BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – We all like the sound of making a difference in the community, but how many of us actually take action? Fannin County High School student, Cassie Stepp, took the initiative to put her own community service project into place.
Stepp is a junior at Fannin County High School who is currently juggling not only her high school classes but dual enrollment at North Georgia Technical College along with her project. The Fannin County junior came up with the idea of supplying backpacks, full of everyday necessities that we take for granted, to the homeless. She came up with the idea all on her own and named her project “Blessing Backs With Packs”. When asked how she came up with the project and what made her decide to do it, Stepp responded, “I was at church one night when our youth leader, Justin Minter, asked us, ‘If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?’ My immediate thought was to help the homeless. Since I cannot build homes, I started to think on it and came up with this.”
Putting the project into place took a lot of time, patience, and planning. Once Stepp knew that she wanted to make her project happen, she went to one of her youth leaders, Matt Meeks, to lead her in the right direction. “Matt helped me schedule meetings to get my project approved and moving along,” Stepp shared with the FetchYourNews (FYN) team. “There have definitely been challenges that I’ve had to overcome when scheduling the important meetings because I’ve been so busy, but I have managed to work through it.”
Knowing that putting the bags together would take a lot of money, Stepp hit the drawing board. “Starting out, I set a goal for $500 in order to make 10 bags,” Stepp explained. Cassie raised money from a bake sale, yard sale, and a raffle. She stayed up for hours the night before her bake/yard sale making desserts, rounding up things she no longer used, making signs, and pricing items. For her raffle, Stepp went to local businesses asking for generous donations to put in the baskets she would be giving away. “Altogether I raised $600, exceeding my goal by $100,” Stepp said.
Then, Stepp wasted no time purchasing the bags and the items to go in it. In the bags, she included: a piece of paper explaining what the bag was, socks, a lot of canned food, an emergency blanket, a small flashlight, pens, hygiene products, a Bible, a journal, a water bottle, and information about local shelters. When asking Stepp how many people she will have helped at the end of her project, she responded, “There are currently 34 homeless in Fannin, and I plan to eventually help them all. I established the goal of 10 bags as a starting point for my project to grow off of. I spent $400 on the 10 bags and plan to put the leftover $200 towards the other 24 bags after more fundraising.”
After asking Stepp when she thinks the rest of her bags will be complete and her project will come to an end, she answered, “I don’t plan for my project to ever come to an end. After I’ve helped everyone in Fannin, I want to expand my project into other counties to help more people.” Cassie is continuing to think of more ways to raise money for her project as she also works to become a non-profit organization so that Blessing Backs with Packs can grow.
Stepp has made such a big impact on the community from being asked one simple question from her youth leader. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
“I would like to express my appreciation to all of the businesses who donated items for the raffle and helped me reach my goal. I could not have done this without them,” Stepp shared with the FYN team. The organizations include: Serenity Spa and Resort, Mason Tractor Company, Dairy Queen, April’s Attic, Blue Ridge Outdoor Adventure Wear, River Gypsy, Humble Pie, Blue Ridge Bird Seed Company, Chocolate Express, Blue Ridge Mountain Mall, Blue Ridge Fly Fishing, Fannin Lanes, Cohutta Mini Golf, Cohutta Feed and Seed, Taste of Amish, Blue Ridge Oil Change, X-Treme Print Graphics, Fannin County High School, Donna Gray, and Cheryl Stepp.
High school athletics are a huge part of character development for our young men and women, teaching them how to overcome adversity, work together, balance studies with extracurricular activities, and last but not least: It is their first legitimate introduction to health and fitness.
You may have heard of the “Five Parts of Physical Fitness” before – but there are actually 11 components of what a coach evaluates when assessing the physical fitness of an athlete.
3. Body Composition
4. Cardiovascular Endurance
7. Muscular Endurance
8. Muscular Strength
10. Reaction Time
We use these components of physical fitness in our everyday lives, but the first true test of each of these measures typically comes by way of high school sports. Strength coaches help their athletes with endurance, strength, power and balance. Conditioning coaches help their athletes with cardiovascular endurance, reaction time, coordination and agility. All coaches typically impact an athletes body composition, flexibility and speed.
The one coach who assists the athletes with all of the above, however, is the athletic trainer. Day or night, when there is a ball game, a wrestling tournament, a track meet, or even at power puff flag football; the athletic trainer stands ready to help the athletes prevent accidents, stay hydrated, and in worst-case scenarios; diagnose and treat injuries as they occur. Oftentimes their hard work is overshadowed by the gameplay itself, but when a player goes down these coaches show their true value by coming to the immediate aide of all involved. Humbly waiting in the shadows of the sidelines, the athletic trainer answers the call that no one else would ever want to.
