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September 2017

Connect Readers’ Choice Winners listed inside! See page 16 for more!

The music scene: Statesboro Blues Tailgate Tattler: Know your opponent 50th anniversary: Georgia Artists Collection

Beyond The Goal Posts:

Local Football Heroes Reach Back


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Table of Contents

Editorial for September

mirth & Matter Editor’s letter

Daily Specials��������������������������������������������������������������������� 4 Calendar��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 6 Local Restaurant Spotlight����������������������������������������������������� 7 Adrian Peterson�������������������������������������������������������������� 8-9 DeAngelo Tyson���������������������������������������������������������� 10-11 Johnny Cobb�������������������������������������������������������������� 12-13 2017 Readers’ Choice Winners �����������������������������������������16 The Music Scene ��������������������������������������������������������������18 ‘Guys and Dolls’��������������������������������������������������������� 20-21 Overthinking It �����������������������������������������������������������������22 Tailgate Tattler ����������������������������������������������������������� 24-25 Day Trippin’ ��������������������������������������������������������������������26 Classifieds ����������������������������������������������������������������� 28-29 The Arts Seen ������������������������������������������������������������������30 Betty Foy Sanders ������������������������������������������������������������31

Behind the Scenes People who make it happen

Angye Morrison, EDITOR 912.489.9402 | amorrison@connectstatesboromagazine.com Hunter McCUMBER, ART DIRECTOR 912.489.9491 | hmccumber@statesboromagazine.com Stephanie Childs, MARKETING MANAGER 912.531.0786 | schilds@connectstatesboromagazine.com Pam pollard, classifieds manager 912.489.9420 | ppollard@connectstatesboromagazine.com Tim Webb, Multimedia twebb@statesboroherald.com Darrell Elliot, Distribution 912.489.9425 | delliot@statesboroherald.com Jim Healy, Operations manager 912.489.9402 | jhealy@statesboroherald.com

Angye Morrison Connect Editor

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love when the air changes and you can just smell those fall kind of smells. Pencil erasers, fresh notebook paper and that hallway floor polish that’s only used in elementary schools…apple cider, chili and pumpkin spice…those are some of my faves. Fall sounds are pretty great, too. I love the sound of a crackling fire. The sound of leaves crunching under my feet is a sure sign that the air is crisp and sweater weather is upon us. One of the best things about fall is college football. Obviously in the Boro we’re gearing up for that. The Eagles have been hard at work, getting ready for a great season. In this issue, you’ll find some stories that feature some of the Boro’s football greats. We think you’ll enjoy hearing what they’re up to these days, as well as what their thoughts are about the upcoming season. We are also featuring one of the cast members of “Guys and Dolls,” being performed at the Emma Kelly Theater this month. You’ll enjoy reading about Christie McLendon’s thoughts on treading the boards and bringing a character to life. And if all that wasn’t enough, we’ve also included the list of winners for this year’s Reader’s Choice Awards. Congratulations to all the outstanding recipients! We’re sure you’ll enjoy this issue. It’s packed with fall goodness. Good luck this season to all our area teams!

Connect Magazine is published monthly (12 issues a year). The cover and contents of Connect Magazine are fully protected by copyright laws of the United States and may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the written consent of Connect Magazine. We are not responsible for loss of unsolicited inquiries, manuscripts, photographs, transparencies or other materials. Such materials will not be returned unless accompanied by return postage. Address letters and editorial contributions to Connect Statesboro, Angye Morrison, 1 Proctor Street, Statesboro, GA 30458, amorrison@connectstatesboromagazine.com. Copyright © 2017 by Statesboro Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

September 2017 • 3


Daily Specials

Happy Mondays: Happy Hour all day! Half off all alcohol and select appetizers Trivia Tuesdays: Trivia at 7 p.m. with cash prizes; $10 buckets of beer, $7.99 shrimp and grits Wicked Wednesdays: Karaoke and live DJ at 9 p.m.; $13 buckets (imports), $8 buckets (domestics), $3 doubles all day Thirsty Thursdays: $10 buckets of beer, $3 doubles, $3 bombs, $3 Newcastle all day Fridays & Saturdays: Live music; $10 buckets of beer Sunday Funday: Happy Hour all day! Karaoke and live DJ at 8 p.m.; 45¢ wings Everyday Lunch Specials: $7 lunches with a drink, 7 days a week!

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Calendar MUSIC

Tuesday, Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26 Open mic night at Locos, 9 pm.

Tuesday, Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26 Karaoke at Applebee’s, 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, 13, 20, 27 DJ & Karaoke at Gnat’s Landing, 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, 13, 20, 27 Open mic night at Eagle Creek Brewing Co. Saturday, Sept. 16 Shenandoah: 30th Anniversary Tour, Performing Arts Center at Georgia Southern University. Touring in celebration of their 30th anniversary, this Grammy-winning country music group formed in 1984 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They are known for such hits as “Two Dozen Roses,” “Next to Me, Next to You” and “Sunday in the South.” The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets at www.georgiasouthern.edu.

Friday, September 22 Eagles Tribute Band: One of These Nights, Emma Kelly Theater Beginning at 8 p.m. on Sept. 22, and at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, spend an evening with Russ Lanier and friends as they perform many of the Eagles’ greatest hits. The two-act performance will feature some of the area’s best local artists. Tickets are $20. Call (912) 212-2787 or go online at www.averittcenterforthearts.org to purchase. Ongoing Live music at Locos Musical acts to perform each weekend, 9-11:30 p.m. Live music at Millhouse Steakhouse Musical acts preform every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening

THEATER Thursday, September 7 “Guys and Dolls,” Emma Kelly Theater The curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. each night for this musical comedy featuring some of the Boro’s best talent. Shows on September 8 and 9 as well. Tickets are $20. Call (912) 212-2787 or go online at www.averittcenterforthearts.org to purchase.

Wednesday, September 27 “Anon(ymous),” Center for Art & Theatre at Georgia Southern Separated from his mother, a young refugee called Anon journeys through the United States as he searches for his family, navigating a chaotic and everchanging landscape in this adaptation of Homer’s “The Odyssey.” The show runs through Oct. 4, nightly at 7:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday. Tickets are $12 (general admission) and $6 (students). Purchase tickets at www.georgiasouthern.edu/CAT.

ART

Putting Us on the Map: Georgia and its Coastal Plain Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau A unique collection of maps that tell stories about Georgia, the Coastal Plain and Bulloch County. The exhibit will be on display until April 2018. The CVB is located at 222 South Main Street in Statesboro. Ongoing Give it a Spin! Workshop, 3rd Sunday each month Averitt Center for the Arts For those 16 years of age and up, from 1-4 p.m., this pottery class for beginners covers the basics. Bring a towel with you; all other materials provided. Cost is $25 ($40 for nonmembers).

Paint-N-Party, 2nd Friday each month Averitt Center for the Arts Come and have fun with your friends and your favorite drink (21+ to drink). Price includes a 16X20 canvas and art supplies. Call Tony Phillips at (912) 212-2787 to register. Cost is $35 per session. Smith Calloway Banks Collection of Folk Art Averitt Center for the Arts A selection from the Smith Calloway

Banks Collection of Folk Art will be on display through September 9. Transmedia PreDelay by Jeffrey Moser Center for Art & Theatre at Georgia Southern Incorporating film, new media techniques and digital objects, this exhibit explores the aesthetic and expressive potentials at the intersection of culture and lived experience. On display through September 15. Betty Sanders Botts: Sacred and Wild Averitt Center for the Arts On display beginning Sept. 14, Botts’ works will feature large environmental canvases that depict forest animals dynamically. The exhibit will be in place through Nov. 4. Art Educators’ Exhibition Averitt Center for the Arts The Youth Gallery at the Averitt features the artwork of Bulloch County students each month. This month the spotlight is on Julia P. Bryant and Sallie Zetterower elementary schools. The exhibit will be on display throughout the month. An opening reception is held on the first Friday of each month at 5:30 p.m.

