Sports talk Thursday with Lauren Hunter

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About five years ago I told my dad, who is one of my biggest fans but also one of the most blunt people you’ll ever meet, that I wanted to be the first female head coach in the NFL.

“You can’t do that, Lauren,” he said.

“Why?” I argued.

I was expecting some drawn-out response about how I didn’t know enough about football.

“Because you can’t go in the men’s locker room,” he said flatly.

Ah, I hadn’t thought of that.

That was my senior year of high school, and never did I think I would be where I am now.

I grew up an UGA fan; my grandad attended college there in the ’60s and the red and black passed down into my veins. I learned to spell Georgia by chanting the fight song in my head (I still do subconsciously whenever I have to write it out!) I had an UGA cheerleader outfit and one of my baby pictures has me holding a stuffed bulldog. One of my nana’s fondest memories is of dancing around the living room with me as an infant when Georgia scored a big touchdown against Georgia Tech. I’ve never considered myself athletic, but I believe I owe a lot of my passion for sports to Papa Skip and Nana.

Papa Skip, Nana, my momma and I at the Georgia v. Florida game in 2017

Flash forward a few years and the first time I stepped foot on a sideline was as a cheerleader for the 8th grade Mill Creek rec football league. Cheerleading was not for me, and within a year I traded in pom poms for a six-foot flag pole as a member of the Mill Creek High School Colorguard.

In high school I lived for Friday night lights, and I have many fond memories of screaming myself hoarse for the Hawks while in the stands with the marching band. It was a well-known fact that I was the most spirited person in the band when it came to football, and while my coach would be yelling at me to pay attention during our warm-ups I’d be busy trying to figure out how much yardage we’d gotten from the last pass.

I guess my fellow classmates took note of my love for the game as well, because they voted me their Homecoming Queen my senior year. That is still one of my all-time favorite memories from high school- hearing my name called while standing on the 50 surrounded by family and friends.

My senior year of high school I was elected Homecoming Queen. This was the moment after my name was called. Look at my dad’s face!

I graduated from Mill Creek in 2015 but I had a hard time staying away from Markham Field. The University of North Georgia doesn’t have a football team, and Mill Creek decided to get really good the year after I left (this was the fall of 2015, the year they got knocked out by Colquitt County one round before the state championship.)

In the spring of 2016 I heard of an opportunity to work for the Gwinnett Braves, Triple-A minor league affiliate for the Atlanta Braves. Needing a summer job but hoping to avoid retail, I took it. I spent the next two summers as a Guest Relations Representative scanning tickets and welcoming fans. In addition to my already-sound knowledge of football, I learned all I could about America’s favorite pastime and a new love was born.

I spent one more summer at Coolray Field before graduating college, and this time it was as a member of the Promotional Team. That may be the most fun I ever had at work. Our team set up the on-field promotional games, signed up contestants, sold 50/50 raffle tickets and overall worked to make sure people had a good time. I certainly did- the memories I made with my team that year will forever be some of my favorites.

For a while I told people that I wasn’t interested in sports journalism, but the Lord as he fortunately often does had other plans. I got the opportunity to intern with the UNG Athletic Department my senior year of college, and I left Gwinnett County to plant some roots in the North Georgia mountains.

I worked for the Gwinnett Braves (now Gwinnett Stripers) for three seasons. Here I’m in my third season as a member of the Promo Team.

Two months ago I still wasn’t certain that I’d ever work in sports again, but when baseball started back up I knew I couldn’t live without it. I was fortunate enough to find an opportunity to apply with FetchYourNews.com, and even more fortunate to get an offer. And here we are.

I don’t tell you all this to brag on my accomplishments or give you some long-winded biography. I want to be just as much a part of your community as you all are now a part of my daily life. When I come to your sideline I want to know each of you and each of you know me. Part of being a great sports reporter is establishing a relationship with your team and community. Part of that relationship includes establishing trust, and how can you can trust someone if you don’t even know them?

One of the biggest reasons I keep working in sports is because of the the communities they create and the people I get to meet. There’s something about having a team to rally around that gets inside of you and never leaves. The people I have met so far and the connections I have made are priceless and will forever be a part of who I am and a big reason for why I do what I do.

So here’s to the journey ahead, and here’s to memories that are yet to be made and the relationships yet to be formed. I can’t wait North Georgia!

Lauren Hunter

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Chandler Kendall Furthers Baseball Career

Fannin County High, FCHS Baseball, Team FYN Sports

Fannin County High School senior, Chandler Kendall, made a decision to further his baseball career yesterday as he signed a letter of intent to play for Tennessee Wesleyan University who is currently second in the nation in NAIA. It was an eventful day as Kendall not only signed a letter of intent, but he also earned a spot in the Fannin County Hall of Fame as its members awarded him with a plaque. The honor is given to an athlete whose performance and productivity is above the norm. Instead of the Hall of Fame giving this honor every year, they wait for an athlete who is very deserving of the award. His classmates had to have thought the same as they voted him “most athletic” in the senior class.

