What happened

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 14, 2006

to the hey days?

Sitting along the baseline of Saturday's boys basketball game between Fort Dale Academy and No. 2-ranked Cottage Hill Academy, Fort Dale headmaster David Brantley said he had wished that I had been in Greenville during the Eagles' hey-day.

After seeing the Eagles get crushed 71-48, I, too, have yearned for the day when Fort Dale, Greenville, Georgiana and McKenzie were in their hey-day.

Seems like all of the schools have been in a &#8220hey, we don't have much to say hey about day.”

I have read about the great teams from the Butler County schools, but I haven't seen much of a glimpse from many of the teams so far since I joined the Advocate in April.

One thing I can say is that girls rule in Butler County.

I base that on the facts that the Fort Dale girls tennis team won the AAA state title no more than a month into me coming here.

The Fort Dale girls basketball team played for the AAA title last year and are ranked in the top 10 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association Alabama Independent School Association poll.

And McKenzie's girls basketball team is having one of its best years in school's history.

How about those guys?

Yea, what about them.

The football teams were mediocre at best.

The basketball teams are mediocre at best.

Last year's baseball teams were mediocre at best.

Having been in sports for almost 20 years, I understand that championships and great teams come in waves at the high school level.

But I also have been in areas where at least one school does well at one sport or another.

I haven't seen that happen for any of the schools within the county.

So I wonder out loud how much people within Butler County care about the success of the athletic teams representing them.

I was once told by a reader that academics should always take precedent over athletics. I couldn't agree more, but athletics do play an important part to the development of student-athletes.

The lessons learned at that level tend to stick with student-athletes beyond their high school and even college years.

You often read about that one coach at a high school that played an important role in a professional athlete's life.

I'm not saying that Butler County needs to become an athletic factory and just give up on academics. I'm saying that success can also be achieved in the athletic arena just as it is in the academic arena.

The right coach is not the answer either. It takes the work of an entire community to develop a championship athletic program.

I have seen first-hand the work it takes to establish and keep a championship level program. It starts at the very beginning, not when kids get to middle school or junior high.

It starts at the recreation level.

The difference, however, is that the recreation coaches are on the same page s the high school coach. And that goes for middle school and junior high coaches.

Butler County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney told me last week that he's looking for some stability to the Greenville High football program. That program not only needs stability, but it also needs consistency.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.