OTHER

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Friday, September 1 F1RST Friday: A Taste of Downtown, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Give your taste buds something to remember and sample savory delights from the restaurants located in downtown Statesboro.

Saturday, September 30 180 Fitness Body Building Competition, Emma Kelly Theater The event begins at 8 a.m. and again at 6 p.m., and will feature some of the top competitors from the region.

Thursday, September 7 Erik Estrada Live in Statesboro, Nessmith-Lane Center The Kids & Community Gala is one of the main annual fundraisers for the Boys & Girls Club of Bulloch County. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and Estrada will speak at 7:15 p.m. For more information, go online at http://bgcbulloch.org/12th-annualkids-community-gala/.

Through Jan. 28, 2018 The World’s War is Georgia’s War: 1917-1919 Georgia Southern Museum Commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. involvement in the first World War through the experience of Georgia. Stories of Georgia’s soldiers, civilians, training camps and communities.


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Adrian Peterson By Devin Conway Photography by Scott Bryant

A Star is Born From the time Adrian Peterson began to participate in competitive sports, there was never any doubt that he was a special athlete. During his high school tenure, Peterson was a four-time letterman in track, a twotime letterman in both weightlifting and basketball, and a two-time all-state selection in football. His football accolades also included ESPN All-American honors and a Florida Class 4-A Player of the Year award for his outstanding performance as a senior. Upon graduation, Peterson was a highly coveted recruit that seemed destined for

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greatness. Former Georgia Southern quarterback Tracy Ham, who actually attended the same high school as Peterson in Alachua, Florida, convinced him to accept a scholarship offer from GS, and the rest is history. Peterson burst onto the college football scene, leading the Eagles to a national championship game in one of the most statistically dominant seasons the NCAA had ever seen. Although the team came up short during Peterson’s freshman year, they went on to win back-to-back national championships in 1999 and 2000, due in large part

to his awe-inspiring talent. By the time Peterson’s college career was finished, he held the all-time Division I record for career rushing yards. He also became the first sophomore in NCAA history to receive the Walter Payton Award, which is given to the nation’s top Division I-AA offensive player. “We won, and we won a lot. You know, I got a lot of accolades, but our team always did exceptionally well. Being a part of that success was such an honor. I couldn’t ask for a better story,” Peterson said.


From Superstar to Specialist Peterson entered the 2002 NFL Draft following his senior year at GS, and was selected by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round. He failed to receive many opportunities as a rookie, and spent most of his second year sidelined with an ankle injury. By the end of the 2005 season, Peterson was Chicago’s second leading rusher, and later went on to score a touchdown in a playoff game. Peterson often faced an uphill battle as a third-string running back and was primarily utilized as a role player on special teams. However, when he was given ample playing time, he often exceeded expectations. “In high school, I was a superstar. In college, I was a superstar. But when I got to the NFL, I became a role player. I came to understand that not everyone could make it on ESPN highlights and Sports Illustrated covers,” Peterson said. Although his professional career never resulted in the same kind of individual success and recognition that he had grown accustomed to as a high school and collegiate athlete, he was still able to experience things that he would cherish for the rest of his life. He was a member of the 2006 Chicago Bears team that made it to the Super Bowl. As the Bears began to pull away late in the NFC Championships game, Peterson became overwhelmed with emotion. He had longed for a chance to participate in a Super Bowl since he was a kid, and watching his childhood dream become a reality was a surreal moment for him. Life After Football As every true competitor knows, it’s impossible to perform at a high level forever. The body eventually begins to atrophy, and the biological clock forces the athlete to admit that it’s time to begin the next chapter. For Peterson, the highlight of his post-football career has been spending time with his children and mentoring young people. Following his retirement from professional sports, Peterson decided to become a motivational speaker. He believes that his life is a testament to the idea that any and all obstacles can be overcome through discipline and hard work. Peterson has struggled throughout his entire life with a speech impediment that rendered him quiet and selfconscious as a young man, and he hopes that by sharing his story with other young athletes across the nation that he can instill them with the confidence that they need to become successful. In 2013, he released an autobiography ti-

tled “Don’t Dis My Abilities,” which detailed the aforementioned struggles he faced. Peterson also opened a sports facility, All Pro Sports Performance, which is located in Gurnee, Illinois. All Pro Sports Performance was designed to offer its clients innovative workouts and techniques to maximize their athletic potential. Peterson was recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, an honor that has been bestowed on less than 1,000 players in the history of the NCAA. To say that his induction is an incredible accomplish-

ment would be an understatement. He still maintains a relationship with both the Georgia Southern football program and the local community. “The [football] program has changed a lot. I actually got a chance to speak with the team over the summer, and I’m jealous. But it’s a good jealous. Whenever you get a chance to see something that you were once a part of grow, it’s always good. Last season, we had a bit of an off year, but I think we’re heading up again and I’m tremendously excited about that,” Peterson said. September 2017 • 9


DeAngelo Tyson

By Angye Morrison Photography by Scott Bryant

From the football field to the classroom: ‘Why not me?’ When people in the local community hear the name DeAngelo Tyson, most will think back to his days as a standout player for the Statesboro High School Blue Devils. Others will remember him for his days playing for the University of Georgia. Still more will point to his days in the NFL, playing for the Baltimore Ravens or the Seattle Seahawks. But although football has provided much for Tyson, it’s not what he wants to be known for. The soft-spoken and gentle giant wants to be remembered for his contributions to kids who are starting life just like he did.

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Tyson spent the better part of his youth at Joseph Home for Boys in Statesboro. He first entered the home when he was in the fourth grade, and remained there until his high school graduation. He says neither his mother nor his father were there for him. But there were several women at the boys home who reached out to him and invested in his life. Tyson also says he had friends when he was a child, but “they knew.” “People kind of turn their back on kids that have a different kind of background,” he said. “I felt it, growing up. People assumed I

was a bad child. I did have friends, but they said, ‘he stays in the boys home.’” Those relationships with friends and with the adults who reached out to him became very important to him as he transitioned from childhood to his adult years, and he’s come to understand that having positive role models is increasingly important for children, particularly those with difficult backgrounds. “It’s not easy growing up in a group home, no matter what type of child you are. I was told that football was my ticket out,” he said, adding that it taught him responsibility and accountability, and provided those much-needed male role models. “I think you need those qualities in life to even be semi-successful. I think those skills are taught in football, because at the end of the day, you are working with a team, and if you are working with a team, you gotta be able to be trusted. You gotta do the things that you say you’ll do. You have to be a leader. Football helped me with that,” he said. Football also gave Tyson an outlet for the emotions he carried as a young man that he didn’t know how to handle in any other way. “You can’t get into trouble for hitting anybody on the football field. That was my safe place to go,” he said, smiling. Tyson also found that football gave him a unique platform that he could use to help kids who are dealing with the same types of struggles he faced. “My foundation was started when I finally realized what I can do with the platform that I was on at the time, playing in the NFL, and knowing what I went through, coming up as a young child. Having support by non-family members, I knew how that helped me. All I wanted to do was be able to give another child hope,” he said. And that’s just what he’s doing. After Joseph Home for Boys closed, Tyson saw a need in Statesboro, and sought to reopen a local facility. His foundation stepped in to help. With the mission to “serve youth, young athletes and teenage mothers through support and opportunities that will empower them to unlock their own personal potential,” the Tyson Foundation, founded by Tyson in 2014, holds football clinics for underprivileged kids, connects community members with at-risk children and teens, and provides education classes for teen mothers. In 2015, the foundation also stepped up to the plate to open the Joseph House. The foundation partnered with Broken


