Sports talk Thursday with Lauren Hunter-This one’s for the girls

All of TeamFYNSports, Featured Stories, Sports

As many of you reading this probably already know, it’s not uncommon to see a female reporter on your TV screen for sports outlets like ESPN or Fox Sports. Women are branching out into the sports world unlike ever before, with just as much if not more knowledge than their male co-workers.

Unfortunately, despite the strides already made, I believe sexism still exists in the sports world. I think some men find it hard to believe that women are getting into sports because it isn’t “feminine” or a hobby that they should naturally enjoy. These men don’t realize that a woman’s enjoyment of sports often begins with spending time with a loved one. I always like to mention my Papa Skip, and the football knowledge I gained from being around him and spending Saturdays in Athens.

But whatever reason people have for why a woman shouldn’t work in sports, this post is dedicated to those women who haven’t been listening.

Erin Andrews is one of my all-time favorite sports reporters because she knows her stuff!

I’ve always been a fan of Erin Andrews, mainly because the girl knows her stuff. Although she’s primarily spotted on the sidelines of NFL games, Andrews has covered everything from College GameDay on ESPN to the World Series. Outside of sports she’s had the opportunity to contribute news to Good Morning America and currently co-hosts on Dancing with the Stars. Side note: she also spent some time in nearby Atlanta covering the Braves, Thrashers and Hawks for Turner South. Whenever people think of successful women in the sports arena, Andrews is usually one of the first ones that comes to mind.

Unfortunately her fame from her work as a sportscaster has not made her immune to those who want to tear her down. In 2008 a man filmed her completely nude through a hotel door peep hole and posted the video online. The video went viral, and Andrews sued the man along with the hotel company and several others. Although Andrews eventually won her case, the time period from when the video was filmed until the suit ended lasted eight years. I can only imagine the embarrassment and anxiety that she endured during that time. I admire her strength and perseverance.

As a die-hard Braves fan, another reporter I’ve watched a lot of and enjoy seeing is Kelsey Wingert. I love Wingert’s delivery on camera because it comes across as so natural. While she does typically have a notebook on hand, she does not use a teleprompter to read a script. In other words, she also knows her stuff.

Kelsey Wingert is another admirable reporter because of her on-air delivery and relationship with fans.

I follow Wingert on social media, and another thing I like about her is her constant interaction with fans. There have been numerous times I’ve scrolled through my Twitter feed and seen her respond to a fan asking for a chance to meet her during a game. It’s always met with a yes, as soon as the Braves are finished batting.

I could talk all day about female athletes who have also made waves in sports. On Tuesday, the United States women’s national soccer team defeated Thailand 13-0 in the first game of the world cup. Of course we all know the controversy in recent years about the players receiving less pay than their male counterparts.

A fellow reporter told me a story the other day about a young female athlete he once covered who wanted to play baseball in Louisiana. The locals were not having it, and despite all of her hard work throughout the season, she missed out on being able to play one of the biggest games of that year. However, as is the theme for this entire post, she didn’t let that stop her from continuing to work hard. I haven’t mentioned yet that she was also a phenomenal basketball player, and she is Kim Mulkey, head coach of the Baylor women’s basketball team.

The point I’m trying to make here is that there’s no point in trying to hold women back from sports, when we’ve proved time and time again that we know what we’re doing and we can do it really well. I’m sure if you asked each of these women I’ve mentioned if they agree, they would.

I’m thankful for the people along the way, most of them men, that have helped me to see I can do whatever I set my mind to. I’m afraid that sometimes as a society we still judge people based on how they look before we look to see what they can do. Fortunately for me, I have these women who I have already mentioned, and many more who have blazed the trail for me. I believe it’s partially my job to make sure that path continues to stay lit for those after me.

Author

UNG baseball players named to ABCA/Rawlings All-Region Second Team

Sports, University of North Georgia

LUMPKIN CO., GA

According to the University of North Georgia Athletics Department, UNG baseball players, Chase Sudduth and Parker Morrison, were each selected for the ABCA/Rawlings All-Region Second Team.

