Every year around this time I do my best Santa impression, usually offering Christmas wishes for our county sports teams.
Last year, I was a bit selfish and basically ran down a list of all the things I would love to have or see happen in sports. They were all personal wishes that I had.
This season I'm in a giving mood, so I will offer up Christmas wishes for sports fans, athletes and coaches throughout the county.
1. A state tourney bid for the Greenbrier girls basketball team. Last season they set a school record for wins in a season, and this season they are off to a blazing start. If Garrett Black can follow up her softball state title with a playoff appearance in hoops, that would be quite an accomplishment. And keep in mind, most of Greenbrier's top players are underclassmen.
2. Football scholarships for the following players:
• Eugene Rogers (Greenbrier)
Rogers will play somewhere, but if Division I schools do not offer him a scholarship, they are simply clueless.
• Reggie Porter (Lakeside)
Greenbrier's Eugene Rogers almost intercepts a ball intended for Wayne County's Michael Jones.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
His play during the past two seasons has warranted some offers; here's a Christmas wish that they will come.
• Ryan Crislip (Evans)
Early on I heard he was planning on going to UGA and not playing football. He might change his mind if the right offer comes along.
Guys like Cheng Ho and Tanner Hayden will certainly get offers, too, but the three I mentioned above were recognized for specific reasons: Rogers because he deserves a Division I offer, Porter because he is not getting the offers he should, and Crislip because I don't think he realizes he can play at the next level.
3. A two-year deal for Todd Greene. He has earned it. Greene has had double figures in homers each of the past three seasons. Despite limited playing time, he has been one of the most consistent backup catchers in all of baseball.
If the Colorado Rockies can dump Charles Johnson's huge contract (they are trying to desperately) then Greene will return to the Rockies next season.
4. More recognition for sports other than the big three. I'm the guilty party here.
Jonathan Heeter has done a great job of highlighting some of the great performances in the county in sports other than football, basketball and baseball. I'm making a New Year's resolution to expand my horizons into some of the other sports. Soccer fans, don't get too excited; let me take a few baby steps.
5. Reasonable parents for all of our coaches
Columbia County is blessed with some fine coaches. Parents, remember these people have an extremely tough job.
Lakeside head coach Randy Hill talks to his team during a scrimmage against Laney High School.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Coaches are not conspiring to stop your child from getting a scholarship. These folks want to win more than anyone. Therefore, they will play whoever gives them the best chance to play. Think about that the next time you blast them while you are in the stands.
Also, if you must blast them, please do not do it in front of your child. When you do this, you are undermining the coach's authority, and you're also teaching them that when they do not get their way, it must be someone else's fault.
6. A state champion in football
We have never had a state football title in Columbia County. It would be big for the county. I do not think any of our teams are on the verge of a state crown in football, but it's the holidays, so I can dream. If we can't get a state title, I would settle for a trip to the Georgia Dome for one of our teams.
7. A huge year for all of our minor-leaguers
J.J. Johnson, James Shanks, Tydus Meadows, Bradley Key and Jordan Belcher are each chasing their dream of playing in the majors. Shanks may be close to getting his shot. Let's hope each of these players has a big year in 2005.
8. More kids like Reggie Rice and Cheng Ho
I had a chance recently to meet Greenbrier standout Reggie Rice and Evans star Cheng Ho for the first time. Sure, I've watched them play for years. I've even spoke to both of them several times. But a few weeks ago I actually sat and talked to them for nearly an hour. I'm sure they are not the only class acts we have playing prep sports in Columbia County. I was just so impressed with how humble, polite and well-spoken they were. I can see Mickey Derrick's influence on Rice for sure. They obviously have been raised the right way, too. Don't change, guys. Work hard in the classroom and the sky is the limit for both of you.
9. A jersey retirement ceremony at Greenbrier
Perhaps this is already planned, but if not, Greenbrier should get busy planning the retirement of Kristen Glover's number. She led the Pack to the school's first state title in softball. Along the way she accumulated 100 victories and 1,000 strikeouts. She may be the best fast-pitch softball player the county will ever see. If not, it will certainly be quite some time before another pitcher even close to Glover comes along. Tennessee Tech is getting one heck of a talent.
10. Success for Randy Hill at Lakeside
Coach Hill has been at Lakeside since the very first football practice kicked off. This was before there was a football field on Blue Ridge Drive. Also, there is no bigger competitor on the planet. This season the team battled an array of injuries and struggled through a long season. While wins and losses are obviously important, molding quality young men is also an important job of a high school football coach. In this category Randy Hill gets an A-plus.
I played for Coach Hill 20 years ago as a middle-schooler and again as a senior at Lakeside, so I know firsthand how much work he puts in. I hope that in 2005 that hard work culminates in a big year for the Panthers.
Well, I could probably fill up the paper with Christmas wishes, but I'll stop at 10 for now. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.
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