Fannin County High School’s head athletic trainer is Jeremy Keith King, a 2007 FCHS graduate who went on to study Sports Medicine with an emphasis in Athletic Training at Valdosta State University. Coach King graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in 2011 and after completing his internship at Northeast Medical Center/The Rehabilitation Institute in Gainesville, Ga, he began his career at Fannin County High School.
In 2013, he was hired as the Head Athletic Trainer for FCHS, and he was offered a full time teaching position in Healthcare Science.
When asked about his experience, King shared that he’s worked closely with multiple doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists and EMT’s; as well as many other sports medicine professionals. “To come home to my high school and serve as the head athletic trainer and instructor of the Sports Medicine program is a dream come true for me,” King told TeamFYNSports.
We asked one of his students/trainers about her experience learning from the head athletic trainer and participating in the Sports Medicine program at FCHS. Trudy Cobb is a senior, and could be seen carrying water bottles to players, coaches and even GHSA officials at each home and away football game this year.
“It’s a great experience to get to learn things that people my age don’t usually know,” Cobb told TeamFYNSports. “Coach King is a great teacher inside the classroom working with all high school grade levels, but in OUR program we learn SO MUCH MORE.” Cobb shared that she has been introduced to many healthcare professionals by King, and she felt that has helped her understand and develop a genuine interest in sports medicine as a potential career.
“I truly think that the key to knowing if you want to be in that career, you should immerse yourself into those type of situations,” Cobb explained, “but through [King’s] program, I have learned the hands-on of taping an ankle and working on rehabilitating athletes. You have to know the ins-and-outs of each and every sport because not only are you watching – and hopefully enjoying – the games; you must also know the essential motions of movements that the particular athletes you are working with use. It’s an experience that I am very blessed to have been a part of through my years in high school.”
Although his position at FCHS is a demanding one, King still makes time for his family and his other passions.
“I am happily married to Christa [King] and we have two daughters, Evie and Lyla,” said King. “They attend Fannin County schools.” He added that he and his wife recently welcomed their son, Thaddeus, to “Rebel Nation” this year.
King is also a member of the Blue Ridge Rugby Club and he is a proud member of the Phi Sigma Kappa National Fraternity. “I currently still serve as a mentor and advisor for new members [of Phi Sigma Kappa] and I serve on the Alumni Board of Executives,” King explained.
TeamFYNSports had an opportunity to catch up with Coach King, and since this is the time of year so many people tend to look at their new year resolutions, we thought we’d ask him if he had any advice for anyone getting out to the gym to try and shed a few pounds after a relatively sedentary holiday break. Here’s what he had to say:
“From an injury prevention measure, know your limitations. Don’t feel like you have to show out, your body can not just pick up right where it left off. Slowly ease yourself back into a workout program and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Gyms have personal trainers there to give you feedback and help you – if they don’t – consider a different gym. Also, don’t forget about the diet and stretching parts of a workout program. If you are wanting to get stronger or healthy, the diet is an important part of it. Our body needs “good” fuel to run on, especially if we are asking more from it. Stretching is important before and after a workout. Get a good dynamic (moving) 10-minute warm-up in before your start and a good cool down period before you stop. Static stretching (holding a stretch) is best after you are done with you entire workout. Remember it is all a process and results do not happen overnight, so stick with it even when you feel like giving up.”
We also asked King what was the most common cause for injuries in high school sports. His answer came as no surprise:
“#1 is accidents, stepping on another players foot, a plant and twist of the knee, getting hit. They are all freak accidents that you can’t control. That is where most injuries occur, but there are preventable injuries that happen too. The number one cause of “preventable” injuries in high school sports in my opinion is not stretching enough or not stretching adequately. Whether it is a dynamic warm up or static stretching after practice, kids just don’t do it enough. Our coaches do a great job having warm ups and giving kids time to stretch but if the kids don’t actually put the effort into it then it doesn’t do much good.”
If you’re a parent of a student athlete at FCHS, you may have already known who Coach King was; do us a favor the next time you see him and shake his hand. This is one coach who has put his whole life into his education, then turned around and brought his skills back to Fannin County to apply them in our community.
We are fortunate to have Coach King as the FCHS Head Athletic Trainer.