Chase Sudduth Photo courtesy of UNG Athletics

Sudduth, a senior from Powder Springs, GA, his .379 on the year, with 17 doubles, two triples and eight homers with 40 RBI. He was also named to the All-Peach Belt Conference First Team and D2CCA All-Region Second Team earlier this month. Sudduth, at one point this season, had a 15 game hitting streak and ended the season on a 43 game reached base streak, both longest on the UNG team. He also had 23 multi-hit games, including the only five-hit game on the team this season.

Morrison, a redshirt sophomore from Cumming, GA, went 5-4 with nine saves in 2019, fanning 81 opposing batters while walking just 22. His ERA was a 3.52, third best on the team. He was also selected for Second Team All-Conference earlier this month.

Parker Morrison, Photo courtesy of UNG Athletics

 

 

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UNG sophomore named ITA All-American

Sports, University of North Georgia

Dahlonega, GA

According to the University of North Georgia Athletics Department, UNG women’s tennis player, Adrienne Bofinger, was named ITA All-American in singles action.

Photo courtesy of UNG Athletics

Bofinger is a UNG sophomore from Germany, and she finished the season 22-3. She played every match except for one at No. 1 and was named an All-Conference first teamer in singles action, as well as the Peach Belt Tournament Singles Most Valuable Player. Bofinger makes the second player in program history to be named an ITA All-American, joining Kathrin Waidner in 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sports talk Thursday with Lauren Hunter-For love of the game

All of TeamFYNSports, Sports

Recently I’ve started watching the show Friday Night Lights again. Let me just say- this is partially important because I’m not a big TV show person. I don’t have the patience to sit through an hour-long episode nor do I usually have the time to keep up with a series. But I figure with pre-season football kicking in and the fall season quickly approaching, revisiting a show that revolves around high school football is one of the best ways to get me hyped up for what’s to come.

Watching this series has also made me think about a couple of things. For one, why do we as a society rally so much around a sport that’s played by boys no older than 18-years-old? Second, do we put too much pressure on athletes who play the game? And finally, is the hype and the pressure truly worth it?

I think the answer can be summed up pretty easily- yes. And why? For love of the game.

But the love of the game is different for each of us. We’re not all going to attend every single football game or spend thousands of dollars to sit in Sanford every Saturday. We all have our limits, and in my opinion that’s perfectly okay.

Why else would my friend Erin and I bundle up in the freezing cold for playoffs? Because we love football!

I like to say that there’s something about having a team that you love that will get inside of you and never leave. I find it fascinating that there are towns across America like Dillon, Texas that will show up in the thousands to support their Panthers. Coaches and players are local celebrities, and you get your butt in the stands every Friday night just as religiously as a pew on Sunday morning. I came from a high school of nearly 4,000 students and a county of almost one million people, but the same spirit that rallies much smaller towns across the country still pulses through mine.

Yes, oftentimes I’m afraid that means we put too much pressure on the athletes who play the game. In my own personal experience, at the high school level we had so many students that it was nearly impossible to know the daily goings-on at the field house. But it was that age-old cycle of that when we would win, the coaches and players would be praised. One loss and the attitude switched faster than the direction of a twister.

But one of the many great things about this country is we have the freedom of choice in many of our decisions. Even though the athletes and coaches who play these games catch a lot of grief, they still have the choice to walk away. Some do. But for those who don’t? I’d venture to say it’s for love of the game.

When it comes to putting pressure on athletes, especially young ones, I believe the relationship is a two-way street. They should know what they’re doing, but despite all the love we have for the game, we need to understand when enough is enough. I’ve heard the term “daddy ball” thrown around a lot before, and it makes me sad to think that there are parents out there who try to live through their children. It’s important to love and support them, but even more important to let them develop their own love for their game.