How the University of Georgia will fare this season: “I really like the quarterback. I really like the freshman quarterback also. I think Jacob Eason has the arm talent that Matthew Stafford had. With the weapons they have on offense, and with the quarterback having a year under his belt, I feel like they can win the SEC East and go to the SEC championship because I think the offense is a lot better.” Shackles Ranch Inc., located in Davisboro, Georgia. The ranch provides a home for young men, ages 16 to 20, placed there by the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Family and Children Services or legal guardians. While at the ranch, the young men can get vocational training, as well as help with any drug abuse, emotional or psychological problems, with the end goal of helping each one become a responsible, dependable adult. The ranch has two transitional living programs. One is The Omega House in Augusta, Georgia, and the other is the Joseph House in Statesboro. In partnership with the Tyson Foundation, the ranch purchased the old Smithfield golf course, a property that includes a 300-acre cypress lake. “That was a blessing, because I know that we as (the Tyson Foundation) board never thought we could get it done as quick as we did,” he said. They held an event in March 2015, and closed on the property in October that same year. Tyson says the property will include a sports complex for the young men to come and “hang out and do sports.” The Joseph House, he said, will house about seven young men. “I think it will be a good atmosphere, because having the sports complex around it, it gives the kids more than one thing to

do, whether to play football or basketball, baseball, canoeing, archery. I just look at it almost like a family reunion for those kids. They’ll be able to come to that one spot to have fun and relax, and understand that they are normal also,” he said. Although his demeanor exudes humility, Tyson is aware that his background and his success have placed him in a position to be a role model, and it’s a role he relishes. Tyson has now taken that success and his background into the classroom and onto the football field at Claxton High School. He is teaching at the Second Chance Academy there, and is the defensive coordinator for the Claxton High Tigers. He is excited about working with the students at Second Chance. “We’re helping them get into the right grade, and also teaching them social and emotional skills, so when they go back to the regular high school, they will be better prepared with their learning and know how to interact with other people,” he said. He calls his current situation a blessing. “I get to work with kids that do need help. That’s all I ever wanted to do, to help someone else achieve their goals,” he said, acknowledging that the students he works with may see him first as an NFL player, but once they get to know him, they can relate to his upbringing and aspire to the kind of success he’s had. “When they see your success, they look at it and say, ‘Why not me?’ All kids need to see the hard work that it takes to achieve

success. No matter where you come from, all you gotta do is stay focused, keep God first, and get your education,” he says. He’s excited to be in Claxton, although his family is still in Atlanta. He hopes he will soon be reunited with his bride and high school sweetheart, Shabrae. The couple has five children: three boys and two girls, ranging in age from 8 to 1. “I love my family and I love my wife the most,” Tyson said. “She loved me for who I was, when I was in the boys home. I just thank her for showing me what love was, because at the time, I didn’t know. I didn’t have a mother or a father.” Tyson says the separation is a struggle. “But I feel like I’m supposed to be here in Claxton. This is my chance. This is what I want to do,” he said. In addition to his role at Second Chance, Tyson is also part of an almost entirely new coaching staff for the Tigers. He says things will be shaken up this year. “What we’re doing both offensively and defensively, it’s different than in years past. The guys have really bought into what we’re trying to do,” he said. During a spring scrimmage this year, the Tigers defeated a team that beat them last year. “That tells me that they can play football, they just didn’t know how to play football. That’s the difference between this year’s team and last year’s. This year, we’re gonna know how to play football,” he said.

How the Statesboro High Blue Devils will fare this season: “I think it’s gonna be a new look for Statesboro. I think things are gonna be exciting.” September 2017 • 11


Johnny Cobb

BY Lauren Porter Photography courtesy of Johnny Cobb

How the University of Georgia will fare this season: “We’re probably going to have the best back field in the country. We have two of the most outstanding running backs, and we have a sophomore quarter back that is going to be really good. We finally have an offensive line for the first time in several years that can actually have two teams, so they won’t be exhausted by the end of the game. I think UGA is going to be really good this year.” How the Statesboro High Blue Devils will fare this season: “I think they’re going to do much better. Jeff Kaiser is the new coach, and he is a very good friend of mine who works extremely hard. He will have them ready to play.”

Johnny Cobb: Part of GSU’s success story For some, fall is a time for campfires, s’mores and cozy sweaters. For the city of Statesboro, the changing leaves and chilly weather revolves around one thing: football. From the Friday night lights to the vigorous student section at GSU’s Paulson Stadium, we live for the sport. Some of our most admirable hometown heroes are molded by the grit and hard work that comes from being a team player. This includes Johnny Cobb, member of the state championship 1966 football team, UGA graduate and renowned entrepreneur. Connect had the privilege of talking with Cobb about his accomplishments both on the field, and in the business world. The following is an excerpt of the interview. Connect Magazine: Let’s start with some background on your athletic endeavors. How many years were you active in sports? Johnny Cobb: I played running back in high school from 1964-67. Also in high school I ran track from 1964-68. Then I was a running back and defensive back at the University

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of Georgia from 1968-71. I spent about 12 years total in sports. C: Who or what got you interested? Was there an influence in your life that made you want to become an athlete? JC: Back in those days in Statesboro, everybody went down to the recreation department every day. You would ride your bicycle down there, or you could walk, and you would stay there from early in the morning until almost dark. They had sporting events like baseball, football, basketball and track, ever since you were a “Lucky Seven,” which was the first thing they offered to 7-year-olds. That’s how I got started, with the Statesboro Recreation Department. C: While we are on the subject of growing up in Statesboro, what was it like during your youth? JC: The times seemed a whole lot slower back then. It was kind of like Mayberry, I guess. I lived on Woodrow Avenue which was on the other side of the First Baptist Church,

How Georgia Southern will fare this season: “They had a tough time last year because their quarterback didn’t play well. But I really like Coach Summers. I think he’s going to turn it around this year and they will do much better.”

and I had a big barn behind my house. When I was young I had a horse, even though it was right in the middle of town. I would ride my bicycle to the recreation department when I was 8 years old. It was a pretty far distance to travel from my house. It wasn’t a big deal to do that back then because things were a lot safer. C: It must have been easier to focus on your sports under those conditions. What were some of your biggest accomplishments in high school and college? JC: From high school, I have three accomplishments. One was being a member of the state championship 1966 football team. The second was winning the state track meet for the 100-yard dash in 1967. The third thing was running 9.9 seconds for the 100-yard dash in high school. C: That’s outstanding. What about at UGA? JC: Just being on the team for four years and getting to play was my biggest accomplishment at Georgia.


