UNA Softball Coach Ashley Cozart: Finding Success In The Game She Loves

L-R: UNA Assistant Coach Whitney Hawkins and UNA Head Coach Ashley Cozart

Florence, Ala. – Coach Ashley McCool Cozart knows success.  Cozart played high school softball at softball powerhouse Ezell-Harding Christian School in Antioch, Tennessee, before earning a scholarship with Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.  At Trevecca Nazarene, Cozart was part of a team that had a couple of top-five finishes at the NAIA Softball World Series.  Additionally, Cozart was selected as the TranSouth Conference Freshman of the Year in 2004, four-time all-conference and all-region selection and broke the school career record for hits and doubles and is ranked in the program’s top five in runs batted in, home runs, batting average and runs scored.  In 2014, Cozart was selected to the Trevecca Athletic Hall of Fame.  After finishing at Trevecca Nazarene, Cozart had the opportunity to be the head coach at Antioch High School in Nashville.  After one year of the two year program at Antioch, Cozart decided to apply with Lindsey Wilson College.  Speaking about Lindsey Wilson College on Applebee’s Tailgate Talk on Saturday, Cozart said, “I came into a situation where the program needed turning around and needed some love and TLC.  We were very successful.  After success there I had the opportunity to go to the University of North Alabama in July of 2013.  Since that time, UNA Softball has been a part of the NCAA Tournament three straight times and ultimately won the NCAA Division II National Championship last season.
Coach Ashley Cozart will tell you, coming off a 2016 NCAA Division II National Championship isn’t easy.  Referring to UNA’s successful championship run, Cozart said, “People don’t realize it’s so hard coming off a year like last year.  I think some people think it’s easy, but it’s super super hard.  Everybody plays their best game against you.”  Currently UNA is 10-5 on the season and ranked number 3 in the NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll.  Coach Cozart said, “I’m pleased with where we’re at, but I feel like we haven’t really hit our stride yet.  There’s something special about this team.”
As a Division II school, Coach Cozart has built the majority of her team with many outstanding players in and around our area.  As UNA moves into Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference, Coach Cozart says that she will definitely continue to look at local talent, but they’ll have to send more recruiters out and go everywhere.  She says one area that she’ll be looking at is deeper south in the state of Alabama.  Cozart said, “We haven’t had to go too deep south because there is so much talent north of Birmingham, but we will need to send more people out and look at more kids.  Alabama is such a hotbed for talent with such great softball programs.”  When Cozart was in Columbia, Kentucky, at Lindsey Wilson College, she says that she recruited quite a few players from the state of Alabama.  She said that over time, it became harder and harder to get those Alabama kids.  After that, she decided that she just needed to take a job in Alabama and applied for the head coaching job at UNA.
Coach Cozart is helping others along on the coaching path as well.  On Applebee’s Tailgate Talk she mentioned a couple of great student assistants who currently work with her at UNA, Brooklynn Clark of Seadrift, Texas, and Courtney Shields of Columbiana, Alabama.  Both student assistants played for UNA and did their part to help the team to NCAA Division II National Championship in 2016.  Of the pair, Cozart said, “They have been wonderful this year.  I don’t know what I would do without them.”
When talking about the job she has, Cozart said, “Coaching is an awesome profession to be in.  Sometimes, I have to pinch myself because I love my job so much.”  Roar Lions!
Sources: UNA Softball, Trevecca Athletics, Applebee’s Tailgate Talk

Tyrone Poole: An Ordinary Person Who Happened To Do Something Extraordinary


Former New England Patriot Tyrone Poole holding up two fingers representing two Super Bowl Championships in his NFL career. Photo credit: TyronePoole38.com

