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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Many members of the Lumpkin County High School football team and their families attended a meet and greet event Monday night to welcome new head coach Caleb Sorrells.
After a brief introduction from Principal Billy Kirk, which included a presentation of a new Lumpkin County Indians football jersey, Sorrells addressed the players and their families. He told parents that he not only wants to be a football coach to their sons, but also wants to teach them how to be great men in the future.
“I love what football can teach and the influence that it gives me and our coaching staff to influence them and to impact them for far beyond Friday nights and the fall,” said Sorrells.
Sorrells also laid out the three values that he plans to build the program around: family, tempo and discipline.
He added, “Eventually they’re gonna be husbands and they’re gonna be dads and they’re gonna be employees and they’re gonna be in some community…I want their experience as a football player to inform and to improve and to make better those roles that they play.”
As far as game strategy goes, Sorrells said that he is anxious to get started and see what the players can do both offensively and defensively.
“You can’t stick square pegs in round holes, you gotta take what you got and do what they can do well.”
The White County Warriors had an impressive 2017 football season. Coming off an abismal 1-9 season in 2016, the Warriors came out swinging and scored some big wins early in 2017; defeating Franklin (33-0), Lumpkin (66-14) and Habersham Central (24-21) before dropping a tough loss to Rabun County (49-26).
The Warriors came back the following week and knocked down North Hall (28-18), who’s only other loss to a AAAA power came in the final seconds against Pickens County (42-35) where the Trojans marched down the field and came up just short as time expired.
In 2018, the Warriors will once again have an exciting schedule to kick off the season, and there’s no doubt they’ll be looking to duplicate and even improve upon their 7-4, 2-2 season from last year.
With games at Lumpkin County and then home against Habersham Central, the Warriors kick the season off much like they did in 2017. However, put a big red circle around the Sept 7 game at Pickens County, where PHS head coach Chris Parker is likely reloading rather than rebuilding this season. The game pits two quality AAAA programs against each other in non-region play, with White representing Region 7-AAAA and Pickens representing Region 6-AAAA. Both teams were eliminated early in post-season play last year, but both teams proved to be fearsome opponents on the gridiron regardless of home/away.
After the Pickens game, the Warriors schedule doesn’t let up.
The Warriors enjoyed a 10-pt victory over North Hall last season, but the Trojans played much better football as the season continued, and was the #TeamFYNSports Most Improved Team in Region 7-AAA last season. The Warriors will look to defeat the Trojans (9/14), before taking the drive over to Marist for their first game in region play. Marist, as the whole world is aware, is the defending region champion in Region 6. What’s interesting about Marist is although they won their region, defeating rival Blessed Trinity 25-24 early in the season. Two months later, the two teams met again in the State Championship and Blessed Trinity defeated the War Eagles 16-7. Undoubtedly, Marist will look to return to the final in 2018, but they will have to go through White County first.
Perhaps the best part of the Warriors’ schedule this year is the break between facing Marist (9/21) and Blessed Trinity (11/2), although the Warriors will need to defeat Flowery Branch, West Hall, Denmark and Chestatee during the interim.
How will the 2018 season fare for the Warriors of White County? It’s too early to tell. Rest assured the team will be preparing accordingly and TeamFYNSports looks forward to reporting on the 2018 season from the sidelines this fall.
The Mountain Football League playoffs have finally reached their final destination for 2017: Super Bowl Saturday. This weekend, several of North Georgia’s finest young athletes will meet on the gridiron at Fannin County High School, battling to take home the league’s top honor of Super Bowl Champions.
Here are the results from last weekend’s final round of the playoffs:
6U: Fannin defeated Gilmer 22-0. Will play East Hall in the Super Bowl. East Hall defeated Chestatee 34-0.
7U: Fannin defeated Dawson 32-0. Will play Gilmer in Super Bowl. Gilmer defeated Pickens 46-0.
8U: Union defeated Fannin 20-0. Will play Chestatee in Super Bowl. Chestatee defeated Gilmer 25-19.
9U: Chestatee defeated West Hall 34-8. Will play Pickens in Super Bowl. Pickens defeated Dawson 26-0.
10U: Fannin defeated Gilmer 29-0. Will play Dawson in Super Bowl. Dawson defeated Union 12-0.
11U: Chestatee defeated Fannin 20-7. Will play Gilmer in Super Bowl. Gilmer defeated Dawson 7-6.
Follow us on Twitter @teamfynsports next weekend (or on Facebook) as we will have complete Super Bowl coverage from the sidelines on Saturday.
Updated Game Times:
6u Super Bowl
East Hall vs Fannin 10Am
7U Super Bowl
Fannin vs Gilmer 1145Am
8U Super Bowl
Union vs Chestatee 1:30pm
9U Super Bowl
Chestatee vs Pickens 3:15Pm
10U Super Bowl
Dawson vs Fannin 5pm
11U Super Bowl
Gilmer vs Chestatee 6:45 Pm
Saturday (Oct 15) marked the final week of regular season football for the Mountain Football League. The MFL consists of Chestatee, Dawson, East Hall, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union and West Hall; and age divisions begin with 6u (under 6-years-old) and go up to 7th-grade. Parents and coaches of youth athletes are encouraged to please send your photos, stats and game stories to Jason@fetchyournews.com so that we can highlight the youth players throughout the post-season!
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