C: That is a big achievement, along with getting your education. What was your degree in? JC: I got a Bachelor of Business Administration. They actually taught me how to be president of Coca-Cola, but Coca-Cola never called me. So I went back to Statesboro to work with a good friend of mine, Rex Childs, in the real estate auction business. Rex is still one of my best friends, and we still do auctions together. C: Are there any upcoming auctions on your radar? JC: We’re going to Chicago next week to do one. C: Do you still do auctions in Statesboro? JC: No. I owned Century 21 for around 30 years. I was in the construction business and the auction business. I had a really good career but I’m just doing auctions now. I will tell you my most impressive accomplishment in the real estate business was selling Erk Russel his house when he came to Statesboro. C: Wow! That is very impressive. JC: I jokingly say that I’m the reason that Georgia Southern is a university. C: Well, I’d say you are a huge contributor to Georgia Southern’s success story. Where was his house located? JC: It was in Hazelwood. C: That is a great memory for you. It sounds like you have had some even bigger accomplishments outside of your sports. JC: Yeah, it was really unique because I enjoyed the real estate part of it, and I enjoyed the construction and auction part of it. We also built subdivisions in Statesboro, so something was going on all the time. C: I assume you stayed pretty busy. What

were some of the things you did in training and at work that proved to be keys to your success? JC: As far as training goes, I really didn’t have to train a lot. My father was a veterinarian in Statesboro for 20 years, so from the time I was eight or nine, all the way up to 20 years old, I had to handle cows and hogs for

him every summer. I got pretty strong doing that. I never even lifted weights until I got to UGA. C: What were your biggest obstacles and how did you overcome them during your seasons? JC: Well, the first thing was that I played football for Statesboro when I was a true freshman. There were about three other guys my age on the team and we didn’t know anything. We had to learn pretty quickly. I remember our first football game was against Hinesville, and that year they went on and won the state championship, but we played them in the first game of the season. We couldn’t play them at our home field because it wasn’t ready yet, since we were moving to the new building. We had to go to Sylvania to play them. To make matters worse, there was a hurricane. You couldn’t even see across the field because it was raining so hard. And of course, with it being my first high school football game it was really scary. I was petrified, pretty much. So, facing the storm and playing such a great team would be my biggest obstacles. C: Overall, how did your team do that year? JC: I think we won maybe six games.

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September 2017 • 13


Tracy Ham

By Angye Morrison Photography by Scott Bryant

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Lifelong relationships forged on and off the field Tracy Ham is a former Georgia Southern University quarterback, and a Georgia Sports Hall of Fame member. He is the first player in college history to run for more than 3,000 yards and throw for more than 5,000 yards in a career. Ham was the first All-American for Georgia Southern, and the school retired his jersey – No. 8. He’s a member of GSU’s Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as well. But the thing he’s most proud of? The relationships he has forged along the way. A native of High Springs, Florida, Ham first walked onto the football field at what was then Georgia Southern College in 1983. He had been recruited elsewhere as a defensive back, but GS coaching legend Erk Russell took a chance on him at quarterback. Ham became a dual threat because he could not only throw the ball, but he could run it as well. He went on to lead the Eagles to consecutive NCAA Division I-AA championships in 1985 and 1986. His 13-yard pass to Frankie Johnson in the last few seconds of the game gave GS the win over Furman for the Eagles’ first national championship. After graduation from GS with a bachelor’s degree in sports recreation, Ham was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the ninth round of the 1987 NFL draft. He decided to play in the Canadian Football League as a quarterback. He held the position for 13 seasons, from 1987 to 1999 with the Edmonton Eskimos, Toronto Argonauts, Baltimore Stallions and Montreal Alouettes. While in the CFL, Ham was a member of two Grey Cup championship teams – Edmonton in 1987, and Baltimore in 1995. He won the league’s Most Outstanding Player Award in 1989, and was the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player in 1995. These days, Ham serves as Associate Athletic Director for Internal Relations at Georgia Southern. He serves as the oversight for game day operations, facility coordination, the men’s and women’s basketball programs, the track and field programs, and the strength & conditioning and equipment offices. Prior to his current role, Ham oversaw the sports marketing efforts for Georgia Southern athletics through a partnership with Learfield Sports, as well as the Hall of Fam, Championships Committee, Student-Athlete Mentor Program and Student-Athlete Internship and

Career Services. He is an active member of the Eagle Football Alumni Association, and has been a part of numerous projects with the EFAA, and was instrumental in helping raise funds to support the student-athletes. He is also an ambassador of athletics to the university and community, a role he relishes. He says the EFAA seeks to “return the favor from what was given to us.” “Statesboro has certainly been a good place to grow up and mature. We feel like we are a part of this community, inside and out,” he said. Ham and his wife, Valarie, also a Georgia Southern graduate, have two sons, Tracy II and Caleb. Tracy II is 24, and is stationed in Buffalo, New York with the Coast Guard. Caleb is 21, and is a senior communications major on a football scholarship at Fordham University in the Bronx. The Hams encouraged their sons to be well rounded – both boys were also in the orchestra, in addition to their involvement in sports. Ham says they were careful to teach their sons to respect the game, whatever game they played. “I think sports gives young men and young women the opportunity to operate in an environment where you have to depend on someone other than yourself. Whatever position you play, you have a responsibility. It’s no different than having a job,” he said. Ham is proud of the unique community he has continued to be a part of at Georgia Southern. “I think every school has its own uniqueness about it, and that’s what makes different students go to different institutions, because of the uniqueness of that town. I’ve always had a great love for Statesboro since the day I got here,” he said. He points to the history the football program has had as proof of that uniqueness. “It was started from a 41-year hiatus, and then to have the people come back and support it, and to see the enrollment grow from it. That’s a very unique environment. Most schools we compete against, they have far more history than us. But we have a rich history, even though it’s short. It makes us unique in that sense, in how quickly it rose in prominence in such a short period,” he said. He also says the fact that Georgia Southern was able to lure Russell away from the Uni-

versity of Georgia also says something about the university and the community it calls home. “One of the most influential coaches to ever come through left Georgia to come here. He had to see something unique about this place,” he said. “This place” wasn’t even on Ham’s radar when he was growing up. But he’s come to love it, and is glad to call it home. “To come here and to have one of my sons born here, and have lived here for years, and have now become an integral part of the community, I am proud of all the relationships I’ve been able to forge from sports, and from Georgia Southern,” he said, adding that this is what he’s most proud of throughout his career.

“When you come from a small town like myself, you’re just really intrigued by and proud of all the people you’ve met along the way. Some of them become lifelong friends. I learned how to establish relationships with people from my time here in Statesboro. I’m just really happy about that,” he said. When asked what the Eagles’ season will be like this year, Ham laughs. “That’s the million dollar question. Obviously, it’s a young team. We lost quite a few seniors from last year, and we’ve got some good student-athletes on the team. It depends on how quick we can get our young quarterback up to speed, and how quick the team gets together. I think they’ll be competitive in our conference, and we look forward to what we always expect. We expect them to be competitive in the conference and get a bowl bid,” he said. September 2017 • 15


2017 Readers’ Choice Awards

The following is a complete list of the 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards. Congratulations to all! Best Milkshake: Steak N Shake Best Acupuncturist and Internal Medicine: Clark Medical Best Sushi: Shogun Best Wedding Photography: Mag Pie Photography Best Smoke/Vapor Store: A Smoking Place Best Sporting Goods: TC Outdoors Best Dermatology Office: Georgia Dermatology of Statesboro Best Seafood: Ocean Galley Best Cardiology Practice: Statesboro Cardiology Best Chiropractor: New Life Chiropractic Best Vegetarian Menu and Best Asian Restaurant: Orchid Asian Best Takeout/To-Go: Wing Maxx Best Wings: Wild Wing Café Best Japanese: Seasons of Japan Best Breakfast/Fast Food/ Kid-Friendly Restaurant: Chick-fil-A Best Buffet/Downhome Southern Food/Fried Chicken: Fordham’s Best Family Restaurant: RJ’s Best Beer Selection /Meal for a Deal: Mellow Mushroom Best College Bar/GSU Alumni Bar/Karaoke/Place to Dance/ Trivia/Best Fries/Best Lunch/Best Sandwich/Best Uniquely Statesboro Restaurant/Best Wait Staff: Gnats Landing Best Margarita/Best Mexican: Jalapenos Best Burrito: Moe’s Best Place to see Local Art: Rosengart Gallery/ Averitt Center for the Arts