Atlanta, GA – As a kid, Tyrone Poole never thought about playing sports beyond playing in the neighborhood until his elementary P.E. coach, Coach Parsons, asked him about playing organized sports.  Poole said that Coach Parsons saw his talent and how athletics came easy for him.  Poole said that Coach Parsons’s influence was the launching pad for his athletic career.  Poole says that he talks about Coach Parsons in his book “Ultimate Success In The Game Of Life.”  In the book, Poole shares the principles of his success, stating there is success and “ultimate success.”  Poole says, “Success is the plane taking off and ultimate success is the plane landing at its destination.”  A natural-born athlete, Poole was not only able to get his proverbial plane in the air, but land it as well.
After playing college football at Fort Valley State University, Poole was a first-round NFL Draft pick for the Carolina Panthers in 1995.  His career would take him from the Panthers, to teams across the NFL including the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, and the Tennessee Titans.  While at New England, Poole won two Super Bowl rings, one in 2003 as he faced off against his first NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, and the other after the Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004.  In his 12 seasons in the NFL as a corner back, Poole had 18 interceptions and 145 tackles, which included six sacks and five forced fumbles.
When asked on Applebee’s Tailgate Talk what it was like for a kid out of LaGrange, Georgia, to go from Fort Valley State College to the NFL, Poole responded, “It was like a deer in the headlights.”  He said, “If you don’t have the right instructions or follow the right manual, it’s easy to mess up.  The most difficult thing is the mental capacity of the NFL.  Mentally, that game runs 1000 miles per hour.  NFL veterans helped me a lot.”
On the show, Poole was asked about his most memorable moment during his time in the NFL.  He said, “The greatest memory that I am always going to take with me is the fact that I won the two Super Bowls and to see that confetti fall from the rafters and to see the smile on everyone’s face.  When I look back, there were 31 other teams who said the same thing (they were going to win the Super Bowl).  From OTA (Organized Team Activities) to training camps, we were the only ones standing at the end of the season.  That confetti falling, the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and the Super Bowl rings, those are like having your first child or walking across the stage to get your degree.  Those are things that you just won’t forget.”
Tyrone Poole’s book “Ultimate Success In The Game Of Life” is currently available at TyronePoole38.com.

Clements Colt Lele Anderson: 1500 Points & Counting

Coach Zach Meadows presents Lele Anderson with a plaque and a game ball for reaching 1500 points in her career with the Lady Colts.

Athens, Ala. – On December 19th, 2016, Lele Anderson hit a milestone with 1500 points in her basketball career with the Clements Lady Colts.  On January 10th, Lele was recognized by her teammates and Coach Zach Meadows with a plaque for her achievement.  On Applebee’s Tailgate Talk on January 14th,  Coach Meadows said that Lele has been on varsity since she was in the 7th grade, before he was even the coach.
Lele Anderson on Applebee’s Tailgate Talk on January 14.

He said that Anderson had a really good coach even before he came into the picture.  He went on to say that she developed back then and he’s has continued to develop as a player.  Lele has been at point guard all four years that he has been coaching the Lady Colts.  In Coach Meadow’s description of Anderson, he calls her a “great leader.”
Since hitting the milestone, Anderson is now over 1600 points on her career.  When asked about her teammates, Anderson said, “We work really well as a team.  I just love them.  I couldn’t do it without them.  If it weren’t for them, I would’ve never scored 1500 points.”  Anderson said that Coach Meadows had told her how close she was to 1500 points at the beginning of the season, but she did not know where she was at in the points hunt when she finally hit the mark against West Morgan.
Coach Meadows said that a high school player hitting 1500 points is very uncommon.  He said that there was another girl at Clements who hit 2,000 points. At which point Lele said, “It was 3,000…She was Miss 3,000!”  Coach Meadows emphasized that it’s a team award as well as an individual award.  He said, “Lele is a team player, she is unselfish and it’s just happened that way, because she’s a good basketball player…a very good basketball player.”  He went on to mention that on Friday night, Lele was voted “Miss Clements High School” by her classmates, so she is also well respected by fellow-students as well.
Now that area regular season play is over, the Lady Colts to face West Limestone and Tanner before the County Tournament.  Coach said, “It’ll be a fun week, but it’ll be tough week.  Hopefully, we can get some wins next week.”
When it comes to her future plans, upon graduation,  Lele will be attending Wallace State where she has signed a scholarship to play softball for A.J. Daugherty who was recently hired from James Clemens to coach the Wallace State Lions Softball team.  When it comes to a major, she is undecided.