Finally, like I mentioned earlier, everyone’s love for the game is different. My Papa Skip, who I probably talk to the most about sports, has a different appreciation for them than I do. I’ll use UGA football as an example. He attended classes at UGA- I never have. He still goes every year to the UGA/Florida game in Jacksonville- I’ve only gone once. He pays each year to have season tickets for the home games- I CERTAINLY don’t do that, although when he doesn’t want them I get first dibs (thanks Papa!)

The point I’m trying to make is while we all may say we love sports, we each love them differently. We each have a certain line we’re willing to cross. But at the same time, come Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday or playoffs, we rally behind our team. And we each get our butts in the stands. Why? For love of the game.

Author

Nighthawks women’s tennis team ends with loss against Lynn

Sports, University of North Georgia

LUMPKIN CO., GA

According to the University of North Georgia Athletics Department, the No. 12 UNG women’s tennis team’s season comes to a close as the Nighthawks fell to No. 1 Lynn, 4-0, Thursday morning in the national quarterfinals. Lynn seeded third in the tournament and will advance to tomorrow’s semifinal round.

The Nighthawks fell in the doubles point but showed fight, falling at No. 3 doubles, 6-3, despite starting the match down 3-0. No. 2 doubles did not finish, but the match was 5-4 with Lynn serving when the point was clinched.

North Georgia continued to battle in singles play, but in the end, the nation’s top team was too much as the Knights took the final three points of the match at Nos. 2, 3 and 5 to continue on.

The Nighthawks finished the season at 22-6, marking the most wins in a single season in program history. UNG also made the national quarterfinals for the first time in program history this year as well, advancing a round further than last year’s trip to the final site.

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Washington named 2019 recipient of the Dissinger Reed Athletic Training Scholarship

Sports, University of North Georgia

LUMPKIN CO., GA

According to the University of North Georgia Athletics Department, UNG’s Ariauna Washington was named 2019 recipient of the Dissinger Reed Athletic Training Scholarship, during the PBC athletic trainer annual symposium in Agusta, GA.

UNC Pembroke’s Frank A. Bastone III was also a recipient, and both students will receive financial support from Dissinger Reed as they continued their studies. Washington will attend UNG’s virtual campus for a degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Health & Physical Education while working at Young Harris. 2019 is the fifth year of the scholarship program.

Washington was a member of the UNG athletic training club and sports medicine club, serving as vice president of the latter until her graduation in May. She was a CARE Consortium Assistance worker at North Georgia her senior year and has worked for Atlanta United of Major League Soccer. She also worked at Harris County High School and Dawson County High School as a part of her UNG program.

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Sports talk Thursday with Lauren Hunter

All of TeamFYNSports, Featured Stories, Sports

About five years ago I told my dad, who is one of my biggest fans but also one of the most blunt people you’ll ever meet, that I wanted to be the first female head coach in the NFL.

“You can’t do that, Lauren,” he said.

“Why?” I argued.

I was expecting some drawn-out response about how I didn’t know enough about football.

“Because you can’t go in the men’s locker room,” he said flatly.

Ah, I hadn’t thought of that.

That was my senior year of high school, and never did I think I would be where I am now.

I grew up an UGA fan; my grandad attended college there in the ’60s and the red and black passed down into my veins. I learned to spell Georgia by chanting the fight song in my head (I still do subconsciously whenever I have to write it out!) I had an UGA cheerleader outfit and one of my baby pictures has me holding a stuffed bulldog. One of my nana’s fondest memories is of dancing around the living room with me as an infant when Georgia scored a big touchdown against Georgia Tech. I’ve never considered myself athletic, but I believe I owe a lot of my passion for sports to Papa Skip and Nana.

Papa Skip, Nana, my momma and I at the Georgia v. Florida game in 2017

Flash forward a few years and the first time I stepped foot on a sideline was as a cheerleader for the 8th grade Mill Creek rec football league. Cheerleading was not for me, and within a year I traded in pom poms for a six-foot flag pole as a member of the Mill Creek High School Colorguard.

