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Sommers

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Sommers last won the day on January 13

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About Sommers

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    Nolensville
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    Enjoy Throwing out Kudo's for those that sacrifice for our great sport of wrestling!

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  1. Interesting read on classifications... https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/sports/tssaa-turns-its-back-on-mid-sized-schools/article_94a3da8a-e6e9-11ea-bd3d-d70ce3812bc7.html
  2. How many of you have watched this movie...
  3. The Ervin Union county Moc invasion continues... https://gomocs.com/news/2020/8/20/wrestling-three-time-kentucky-state-champ-part-of-incoming-class.aspx
  4. https://techlunchpail.com/blog/virginia-tech-wrestling-lands-commitment-from-cooper-flynn
  5. I Like it!! GoMocs.com returns to its profiling of the incoming recruiting class of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team. This week's article takes a look at two-time Kentucky state champion Micah Ervin. Ervin is a native of Morganfield, Ky., and competed for Union County High School. The son of Robert and Laura Ervin, Micah wrestled for his father at Union County. The Braves are the five-time defending state team champions with 12 titles overall. Micah competed at 182 as a senior, where he won his second consecutive state championship by pinning his finals opponent in 20 seconds. He projects at 184 or 197 at the collegiate level. He was 92-4 in his final two years of prep competition. He was an NHCSA National Champion as a freshman and finished fourth as a junior. "Micah is a great addition to an already talented upper weight class," stated UTC wrestling head coach Kyle Ruschell. "He has been around the sport his entire life and knows what it takes. Watching his brothers go through it at different schools, he will come in right away to push our team to be great. "He comes from a hard-nosed family that fights on the mat and gives their all. I am excited to have the Ervin family a part of our team."Three of Ervin's brothers competed collegiately at the Division I level. Caleb was a four-year letter winner at Illinois, while Isaac lettered at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Saul is currently on SIUE's roster as a sophomore in 2020-21. He has two other brothers, Elijah and Matthias, and a sister, Thea. Matthias is also continuing that family tradition of collegiate wrestling by joining Micah at UTC in the fall. Check back to GoMocs.com next week for that profile. https://gomocs.com/news/2020/7/27/wrestling-two-time-kentucky-state-champion-added-to-utc-recruiting-class.aspx
  6. Sports: Columns Wiedmer: B.B. Branton close to irreplaceable as a local sports historian July 13th, 2020 | by Mark Wiedmer When Jay Blackman first took over communications for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic department in December 2008, one of the first people he met was local sports writer and wrestling historian B.B. Branton. "From the moment I started here, B.B. was a huge help to me," said Blackman, now the senior associate athletic director for strategic communications. "He had an uncanny knowledge of all Chattanooga sports, but especially wrestling, football and tennis." Branton passed away Sunday after a long, courageous battle with cancer. For a lot of us who once worked with him at the Times Free Press, as well as prep coaches throughout the region, it was an especially painful loss. "It breaks my heart," said Soddy-Daisy principal Steve Henry, long one of the Scenic City's most successful wrestling coaches. "I loved B.B. He and Luther Killian are the biggest reasons we've got the Tennessee Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was such a researcher. He'd bring records to the surface that no one else knew existed." This sports department's David Paschall worked with Branton after B.B. returned from a stint in California as the sports information director for Athletes in Action and a couple of World Cup soccer venues. "From a professional standpoint, the great thing about B.B. was that no sport was too small," Paschall said. "He cared as much about a Little League baseball game as a World Series game. And he was always careful to get the names of every kid he covered, even if it was 7- or 8-year-old Dixie Youth game. "And personally, when each of our three children were born, he'd leave a little gift for them in our mailbox. He had that amazing personal touch about him." A personal memory: The home B.B. grew up in on Lookout Mountain had a wonderful pool in the backyard. When he moved into the home after his parents' deaths, B.B. never