NBA All-Star Player & World Championship Basketball Coach Rudy Tomjanovich Actually Started Out Playing Baseball

Coach Rudy Tomjanovich and his Houston Rockets celebrate after defeating the Orlando Magic for the NBA World Championship on June 14, 1995.  Photo: Getty Images

Los Angeles, CA – In a recent interview on Applebee’s Tailgate Talk, five-time NBA All-Star player and two-time NBA World Championship Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said that his first love actually wasn’t basketball, but baseball.  Tomjanovich grew up in Hamtramck, Michigan, which is surrounded by the City of Detroit.  He said the recreational programs in that city were outstanding, especially when it came to baseball.  In a city where it seemed all the boys grew up wanting to play baseball, young Rudy Tomjanovich went right along with them.  When Tomjanovich was around 11 years old, Hamtramck won the 1959 Little League World Series.  Some of the older boys that he played with, including a cousin, were a part of that championship team.  As a side note, a team from Gadsden, Alabama made it to the quarterfinals of the same tournament, but never faced Hamtramck.  Tomjanovich said the guy that really encouraged him was his Uncle Joe.  His uncle bought him his baseball spikes, gloves, and other equipment because Tomjanovich’s family didn’t have much money.   Tomjanovich took to baseball, even becoming an All-Star. Tomjanovich said he played baseball in high school, but, unfortunately, he had a baseball coach who he described as a “sarcastic guy.”  He said because of the coach’s personality, he quickly lost his love for the game.
Tomjanovich’s Uncle Joe had always told him it would be good for him to play a sport and keep his grades up, because of the possibility of getting a scholarship.  When he told his uncle he wanted to give up baseball, his uncle wasn’t happy about that.  At that time, Tomjanovich said that his uncle was concerned about his future if he didn’t pursue baseball.  When he told his uncle that he wanted to play basketball Tomjanovich said that this announcement garnered a strange look from his uncle.  While he had played on the basketball team, he had never actually played in a game. Tomjanovich started practicing on a basketball court at a junior high school.  He said the basketball court where he practiced happened to be the “hot spot” for all the great players in Detroit.  He said he started at one of the smaller baskets and moved up to the big baskets. Tomjanovich said that the day he got to play on the big baskets with the high school players and the college players was “like going to Madison Square Garden.”
Although he was enjoying honing his skills on the basketball court, Tomjanovich’s pursuit wasn’t met without some resistance.  In the process of trying to play basketball, he had those who told him that he shouldn’t waste his time and even pursue the sport.  After he had told his uncle he was going to play basketball, he went out for the freshman team the next year. Tomjanovich said that the freshman basketball coach was a new teacher at the time.  The coach was an ex-football player, a linebacker.  After trying out for the freshman team, Tomjanovich was in homeroom class when a classmate came in the room and informed him that he had seen the list of the players who made the team, and his name was not on the list.  That was something that didn’t sit well with Tomjanovich.  Before the next practice the next day, and before the coach could do anything, he challenged the coach to a game of one-on-one.  Tomjanovich said the coach, coming from a football background, didn’t know how to play basketball. He said every time he dribbled the ball, it was like a fumble to the coach.  The coach would lunge at him and he even had to jump over him a couple of times. After the match up, the coach saw that he had a passion for the game and put him on the team.
After freshman season, Tomjanovich signed up for a gym class that the varsity boys were in. Tomjanovich described himself as the “scarecrow” with “wobbly legs” as a young man.  He said, the varsity coach pulled him to the side and asked him what he was doing there.  He asked him if he was thinking about going out for the team.   He said, “Yes, sir”.  The coach, who Tomjanovich described as “the king”, responded, “Well, don’t waste your time.”  At that moment, Tomjanovich said, “My heart dropped out of my chest.”  After that experience, he said he made up his mind that he loved the game of basketball and that his love of the game was so strong that he was going to play wherever and whenever he could, even if it meant playing in leagues outside of school.  By the end of the year, the head coach had moved Tomjanovich up to varsity.  In high school, Tomjanovich was an All-State basketball player.
Upon graduation from high school, he went to the University of Michigan to play basketball. rudy Tomjanovich said that Michigan “didn’t make a lot of noise” as a team, but they did get to play the number one toughest schedule in the country his junior year and the second toughest schedule in the country his senior year which meant that when all the NBA scouts were coming to watch players from the other team, they were watching him on the court as well.
In 1970, the NCAA All-American was the number two draft pick by the San Diego Rockets.  After being drafted, the San Diego Rockets were sold to Houston.  At that time, no one thought they were going to make it in Houston because Texas was a football state. Tomjanovich said they hung around and built the program and laid the foundation for the great franchises found in Texas today.  He said it was pretty cool to be a part of that process.
Although Tomjanovich had great success as a player and a coach, he said that one of the most important moments of his career was when his former player, Akeem Olajuwon, was being inducted into the hall of fame. Tomjanovich said that he gave Olajuwon a call. rudy1  During that call, Tomjanovich said that Olajuwon was so gracious. Olajuwon told him, “This is for you too, Coach.” Tomjanovich said that Olajuwon saying that was an incredible feeling, it was the greatest moment in his career. Tomjanovich said, although he wasn’t the one who traded Olajuwon, he wasn’t sure about how felt about him until that moment.  A reporter who was there told Tomjanovich how happy Olajuwon was that he had called him. Tomjanovich said that having a connection with someone you’ve gone through the wars with and then them show their appreciation for your support, that’s his most rewarding moment.
In December 2016, Tomjanovich returned to the list of nominees for induction into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  With Tomjanovich being an All-American at Michigan, a five-time time All-Star with the Rockets, nominated by the coaches committee as the winning-est coach in Rockets history, having led the Houston Rockets to two NBA championships, USA Basketball to an Olympic Gold Medal, and a team of replacement players to a World Championships Bronze medal, it seems that his resume warrants induction.  The finalists and direct-inductees will be announced on Feb. 18 in New Orleans. The entire class of 2017 will be announced on April 3 during the Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.  The induction of the class of 2017 will take place from September 7th through the 9th at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“What I’d like to say to the non-believers is never underestimate the heart of a champion.” – Coach Rudy Tomjanovich