Kendall is a triathlete at the school who excels at anything he attempts. This being the first year Chandler ever played high school football, he earned the position at starting wide receiver, was picked as player of the week twice, and was picked for offensive player of the week twice as well. Basketball and baseball on the other hand are sports that Kendall has competed and succeeded in for years now. Chandler was a three year varsity player for the Rebels basketball team where he was picked for numerous awards. Kendall’s sophomore year, he was awarded with Defensive Player of the Year and Best 3 Point Percentage. The trend continued his junior year as he received an All Region Honorable Mention, GA Tip Off Club’s Player of the month for January, led his team in charges, assists, and steals, and once again earned Defensive Player of the year and Best 3 Point Percentage. To wrap up his basketball career, his senior year he was awarded with Team FYN’s Player of the Week, 7AAA All Region Team, Player of the Year for Northwest Georgia Tip Off Club, Defensive Player of the Year, and the Most Valuable Player for the Rebel’s basketball team.

While Chandler competed hard and had many successes in his other sports, baseball is where his true passion lies. Kendall has been a varsity starter for Fannin County baseball for four years now. His sophomore year he was picked as offensive player of the year, was chosen by Georgia Dugout Club as one of the top fifty players in the state, earned a spot as first team all region infielder, and Perfect Game All American. Kendall continued to receive awards his junior year with the Offensive Player of the Year Award, first team all region infielder, all state honorable mention, Perfect Game All American, and led the Rebels in home runs with nine overall. Now as his senior year comes to an end, Chandler’s team is advancing to the Sweet Sixteen and he has now committed to playing college baseball.  

 

Goodluck to Chandler in all of his future endeavors as he continues his baseball career and to the Fannin County Rebels baseball team as they advance into the Sweet Sixteen!

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Fannin Finishes Baseball Season

Team FYN Sports

The Fannin County Rebel baseball team had a great season where they finished third in the region and barely missed a chance to advance in the state playoffs. Saturday, the Rebels were in Franklin County competing in the first round of the state playoffs to see which team would be advancing. The day before, Fannin had a doubleheader against Franklin where they won the first game 11-7, and lost the second 10-1. Saturday’s  game was the last chance Fannin had in furthering their season but missed it by one pesky point.

All you saw on the field from both teams was hustle and heart. Garrett Rogers was on the hill for the majority of the game where he walked three batters and struck out one. The Rebels started to put runs on the board in the second inning when Carson Beavers stepped up to the plate. The bases were loaded when Beavers hit a pop fly to left field, sacrificing himself as an out so that his teammate on third, Blake Rogers, could score. The bases were loaded once again when Miles Johnson went up to bat and hit a bomb in deep center field, advancing to second base and bringing in three teammates. Franklin was determined to get their lead back and managed to get enough runs on the board to be one point behind Fannin at the end of the second inning with a score of 4-3.

Franklin was determined to catch back up to Fannin while the Rebels were just as determined to keep their lead. Franklin stole the lead in the bottom of the third inning just for Rebel, Miles Johnson, to hit a home run and tie the game 5-5.

Both teams were holding the other on defense until the bottom of the fifth inning when Franklin scored, putting them one point ahead of Fannin. Franklin continued to extend their lead over the Rebels until they finally came back in the top of the seventh. Chandler Kendall followed Johnson’s lead and hit a home run, bringing in two teammates and tying the game 8-8. Fannin had a perfect three up and three down outs on defense, advancing to the game into an extra inning.

Each team refused to let the other score, resulting in the game to have ten innings. The tension got higher and higher as the innings increased. Rebel, Bryson Pack, had a phenomenal throw from center field to throw a runner out at home plate. Everyone in the stands and on the field were going so crazy that law enforcement had to come and sit in both dugouts. Carson Beavers was the leadoff batter in the top of the tenth inning where he was walked and advanced to first base. With two outs, Miles Johnson hit a bomb to left field, advancing to second base and bringing Beavers home. Fannin closed out the top of the tenth inning with a 9-8 lead over Franklin. Carson Beavers started off pitching in the top of the tenth inning where he walked the first batter. Chandler Kendall came in to relieve Beavers on the mound. With a runner on first base, Kendall threw the perfect pitch for Franklin to hit a home run and close out the game with a 10-9 victory over Fannin.

The following players put the ball into action and added onto Fannin’s score for the night;

Chandler Kendall-2, Miles Johnson-1, Blake Rogers-1, Matthew Shirah-2, Drew Foresman-2, Carson Beavers-1.

Despite their heartbreaking loss, Fannin played a great game and had many accomplishments over their season. The Rebels overall record for the season was 18-13, they finished third in their region, and so far they have had two of their seniors commit to playing college baseball.