16 • Connect Magazine

Best Kids Classes/ Performing Arts Courses/ Day Camps for Kids: Averitt Center for the Arts Best Arts Music and Theater: GSU PAC Best Local Charity/ Local Marathon: Chocolate Rune Best Local Festival: Kiwanis Fair Best Auto Accessory Shop: Advance Auto Parts Best Auto Dealer (New): Franklin Toyota Best Auto Dealer (Used)/All Around: Jarrard Pre-Owned Best Service Department: JC Lewis Ford Best After Hours: Auto Glass Best Auto Rental: Enterprise Best Auto Repair/Oil Changes: D&R Car Care Best Boat Store: Bulloch Marine Best Car Wash, Detailing: Complete Car Care Best Motorcycles: Kawasaki of Statesboro Best Towing: A&P Towing Best Bartender/Friendliest Bar/ Happy Hour/Wine Selection/Best Gluten-Free Menu/Outdoor Dining/ Best Steak/Best Appetizers/Best American Restaurant/Best Italian: Millhouse Steakhouse Best Local Brewery/Best Bar to Play Games: Eagle Creek Brewing Best Bloody Mary/Specialty Drinks/ Uniquely Statesboro Bar/Best Brunch/Best Date Night Restaurant/ Best Romantic Restaurant: 40 East Best Taco: El Sombrero Best Place to Watch the Eagles Play/ Sports Bar/Best Burger: Locos Best Employer/Bank/Customer Service/Mortgage Lending/Student Banking/Show True Blue Pride/ Financial Advisory Company: Core Credit Union

Best Foundation: Georgia Southern Foundation Best Nonprofit, Family Services: Fostering Bulloch Best Nonprofit, Health and Wellness: Hearts and Hands Best Nonprofit, Social Services: Open Hearts Community Mission Best Local Cable Provider/ Local Internet Provider: Bulloch Telephone Cooperative Best Local Cell Provider: Verizon Best Local Satellite TV Provider/ Security Surveilliance: Jakes Creative Communications Best Cell Phone/Tablet Repair: Stay Mobile Best Computer, IT Business/Computer Repair/Office Technology/ Electronics Store: Digital Office Equipment Best Website Design: ME Marketing Best Tailgate Group: Eagle Football Alumni Association Game of the Year: GSU vs. App State Men’s Coach of the Year: Chad Lunsford Most Valuable Eagle (Men): Chad Lunsford Most Valuable Eagle (Women): Joy Bonner Women’s Team of the Year: GSU Rifle Men’s Team of the Year: GSU Golf Women’s Coach of the Year: Emily Kuhfeld, Golf Best Golf Course: GSU RAC Best Play of the Year/ First Goal of the Year: Tormenta FC Soccer Best Sports Program to Watch: Tormenta FC Soccer Best Childcare Facility: Kids World Learning Center Best Collect/University Campus: GSU Marketing Best to Offer CE/ Community Courses: GSU Continuing Education

Best Driving School: Conner’s Place Best High School/ Best High School Band: Southeast Bulloch High School Best Kids Classes (Movement)/ Sports Program (Kids)/ Summer Camp for Kids: America’s Finest Gymnastics Best Library: Statesboro Regional Library Best Martial Arts Training: Statesboro Karate Best Middle School: Southeast Bulloch Middle School Best Primary School: Brooklet Elementary School Best Private School: Bulloch Academy Best Tutoring: Math Made Simple, Emily Hight Best Accounting Firm: Lanier, Westerfield CPA Best Bagels: Daylight Donuts Best Coffee: Cool Beanz Best Birthday Cakes/Cupcakes: CAKE Bakery Best Catering/Chef/BBQ/ Ribs/Shrimp & Grits: The Painted Chef Best Cookies: Big Boy Cookies Best Delivery: Boro Takeout Best Dessert: Southern Cakes Bakery Best Diner: D’s Friendly Diner Best Food Truck or Cart: Wavee Shavee Ice Best Frozen Treat: La Berry Best Ice Cream: Brewster’s Best Independent Coffee House: Three Tree Coffee Roasters Best Juice, Smoothies: Juice Café Best Late Night Restaurant/ Best New Restaurant: Little Italy Best Local Bakery: Sugar Magnolia Best Chinese: Tops China


Best Pizza/Best Greek: Holiday’s Best Salad: Gee Da’s Best Dentist: Ricky Lane Best Pediatric Dentist: Statesboro Children’s Dental Best Gastro: Dr. Penn Best Health Care Provider/ Best Urgent Care: South Georgia Immediate Care Best Home Health & Hospice: Encompass Home Health Best Laser Eye Surgery: Georgia Eye Institute Best OB/GYN: East Georgia Women’s Center Best Plastic Surgery: Statesboro Plastic Surgery Best Podiatry: Atlantic Foot & Ankle Best Urology: Dr. Thaller Best Medical Weight Loss: Medi Weight Loss Best Appliance Repair: Statesboro Appliance Best Carpet Cleaning: Citru Solution Best Carpet Flooring: Statesboro Floor Covering Best Cleaning Services: Statesboro Cleaning Best Electrical Services: ACE Electric Best Farm Equipment, Machinery and Lawn Mowers: Blanchard Equipment Best Furniture Store: Denmark Best Home Builder/ Specialty Contractor: Kicklighter Homes Best Home Improvement: Lowe’s Best HVAC Sales & Service: JD Heating & Air Best Interior Design Services/Painting Contractor: Turner’s Contracting Solutions Best Landscaping Service: Titan Turf, Clint Smith Best Pest Control: Quality Pest Control Best Plumbing Contractor: Neal’s Plumbing & Electric Best Roofing Contractor: American Roofing Best Swimming Pool Contractor: Thompson Pool Best Hotel/Hotel for Event: Springhill Suites

Best Renter’s Insurance/Best Insurance Agency: Statesboro Agency Best Insurance Agent: Kelly Ivey Lane Best Educator’s Insurance/Home Owner’s Insurance: Horace Mann Best Health Insurance/ Car Insurance: DeWitt Agency Best Bail Bond Services: 24/7 Bail Bonds Best Bankruptcy/Business Law Firm/Full Service Law: The Hall Law Group Best Criminal Defense/ Personal Injury: Marsh Law Firm Best DUI: Brannen Law Best Public Safety Officer: Jason Kearney Best Real Estate Law: Edenfield Cox Best Local Band: Wesley Bragg Best Local Church Choir: First Baptist Best Local DJ/Entertainer: Shockwave Best Local Music Equipment Store: Pladd Dot Best Local Musician: Chyann Rose Best Barber: Cones Barber, John Cone Best Body Piercer: Jean Simmons Best Tattoo Artist: Mark Simmons Best Tattoo Shop: Velvet Rose Best Dry Cleaners: The Greener Cleaners Best Employment Agency: Trace Staffing Best Funeral Home: Anderson Funeral Home Best Hair Removal Specialist: Wax Strip Best Hair Salon: Market District Salon Best Hairstylist: Jessica Pierce Best Massage Therapist: Vanessa Posey Best Skin Care Specialist: Kalie Callaway Best Spa: Healthy Day Touch Best Nail Salon: Annie Nails