failed to send my two daughters a note that proclaimed, "The pool's open. Drop by anytime." Henry recalled the night he and Branton were being inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame a few years ago. "I was running late for the induction class picture before the dinner began because I'd gone to pick up my mother," Henry said. "B.B. wouldn't let them take the picture until I got there. That's the kind of guy he was." Another example of the kind of guy he was: For almost every year since 1977 that he lived in Chattanooga, Branton would gather together old friends from his childhood here for a lunch on the day after Christmas. Said B.B. to this newspaper in 2017 when asked about those lunches of nearly 40 years: "I enjoy organizing, keeping up with friends and trying to find them. Who do you rely on if you don't keep up with friends from long ago?" How much did the sport of wrestling rely on Branton over portions of five decades? When B.B. was inducted into the Tennessee chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2019 for "lifetime service to wrestling," fellow Hall of Famer and longtime McCallie faculty member Killian said of Branton, according to an obituary in the Chattanoogan: "No one in Tennessee has written so eloquently about high school, college, and international wrestling with such depth and breadth as Mr. Branton. Because of his knowledge, 'BB' is jokingly referred to as the 'Rainman' of Tennessee wrestling. Whether he is recounting a semifinals match of a recent state tournament or a high school dual meet he watched as a fifth grader, Branton will share the event with the details, and the stories behind the details. His writing reflects the critical eye of a referee, the knowledge of a coach, the enthusiasm of a parent, and the passion of a champion." Yet while this supreme knowledge of most local sports often encouraged him to send emails or make phone calls to those he knew had fallen short of correctly stating the facts of a particular sport or event, he never gloated over what he knew that they didn't. "He wasn't afraid to correct you," Blackman said. "But B.B. was always very professional about it. He never did it in public. He never tried to show you up or embarrass you. He'd usually just send you an email. He just wanted to make sure you always got the facts right. And he really did know everything about Chattanooga sports. We put out something on UTC homecoming games one time. He emailed us to say he thought we'd missed a couple. He was right, of course." As Henry was reflecting on B.B., and what his loss means to the wrestling community he knew and reported on like few others, he said, "B.B.'s one of those people who's irreplaceable." When it comes to Branton's gift for chronicling local sports, he might be right. Mark Wiedmer Contact Mark Wiedmer at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TFPWeeds.
  7. Rossview wrestling sees four athletes sign college scholarships By Neil Rye June 30, 2020 12:32 pm FacebooTwitter ked Clarksville Now CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (CLARKSVILLENOW) – Rossview wrestling recently had four athletes sign college scholarships to continue their athletic and academic careers. Thomas Williams Williams attended Kenwood for his first two years of high school where he became a 2x state qualifier and a region champion. At Rossview, Williams managed to continue to qualify for state two more times and go on to become a 4x state qualifier while adding another region title. During his senior year, Williams had only one loss before heading into the state tournament against nationally-ranked Garrett Bowers from Christian Brothers where he eventually went on to take 2nd place. “Thomas is an outstanding young man whose dedication and hard work paid off this year,” said Brad Warren, assistant wrestling coach for the TN Women’s National Team. “He is the most charismatic young man I’ve ever known. Thomas loves life and he makes sure to take advantage of it. He lives for wrestling and can’t wait to get to the next level this coming year.” Record: 166-24 4x State Qualifier 2x State Placer- 4th place junior year at 132lbs, 2nd place senior year at 145lbs Received Lower Weight Region Wrestler of the Year Williams signed with David & Elkins in West Virginia Robin Yunis Yunis became the first girl’s wrestler in Rossview program history to win a state championship. She went undefeated three straight years and was a part of three consecutive state championship teams. In USA Wrestling, Yunis was nationally ranked as high as No. 5 and ended high school ranked 8th at 127lbs. She placed 5th in the 2019 Women’s Freestyle Nationals U23 division at 57kg and was also an All-American. Yunis was ranked 44th on USA Future Olympic Rankings List and spent four years on the TN Women’s