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Rebels Rally in Playoffs

Team FYN Sports

The Fannin Rebels had a great baseball season where they finished third in the 3A region 7. The Rebels were on a roll towards the end of their season, winning eight region games in a row. Fannin’s 7-11 region record advanced them into the first round of the state playoffs.

Fannin’s overall record for the season was 17-11. Over the whole season, the Rebels earned 183 runs while they had 138 scored on them. Friday, the Rebels traveled to Franklin County to play the first round of the state playoffs. It will be decided who will move on in the playoffs after the best two out of three games between the teams. Fannin walked away with a win for the first game of the night with an 11-7 victory while Franklin came back in the second game and claimed an 10-1 victory.

When asking head coach Jon Ayres his thoughts so far on the season, he stated,“The boys played well in the last half in our region schedule. We won eight games straight to end the region season and earned the number three seat. I feel like we have a good opportunity as we travel to Franklin County and play the best two out of three that will take place Friday and possibly Saturday. We are very excited for the opportunity and we’re looking forward to having a chance to move on in the state playoffs.” The whole team seemed to be excited about their accomplishment and eager to go compete. “I am very proud of our whole team this season. We have all worked very hard to get to where we are and hopefully we can continue to advance in the playoffs,” Rebel junior, Steven Stacey, shared with the FYN sports team.

The energy was high for Fannin in their first game of the night. The Rebels got their lead early in the second inning with a score of 6-1. It was a great night on offense for the Rebels, especially for Chandler Kendall and Jack Gobble who each scored a home run for the night. Kendall’s homer brought two of his teammates to home plate in the second inning while Gobble scored one run with his in the fifth. Not only were the Rebels on fire on offense, but also on defense. Rebel, Carson Beavers, had a great running catch in left field where he got the first out of the third inning. In the fourth inning, Chandler Kendall had a snatch at shortstop where he then threw to first basemen, Matthew Shirah, who had a stretching catch for the out. Matthew Shirah pitched the majority of the game where he walked five batters and struck out two. Rebels Tyler Norton, Garrett Rogers, Chandler Kendall, and Blake Rogers all came in the game to pitch and relieve one another. Fannin closed the first game with an 11-7 victory over Franklin County.

The second game was a different story for the Rebels. Fannin struggled to put the ball into action as well as contain Franklin on defense. Grant Baker pitched the majority of the game for Fannin where he walked three and struck out five. Rebels, Bryson Pack and Dylan Walton, came to the mound to relieve Baker after his four innings of pitching. Chandler Kendall continued his streak for the night and hit a home run, scoring Fannin’s only point. After seven innings of play, Franklin County defeated Fannin 10-1. With Fannin winning the first game and Franklin winning the second, the teams were matched up to play on Saturday to determine who would be advancing in the playoffs.

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Bulldogs Attack Rebels

Team FYN Sports

Saturday, the Fannin Rebels traveled to North Carolina to take on the Murphy Bulldogs. Fannin was looking for a win for their last game of the regular season while Murphy was looking to remain undefeated.

Murphy decided to get an early lead in the first inning of the game while Fannin struggled to compete against their offense. Carson Beavers started off pitching for the Rebels where he walked two batters and struck out one over a total of two innings. The Bulldogs had a 2-0 lead over the Rebels at the end of the first inning. The Bulldogs kept extending their lead while the Rebels didn’t manage to get a run on the board until the fourth inning.

Not only did Fannin struggle on defense, but also offense. Murphy’s pitcher, Caleb Irwin, threw a great game over three innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. Bulldogs, Joey Curry and Nathan Barolet, made an appearance in the game to come in and pitch. The two pitchers added more strikeouts to the board, putting the total number of strikeouts for the day at 13.

Chandler Kendall came in to pitch for Beavers in the fourth inning. Kendall pitched a total of two innings where he struck out three batters and walked only one. The Rebels started to make things happen on offense when Garrett Rogers stepped up to the plate. Rogers hit a bomb to right field that advanced him to third base. Blake Rogers went to the plate with the same determination, hitting a pop-fly to center field, and sacrificing himself as an out so that his teammate could score. Rogers run put the score at 4-1 with Murphy still in the lead. Not only did Garrett start off the inning on offense, he also closed it on defense with a great throw from left field where he threw a runner out at third base.

Fannin lost their fire in the fifth inning where they had no luck hitting the ball. In the bottom of the fifth, Dylan Walton came in to pitch for the Rebels. Walton pitched a total of 0.2 innings where he walked four batters and allowed two hits.

Rebel, Tyler Norton, came in the game to pitch at the bottom of the sixth inning. Norton pitched a total of 0.1 innings where he walked one batter and allowed only one hit. Just a few pitches later, Fannin relieved Norton on the mound with Bryson Pack. Pack only had time to throw one pitch that was hit and brought Murphy’s last run in to get the ten point lead they needed to end the game. The Bulldogs closed out the game with an 11-1 victory over Fannin.

