another underclassman that has that have fit in," Mt. Juliet Coach contributed in a big way for Chris Fryer was quoted by The Riverdale during this year’s unbeatTennessean. “I don't see anybody en run is freshman Alexa Middleton with better athletes or a better team who is chipping in with 12 points than them." per game. Wild was asked the question – one “Alexa has Southeastern he said he had been asked numerous Conference (SEC) schools recruiting times this season – how he her as a freshman, which explains approaches post season play knowjust how good she is,” said Wild. ing that anything short of state title “She has really stepped in and done could be looked on by many as a disa good job for us.” appointing season. Rounding out the starting lineup “Our kids know what their ultiis sophomore Olivia Jones and mate goal is,” said Wild. “And all


March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

these accolades they’ve received, even some on the national level, have been great. But, they’ve been there and done that already and they know that our ultimate goal is to be in Murfreesboro on March 10. I think experience is the greatest thing you can have as a coach and we’re fortunate to have kids that keep things in perspective.” Wild said this year’s team has also done a good job shutting out the attention while focusing on the task at hand. “We’ve taken it one step and one game at a time, not looking too far ahead and just attacking our next game as our most important game,” said Wild. “We just try to come out and play with the same focus and energy level every night.” ■

YOUTH SERVED Alexa Middleton, only a freshman, averages 12 ppg. for the undefeated Lady Warriors.

Shut Up & Serve

Take The Shot by Dave and Mandy DeRocher


his month I would like to highlight a coach who has had a profound impact in my life. His name is Spencer Richardson who is the founder of All Around Game Basketball. Coach Spencer grew up in East Nashville and was a star at Maplewood High School and then attended college on a basketball scholarship. What I love about Coach Spencer is the unique ability of working with boys and girls of all levels. He What I love about Coach Spencer is the unique ability of working with boys and girls of all levels.

has been able to train players from fourth grade all the way up to NBA players. For a little trivia on basketball and volleyball: Did you know ALL AROUND Coach Spencer Richardson helps the inventor of basto develop younger athletes of all levels. ketball, James Naismith, and the inventor of volleyball, William Morgan, were very close friends and spent a great deal of time developing their game at the YMCA’s in Massachusetts? So spending time with Coach Spencer reminds me of how both basketball and volleyball got their start. Every time I leave I always get more encouraged about helping younger athletes develop their game. While grabbing time at A-Game Sportsplex I asked Spencer what his greatest goal is as a coach. He confidently answered, “My goal is to build up a young player and encourage them to make it to the next level. I hope to bring out all the game that is inside them and do things they never thought they could.” Let me tell you a fun story that he told me last week that epitomize his goals. Two weeks ago, Coach Spencer attended a 8th grade basketball game between Brentwood Middle School and Woodland Middle school, notoriously a heated rivalry. He was checking on one of the players he coaches named Clay Klooster, who is a shooting guard for Woodland Middle. Brentwood was up by two points with 1.9 sec-

onds left. Woodland called a timeout and set up to inbounds the ball at mid-court. Time felt like it came to a stop inside the packed gym and you could cut the tension with a knife. Woodland’s coach gave the play, which was a basic screen that would hopefully open up Clay Klooster, giving him one shot to showcase the talent he has been working on for years. Like a movie script, Clay catches the inbounds pass, and in less than 1.9 seconds turns around and sends the round ball into the basket. The crowd erupts and Woodland players were mobbed by friends and family. Standing in the crowd is Spencer Richardson watching one of his players reach a new level of confidence and ability. Clay spots Coach Spencer and jumps up in his arms in celebration. I asked Coach Spencer what makes this story so special and he said, “I loved the fact that he was willing to take the shot. He has built his confidence to a place where whether he made it or not, he was willing to take the shot.” Coach Spencer is one coach that is taking the time to teach kids properly and see them climb to the next level. I smile as I write this story because an eighth grade shooting guard from Woodland Middle School provides me a crystal clear life lesson, “Never be afraid to take a shot!” Thank you, Coach Spencer, for teaching Clay and so many others to reach the next level. Now back to the volleyball court. (Anyone wanting more information about Coach Spencer’s program can visit his website ■

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Photos courtesy Mason Mingus