National Team. “Robin is the most naturally talented female wrestler in the country,” Warren said. “She comes from a wrestling family and her determination to be a state champion and All-American paid off. Robin’s focus and attention to detail is what makes her such a great wrestler…She’s a perfectionist.” Record: 120-2 4x State Qualifier 4x Region Champion 4x State Champion 1st Female Mid TN Dream Wrestler of the Year 2x Tennessean Wrestler of the Year Yunis signed with Dixie State University in Utah Emma Walker Walker became the second girl’s wrestler in Rossview program history to win a state championship. She went undefeated three consecutive years and was part of three straight state championship teams. In USA Wrestling, Walker was nationally ranked as high as No. 3 and ended high school ranked 5th at 132lbs. She was the 2018 Cadet Division National Champion at 132lbs and took 3rd place in the 2018 Junior Division at 132lbs. In the 2019 Junior Division, Walker finished in 4th place at 132lbs and 4th place in the Fargo Nationals Junior Division at 62kg. She was also an All-American. Walker ranked 25th on the USA Future Olympic Rankings List and spent three years on TN Women’s National Team. “Emma works hard for everything she has had to do,” Warren said. “From classwork, soccer to wrestling and has reached success through extraneous time and effort to be the best. She never gives up and will train with the best to be the best. Her personality can make anyone around her love life.” Record: 115-12 4x State Qualifier 3x Region Champion 4x State Placer 3x State Champion 2nd Female & 2x Mid TN Dream Wrestler of the Year TN Tricia Saunders Award Winner Emma Walker signed with Campbellsville University in Kentucky SaQara Buchanan Buchanan went undefeated her senior year and became Rossview’s fourth ever state champion. She was a part of three consecutive state championship teams and spent one year on the TN Women’s National Team. “SaQara always has a smile on her face and nothing brings her down,” Warren said. “She has grown to love the sport of wrestling. She has overcome injury throughout the sport and knows that wrestling is what has helped her become so strong. She is the first on the mat ready to start training and the last to leave. She is a natural leader.” Record: 69-12 3x State Qualifier 3x Region Champion 3x State Placer State Champion TN Dream Team Wrestler at 140lbs Buchanan signed with Tiffin University in Ohio The first-ever Rossview High School girl’s wrestling team ended the 2019-20 season ranked 11th nationally by USA Wrestling.
  8. From FB and UTC... We have lost one of the great GA wrestlers, my good friend and teammate, Bobby Demeritt. Many knew Bobby as a fierce competitor and dedicated coach of wrestling, but he was a great human being. Unfortunately, he was battling internal demons of depression, addiction and a bi-polar disorder. This combination was one match he couldn't win and sadly he took his own life. Bobby was 3 Time State Champ, HS All American, a Member US World Greco Team, US Open National Champion, 2nd in the Panam Games.. just to name a few. He coached many elementary, HS and College wrestlers and was dedicated to the sport of wrestling. He was as a dedicated loving father, coach, brother, teammate, friend, solider, and Christian. I wanted this community to know that he will be missed but never forgotten. https://gf.me/u/yakxpj https://www.facebook.com/groups/492619600905746/permalink/1594827084018320/
  9. Cole McCartney inks with Ouachita Baptist wrestling STAFF REPORTS [email protected] 19 hrs ago Cole McCartney was joined at his ceremony by (front row, l to r): Johnny and Autumn McCartney and (back row) Ally McCartney and Makayla Bryant. Former Greenbrier High School wrestler Cole McCartney signed scholarship papers with Ouachita Baptist University (Ark.) on Monday, June 15. He defeated Pigeon Forge’s Noah Dyer by a 7-6 decision to finish third in the TSSAA Class A-AA 126-pound state tournament bracket. McCartney, who committed to Ouachita Baptist last fall, was also named to the TSWA All-State wrestling team. https://www.robertsoncountyconnection.com/sports/prep_sports/cole-mccartney-inks-with-ouachita-baptist-wrestling/article_a12f5a8a-b021-11ea-a189-5fa90610c868.html ------------------------------- Girls wrestling... I remember Tennessee early on with just a handful of states with Steve Henry at Soddy and Jeff Price of Science Hill leasing the way... Illinois is the 26th state to approve girls wrestling, joining Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington. https://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/article/WRESTLING-IHSA-approves-girls-wrestling-state-15352575.php Kudos to Montgomery Central (and another coach Price) and others growing this movement within The Clarksville/Montgomery Co area!