Fannin’s loss puts their overall record at 17-11 while Murphy remains undefeated. Catch Fannin’s next game on Thursday, April 26, as they travel to Franklin County for the first round of the state playoffs!

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Rebels’ Grant Baker Signs Collegiate Letter Of Intent

FCHS Baseball

It was a very important day for Fannin County High School Senior Grant Baker and his family.  With his mother Linda and his father Brandon at his side, Grant took his place at the table to sign his National Letter of Intent. His choice for furthering his education was Point University in West Point, GA.  Known as the Skyhawks, Point University is a NAIA private Christian college in the Appalachian Athletic Conference with universities as Reinhardt in Waleska, GA. and Bryan College in Tennessee.

 

In Attendance for the ceremony were School Administrators, Coaches, teammates, and family all looking on in excitement and support for Baker as he continues his education and do one thing he loves, that is to play the game of baseball.  Grant Baker has played this game most all his life starting in recreation ball through Fannin Co. Recreation Department to present where he is finishing his high school career with the Rebels.  In the last three years as a Rebel, Baker has won 11 games and pitching 109 innings with 87 strikeouts and a earned run average right at 3.00.  Baker helped lead the Rebels to their first playoff appearance in several years after the 2017 regular season and is competing hard to do the same in the 2018 season.

His High School Accolades include the 2015 JV Rebel Award and the 2017 Fannin Co. Pitcher of the Year.  Baker also has played travel baseball for the East Cobb Black Knights out of Marietta, GA where he was named to the Perfect Game All-Tournament Team 9 consecutive times.

Congratulations to Grant Baker and his family on this great opportunity in continuing his education and growing in to the man he wants to become.

See the full video of this event below:

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Rebels Shut Down Indians

Team FYN Sports

This past Thursday, The Lumpkin County Indians traveled to Fannin County to take on the Rebels for a double header. Fannin won the first game of the night 5-1 and they were looking to claim a victory once again.

Grant Baker started off pitching for the Rebels in the second game of the night where he walked four batters and struck out four. Garrett Rogers was the go to guy on defense for the Rebels with his perfect inning of three balls hit to him in left field and all three being caught. Chandler Kendall started the bottom of the first inning with a line drive to left field where he made it to first base. Gabe Buchanan stepped up to the plate and closed out the first inning after hitting Kendall home, putting the Rebels in the lead 1-0.

Fannin had a quick inning on defense in the top of the second where they allowed one runner to get on base, then got three outs in a row. The Rebels got their second wind on offense when they all started to put the ball into action and get an early lead over Lumpkin. The bases were loaded when Carson Beavers stepped up to bat. Beavers hit a ball deep center field, bringing in two runs, and advancing Drew Foresman to third base. Gabe Buchanan hit a fly ball to left field, sacrificing himself as an out so that Foresman could score. Miles Johnson also hit a bomb to left field where he advanced to first base and brought Beavers home. Jack Gobble followed the trend with his hit to left field as he advanced to second base and brought Johnson home. Matthew Shirah brought in the final run of the inning when he hit a ground ball to left field, allowing Gobble to reach home and put the score at 8-0.

In hopes of making a comeback, Lumpkin managed to load the bases in the third inning, but could only manage to score one run. Fannin stepped up to bat, looking to continue their hitting streak to find the Indians having a perfect inning of three outs in a row. Lumpkin put a run on the board and held the Rebels, making the score 8-1 at the end of the third inning.

The bases were loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning when Matthew Shirah went up to bat. Shirah got a double from hitting the ball deep center field, bringing Miles Johnson and Garrett Rogers home, and advancing Blake Rogers to third base. Drew Foresman stepped up to the plate and hit a line drive to right field, bringing Rogers home, and advancing Shrah to third base. Carson Beavers followed the trend by hitting a line drive to right field, bringing Shirah home, and advancing Foresman to second base. The Rebels runs put them with a 12-1 lead over the Indians at the end of the fourth inning.

Dylan Walton came in to relieve Baker from the mound in the fifth inning. Walton finished the top of the fifth by striking out two batters, and walking none. Fannin’s lead proved to be too great for the Indians to overcome, resulting in the game to come to an early end with the Rebels in the lead 12-2.

The following players put the ball into action and added onto Fannin’s score for the night;                                      Chandler Kendall-1, Miles Johnson-2, Jack Gobble-1, Garrett Rogers-2, Blake Rogers-2, Matthew Shirah-2, Drew Foresman-1, Carson Beavers-1.

Fannin’s win puts their overall record at 13-10. Catch the Rebels next game on Tuesday, April 10, as they take on Union County at home starting at 5:55!

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