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Sigrist will be in good hands at Oglethorpe

Benefit concert

Posted: May 1, 2013 - 12:00am

I was very happy to hear that Greenbrier High School forward Connor Sigrist had signed a scholarship at Oglethorpe University.

First, I am always glad to see local athletes get a chance to play at the next level. I also feel Sigrist has only scratched the surface of the player he can be. I also know he will be playing for a coach who will give him a chance to tap into his tremendous potential.

I am very familiar with Oglethorpe head coach Phillip Ponder; I spent two years of my life living just down the hall from him in the basketball dorm at Reinhardt Junior College. Ponder was a 6-3 shooting guard from Rockdale County High School when he arrived at Reinhardt in the fall of 1989. Not only did we come in to the program together, we both secured starting positions as the two wing players. I was the No. 2 (shooting guard) and Phil was the No. 3 (small forward) for a no-nonsense coach, Gerald Sharpe.

Sharpe demanded a great deal from his players, and practices were extremely difficult. By the time games came around, we could have played 80 minutes if necessary. Phil and I were part of the best team in Reinhardt history as sophomores in 1990-91. That season we went 25-7 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the Junior College National Tournament. We were probably not the most talented team in our state, but we consistently beat those “more-talented” teams because we were well-coached and simply outworked our opponents.

When I heard Ponder had gone into coaching, I was not surprised. I was also not surprised when I heard he was a successful head coach at the college level. He is not a mirror-image of Gerald Sharpe; Ponder’s teams run more and shoot the three-pointer at a much greater rate than Sharpe’s teams did, but there is no doubt he absorbed a lot from his days at Reinhardt.

Ponder will push Sigrist to be the best player he can be. Couple that with Ponder’s style of play, and I would say Sigrist could not have made a better choice.

Benefit concert

Country music star Lee Brice will headline a concert at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center this Sunday, May 5. It is not often that the Columbia County Library is able to attract a performer of Brice’s caliber.

His current album, Hard To Love, boasts three No. 1 singles. The four-time ACM nominee and 2012 CMA New Artist of the Year nominee will be performing an intimate acoustic show. Brice is a former scholarship football player at Clemson who made his way into country music as a songwriter for such big names as Garth Brooks.

While Brice is the headliner, a pair of local bands will take the stage as opening acts. County Line, a band comprised of Columbia County natives Ray Fulcher, Alex Hintz and Tyson Thaxton, will start the show at 6:30 p.m. Like Brice, Fulcher and Hintz were former athletes. Both had solid prep careers at Harlem High School, while Thaxton is a 2003 Greenbrier graduate. County Line headlined a show at The Country Club Dance Hall and Saloon during Masters Week and has opened for national recording artist Dustin Lynch. The Daniel Johnson Band also will perform Sunday. They have generated plenty of buzz around the Southeast, and will be a great warm-up for Brice.

The proceeds from the concert will be donated to the local chapter of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of its annual Man and Woman of the Year Campaign. LLS is fighting to stamp out all forms of blood cancers by raising money for research. One of the concert promoters, Mike Montarbo, thought the Performing Arts Center was perfect for the event he had in mind.

“We wanted an intimate setting. This venue provided that, along with great acoustics,” Montarbo said. “We also wanted the proximity to our club.”

Montarbo is one of the partners of Evans Fitness Club, across the street from the Performing Arts Center. The club will provide child care for those purchasing tickets for the concert. While the adults are attending the event, Evans Fitness Club staff will offer the kids a night of games and inflatables at no charge.

Those attending the concert also will dine on food from French Market Grill West.

“We wanted to do an upscale event, and with Jim Beck (French Market Grill West) doing the food, the services of the gym, and a big name like Lee Brice, we feel like this is going to be an incredible night for an extremely worthy cause,” Montarbo said.

The evening will begin with food and drinks at 5:30 p.m., with the opening acts starting at 6:30 p.m. Brice will take the stage at approximately 7:30 p.m. Seating is very limited; tickets are available at Evans Fitness Club, at 3002 Allen Drive or at (706) 288-2700.

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