  10. Great job Grinder!!! Hope all goes well with your next endeavor 
  11. PIAA Board of Directors unanimously passes 2nd reading of proposal to reduce high school wrestling weight classes Updated Jun 15, 5:49 PM; Posted Jun 15, 4:52 PM Bishop McDevitt’s Chase Shields greets Glendale’s Brock McMullen prior to the 2019 PIAA Class 2A wrestling state championship finals at Giant Center. March 09, 2019 Sean Simmers | [email protected] PENNLIVE.COM By Dustin Hockensmith | [email protected] The PIAA Board of Directors cleared a pivotal step on Monday to approve a reduction in the number of high school wrestling weight classes from 14 to 13 for the 2020-’21 season. The board unanimously passed the measure on a second reading, setting up a third reading at its July meeting. If the proposal is approved at the board meeting on July 14-15, the measure would pass for the upcoming season. The 13 weights in the PIAA proposal are: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215 and 285. The current weights are: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. https://www.pennlive.com/highschoolsports/wrestling/2020/06/piaa-board-of-directors-unanimously-passes-2nd-reading-of-proposal-to-reduce-high-school-wrestling-weight-classes.html ---------------------- William Blount athletes celebrate college signings By Corey Roepken [email protected] 21 hrs ago 1 of 8 William Blount’s Daniel Arp signs a National Letter of Intent with the University of the Cumberlands. Corey Roepken | The Daily Times William Blount’s Sara Kagley signs a National Letter of Intent with Milligan College’s basketball team. Corey Roepken | The Daily Times William Blount’s Connor Dodson signs a National Letter of Intent to play soccer for Tennessee Wesleyan. Corey Roepken | The Daily Times William Blount’s Rachel Kessler signs a National Letter of Intent with the Truett McConnell volleyball team. Corey Roepken | The Daily Times William Blount's Seth Cooper signs a National Letter of Intent with the Carson-Newman football team Taylor Vortherms | The Daily Times William Blount's Noah Durman signs a National Letter of Intent with Mount St. Joseph University's football team. Taylor Vortherms | The Daily Times William Blount's Emilee Braden signs a National Letter of Intent with the Tennessee Wesleyan softball team. Taylor Vortherms | The Daily Times William Blount's Ben Kenny signs a National Letter of Intent to play football for Carson-Newman. Taylor Vortherms | The Daily Times From the time he was 5 years old to the time he was in fourth grade, Daniel Arp never wanted to stop wrestling. Even though he was far away from the reality, he said he dreamed of one day competing for a college team. His dream suffered a major setback when he was in fifth grade because his father’s job took the family to a school district that did not have a wrestling program. It was quite the jolt for a kid who didn’t want to do anything but wrestle. “It was terrible,” Arp said. “For the longest time I would wake up and my mindset was just wrestling. (Then) for five years it was just nothing. I did track for one year and it didn’t give me the same satisfaction wrestling always has.” Luckily for Arp, his story has a happy ending. His father took another job ahead of Arp’s junior year of high school, and the family moved to the William Blount school zone. The Governors, of course, do have a wrestling team. The recent graduate made up for lost time in his only two seasons of high school wrestling and landed a spot on the team at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky. He celebrated his signing Monday afternoon with friends and family in the William Blount gym. Arp was one of eight recent graduates to sign their National Letters of Intent, including football players Ben Kenny, Noah Durman and Seth Cooper; basketball player Sara Kagley; soccer player Connor Dodson; volleyball player Rachel Kessler; and softball player Emilee Braden. Nobody would have blinked an eye had Arp taken a while to get going after not wrestling for five years, but he hit the ground running once he arrived at William Blount. He would try wrestling at the house with his dad or with his older brother’s friends, but nothing made up for what he got out of walking into a high school wrestling room with other kids his age who all were striving for the same goal. Arp won early and often during his junior season and eventually qualified for the state tournament. He qualified for state as a senior, too. “It shows his work ethic was second to none because he had to pick up where he left off when people he was going to wrestle had been wrestling that entire time,” William Blount coach Garrick Henderson said. “Not only did he come to practice and work his butt off, he stayed afterwards, and then when he went home he worked there with his dad and with other teammates. “He knew the challenge that was ahead of him. I’m very proud of him for accomplishing that feat today. It’s something every wrestler dreams of.” Kagley also had a harsh setback when she was a young basketball player. She was just starting to fall in love