Best Photographer (Family/Lifestyle): Courtney Hall Photography Best Tailors and Alterations: Pins & Needles Best Tanning Salon: Taylors Sunset Best Vet: Westside Animal Hospital Best Pet Grooming: Kayce’s Best Animal Shelter: Humane Society Best Pet Boarder: South Paws Best Pet Cremation: Paws N Reflect Best Animal Hospital: University Hospital Best Pool: 111 South Best Apartment Rates: Market 100 Best Apartment Staff: Campus Crossing Best All-Around Apartments: Legacy Best Amenities: Aspen Heights Safest Apartments: The Connection Best Appraisal: Newton Appraisal Services Best Home Inspection: Pro-South Inspections Best Local Rental for Students/ Best Residential Neighborhood for Students/Best Local Rental for Families and Professionals: Hendley Property Best Nursing Home: Westwood Best Agency All-Around: Hirsch Best Residential Neighborhood: Hunters Pointe Best Senior Assisted Living: Willow Pond Best Bridal Store: J’A Dore Bridal Best Children’s Party Venue/Area Attraction/Family Recreation Place/ Family Recreation Place/Indoor Play Space/Place to Take Kids on a Rainy Day: Clubhouse Best Event Planner: Southern Shindig Best Men’s Formal Wear/ Gifts for Him/Men’s Clothing/ Shoe Store for Men: Sir Shop

Best Party Rental Company: RANCO & Savannah Special Events Best Wedding Venue: Mossy Oak Farm Best Women’s Formal Wear: Frills by Scott Best Moving Company: Rosie & Sons Best Storage Units: Main Street Self Storage Best Taxi Service: Boro DD Best Health Club/Gym: 180 Fitness Best Sports Field: Mill Creek Best Antique Store/Best Mattress: Deal’s Antiques Best Bicycle Store: Swim Bike Run Best Bookstore: Books A Million Best Boutique Storefront: Jaxe & Grace Boutique Best Boutique Storefront for Kids/ Shoe Store for Kids: Bellies Babies & Ballerinas Best Costume Party Supply: Party Impressions Best Craft and Hobby Store: Hobby Lobby Best Florist: Frazier’s Florist Best Gifts for Her/ Specialty Store: Walker Boutique Best Grocery Store: Bi-Lo Best GSU Apparel, Merchandise: University Store Best Jewelry Store: Bernard’s Best Embroidery, Monogram: Sew Much Fun Best Adult Novelty Store: Sunset Novelties Best Place to Buy Beer, Wine: Two Guys Best Place to Boy Local Art, Handmade Goods: Farmer’s Market Best Shoe Store for Women/ Uniquely Statesboro Store/Women’s Clothing Storefront: Cheeky Bliss Best Shopping Complex: Statesboro Mall Best Store to Buy Seafood/Buy Meats: Ellis Meats Best Thrift, Vintage Store: Habitat for Humanity September 2017 • 17


The music scene By Brandi Harvey

Got them s’boro blues Although born in Thomson, Georgia, Willie McTell (born William Samuel McTier) was quoted as saying he felt that Statesboro was his true home, and it was him, prehaps more than any other musician, who brought attention to the community we call home. Born almost completely blind, McTell lost the remainder of his vision in early childhood, but he was blessed with enhanced senses of hearing and touch that led him to become one of a kind on his instrument. He began

playing a six string guitar in his early teens and later developed a technique on the 12-string guitar that enabled him to sound as though more than one guitar was playing. As a youngster he attended schools for the blind in various states and, the child of a very musical family, demonstrated a proficiency for music that developed into a passionate career. McTell even learned to read and write music in Braille. In the early 20s, after his mother died, McTell left home to become a traveling musician, and by 1927 he had begun a recording career with Victor Records in Atlanta. Throughout his career, he performed under various pseudonyms including Blind Willie McTell, Blind Sammie, Georgia Bill, Hot Shot Willie, Blind Willie, Barrelhouse Sammie and Pig & Whistle Red. For 30 years, his ability to weave pictures through the stories his music told drew in audiences to the genre. His notoriety and influence led others

to cover his music in following generations of blues music. Most notably, The Allman Brothers cover of “Statesboro Blues” brought the music of Blind Willie McTell to a broader audience and brought the name of our fair city to the world. Although, the 1971 cover omitted several verses of the original version, it none the less brought the attention of a whole new generation of fans, and was subsequently covered by Taj Mahal, Dan Fogelberg and Deep Purple, to name just a few, and, along with other McTell songs, has been the inspiration for several original songs including Canned Heat’s “Goin’ Up The Country” and at least four of Bob Dylan’s songs. While the influence McTell had on the music of generations is immense, for our community, he will always best be known as the writer of “Statesboro Blues,” the song that put our town on the map, musically speaking. With the recent passing of Gregg All-

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18 • Connect Magazine

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man, The Allman Brothers’ music has resurfaced in the mind of music lovers far and wide, and with that resurgence, people are, once again, looking to Statesboro as a touchstone for blues lovers, and music lovers, in general. Locally, we are carrying on that tradition as new bands and musicians continue to play the classic blues tunes, even as they are writing new blues music for the masses. In tribute to the influence Blind Willie McTell had on the music of this area, we now have the Blind Willie McTell walking trail through town, and the Statesboro Visitors & Convention Bureau worked closely with the America’s Best Communities board and the Downtown Development Authority to commission a statue of Mr. McTell that will be placed in front of the CVB to honor his impact and influence. Next month, we will begin to move out of the past to connect with the musicians who were influenced and impacted by local legends like Blind Willie and Emma Kelly. We will kick off a series of interviews and pieces on some of the most well-known musicians, bands, and performers in our area today and find out who they are, why they do what they do, and where they are headed next.

“Woke up this mornin’ had them Statesboro blues, Woke up this mornin’ had them Statesboro blues. Looked over in the corner, Grandpa seemed to have them, too.” -Blind Willie McTell

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‘Guys and Dolls’ By Angye Morrison

McLendon part of great story in ‘Guys and Dolls’

Christie McLendon is a tiny little blonde with a big smile and an even bigger personality who will bring her special blend of comic acting to the stage in this month’s production of “Guys and Dolls.” The production will hit the stage at the Emma Kelly Theater Sept. 7, 8 and 9. Local audiences will remember McLendon from past performances. She was a cast member in “Little Shop of Horrors” three years ago, but her breakout performance was in “South Pacific” in early 2016. Both productions were held at the Emma. McLendon started “South Pacific” as a backup character, but was asked to step up when an understudy dropped out 10 days before the show opened. “Learn an entire Broadway musical with all these songs and stage directions that I hadn’t even seen in nine days? Um, yes. I can totally do that,” she said, laughing. And she did. She learned choreography, music and dialogue – and she nailed it. “I couldn’t have been prouder of myself. I still can’t believe it,” she said.

20 • Connect Magazine

The performance won her an Emma Award for Breakout Performance in 20152016. Last fall, she starred as Louise Seger in “Always…Patsy Cline,” alongside another local talent, Brandi Harvey, who played Cline. The role was especially challenging, McLendon said, because of the amount of dialogue she had to learn and deliver. “There was no going back and forth with lines with other people, it was just huge blocks of me talking while she changed costumes and sang something else,” she said. McLendon is also a part of a traveling troupe that performs as the characters from “The Andy Griffith Show,” which will be performing at the Emma on Oct. 7 She portrays Charlene Darling, part of the infamous Darling family on the show. The group travels to Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina, and performs as part of the “Cruise to Mayberry,” a five-day Carnival cruise. “A Tribute to Mayberry” will begin at 7:30 p.m. In “Guys and Dolls,” McLendon will be playing the part of Adelaide, a burlesque