Coach Ronnie Ritter To Be Inducted Into The Lauderdale County Sports Hall Of Fame

Coach Ronnie Ritter has been named as a 2017 Lauderdale County Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

Florence, Ala. – The Lauderdale County Sports Hall of Fame has announced the inductees for 2017 and among the group is former player and head coach for the Lauderdale County Tigers, Coach Ronnie Ritter. Ritter who played running back and quarterback for LCHS under Coach Earl Grisham from 1969-1973, was named an All-State player his senior year. As a player, Ritter also holds the LCHS record for longest interception return at 100 yards.
Upon graduation from LCHS in 1974, Ritter attended and graduated from The University of North Alabama where he also played football.
Coach Don Grubbs and Coach Ronnie Ritter at LCHS in 1996.

In 1991, Ritter was hired as the head coach of his alma mater where he would serve as the head coach for the next 16 years. During his time at LCHS, 12 of his 16 teams made the AHSAA Playoffs. Two of those teams, the 1991 and 1995 squads, made it to the AHSAA Playoff State Semi-finals. Over 16 seasons at LCHS, Ritter amassed a record of 106-77.
In 2015, Ritter, along with one of his former assistants, Don Grubbs, came back to LCHS to coach an alumni team against Loretto High School Alumni as a fundraiser for the LCHS and Loretto football programs.  In the 17-14 victory over Loretto, the alumni team raised over $4000 for the LCHS football program. Ritter is currently an assistant football coach at Loretto High School.
Ritter’s son, John, who now coaches for West Morgan, posted the following after hearing the news of his dad’s being named an inducted into the LCSHOF, “So extremely proud of my dad. Such a great career as a player and a coach at Lauderdale County. Great coach, great man, but an even better dad and granddaddy. Proud son of a Hall of Famer.”
Others named to the LCSHOF 2017 class are:
• James “Bubber”Ford
• Chris Mapes
• Charlie Meyer
• Gary Wayne Michael
• Samuel Lee Prater
• Mike Russell
• Joseph Terrell
• Tony Willis
• Sandra Witt Bradley
The annual dinner, and induction ceremony, is Saturday, March 18, 2017, at 6:30 p.m., at the Florence Conference Center. It is a special event for visiting with old friends, sharing memories, and recognizing the athletic accomplishments of individuals from Lauderdale County. Tickets are $30 each or $240 for table. Contact Steve Harrison at 256-810-3460, or Dennis Hargett at 256-762-9056, or any committee member for tickets. Tickets are also available at local high schools.