with the sport in the fifth grade when she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She said her internal organs were struggling and that fluids rushed into her joints. At one point she was told she might never run again. “It was awful,” said Kagley, who signed with Milligan University on Monday. “I didn’t really know what super sadness was in fifth grade, but it’s hard when you grow up playing sports and you get told you cannot do anything. You can’t run. You can’t jump, nothing. I had to just sit there and watch.” After missing her fifth grade season, she was given a clean bill of health and got back into rhythm on the court. When she reached the high school level, though, she was far behind her varsity teammates; contributing at a high level seemed farfetched. That changed over the next few seasons, and by the time she took the court as a senior, she was one of the Lady Governors’ top rebounders. When coach Todd Wright introduced the rebounding belt midway through the pandemic-shortened season, she received it as the leading rebounder in more than half of the games. That was the icing on the cake after she reached a level at which she thought she had a chance to play in college. She reached out to Milligan coach Kylie Russell and the process went smoothly. Russell and Kagley already had known each other for more than five years, so when Russell, an Alcoa High School graduate who recently took over as Milligan’s head coach, saw how much Kagley had improved, she jumped at the chance to sign her. Russell was there on Monday to speak and watch Kagley sign her NLI. “The process was super easy, which I am thankful for,” Kagley said. “My parents didn’t go to college, so this was new to all of us. None of us really knew what was going on. (Russell) made it so much easier because we already knew her. We understood everything.” Unlike Kagley and Arp, Dodson didn’t start playing his sport because of dreams of playing in college. He just wanted to be around his friends. He joined the team his sophomore year, but his interest level grew after playing on a club team for one season and meeting William Blount coach Jordan Hill, whose first season was Dodson’s junior year. Dodson, who signed with Tennessee Wesleyan on Monday, played all around the pitch throughout his two high school seasons and was set to make his mark at central midfield as a senior before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season. By then he had attended a camp at Tennessee Wesleyan, and the coaches offered him a spot on the team that day. It didn’t take long for Dodson to accept, and now he said he’s excited to take his relatively new love to another level. “Junior year changed everything for me,” Dodson said. “It made me want to do better and be a better person. I wanted to go to the next level because I didn’t want to do anything but soccer. It changed my whole life.” https://www.thedailytimes.com/sports/william-blount-athletes-celebrate-college-signings/article_b5425133-ea9a-59da-af9d-be586f2ff875.html
  12. Mobile Sports Photo Credit: Three-Time SC State Champ Set to Join UTC in the Fall Williams is the first in a list of profiles on UTC's incoming wrestling recruits. Jun. 02, 2020 Wrestling University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head wrestling coach, Kyle Ruschell, has signed another impressive recruiting class heading into the 2020-21 season. Over the next few weeks, GoMocs.com will take a closer look at the newcomers joining the program this fall. The first is freshman Matthew Williams. The Fair Play, South Carolina native is a three-time state champion at West-Oak High School. There, he competed for head coach Greg Brewer. Former Moc and 2001 Southern Conference Champion Adam Duncan (1997-01) is an assistant coach on Brewer's staff. "Matt is a hard worker with a lot of talent," stated Ruschell. "A UTC alum coached him during his prep career, so he already understands the workman-like mentality that is Chattanooga Wrestling is known for." With an overall record of 177-20, Williams was a state finalist in all four years of his high school career. His lone finals loss came as a freshman. He then followed up with three state titles and only eight losses during his final three seasons. "As a four-time state finalist and three-time champ, his resume speaks for itself," Ruschell added. "But what we really like is how he carries himself on and off the mat. Once we got Matt on his recruiting visit and realized his mindset, we knew we had to get him." Ruschell predicts that Williams will wrestle at 149 pounds coming into his collegiate career. The 2019 South Carolina Coaches Most Outstanding Wrestler, Williams, was also an honor roll student in the classroom. "He will fit perfectly into our culture both on and off the mat," said Coach Ruschell. "We are very excited to get him in the room and see what he can do!"
  13. HC Scott Seaman of Hopkinsville High in KY may have something. Also, Jacky Blosser went back into his field of Environmental Engineering recently. I believe Whitwell High, near Chattanooga, may have an opening.