Riveted By Racing Three sports is not enough for this young driver from Brentwood By Joe Szynkowski


ason Mingus may need to consider carrying around a mirror. Not to check his looks, like so many other 16-year-olds are apt to do. But to make sure he knows which sport he is playing. Last fall, Mingus excelled as a fullback/linebacker for Franklin Road Academy’s football team, helping lead the Panthers to the second round of the state playoffs. Before he could catch his breath from a successful season, Mingus switched gears - and uniforms - and won 20-plus matches for his school’s wrestling team. This spring, the sophomore from Brentwood plans on taking up track and field. In between all of these athletic endeavors, Mingus dons a racing helmet and a fire-retardant suit. This is when he really likes what he sees. “Racing is definitely my number one sport,” he says. “Wrestling is probably next.” Mingus’ “Kentucky/Tennessee Dial 811 Before You Dig”-sponsored Chevy stock car is similar to those used on the NASCAR circuit. He has won championships at every level he has competed, including quarter midgets, mini-cup, baby grands and last year’s Ken-Ten Pro Late Model title. He has raced


DRIVE TIME Franklin Road Academy sophomore Mason Mingus considers racing his No. 1 sport.

against NASCAR stars like Kyle Busch and Ken Schrader. With all of those accomplishments, it’s no wonder he is riveted by racing. But with so many extracurricular activities to tend to, time management has become a bit of a balancing act for the multi-sport standout. “I struggled a little bit with it last

March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

year,” Mingus said. “It’s hard missing matches and other things but my coaches in school know that racing comes first and they’re really good about working with me.” Franklin Road wrestling coach Marc Taylor says even though Mingus’ crazy calendar doesn’t always fit the Panthers’ schedule, it sure fits his personality. “A running chainsaw” is how Taylor describes Mingus (152-pound weight class). “We’re working on some finesse things with him – maybe trying to slow him down a little bit instead of him just bulldozing through matches. “He’s like having an assistant coach,” Taylor added. “I just have to look over my shoulder and say, ‘Mason.’ He knows what I need and he makes things happen. He takes on a lot of responsibility and that really helps a coach to have kids like that.” Mingus’ maturity has helped translate into success in the cutthroat racing industry. He is currently in the midst of running a full slate for the ultra-competitive Champion Racing Association’s (CRA) Super Series, and has his sights set on taking home the Rookie of the Year award. He finished 16th at CRA SpeedFest on Jan. 30 at Lanier National Speedway in Georgia. The

CRA schedule will take him all over the Midwest, including stops in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Working under veteran race team owner Kevin Gardner will come in handy during Mingus’ visits to unfamiliar tracks. “(Gardner) has been huge in helping me out,” Mingus said. “He’s been around the sport for over 30 years and he knows all the little things that help me. He’s been crew chief at a lot of these tracks and he’s easy to talk to about racing.”

Barnes knows the makeup of a dynamic driver. The longtime CRA competitor won the series’ points championship in 2004. He says Mingus possesses one crucial characteristic that a lot of drivers lack: physical stature. “His size makes a big difference,” Barnes said. “It’s a big factor in his ability to stay the course for longer races. He’s in better shape than your typical driver. He’s good at staying focused and has a lot of drive.”

You have a strategy going into every race. But just like with other sports, SOMETIMES IT DOESN’T WORK OUT . It’s like that in wrestling. You have to just be able to think on your feet. Another crafty veteran of the racing scene, Chuck Barnes Jr., will play a key role in Mingus’ learning experience. Barnes, who prepares Mingus’ No. 98 car and serves as his crew chief, began working with Mingus last year and immediately liked what he saw out of the young driver. “He’s very focused and appreciative and he’s very good at working with other people,” Barnes said. “He’s good about overcoming obstacles and little things that might go wrong from time to time on the track.” CHAINSAW Mingus finds time in his schedule to wrestle for FRA in the 152-pound weight class.