The Crimson Tide Defeated By One Of Its Own, Dabo Swinney

Former player for the University of Alabama and current head coach for Clemson shares a special moment with his former head coach Gene Stallings.

Tampa, Fla. –  Dabo Swinney was born in Birmingham and played three seasons for Gene Stallings at Alabama. In three season at Alabama Swinney had seven catches for 81-yards and was a member of the 1992 National Championship team.
Swinney was part of the 1992 national championship team at Alabama.

When he graduated from Alabama, he became a graduate assistant for the Alabama.  Later, he became the tight ends and wide receivers coach under Mike Dubose.  At the end of the 2000 season, Coach Dabo Swinney and the rest of Mike Dubose’s staff were fired.   Swinney sat out the 2001 season while receiving his contractual payments from Alabama. His former strength coach at Alabama, Rich Wingo, had become president of AIG Baker Real Estate and offered him a job. From April 2001 through February 2003, worked for AIG Baker Real Estate on development projects.
In 2003, Tommy Bowden, who was head coach of Clemson and Swinney’s former position coach at Alabama,  gave him a call and offered him a job.  In 2003, Swinney became the receivers coach for Clemson.  After five years as an assistant coach, Swinney was named the interim head football coach on October 13, 2008, after Coach Tommy Bowden resigned six games into the 2008 season.  After 2009 and 2010, where Swinney’s teams went 9-5 and 6-7 respectively, Clemson began a streak of 10+ win seasons.
In 2015, the success of Clemson football with Swinney at the helm put them in the College Football Playoff National Championship where they faced another successful program, Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.  In that game, Clemson fell short 45-40.  In 2016, Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney and his Clemson Tigers had a chance at redemption.  With Deshaun Watson under center and a solid defensive effort, the Clemson Tigers defeated Alabama by a score of 35-31.  While the term used for Alabama football has been “The Process”, it’s clear that there is a process with Coach Dabo Swinney and Clemson football as well.  That process has now taken them to the top of the proverbial “mountain” of college football.
As for Coach Saban and the Crimson Tide, the future continues to look bright with a solid recruiting class.  Two powerful traditions were on display tonight in Tampa, Florida, and Clemson took home the trophy.  When interviewed by WNSP Radio, Coach Gene Stallings said of Swinney, “I could see his potential. I didn’t realize he would be this good at such an early age, but I knew he was going to be a good football coach and I was right.”  Coach Stallings went on to say, “His players believe in him, his coaches believe in him, he’s knowledgeable, he handles his team extremely well. If you watch the game he’s involved. I just think he’s done a great job coaching.” Losing is hard, but for many Bama fans, when they look at who they didn’t lose to this past season and seasons before, losing to one of our own in the College Football Playoff National Championship game makes it more palatable.   One day, Swinney’s success might just lead him back home to Alabama.

Jalen Hurts Positioned To Become Second True Freshman Quarterback To Win National Championship

Alabama’s True Freshman Quarterback Jalen Hurts. Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Norman, Oklahoma – The year was 1985 and the team was the Oklahoma Sooners.  After sophomore quarterback Troy Aikman broke his leg, true freshman Jamelle Holieway took over the quarterback responsibilities.  Behind a defense led by Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma defeated Penn State in the Orange Bowl by a score of 25-10.  Fast forward to 2016.  At the beginning of the season, it was redshirt freshman Blake Barnett who was under center in the starting role.  Against Western Kentucky on September 10th, Hurts became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Alabama since 1984 (Mike Shula).  In that game, Hurts completed 23 of 36 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns without an interception in a 38-10 victory over Western Kentucky.  The starting quarterback discussion was officially over.
Today, Barnett, along with reserve quarterback David Cornwell, are gone and Hurts remains.  Since he has taken over as quarterback, Hurts has been named the SEC Offensive Player of The Year, Freshman All-American by USA Today and ESPN, SEC honors from both the coaches and the AP, SEC Freshman of the Year by coaches, SEC Newcomer of the Year by the AP, finalist for the Manning Award, finalist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year, semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, and is included on the Manning Award Watch List.
In an AP telephone interview, Jamelle Holieway was asked about his thoughts on Hurts.  Holieway said, “It’s amazing that he has the same initials.  It’s amazing that he’s a true freshman. And three, black.  So we’ve got three things going.”  Tonight, Hurts will have the opportunity to have one more thing in common with Holieway as he takes the field against Clemson, a College Football Playoff National Championship.  At that time, the true freshman will become a true champion. Roll Tide.