  14. Sad Times.... Former Collins Hill football player, wrestler Jaquan Reece, 19, murdered in Knoxville By Will Hammock [email protected] 17 hrs ago 1 of 4 Collins Hill grad Jaquan Reece, right, was murdered Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. Special Photo Collins Hill grad Jaquan Reece, left, was murdered Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. Special Photo Vehicle of interest in the murder of Collins Hill grad Jaquan Reece. Knoxville Police Jaquan Reece, left, makes a tackle against Parkview. Former Collins Hill football and wrestling standout Jaquan Reece was murdered Saturday afternoon in Knoxville, Tenn. The city’s police department confirmed his identity Sunday. According to police, Reece, 19, drove in his own vehicle to the University of Tennessee Medical Center around 2 p.m. Saturday. He was suffering from a gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the hospital. The 2019 Collins Hill grad moved to Knoxville after high school and was enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. He was considering a career in the military. “(Reece) was one of the first kids I met when I came to Collins Hill,” former Collins Hill wrestling coach Nate Ethridge said. “He was a great kid with a huge smile. He was always happy. He was a joy to coach pretty much. He was tough. He wrestled at Collins Hill for two years. He transferred here from Parkview after two years. He was a state qualifier for us. He was a hard-working kid, a good kid." Vehicle of interest in the murder of Collins Hill grad Jaquan Reece. Knoxville Police Reece visited Gwinnett back in December for the Eagles’ Kyle Maynard Duals, Ethridge said. In addition to being a state qualifier in wrestling, Reece was a starter on the football team for two years. He had 61 tackles and two interceptions as a senior for a state playoff team. “Jaquan was a great player for us,” Collins Hill head coach Lenny Gregory said. “He was very productive. He started at safety, was a kickoff returner, a great athlete. He was always smiling, a great kid. It’s a horrible loss of a young man that was loved. The teachers loved him. The kids loved him. He was smart. I’m so shocked because he’s such a good kid.” Collins Hill's Jaquan Reece carries the ball in a game against Mill Creek. Knoxville Police believe the shooting occurred in the area of Sunset Avenue and South Castle Street, and officials requested anyone with information — anonymity is permitted — to call 865-215-7212 --------------- https://tssaa.org/article/unwelcome-reality-coaching-students-through-daunting-times Unwelcome reality: coaching students through daunting times Leadership makes a difference, now and in the future April 29, 2020 Greg McCullough had just arrived inside MTSU's Murphy Center for the Thursday games at the Tennessee Girls’ State Basketball Championships. But as the Memphis Central principal and TSSAA Board of Control Vice President would soon come to find out, the sports world and society writ large had begun the painful process of shutting down social activities due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The pandemic was raging and closing in fast on the storied Glass House. “As things were unfolding, we’re sitting there watching games, and big-time college tournaments were being cancelled,” McCullough said. “It was just really a weird, surreal feeling. Plans would be made, then changed in hours. “That Thursday, sitting in the stands at Girls’ State, Mr. Childress was even telling us board members that we couldn't come back tomorrow. At that time, teams were going to be playing in this huge arena in front of 100 select people." Ultimately, the tournament would be halted Thursday night. "I cannot imagine," McCullough added, "to have worked that hard and not gotten the chance to finish that dream, that’s a tough pill to swallow. But we just try to find the positive we can get out of it.” Mr. Childress, as in TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress, went to great lengths in the weeks after the state tournament was suspended, with input from every corner of the state, in an effort to find a method to salvage the final games of the boys’ and girls’ basketball seasons, as well as scrape together some semblance of a spring sports season. Greg Wyant, longtime football coach and athletics director at Murfreesboro's Siegel High School, remembers offering a parting piece of advice for students heading home on a cruel Friday the 13th. “Many kids on the track team were in my weightlifting class that afternoon and I remember telling them before they walked out for the weekend that you need to be mentally prepared to not be here Monday and maybe not run track the rest of the season. Enjoy your meet on Saturday; it might be the last for a while if not for the year,” Wyant said. “The NBA was shutting down, then the MLB, then the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, you could really see the writing on the wall. I just tried to talk to them and mentally prepare them for what the possibilities could be. “I think a lot of the kids are a lot like a lot of us as adults, like, ‘Yeah, sure. No way that’s going to happen.’ But nobody’s ever seen anything like this." Barely one month later, on April 15, those collective efforts were rendered moot when Gov. Bill Lee said the Volunteer State’s school buildings should remain closed through the end of the academic year. The TSSAA immediately followed through with the formal decision to cancel all remaining interscholastic sports for the academic year, an eventuality faced by high school associations across the country. In speaking to a variety of coaches, administrators and leaders throughout the state of Tennessee, the hope moving forward centers around gradually transforming these unprecedented obstacles into potential life lessons.  