It’s that drive that helped Mingus overcome a blown motor and an inspection penalty before even attempting to qualify for one of the biggest races of his career in December. The resilient driver battled through the adversity to take home an improbable seventh-place finish at the 43rd annual Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Fla. Other highlights from last year’s campaign were a victory at the famous Salem Speedway in Indiana, a second-place finish at the All-American 400 weekend at Nashville Fairgrounds and a fourth-place

BIG HITTER Mingus excelled as a fullback and linebacker for FRA’s football team.

result at the Winchester 400. But not only has racing been good to Mingus, this young driver has also been good to the sport. “It is very exciting to have young drivers racing with us,” said CRA Series Director Glenn Luckett. “We have a wide range of drivers that compete with us, local veterans and young racers looking to make a name and move up in racing.” Moving up is Mingus’ main concern early in the 2011 racing season. The more track time he accrues, coupled with the support from his family, friends and coaches at Franklin Road, the more confidence he feels in his racing ability. But this whiz at the wheel knows he still has plenty to learn. “You have a strategy going into every race,” Mingus said. “But just like with other sports, sometimes it doesn’t work out. It’s like that in wrestling. You have to just be able to think on your feet.” Or in Mingus’ racing career – behind the steering wheel. For opportunities to sponsor Champion Racing Association’s Mason Mingus, contact his father Donnie at Keep up with the young driver’s 2011 quest to become CRA Rookie of the Year at Joe Szynkowski is a freelance writer for TSM. He can be reached at

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Against All Odds

Jumping Back In Hendersonville 10-year-old Jay Fleming overcomes accident, gains national attention By Joe Szynkowski


his wasn’t your normal call to the principal’s office. When 10-year-old Jay Fleming was pulled out of his classroom on Dec. 16, his classmates weren’t sure what their mild-mannered peer could have possibly done. But Jay had an idea. Awaiting him in the office of Madison Creek Elementary School was a live phone interview with ESPN SportsCenter anchor Josh Elliott. Fleming had just been announced as the network’s winner of the “YouTube Your Highlight” contest, for which Fleming’s dad, Todd, had entered just a few months prior. The curiosity of Jay’s classmates was cured when their teachers tuned into the ESPN interview on the classroom televisions. “He was definitely excited,” Todd said. “He kind of got the hero’s welcome when he went back to class since all the kids had seen him on TV.”

Obviously after his accident IT’S BEEN HARD ON US as parents. You can imagine when something like that happens, you just think of all of the things that he’s not going to be able to do Anyone who hasn’t seen the video clip is missing out on an inspirational display of athletic competition. It features Fleming – who lost his left arm in a boating accident when he was just six years old – swimming to victory in the 9-10 year-old, 25-meter butterfly event at last summer’s Nashville City Swim Meet. The original video, just 1 minute and 14 seconds long,


March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

COLOR GUARD Jay carries the state flag for his Goodlettsville AllStars baseball team.

has been viewed more than 840,000 times on YouTube. It has given the Hendersonville family some much-deserved recognition. “We’ve been very excited for him,” said Jay’s mom, Connie. “Obviously after his accident it’s been hard on us as parents. You can imagine when something like that happens, you just think of all of the things that he’s not going to be able to do.” A lot of people have taken notice of what Jay is capable of doing in the pool. He was recently recognized by his town’s mayor and alderman for his accomplishments, and also approached by ESPN for a potential in-depth report. But Todd was most excited about an email he received from the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs. “Their swim coach saw his video and said that he had a lot of potential,” Todd said. “They just offered up any assistance they could give us to help him become a top athlete.” Todd has been surprised by the amount of attention the YouTube video has created. After all, it was a simple gesture by a proud father hoping to show off his son’s achievement to friends and family members. “I really had forgotten that I even entered the ESPN contest until I got a call that first week of December that he was in the final four videos,” Todd said. “That’s when we started getting really excited. We found out early in the

Against All Odds severed his arm during a family outing just three days before his seventh birthday. It was a tumultuous time for Todd and Connie, who wondered if their son would ever be able to play his favorite sports again, let alone handle the everyday obstacles that come with being disabled. Jay eased their worry GETTING WET Jay was back in the pool not long after his accident and continues to swim for Excel Aquatics in Gallatin and the Bluegrass Marlins in Goodlettsville.

morning (Dec. 16) when they called us that he had won. We went to the school and worked it out with his teacher and principal and were able to get it all taken care of.” ESPN producers whittled the more than 2,000 entries down to the final four. Online voters pushed

