If any of you are under the age of 18 and reading this article, then I imagine this week was probably a tough week for you. I say that because the majority of schools in the state of Georgia started back this week.
I can remember being in high school and having a knot of dread in my stomach the night before the first day of school. I’ve never been a morning person, so having to get up early was my first problem. Add in all of the homework and having to spend my days in one building…it was easy to tell I wasn’t a school person.
The good news is there was always one bright spot in all of this gloom, and that was football season. I know I’ve said it before on our sports show, Instant Replay, and probably in this column as well, but in high school I lived for football season. I never missed a game, home or away. Granted I was in the colorguard with the marching band, so most of the time I HAD to go. But I can still remember a handful of games where we weren’t required to go, and some of my friends got together and still went anyway.
Those were good times, but I dare to say that these are even better. I’m thankful to have a job that pays me to follow a sport that I love. But on the other hand, it’s a job that’s helping me to get an inside look on other sports that are sometimes forgotten, especially in the South where football is a religion.
I covered my first softball game on Tuesday. I have watched and worked softball games in the past, so in my defense I knew what to expect, but it was my first time reporting on a game. It was the Lumpkin County Lady Indians against the Pickens Dragonettes in the Lady Indians home opener. One thing I loved about this game was that it wasn’t just smooth sailing, if you will. Just to give a brief recap, the Nettes put three runs on the board first. By the fifth inning, it was looking as though the Lady Indians might lose their home opener. But as with all great teams, the Lady Indians weren’t going down without a fight and ended up coming back to win 4-3. Ironically, I went to the next game where they played each other tonight and the Nettes ended up winning 9-4.
Softball is just one of several high school sports that is played in the fall. There’s also volleyball and cross country. While I haven’t gotten the chance to go cover either of these events yet, I know that I probably will be in the near future.
I’ve never personally played volleyball competitively, but I know several people who have. And from what I do know about it, there’s more technique to setting and hitting the ball than there seems. Whenever I play for fun at the beach I just feel lucky to get it over the net. But there are certain ways to prepare before you serve the ball and where to place your feet when you’re in an official match. I don’t see how players keep up with everything, other than that they practice. I know it’s got to feel great whenever you take all of your frustration out by smacking the ball.
Now I enjoy running, but I could never run cross country. I’ve seen the joke that says “my sport is your sport’s punishment” and to be honest, that’s how I feel because I don’t know how they do it. I can remember talking to cross country runners in high school, and them telling me that they would get up at 6 a.m. to run. And for some of them, the distances they would run blew my mind. But the other incredible thing to me about cross country is how much of a mental sport it is. Not only do runners have to be trained physically to maintain a certain time, they also have to be trained physically to encourage themselves to keep going.
The point I’m trying to make is that even though I’m still learning about other sports, I respect them because I do know how hard they work. I see the social media posts, I know people that play, and I see the teams out practicing well before their season starts. And even though the summer is ending and we’re back to school, the exciting thing is we’re past the days of camps and well on our way to the actual competition. I can’t wait to see what all of these young athletes accomplish.
Union County High School Cross Country
Girls & Boys
August 24, 2017
Location: Meeks Park, Blairsville, GA
BOTH the Union County Girls & Boys teams placed FIRST at yesterday’s cross country meet!
It was the first meet of the season for the Panthers and also a more challenging route than previous years. This years route consisted of a full lap around Meeks Park and then the ‘mountain ’ on the backside. Before the meet I was told by several parents that because of the added challenge, run times have been slower than normal.
The girls race began sharply at 4PM. The Panthers were accompanied by 8 other schools for this race. These schools include: Lumpkin County, Murray County, Hayesville, Towns County, Fannin County, Rabun County, Gilmer County and Early College (TCCC).
The first runner to cross the finish line for the girls race was Union’s own Sophomore Zoe Sanchez with a time of 22:06!!
How to see which team/school wins the meet: The first five runners from each team to cross the finish line receive points that correspond to their place. For instance, since Sanchez finished 1st overall, she would receive a #1 point once she crosses the finish line. At the end, you would add up the points and the team with the lowest score wins.
Union Girls scores: Zoe Sanchez (1) 22:06, Latty Ryals (4) 23:36, Lexie Ochoa (11) 25:24, Emmie Schakat (14) 25:41 & Sadie Underwood (24) 26:50 for a total team score of 54 points. There were a total of 78 runners in the girls race.
Following the girls race were the boys. The boys ran the same course as the girls (Meeks Park Loop & Mountain). In this race there were 115 runners – 37 more than in the girls; yet another challenge.
Coming in second overall behind Murray County and #1 for the Panthers was Senior Lance Underwood with a time of 18:03!! As Underwood crossed the finish line and was handed his point he hugged the former cross country coach – what a guy!
The Panthers boys team also came in 1st overall for their race! Union Boys scores: Lance Underwood (2) 18:03, Luke Gambrell (4) 18:41, Timothy Murphy (11) 20:15, Will Harkins (13) 20:27 & Colby Ives (14) 20:31 for a total team score of 44 points.
Congratulations to the Panthers for their first WIN of the season! The Panthers will travel to the Chestatee War Eagle Invitational on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 and begin running at 5:30PM. So come on! Get out of town, get some good food & come support your Panthers!