The Day My Daddy Met Paul "Bear" Bryant

Daddy’s autograph from Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Circa 1973.

Athens, Ala. – As he laid there in Athens-Limestone Hospital, a nurse walked in and introduced herself as Pam Gaston.  “I’m one of the nurses here and patient liaison…” Daddy interrupted, “Are you related to Greg?”  She responded, “Which one?”  Daddy said, “The one with one eye.” Pam said, “Yes, that’s the one.  He’s my husband.  We’ve been married 34 years.”  As daddy enjoyed doing, he began to tell a story.  “I guess we were about 15 or 16 when Greg and I went down to The University of Alabama…”  I knew this story.  Daddy had told it many times before, but this time seemed more special.  Daddy continued, “Greg and I were in the Athens High School Concert Band together and we went down there for a concert.  We both played football for Athens too and decided to run all over the college until we found Paul “Bear” Bryant’s office.  We went through every building and opened every door until I saw that ol’ checkered hat.  I told Greg, ‘This is his office!  This is his office!’  I asked the secretary if it was Coach Bryant’s office and she said, ‘Yes.’  We asked if we could see him and she said, ‘Yeah, you can see him.’  She opened the door and we sat down and talked to him.”  Daddy paused and told Pam, “Ask Greg if he still has that autograph.”  I knew daddy had saved his.  Daddy said, “Dan Havely, the band director, gave us a paddling over that, but I met Coach Bryant and got my autograph!”
Three days later, daddy was diagnosed with Stage IV gallbladder cancer.  While it was suggested that he might have months to live, he actually had less than a month.  He had a few more stories to tell, but that would be the last time he would tell his Coach Bryant story.
On September 3rd, Alabama was set to take on USC.  Daddy woke up asking, “Where’s the counter?”  I asked, “What counter?”  Daddy responded, “The counter to sell tickets at the door! Ten dollars to get in and five dollars for popcorn!”  We had a laugh.  He was in good spirits that morning and ready to watch the game that evening.  By kickoff time, daddy had the “death rattle” coming from his chest and wasn’t alert enough to watch the game.  Laying in his Hospice bed, with family by his side, we watched the Tide roll against the Trojans.  Two days later, on September 5th, daddy was gone.   For the next several weeks, I had no interest in football and I had no interest in going on the radio show I co-host called, “Applebee’s Tailgate Talk”.  While he was sick, daddy had asked me why I was missing the show.  I told him that I was going to stay with him.  He wanted me to go on, but I also knew I’d have very little to contribute with daddy’s condition.  Although I felt like I was drowning, the Crimson Tide kept rolling.
Here we are 14-0 about to take on Clemson for the second time in two years for the College Football Playoff National Championship.  Win or lose, it will be a season I’ll always remember.
Wearing daddy’s houndstooth cap on Applebee’s Tailgate Talk.

Like Coach Bryant, daddy had his own style of checkered hat.  I wear it now in my daddy’s memory.  I’ve worn it around town, I’ve worn it on the radio show, and I’ve worn it to a couple of Alabama ballgames this season.  At the Alabama vs. Auburn game, an older gentleman sitting behind me asked, “Where did you get that cap?”  I told him it was my daddy’s.”  He said, “It’s a cool hat.”  I said, “My daddy was a cool guy.”
I never met Paul “Bear” Bryant, but I knew Mark White, Sr.
Me and my daddy, Mark White, Sr.