Jay’s video over the top. “I was very excited,” Jay said. “But I really owe it to my friends at school and my family. They are the ones who voted for me.” Jay certainly deserved the votes. He spent two weeks at Monroe Carrel Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt after a rope

pretty quickly. “He never mentions it,” Todd said. “He never asks for help and never seems to be down or depressed about it. He bounced back so fast. Literally that fall he was playing baseball just a month or two later. His younger brother was playing fall baseball and one of the coaches asked if Jay wanted to come out for

ONE-ON-ONE Training with former MLB outfielder Michael Coleman Prepare mentally and physically for the next level 1412 Antioch Pike, Antioch 615-474-4336

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Against All Odds one of the games. He got a hit his first time up.” Jay gets his love for athletics from Todd, who played four sports as a high-schooler in Chester, Ill. The youngster’s natural ability, coupled with an incredible will to succeed, helped him get back on the field and in the pool. “Basketball wasn’t that hard,” Jay said. “In baseball I had to figure out how I was going to catch and throw the ball, but batting was easy.” Jay, who swims for Excel Aquatics in Gallatin and the Bluegrass Marlins in Goodlettsville, didn’t start swimming competitively until after his accident. A family friend of the Flemings, Mitch Warren, is one of the many people who have been wowed by Jay’s athletic accomplishments. “Jay is a great athlete,” Warren said. “I have seen him shut down players on a basketball court, have a winning hit in baseball, and win a Nashville swim meet. His dedication to athletic success speaks to his level of commitment, strength and perse-


EH, BATTER! Just months after his accident, Jay was back in the lineup getting a hit in his first at bat.

verance. Jay is a really great kid, always running around the park, and

March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

is extremely well-liked by his peers. His parents and the whole family are just incredibly supportive.” Warren said that all of the positive attention the winning video has garnered couldn’t have been directed toward a better family. “You know, to be honest, when I heard he had won the swim meet, I thought he had won the ESPN contest for just being a great swimmer,” Warren said. “After all, Jay is a very good athlete. It wasn’t until someone reminded me he did it with a handicap that I looked at it a second time. When you see Jay, and watch him play or swim, you really don’t even recognize his handicap. “He never complains about it, parents don’t dwell on it. I am sure they privately have some struggles, but in all honesty, Jay is just a normal kid who happens to be a very gifted three-sport athlete, handicap or no.” Joe Szynkowski is a freelance writer for TSM. He can be reached at

Ask The Jock Doc

Getting to the Bottom of Heel Pain in Children Recognizing and Treating Sever’s Disease b y D r. J a m e s L o h s e What is Sever’s disease? Sever’s disease is neither "severe” or a “disease!” Sever's disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis, is a self-limiting disorder of the growth plate of the heel bone (calcaneus), typically brought on by overuse of the feet during sports. Which athletes are susceptible to Sever’s disease? This condition is most common in children between the ages 9 to 14. Sever’s is frequently seen in athletes who play soccer, gymnastics, football, or baseball. However, any child who participates in any running or jumping activity may also be at an increased risk. Please note: Sever's disease rarely occurs in older teenagers because the back of the heel has typically finished growing by 15 years of age.

… Bones often grow faster than muscles and tendons. As a result, muscles and tendons become tight.

Can a child’s growth spurt contribute to Sever’s disease? The foot is one of the first body parts to grow to full size. This usually occurs in early puberty. During this time, bones often grow faster than muscles and tendons. As a result, muscles and tendons become tight. Thus pulling on the growth plate of the heel and leading to pain during the growth spurt. How do I know if my child's heel pain is caused by Sever’s disease? Children with Sever’s disease will describe pain in the back of the foot or feet and most often occurring when our athlete begins a new sport or sport season. He or she may walk with a limp or have a tendency to walk on tiptoes. Their pain will increase when he or she attempts to run or jump. They will exhibit increased pain with the “squeeze test.” (Squeeze test - wrap your index finger and thumb around the heel approximately one inch from the back of the heel and squeeze). A positive test will reproduce pain on squeezing. Are there any anatomical disadvantages or equipment of an athlete that could potentially increase their risk? Two anatomical disadvantages are a tight Achilles tendon that contributes to Sever’s disease by pulling excessively on the growth plate of the heel bone (calcaneus) and fallen arches, more commonly known as flat feet. Also, athletic shoes with cleats are known to aggravate the condition. The heel portion of the shoe should not be too tight, and there should be good padding in the heel. A cushioned gel heel lift is the best remedy. How do you treat Sever’s disease?


