Moving right along, hats off to the teams

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 14, 2001

This past Friday saw an event in our history that I have trouble remembering in the recent past.

Three out of our five high school football teams went into post-season playoffs! That is outstanding.

While Ft. Dale Academy was steered by a veteran Eagles Head Coach in Speed Sampley, both Greenville High School and McKenzie High School had first-year head coaches.

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Not that it was their first year coaching, far to the contrary, both Alvin Briggs and Shane Smothers had brought to our students and children experience.

But they were in their first years at their respective schools, and both were facing the odds stacked against them, taking the helm of teams that had not recently had a winning season.

But Shane and Alvin both laughed at the critics and cynics, and told anyone who would listen that their teams possessed extreme talent, and could do whatever it was they wanted to do.

But more than telling it to the communities, the coaches convinced the players that everyone of them are superstars, and that they had what it took, deep within their hearts, if they would only allow it to emerge.

And emerge it did. Ft. Dale Academy made it into the second round of playoffs in the Alabama Independent School Association, while both Greenville and McKenzie were able to host the first round of their Alabama High School Athletics Association playoffs as well.

And for the teams that struggled through the season with insurmountable odds stacked against them, Greenville Academy with its small numbers and new coach, and Georgiana High School with an even smaller team near the end than when they began, and a coach that started late in the season, we tip our hats to them also.

Bear Bryant once said that it takes a good player and team to walk away from the field a winner, but it takes an even greater player and team to walk off of the field after a loss, only to return again the next week to try again.

We should all be proud of our players, and let them know they are appreciated, as they are all stars in our minds.

Now that we have made it through football season, we have come to another season equally as challenging, if not more so to our young athletes.

Basketball season brings with it a very rigorous schedule, with two and sometimes three games each week for our stars to compete in for the name of their schools and fellow students.

Last year saw many bare seats in every basketball arena in the county.

We should all it make a point to come out and support our favorite teams, and let them know how much they are appreciated.

These great athletes, and many of the same ones will be on the courts as were on the fields during football season, deserve the feeling that they are appreciated for their sacrifices.

It is the players on the teams that must make high marks in the classrooms and stay out of trouble, so they can represent their schools and fellow students in the challenges of the sports they participate in.

I don't know about you, but I will certainly don my tennis shoes and be there at courtside to support the players as they compete in the matches they are so adept at playing.

So when you come out to the basketball games, if you look over on the west end of the court, if you squint really hard (not too much, mind you, I'm not too hard to notice now with my 40-year-old physique) you will see that I am still out there, way out in Deep Left Field.