This past Friday on day two of the Mountaintop Holiday Classic, the Lady Bobcats traveled to take on the Lady Rebels. The Lady Bobcats were coming from a win on day one of the tournament while the Lady Rebels were well rested from the bye game that was scheduled on the first day. Both teams came ready to play and were hungry for another win.
It appeared to be an even matchup from the start. Gilmer had the hustle on defense while Fannin had the determination on offense. The Lady Rebels seemed to score the majority of their points off plays. Lady Rebel, Maleah Stepp, led Fannin in scoring with thirteen points with her will to win. The Lady Bobcats made most of their points from driving the lane and playing in the moment. Lady Bobcat, Mallory Kiser, led her team in scoring with nine points due to her grit. Lady Rebel post, Mackenzie McClure, was on fire with her outside shots which put her right behind Stepp in scoring with ten points. Lady Bobcat guard, Taylor Boling, was behind Kiser in scoring with seven points overall. With the first quarter coming to an end, the Lady Rebels were just one point ahead of the Lady Bobcats with a score of 13-12.
The second quarter was back and forth. Neither team could keep a consistent lead for the eight minutes on the clock. The Lady Rebels started to play scrappy on defense and began rebounding. Lady Rebel, Bailey Whitener, got aggressive down low and contributed three points for her team. Another Lady Rebel, Maddie Johnson, got after it and scored five points after getting steals on defense. Gilmer started looking up the court to find Lady Bobcat, Marylee Callihan, who also put five points on the board for her team. Number twenty-four for the Lady Bobcats, Emma Callihan, put her all into the game and contributed four points for Gilmer. With Fannin in the lead halfway through the quarter, Lady cat Michaela Staley drew a foul and made two of her foul shots. Staley’s two points tied up the game. Gilmer continued to score and further their lead until the end of the second quarter. It was the Lady Rebels ball as the clock was winding down and Reagan Henderson happened to be wide open. Henderson received a beautiful pass down low which resulted in her making a buzzer beater shot and contributing two of her overall three points to tie the game 23-23.
With both teams having the same chances of winning, Fannin found their spunk. The Lady Rebels started to draw fouls from driving the lane. Lady Rebel, Hope Franklin, drew two fouls from the block and contributed two of her four points from the foul line. However, Fannin was not the only team to draw fouls. Lady Bobcat, Katie Kiker, drew a foul and put one point on the board for Gilmer. As Fannin’s lead extended, Gilmer came alive on the block. Lady Bobcat, Faith Ralston, scored two of her three points from down low. Another post for Gilmer, Jasmine Staley, contributed two points for the Lady Bobcats from under the basket. Gilmer’s lead strayed farther from Fannin’s which resulted in the score being 31-25 at the end of the third quarter.
With Gilmer down by only six points, they were determined to make a come back. Both teams wanted to win and it showed through their hustle and intensity. With Gilmer trying their best to catch up to Fannin, the Lady Rebels tried just as hard to keep their lead. Although both teams had the heart to win the game, one had to lose. The Lady Bobcats played an amazing game, but were five points away from victory. The Lady Rebels 38-33 win over the Lady Bobcats put Fannin in the championship game to be played the next day against the Lady Dragons.
The Lady Rebels win puts their overall record at 7-6 while the Lady Bobcats record also stands at 7-6. Catch the Lady Rebels next region game at Fannin County High School on January 5 against GAC starting at 7:00! Or catch the Lady Bobcats next region game on the same day and at the same time as they travel to take on Northwest Whitfield!
Fannin County High School is all set to host the 2017 Thanksgiving Tip-Off Tournament this Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. This year there are only four teams participating in the tournament, with Gilmer, Pickens and Hiwassee Dam all set to enter the gym for round-robin play. The tournament schedule is listed below:
Sat: 3 p.m. Girls: Gilmer vs. Pickens (boys play at 4:30 p.m.)
6 p.m. Girls: Fannin vs. Hiwassee Dam (boys play at 7:30 p.m.)
Mon: 3 p.m. Girls: Pickens vs. Hiwassee Dam (boys play at 4:30 p.m.)
6 p.m. Girls: Fannin vs Gilmer (boys play at 7:30 p.m.)
Tues: 3 p.m. Girls: Gilmer vs. Hiwassee Dam (boys play at 4:30 p.m.)
6 p.m. Girls: Fannin vs. Pickens (boys play at 7:30 p.m.)