March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

Majority of athletes with Sever’s disease can safely return to play by following the pnemonic of R.I.C.E.S. (rest, ice, compression, elevation, support). First, rest completely from all activities including physical education for 12 weeks. Then begin icing the heel for 15-20 minutes three times a day with crushed ice (simply place ice cubes in half of a Ziploc bag and break into small pieces). Apply a four-inch ace bandage starting from the toes and work your way to the ankle, then place the crushed ice over heel with compression. Elevate the foot during icing and at bedtime. Finally, support the arch of the foot if fallen or flat with an orthotic or shoe insert. In a minority of cases with severe limping, we recommend complete rest with no weight bearing activity. Crutches or a walking boot for a few weeks achieves this and aids the healing process. An anti-inflammatory for 1-2 weeks and obtaining Xrays to rule out an occult fracture may also be necessary. When can my child return to play? As long as the pain completely subsides, we usually see children return safely in 1-2 weeks. However, their pain can present intermittently throughout the season. Complete resolution of pain will occur when your child finishes growing in the heel, again at around 15 years of age. Can I prevent Sever’s disease from occurring in my athletes or children? Growth is certainly not preventable, however recognizing warning signs and intervening can prevent painful symptoms. Always stop any activity when pain affects your performance and activities of daily living. If you are limping, your body is letting you know pain is severe and you will need to stop your activity immediately. Finally, we recommend stretching your calf muscles, which insert at the back of the heel, daily. Remember to stretch both legs, even if the pain is only in one heel. ■

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March 2011 • Tennessee Sports Magazine

Ask The Athletic Trainer

The Race to Running Injury Free By Kristen Bowers, ATC WITH COLDER WEATHER soon behind us and the beautiful Tennessee spring upon us, running shoes will soon be making their debut. Whether you are training for the marathon, run as an athlete, for recreation, or are a beginner you are at risk for injury. However, there is a glimpse of hope. Knowing common types of running-associated injuries and prevention techniques may allow you to have an injury-free running season - allowing peak performance. Also, making the right footwear decisions may ultimately be the most important decision in your running career.

Plantar Fasciitis

Making the right footwear decisions may ultimately be the most important decision in your running career.

Plantar Fasciitis and heel pain are widespread injuries that many runners will face throughout their running career. But, knowing how to distinguish between general heel pain and the formation of plantar fasciitis may save you persistent foot pain. Plantar fasciitis can be alleviated by something as simple as using new shoe inserts, but if left untreated can be chronically debilitating. What is plantar fasciitis? The plantar fascia is a broad band of dense connective tissue that runs the length of the sole of your foot and assists in maintaining stability of the foot. When you push off during running it causes the toes to be forcefully extended resulting in undo fascial tension to approximately twice your body weight. This often results in injury. With proper footwear, the forceful extension may be minimized. Other factors such as leg length discrepancy, excessive pronation, tightness of your gastrocnemius (calf) and soleus muscle, running with a lengthened stride, shoes without enough support, and running on soft surfaces may also produce plantar fasciitis. Medial heel pain that is more intense when you first step out of bed in the morning or after sitting for an extended period of time is a common symptom of plantar fasciitis. I have had athletes describe this as a “stabbing” pain that will typically diminish after a few steps. Treatment of plantar fasciitis consists of stretching, anti-inflammatory medication, using a heel cup, arch taping, night splints, and more. Please consult a STAR Physical Therapy location near you or a physician if you have specific questions.