Ann Mullins “I think that, in the same way that sports provide teaching moments — how to win and how to lose, be respectful to teammates and opponents, how to be responsible and accountable — this experience has provided us with many of the same teaching opportunities and coaches are using it this way,” said Father Ryan Athletics Director Ann Mullins, “We talk to athletes about dealing with obstacles, overcoming adversity, gaining perspective. “For as important as athletics are to the school community, their importance takes a backseat to the struggles that so many in the community and in the nation are facing. I think that is possibly the most important teaching moment for us as an athletic department and as a coach, period. We follow the lead of our president (Jim McIntyre) and principal (Paul Davis) who do a phenomenal job in helping us face these challenges.” Fulton’s Jody Wright, the school’s state-title-winning boys’ basketball coach as well as athletics director and assistant principal at the Knoxville school, also said this unprecedented crisis has coerced a refreshed perspective. “One of the things that I think is a really sound message is that once we get out of this that we as coaches can point to this situation and say: We don’t know what tomorrow holds,” Wright said. “God gives us today. So many times we take for granted our day, the moment we have, we take those things for granted. Seize the day, as the saying goes. “Coaches have a tremendous opportunity coming out of this to teach cherishing what you have, cherishing the time we have and embracing the moment.” Coaches and schools throughout the state are finding different ways to honor their students, athletes or otherwise, as this now-digital academic year winds towards its end. Gatlinburg-Pittman soccer coaches Caleb Keener and Zach Schrandt, for example, led a socially-distanced convoy of cars past the house of a senior player this month to honk happy birthday wishes. Mullins joined Father Ryan’s entire leadership team in distributing Class of 2020 graduation blankets and yard signs around Nashville on a recent Friday. In Memphis, McCullough and others are finding as many ways as possible to engage with their now-distanced youths.  Greg McCullough “We’re trying in our district to address our kids much as we can,” McCullough said. “This is uncharted territory, scary for a lot of people, and we want to remind them to stay safe and let them know, ‘We miss you.’ The athletic piece is a big part, but right now our seniors don’t get to experience prom, graduation. We just have to live with the hope that everything will get better. “There are a lot of difficult things about this. I think as humans, we're always sitting back thinking about, ‘I wish I’d known then what I know now. I would have done this or that, or maybe I would have practiced harder.’ But if you’re a competitor you really have to live in the moment. You can only play for so long. Even if you’re LeBron James, you can still only play for so long. You have to live in the moments.” These hardships are not only teaching tools for the youth. Administrators are wondering what school buildings and classrooms might look like in the fall; coaches are uncertain about summer camps, practices or a reasonable facsimile for their fall schedules. What is developing through this challenge, however, is a greater coach-to-coach, region-to-region and sport-to-sport camaraderie. “I have found that we, as athletics directors, are in different email groups with TSSAA, TIAAA, NAIS and different independent schools, and it’s really been awesome,” said Mullins, a former standout volleyball player at Father Ryan, the University of Tennessee and Lipscomb University. “It’s great to see how all of the athletic directors and principals and all of the heads of schools have come together, even over email, to float different ideas about what they’re doing or what their teachers and coaches are doing and how they are staying in communication. Even if you’re LeBron James, you can still only play for so long. You have to live in the moments. “I think it definitely has hit the reset button for us and I think it has brought us closer together. And I am very much looking forward to working with other schools for the betterment of our students and of our student-athletes.” “Everybody is affected,” said Wright, a Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “I call it the fraternity of coaches. We compete hard against each other, we want to win, but only that other coach across the sidelines knows what you go through before the game and how hard you work. “There is a little bit of kindred spirit growing because it's not affected just one town, one part of the state, one sport. We’re all not having daily contact with kids in the way we are used to as teachers and coaches, and all coaches are in the same boat and this gives us all some common ground, we can all empathize.” McCullough eyes a greater horizon. “We hope that this can bring us together,” McCullough said. “Not only just the state but in the country, we’re such a divided country and everything is so political right now. My thing is we’re all Americans here and we've got to figure this out. We’ve got to help each other, stay safe, and help with finances when it’s bad for this person or that person. "We have a tendency to leave situations behind. But I think the best teaching is going to come after we get back to some normalcy. We shouldn't forget what has happened, and hopefully we look back and say, ‘We came through this together,’ and if we all come together, we can make it through this and get better and be prepared for it. And we can help kids live in the moment and say, ‘Hey, you never know, this might be your last game. Live in that moment and play hard and represent your school and your community and appreciate the chance to compete.’”
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