dancer who is the love interest of Nathan Detroit, the production’s “heart and soul.” The couple has been together for 14 years, but Nathan, played by John Marsh, just can’t seem to commit. The other two main characters are Sky Masterson, the quintessential smooth gambler, played by Joey Simon, and his love interest, girl-next-door Sarah Brown, played by Miranda Winter. McLendon says she and an ensemble of dancers from their burlesque club, The Hot Box, will have a couple of big dance numbers and songs that the audience will enjoy, as well as the stories of each of the two couples. The dancers include Emma Rivera, Ali Byrd, Alannah Riner and Kinslee Polk. The audience can look forward to “a good laugh and a great story, and some good dancing,” she added. The music will be a huge part of this show, and McLendon says the songs will be unforgettable. “The songs in this are just classic. They’re such iconic songs. People might not remember the plot, but they’ll remember those songs. You’ll go away with those tunes in your head for the rest of the week,” she said. Classic songs featured in the musical include “A Bushel and a Peck,” “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” McClendon, who is originally from Daisy, now calls Metter home with her husband of 28 years, Mike. The couple has two children: 23-year-old Matt, who’s serving in the military, and 18-year-old Kate, who is starting college this fall. McClendon first began performing by singing in church. She and Mike attend Trinity Baptist in Nevils, where there is an active drama program. She became involved in it, and discovered that she loved acting. She soon discovered a love for musicals. “I don’t know which one I like more, the singing or the dancing. That’s why when I try out for something, I’d rather try out for a musical. That way, I get to do both,” she said. After attending a production of “9 to 5” at the Emma Kelly a few years ago, McLendon said she was shocked to find out that the actors were all local. “I was so impressed. The singing, the dancing and the sets. I just couldn’t believe that this was just regular old folk. And I thought, heck, I can do that,” she said, laughing. “I can get up there and clown around. That’s been my whole life.” That started her relationship with the Aver-


itt Center for the Arts and its productions, and now McLendon says she’s willing to audition for just about anything. “It might be too young, too old. I’m gonna go. There’s stage makeup, so I can look older or younger if I have to,” she said. “I don’t care. I just like to do any theater thing.” To prepare for her roles, McLendon says she likes to watch videos on YouTube to see how other actresses have interpreted a character. Mike helps her run her lines, and is often her audience as she rehearses. He even helps by singing the counterpoints. “And he cannot sing,” McLendon said, laughing. “But he’s my biggest fan and he is my audience.” McLendon says her reward for all her hard work comes two-fold. First, there’s the feeling she gets on stage. “It’s a feeling you just can’t describe, being on stage, belting out a note that rings true in your own head, and you can see the reaction of the people in the audience and you can tell they’re just into it, and they’re just lost. It’s like the feeling I get when I’m watching a movie that’s really good. I forget I’m in the theater. I forget that those are actors. I feel like I’m in it. When it’s over, I’m just like, oh gosh, I’m not in the movie, I’m in the theater,” she said. Her other reward comes when she sees that same feeling reflected on the faces of those in the audience. “I don’t need people to come up to me afterwards and say, ‘Oh, you did a good job,” or “I really liked that.’ That reaction, the look on somebody’s face, that’s all the affirmation that I have ever needed, in anything I’ve done. If you’re doing good, the faces will show it,” she said. Other cast members include Jackson Hamilton (Nicely-Nicely Johnson), Joshua Murray (Benny Southwest), Bennon Smith (Rusty Charlie/Waiter/Crapshooter), Amber Wade (Agatha), Brogan McGowan (Calvin/Crapshooter), John Parcels (Arvide), Kevin Kolbe (Harry the Horse), Brooks Adams (Lt. Brannigan), Bennon Smith (Angie the Ox), Brogan McGowan (Joey Biltmore), Ali Byrd (Mimi), Merry Gallagher (Gen. Matilda B. Cartwright) and John Groover (Big Jule). Masters of Ceremonies will be McGowan and Smith. “Guys and Dolls” opens on Sept. 7, with additional shows on Sept. 8 and 9. The curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased at www.averittcenterforthearts.org or by calling (912) 212-2787.

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oVERTHINKING IT bY katherine fallon

Work a welcome respite like the friendship that brought it

When we first moved to Statesboro, we rented the house next door to the one we live in now, and after we moved, a friendly couple, Hope and Scott, bought it, regularly bringing us baked goods right out of the oven, oftentimes with their two kids in tow. It was a relief to have kind, nonjudgmental neighbors, and when they announced they were moving out of state for a new job, we panicked a bit. We were nervous about who might move in, and how they might react to our odd little queer ecosystem. We spend a lot of time in the yard between the two houses. We are obviously unorthodox and have both encountered harassment in previous living situations. Last month, our friend Amanda bought the house. She has been known to literally lend us a cup of sugar when we ran out, and the drive to her house to retrieve it was never long, but the path between us now is as short as paths were between dorms in college. For us, having someone we trust next door is obviously the best part of Amanda’s home purchase, but there are other perks, as well. The sale went through pretty soon after our beloved greyhound died, and we have really

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enjoyed having a project to concentrate on in our directionless time of grieving. We know the house well, each grease stain on the kitchen wall, the curling linoleum, the beer cans some renter left beneath the back porch, which is slippery as banana peel on dewy mornings or rainy days. It has been a joy to help her move and settle in, and a joy to run back and forth from house to house to retrieve things we forgot to give back, or to trade food or tools or coupons that come in the mail. On moving day, we donned gloves and masks and ripped up carpet, removed tack board. On hands and knees, we removed each staple and nail from the subfloors. There was some cursing involved, and some puncture wounds. After that, we visited the dump, which was both as depressing and not at all as depressing as I assumed. It smelled terrible and was strange to see a mountain of Statesboro’s detritus, especially because some items — framed art, pristine velvet sofas — gave me the impression of someone having died, and their home cleared out by people who did not value those particular belongings.

We have also been learning to lay floating floors. Amanda picked a mottled recycled cork, and she and Nikki spent a lot of time watching videos about installation before the time came to begin. The tongue-and-groove tiles are supposed to “click” into one another, and we imagined we’d have it done as quickly as we’d taken care of the old carpeting. That had taken only a couple of days of hard, sweaty work, ripping to the sounds of Whitney Houston, Hall & Oates and Selena Gomez. The cork tiles rarely click together, but in the moments when they do so without the need for hammers or mallets, it is extremely satisfying. Most of the tiling is tedious and requires brute strength, at least two people, special tools and a lot of terrible, repetitive noises. But for me, the focus of manual labor and the pleasure of watching change take place have been immensely helpful during this listless, emotional period. The company has been paramount, and the progress has proven uplifting. There is also a sense of pride, recognizing our capabilities, which I haven’t felt since my days of working on the Colorado farm, leading cattle from pasture to pasture under a cloudless sky, heaving hay, planting hundreds of feet of basil, building a mobile chicken house that we pulled by tractor. I loved that work, and did it eagerly. These days, my body is recalling the rewards of toil: both my own strength and complete exhaustion, which has helped me to sleep in a time when sleep is hard to come by.


2017 READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS

WINNERS

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Tailgate Tattler BY Chris Stanley

Know your opponent Like waiting for Christmas morning or that pair of brand new shoes you ordered from Amazon, football season is finally here and will take over America like an airborne virus. Statesboro will be no exception to the infection as Georgia Southern travels to Auburn to kick off the first weekend of September. While the first month of the season has interesting games against Auburn and Indiana, the meat of Georgia Southern’s schedule won’t roll around until October when conference play kicks off. The Sun Belt isn’t exactly known for its football prowess, but it’s where Georgia Southern plays some of their most important games of the season. Conference games often de-