style. A pair of your used running shoes can identify what kind of runner you are. If your shoe tilts to the outside you may have a high arched foot. If the counter (the part that stabilizes the heel) bulges over the inside of the shoe, you are a pronator. If you see the outline of your toes on the top of your shoe, you need a wider shoe. Due to the daily increase in foot volume, it is best to measure for shoes at the end of the day. Try running in the shoes before you buy them, either on a treadmill in the store or ask if you could run a block or two to note any discomfort. Keep the shoes on for about 10 minutes to make sure they remain comfortable. You shouldn’t feel any tightness in the shoe or any gait abnormalities. Just as important as correctly fitting your shoes is knowing when to retire your running shoes. Research has found that running shoes should be replaced between 350-500 miles, and should be replaced before they start showing major signs of wear and tear. Shoes can start to lose shock absorption and become less stable before visible degenerative changes. Keep an estimated track of your running mileage in your running shoes to ensure efficient shock absorbency and stability. Shoes can also lose effectiveness from environmental factors when storing, even though they haven’t been worn. It is recommended to replace your shoes at approximately one year. Prevention is the most important factor in running injury free!

Shin Splints

A shin splint is a very vague and broad term that describes anterior shin pain. Shin splints can be prevented and easily treated to get you back to running your best. Contributing factors are leg muscle(s) weakness, shoes that provide little support, excessive foot pronation, overtraining, and running on hard surfaces i.e. pavement. The severity is determined by when you feel pain in relation to activity. There are four grades of shin splint pain: 1) pain after activity 2) pain before and after activity, but not affecting your running 3) pain before and after that affects your running 4) cannot run due to severe pain. A referral to a physician may be necessary to rule out a stress fracture before you continue running. Management of shin splints include lower body stretching, shoes with proper support and cushioning, ice after activity, ice massage, antiinflammatory medication, taping in the form of compression around painful area and/or arch taping.

Running Shoes

When making a shoe selection, buy a shoe that is designed for your running

Kristen ‘Parlier’ Bowers is a graduate of West Oaks Academy in Orlando, FL 2000. She graduate from the University of Central Florida and received a Bachelors in Science in 2005 and a Masters of Science from Austin Peay State University in 2006. Kristen has been a licensed and certified athletic trainer for six years. She was an assistant ATC at Trevecca Nazarene University for three years and is now in her 2nd year with STAR Physical Therapy as the head ATC at Clarksville Northwest High School.

Tennessee Sports Magazine • March 2011


Looks Between The Lines

You Don't Always Have to Think the Best to be the Best by Rudy Kalis I’VE ALWAYS BEEN a little envious of people who were supremely confident, athletically and otherwise, believing in themselves completely. But we're not all wired that way. In many ways I think we're a product of how we grew up. My dad never played sports. He was a hard working family man who enjoyed music and enjoyed watching some sports, but never participated. And so when I played high school basketball he would sit in the stands quietly and watch his son. He couldn't critique. He never criticized. He never gave me a pep talk. He never told me to believe in my ability and so I would go into most every game doubting myself, but somewhere He never in the midst of the game, some sort of competitive criticized. He nature would kick in. I didn't want to be embarrassed. That feeling has carried on throughout my life, not never gave me a only in sports, but in my career as well. pep talk. He But I've heard two athletes recently that made me never told me to feel so much better about myself, and it may help othbelieve in my ers like me as well. ability … At the NFL Hall of Fame ceremony, Jerry Rice, the greatest wide receiver in the history of the NFL was asked what drove him to be the best. He said simply that he was always “afraid to fail.” I was riveted to his words. And then recently, when Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics broke the NBA record for most three-point baskets in a career, he was asked what motivated him to be the best and he said, “I expect to MISS every shot, and so I force myself to focus

completely on the fundamentals and on the basket to give myself the best chance to succeed.” Another light went off for me. There were times when I hated myself for not being confident. It seemed like I was the only one. Coaches, parents, books and teammates force it into us, and it may work for a lot of us, but we're not all wired the same way. Now, at my age, I feel some of the same tension over a 5-foot putt in a golf match with friends. There's still that kid in me that never learned to believe in himself. What I've had to realize is that a five-foot putt doesn't define me as a person, but the competitive nature inside of me is still trying to prove me wrong. If you have a child that's playing sports, realize that they are complex young people, and that you have the privilege of shaping their lives. You want them to be successful. You want them to be “clutch,” you want to encourage them to be the best and believe in themselves, but please make sure that you teach them that they’re lives and who they are isn’t defined by success on the athletic field alone. That's the greatest legacy you can ■ pass on to them.

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