In high school I lived for Friday night lights, and I have many fond memories of screaming myself hoarse for the Hawks while in the stands with the marching band. It was a well-known fact that I was the most spirited person in the band when it came to football, and while my coach would be yelling at me to pay attention during our warm-ups I’d be busy trying to figure out how much yardage we’d gotten from the last pass.

I guess my fellow classmates took note of my love for the game as well, because they voted me their Homecoming Queen my senior year. That is still one of my all-time favorite memories from high school- hearing my name called while standing on the 50 surrounded by family and friends.

My senior year of high school I was elected Homecoming Queen. This was the moment after my name was called. Look at my dad’s face!

I graduated from Mill Creek in 2015 but I had a hard time staying away from Markham Field. The University of North Georgia doesn’t have a football team, and Mill Creek decided to get really good the year after I left (this was the fall of 2015, the year they got knocked out by Colquitt County one round before the state championship.)

In the spring of 2016 I heard of an opportunity to work for the Gwinnett Braves, Triple-A minor league affiliate for the Atlanta Braves. Needing a summer job but hoping to avoid retail, I took it. I spent the next two summers as a Guest Relations Representative scanning tickets and welcoming fans. In addition to my already-sound knowledge of football, I learned all I could about America’s favorite pastime and a new love was born.

I spent one more summer at Coolray Field before graduating college, and this time it was as a member of the Promotional Team. That may be the most fun I ever had at work. Our team set up the on-field promotional games, signed up contestants, sold 50/50 raffle tickets and overall worked to make sure people had a good time. I certainly did- the memories I made with my team that year will forever be some of my favorites.

For a while I told people that I wasn’t interested in sports journalism, but the Lord as he fortunately often does had other plans. I got the opportunity to intern with the UNG Athletic Department my senior year of college, and I left Gwinnett County to plant some roots in the North Georgia mountains.

I worked for the Gwinnett Braves (now Gwinnett Stripers) for three seasons. Here I’m in my third season as a member of the Promo Team.

Two months ago I still wasn’t certain that I’d ever work in sports again, but when baseball started back up I knew I couldn’t live without it. I was fortunate enough to find an opportunity to apply with FetchYourNews.com, and even more fortunate to get an offer. And here we are.

I don’t tell you all this to brag on my accomplishments or give you some long-winded biography. I want to be just as much a part of your community as you all are now a part of my daily life. When I come to your sideline I want to know each of you and each of you know me. Part of being a great sports reporter is establishing a relationship with your team and community. Part of that relationship includes establishing trust, and how can you can trust someone if you don’t even know them?

One of the biggest reasons I keep working in sports is because of the the communities they create and the people I get to meet. There’s something about having a team to rally around that gets inside of you and never leaves. The people I have met so far and the connections I have made are priceless and will forever be a part of who I am and a big reason for why I do what I do.

So here’s to the journey ahead, and here’s to memories that are yet to be made and the relationships yet to be formed. I can’t wait North Georgia!

Lauren Hunter

Author

UNG women’s tennis team defeats Queens in championship opening

Sports, University of North Georgia

LUMPKIN CO., GA

According to the University of North Georgia Athletics Department, the No. 12 UNG women’s tennis team won three straight singles matches in straight sets over No. 49 Queens, 4-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Tennis Championship. The win marks the first win at the national championship site in program history.

UNG started quickly in doubles, winning 6-1 at No. 2 and No. 3. The first win was earned by Emma Etelalahti and Cibeles Zuddy, followed by Adrienne Bofinger and Lexa Loden.

In singles, Bofinger earned the first point, winning in dominant fashion, 6-1, 6-1. Zuddy wasn’t far behind, winning at No. 4, 6-3, 6-2 before the singles matches were closer. Jorge went down a set early but fought back to force a third, while Claudelle Labonte Frey won her first set in a tiebreak. Bennett clinched the match with a 7-5, 6-3 win just before Loden was able to finish her match.

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