24 • Connect Magazine

cide the outcome of a team’s season whether it be high school or college football and for Georgia Southern this has been no exception since they joined the SBC in 2014. So at the sake of rambling more, let’s take some time to briefly get to know the schedule which lies ahead of the Eagles which could easily make or break their 2017 season: Oct. 4: Arkansas State Red Wolves Arkansas State has been a breeding ground for division one head coaches this last decade. Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin have all made their way to big-time jobs and with another good season Blake Anderson could be next in line. Under Anderson ASU has been to three

straight bowls and have finished tops in the conference the last two seasons. That level of consistency doesn’t look to slow down this year as Arkansas State returns one of the conference’s best defensive units while adding some JUCO players to fill in the gaps from starters lost a year ago. Last season the offense was a problem, but with a majority of ASU’s production back in 2017 there should be improvement on that side of the ball. This will be a major swing game in conference play when ASU comes to Paulson Stadium and could be the difference in Georgia Southern’s bowl hopes. Oct. 14: New Mexico State Aggies Basketball, softball and golf -- these are the sports New Mexico State have traditionally excelled at over the years. But football has been a much different story as the Aggies haven’t finished a season with a winning record since 2002 and by most indications this won’t change anytime soon. NMSU struggles to recruit talent every year and it’s played out on the field in Doug Martin’s four years as head coach. Even as they’d been able to develop a top-50 rushing offense behind the talents of running back Larry Rose III, nearly every other aspect of the game has fallen way behind the mark. Even if the defense improves from horrific to simply bad and the offense can find a way to focus on the run as opposed to QB Tyler Rogers throwing the ball – NMSU shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Georgia Southern this season. Oct. 28: Troy Trojans Going back to the topic of hot coaching commodities, Troy’s Neal Brown could be the cream of the group-of-five crop next offseason if he can guide Troy to being anything close to what they were in 2017. Troy came out of nowhere last season by nearly stunning the 2016 national champions Clemson in week two. By most indications Troy should come back strong as ever in 2017 to follow what was the best season in program history in 2016. The Trojans are balanced on both sides of the ball, though you’ll find defense is the Trojans biggest strength – specifically up the middle with defensive tackles Jamal Stadom and Seth Callaway. If transfer running back Jamarius Henderson can find a way to compliment talented senior quarterback Brandon Silvers, the offense could take another step to Troy being a legit New Year’s Day team. And you best bet the Trojans won’t let Georgia Southern


play spoiler two years in a row, especially this time around in Troy. Nov. 4: Georgia State Panthers Georgia State has always worn the label of “forgotten step-child” in the world of Georgia college football. The Panthers take much ridicule online from Eagle fans, though it probably hasn’t stung so much the last two years since State has beaten Southern twice in a row by a combined score of 60-31. Now with a new coach and a new stadium, Georgia State may finally have the fresh start they need to build for an era of success. Georgia State had a sneaky good defense last season amid a 3-9 record and brings back a secondary which was one of the best in the conference. But the real questions come on offense for the Panthers. Last season the Panther offense was one of the worst in the country and bringing in offensive-minded Sean Elliott as head coach should help with those woes. But Tyson Summers best not lose to his upstate rivals again, following up a disappointing 2016 season for the Eagles. Nov. 9 Appalachian State Mountaineers If you’re new to Statesboro or simply new to the football program at Georgia Southern, there’s nothing quite like a Thursday night game in chilly November between the Eagles and the Mountaineers. The two sides did battle as top-tier FCS programs and have carried the rivalry over to the FBS. However the past two seasons App State has had a big upper hand in the rivalry, outscoring Georgia Southern 65-23. The Mountaineers won double-digit games again in 2016 and could very well have one of the best group-of-five rosters in 2017. Safe to say, Georgia Southern isn’t getting a break from App this season. With a top-50 defense and a seasoned quarterback in Taylor Lamb combined with a favorable schedule, App State could very well have ten wins locked up again before December. If luck breaks their way, App could be playing on New Year’s Day with 11 wins in hand. Nov. 18: South Alabama Jaguars Since moving up to the FBS South Alabama has seen a recent rise in success with their football program. Head coach Joey Jones has taken the Jags to bowls in two of the last three seasons and will look to finally win a bowl game in 2017. But that will be easier said than done, considering their difficult schedule and no benefit of the doubt in USA’s ability to pass the

ball or stop the run. A relatively strong pass defense never really saw action in 2016 due to the Jags inability to stop the ground game, so one would hope a year would see some improvement in the front seven. If the Jags could find a way to be less predictable on offense by mixing up what they do with QB Dallas Davis, that end of the field should improve as well. The game against the Jags will be the final home game of 2017 for Georgia Southern and is one the Eagles should win. Nov. 25: UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns Before head coach Mark Hudspeth came to town in 2011, UL-Lafayette had been a perennial football black hole for decades. But Hudspeth raised the bar to astronomical levels by Cajun standards, winning four New Orleans Bowls in a row from 2011 to 2014. However since 2014, things in Lafayette have taken a slight slide – the Cajuns missed a bowl in 2015 but came back with a 6-7 finish in 2016. The defense should be back and even better this season with an athletic front seven but the offense still has many questions. The passing game has potential to be ex-

citing but the real question lies in if Lafayette can run the ball effectively to keep things from becoming one-dimensional. While questions loom, Lafayette will still be a formidable foe for the Eagles on the road come season’s end. Dec.2: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Three years ago Georgia Southern were the new boys in town and blew away the Sun Belt by going 9-3 to win the conference. Now it’s Coastal Carolina’s turn to try and shake things up their first year in. While it does seem a bit unlikely the Chants will win the conference in year one, holding a .500 record by season’s end isn’t out of the question. Outside of a road trip to Arkansas, CCU doesn’t play any daunting out-of-conference opponents and brings in an offense with plenty of options in the backfield. The defense could be a serious deterrent in Coastal’s march to six wins, but by all means CCU is coming into the 2017 season in good shape. This game stands as the season finale for the Eagles in 2017 and could very well decide if Georgia Southern is bowl bound or not when it’s all said and done.

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Betty Foy Sanders 50th anniversary of Betty Foy Sanders Georgia Artists Collection The Betty Foy Sanders Georgia Artists Collection, one of Georgia Southern University’s largest permanent collections, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. To mark the milestone anniversary, a special exhibition of the Georgia Artists Collection will be on view at the Center for Art & Theatre from Sept. 25 through March 9, 2018, and a special event is set for Sept. 28. “The Georgia Artists Collection is the cornerstone of the Center for Art & Theatre’s art exhibitions. The collection offers a wealth of styles and disciplines to exhibit for the benefit and inspiration of our students here at the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art,” said gallery Director Jason Hoelscher, who oversees the collection. “That Mrs. Sanders had the foresight to establish the collection 50 years ago, and has kept it vital through her continued generosity, is a testament to her passion for the arts, and to her passion for exposing our students to artists and artworks from the many walks of life here in the state of Georgia.” The 50th anniversary exhibition will feature a large sampling of the Georgia Artists Collection’s nearly 100 pieces of art, which ranges from textiles, woodwork, paintings, ceramics and more, and features notable artists such as John Abbott, Lamar Dodd, Betty Foy Botts, Mary Engel, Matthew Hatala, George L. Parrish and Steven Penley, among many others. A 50th anniversary celebration is set for Sept. 28, from 5-7 p.m., and will feature live music, a gallery talk and refreshments. Running in parallel with the event, former first lady of Georgia Betty Foy Sanders will present her final exhibition, “Fluid Structures,” which consists of more than 40 recent works. Paintings by Atlanta-based artist Katherine Taylor, an exhibition of Georgia Folk Art from the Smith Callaway Banks Southern Folk Art Collection, and work by Georgia Southern alumnus Timothy Earls, an art director and set designer who has worked on many popular feature films including “The Avengers” movies, also will be on view. In 1967, Betty Foy Sanders established the Georgia Artists Collection when she donated a painting of her own, “Coastal Sand Dunes,” for permanent display. Since then, Sanders has curated the collection by adding key works of art created by notable artists. With her impeccable aesthetic sense and critical eye, Sanders chooses artworks for the collection based upon their association with Georgia — whether the artist’s origin, the indigenous materials used or the regional content of the artwork. September 2017 • 31


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