The #TeamFYNSports “Fetch Force” will be courtside throughout the event, tweeting updates on our @TeamFYNSports twitter and uploading photos, videos and brief interview clips onto our TeamFYNSports facebook page throughout the tournament. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for full coverage of the games.
The coaches at Fannin County High School have had the pleasure of coaching some talented individuals over the years. Some athletes shine on the field, others in the weight room, and many are just great students. That’s nothing new in a school that boasts some of the best teaching, coaching and administration the state has to offer.
What’s rare is finding an athlete that encompasses the “total package” – a great student, talented athlete, and a pristine example within the community. A coach can go his entire career hoping to mold and mentor such an athlete. Jon Ayers took over the baseball program at FCHS four years ago, and upon his arrival, he met Will Shirah; i.e. the total package. The credit not only goes to Ayers and the FCHS coaching staff for polishing Shirah’s performance on the baseball field and in the classroom; but also to his parents, Cliff and Julie Shirah, who have raised more than a great baseball player. They’ve raised a fine young man.
Academically speaking, Shirah’s awards nearly outweigh his baseball trophy case. Ranked #1 out of 204 students, the Hugh O’Brien Leadership Award Winner has already earned 25 college semester hours as a Dual Enrollment student with a perfect (4.0) grade point average. A member of the National Honor Society as a sophomore, a member of the FCHS Academic Team both his junior and senior years, and recognized with Student Athlete Community Service Network’s All Area Honors; it’s no surprise Shirah was Senior Superlative voted “Best All Around” student at Fannin County High School.
When Shirah isn’t throwing 90mph fastballs across the plate at the baseball diamond, he’s throwing mashed potatoes and dinner rolls on plates at the Feed Fannin Thanksgiving Dinner as a Charity Good Samaritan volunteer – much slower than the fastballs, thankfully.
Shirah also volunteers to help prepare bags of food, furniture and clothing for homeless and indigent families with his church group at the Copper Basin Crisis Center. He’s a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event leader and actively works with multiple Christian outreach programs such as Fields of Faith.
He is a member of the United Community Bank Junior Board, along with 11 other seniors, which gives back the community by participating in monthly events such as Relay for Life and more.
Shirah’s work as a volunteer with the Fannin County High School Baseball Camp will be missed when he leaves for college, but he will undoubtedly also be missed at First Baptist Church where he regularly helps in the nursery. His resume for community service serves as a role model and positive example for everyone around him, a trait his coaches and parents each shared with everyone in attendance at Shirah’s college commitment signing.
His grades are superior, his involvement in the community is respectable, and his attitude is humble; but his performance on the baseball field is phenomenal.
Shirah has lettered his freshman, sophomore and junior years at FCHS. He was also named All Region First team (7-AAA) all three of those years. He received the pitching award all three years, and he averaged 1.7 K’s per inning pitched with 190 K’s in 108 innings (Author’s note: In baseball scorekeeping, a swinging strikeout is recorded as a K). He received the batting award as a freshman and a junior.
Shirah was recently named to the Preseason All State Region 7-AAA team and he was selected to be on the cover of the 2018 Georgia Dugout Club Preview Magazine. He’s also been named to the Rawlings PG National Preseason Underclass All America Team for the third year in a row. In 2016 and 2017, he made the All-Tournament team in the 17u and 18u World Championships.
Shirah was named to the Top Prospect Team at PG Jr Nationals and Nationals (an invitation only event held in Ft Myers, FL for the nation’s top rising high school junior and senior baseball players).
Truth be told, there are too many accomplishments in Shirah’s high school baseball career to list them all. His ability to play the game has garnered national attention – including baseball recruitment (and/or offers) from Stanford, Notre Dame, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Penn State, Harvard, Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston, and last but not least: Georgia Tech.
On Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 3:45pm, Will Shirah thanked his coaches, parents, friends and teammates. He gave credit to his faith and everyone who supports him as he put pen to paper and signed his commitment to play baseball for the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets. We look forward to following his continued success in the future.
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – An evacuation of students at Blue Ridge Elementary School occurred Thursday, Nov. 9, after the City of Blue Ridge notified the school of a gas line leak, according to a statement released by Fannin County Schools.
The statement reported that no students were in immediate danger but, as a precaution, were transported to Fannin County High School. No other schools within the system were affected by the gas leak, and students at those schools are safe.
A Veteran’s Day program that was scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. at BRES has been cancelled.
No decision has been made as to when BRES will reopen, and students will remain at FCHS until clearance to return to BRES is given.
Continue to follow FetchYourNews.com for further developments in this story.
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