The feel­ing of win­ning a cham­pi­onship will never grow old

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY -

Cham­pi­onship sport sto­ries that never grow old

Sono­rav­ille High’s wrestling team cap­tured the State 3A Cham­pi­onship last week­end. Coach Vince Layson’s Jack­ets de­feated Bre­men on Satur­day night for their sixth re­gion basketball cham­pi­onship. Coach Hal Lamb’s foot­ball Jack­ets won their 17th re­gion cham­pi­onship to tie for the all-time lead in the state. Coach Diane’s Lady Jack­ets soft­ball team had ear­lier cap­tured their fourth state cham­pi­onship in the last five years. Coach Chip Hen­der­son will be­gin the sea­son look­ing for his fourth state base­ball cham­pi­onship in the past 12 or so sea­sons.

As noted of­ten, my col­umn is not a news item. It is a com­men­tary or opin­ion piece. Un­der the di­rec­tion of Alex Far­rer, the news items are more than ad­e­quately treated.

In to­day’s edi­tion of the Cal­houn Times you can read about both the Fire­birds per­for­mance for their state ti­tle on Satur­day in Ma­con and pro­gram was im­pres­sive early and of­ten as their ath­letes “hit the ground run­ning.”

The ti­tle has to of­fer great sat­is­fac­tion to Coach Randy Ste­ward. The coach ob­served that he had been on the wrestling scene on both high school and col­lege level for 35 years but this is his first team cham­pi­onship. My con­grat­u­la­tions reach out to the coach and his team. The cham­pi­onship did not just leap in their lap; it was the re­sult of long pe­ri­ods of train­ing and hard work.

No one knows the fu­ture of any pro­gram. Win­ning year af­ter year does not grow old. Ask any of the coaches named in the open­ing para­graph. While this was Coach Ste­ward’s and Sono­rav­ille’s first state cham­pi­onship, the pur­suit of or cap­tur­ing other ti­tles will not di­min­ish in sig­nif­i­cance or ex­cite­ment. I wish them well.

State Cham­pi­onships from the past

Let us turn our at­ten­tion to cham­pi­onships cap­tured by Gor­don County schools in the past few decades. Be­fore there was a Gor­don Cen­tral or a Sono­rav­ille High there were Red Bud and Fair­mount High Schools play­ing un­der the aus­pices of the GHSA.

The 1960s fea­tured out­stand­ing teams in our schools, re­cre­ation de­part­ments and other in­sti­tu­tions. It was the mid­dle 1960s of­fer­ing lo­cal sports fans with the Freda Hunt era. There were other great play­ers but us­ing the Freda (Hunt) Glass name puts the “Good House­keep­ing stamp of ap­proval” on a level eas­ily un­der­stood and ap­pre­ci­ated by ob­servers of lo­cal athletics dur­ing that time.

In about 1964, Freda and her Red Bud Lady Car­di­nals “laid waste” to most teams they played and won a state basketball cham­pi­onship.

That might have been the first state ti­tle earned by a Gor­don County school. Cal­houn High (a city school) had won the Class C state foot­ball cham­pi­onship back in 1952.

Coach Frank Ca­puto’s Red Bud wrestlers got in on the act in 1979 when they cap­tured the Class A state cham­pi­onship.

The Red Bud wrestling pro­gram was one of promi­nence in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Chuck Ruth, Denny Phillips, Les Hol­bert, Mike Hales, Chris Hales, Doug Wil­son and oth­ers car­ried the load for the Car­di­nals along that stretch in the his­tory of the school.

A look at the present

It was a packed house at Sono­rav­ille on Satur­day night when the Cal­houn boys de­feated Bre­men on for the Re­gion 6-AAA cham­pi­onship. This story as a whole from the be­gin­ning of the sea­son would de­mand the end re­sult should be la­beled “sur­prise” or “up­set” at the high­est level.

Coach Layson’s team had re­ally stum­bled com­ing out of the blocks and fin­ished the first 10 games with a 1-9 record. That point was erased and for­got­ten in the lat­ter play­ing dates of the sea­son.

Pos­si­bly the most im­por­tant win was in the semi­fi­nals when the Jack­ets de­feated the host Phoenix. Sono­rav­ille was seeded No. 1 in the tour­na­ment from the South sub­re­gion; Coach Brent Mash­burn’s team had de­feated Cal­houn in both meet­ings dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son and was look­ing for an­other big win. It did not turn out that way, and the Jack­ets punched their ticket to the ti­tle game. As Lola in the base­ball movie “Damn Yan­kees” sang, “You’ve got to have heart.”

There have been come­backs in in­di­vid­ual games. The Jack­ets’ turn­around dur­ing the 2017-18 sea­son is a most re­mark­able story of putting a team back on the right tracks.

May I sug­gest Coach Layson and his play­ers showed heart and de­ter­mi­na­tion?

I con­grat­u­late them and other coaches and teams who cap­tured cham­pi­onships at any level. Win­ning them of­ten won’t grow old.

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