As with any of us, he had his flaws, but he was a good daddy.  Football was one of our many common interests, namely Alabama Crimson Tide football.  On Monday night, I’ll have daddy right with me in my heart.  You can mark it down.  Roll Tide Roll!

LCHS Tigers Display Special Tribute After Player Loses Mother

Credit: Lauderdale County Tip Off Club

Rogersville, Ala. – On New Year’s Eve, a tragic UTV accident occurred outside of Rogersville near Anderson.  The accident claimed the lives of three Rogersville residents.
LCHS student Adyn Hagan with Shanna Smith who worked in the school cafeteria.

Among those who passed was Shanna Thorton Smith. Shanna worked in the lunchroom at Lauderdale County High School and had two sons who attend LCHS.  Tonight, during the varsity basketball game, the boys team wore wristbands with the initials “S.S.” for “Shanna Smith” in support of Shanna’s son, Connor Smith, who plays basketball on the LCHS B-team.  Through triumph and tragedy, this is really what being a team is all about.  A 1998 graduate and former cheerleader for LCHS, Shanna Smith was a cheerleader of all things LCHS.  It’s only fitting that the Tiger family pays tribute to her memory at this time.  While nothing can bring back those who were lost, their spirit lives on through those who knew and loved them.  When it comes down to it, being a team is much more than “x’s” and “o’s”.  When organized in the way it should be, a team is a strong support group.  A team wins together and a team loses together.  They celebrate together and they grieve together.  Now is the time to grieve, but it’s also a time to celebrate.  We grieve the heartbreaking losses, but we also celebrate what those who we lost meant to each of us.  As with other area teams who have dealt with loss recently, the LCHS Tiger family is strong.  We’ve seen it time and time again, in times of adversity, the community stands together.  You can mark it down.

Adam Griffith: A Kicker's Story

Credit: John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Tucaloosa, Ala. – The words “hero” and “goat” are often synonymous to the position of placekicker.  In his time at The University of Alabama, placekicker Adam Griffith has been on the receiving end of both terms.
Credit: 247Sports

Many now know Griffith’s backstory thanks to a video biography produced by ESPN.  Griffith was born in Poland and raised in an orphanage.  At the age of 13, he was adopted by an American family from Georgia.  In high school, he was a member of the Calhoun High School Yellow Jackets located in Calhoun, Georgia.  Griffith was the 49th recruit in Georgia and was ranked the number one kicker in the nation.  A red shirt freshman, through hard work and dedication,  Griffith ultimately found himself as the starting kicker for the Crimson Tide.
During his career at Alabama, Griffith has had some memorable games.  For Auburn fans, Griffith’s 57 yard attempt, that fell short and was returned for a touchdown in 2013, is a memorable victory.  Of course, a runner has 10 other guys to get by on the football field, but it’s the kicker who is usually going to get the spotlight.  It goes back to the whole hero/goat dynamic.  In 2014, Adam played in the spring game with bursitis in his right (kicking) hip.  The injury, which was not publicized, required stem cell therapy from Dr. James Andrews and a month of recovery.  At the end of the 2014 season, Griffith had a “second” chance against Auburn.  Griffith made the best of that opportunity by kicking five field goals and two extra points in a 29-13 Alabama victory.  You can do the math.  For Griffith, it was redemption.  When asked about the kick that fell short against Auburn in 2013, he responded, “I forgot about that kick.  I don’t even remember that kick anymore. That was before. I don’t even think about it.”  Last season, with a tied game and the College Playoff National Championship on the line, Griffith kicked an onside kick which ultimately gave Alabama the momentum needed to propel Alabama to a 45-40 victory over Clemson.
According to Griffith’s high school coach, Griffith considered entering the NFL Draft at the end of last season, but chose to remain at Alabama for his final year. Griffith, who has already graduated, will suit up one final time as a member of the Crimson Tide on January 9th as they take on Clemson for the College Football National Championship.  Last week, Griffith made his lone field goal attempt against Washington.  Griffith will be on the field against Clemson next Monday and win or lose, at the end of the National Championship game, Griffith will take his place in Alabama Football history.  For Alabama fans, Griffith has been a part of many memorable moments.  Griffith’s story is one of success.  On January 9th, he’ll be ready to play.  You can “Mark It Down”.