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.
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.
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.
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!
TeamFetchYourNews Sports Reporter’s Player of the Week goes out to 88 Jalen Ingram. Jalen Ingram is a Sophomore at Fannin County High School. Ingram plays Tight End and Defensive Line for the Fannin Rebels. Ingram played a good game Friday night, scoring a 24-yard touchdown for the Rebels. Ingram gained a combined total of 75+ yards in kickoff returns for the Rebels. In the third quarter of the game on Friday, Holloway made a 30-yard connection with Ingram getting the Rebels closer to Trojans red zone.
The Fannin County High School Rebels take on the Cherokee Bluff Bears for their first regional home game. Rebels brought high energy into the first half and executed their plays during the 4th quarter, beating the Bears 45-7.
After the coin toss, the Rebels’ #32 Treylyn Owensby with the kickoff return to their own 34-yard line. From there, the Rebels set the tone of the game as they scored three touchdowns. Luke Holloway handed off to Owensby for a 30-yard touchdown, Holloway connected with Chandler Kendall for a 37-yard touchdown, and Holloway passed to Jalen Ingram for a 32-yard touchdown. Sarah Sosebee with the extra 3 points gave the Rebels the lead of 21-0.
Rebels defense dominated the first quarter as they kept the Bears off the scoreboard. Every time it looked as though the Bears would gain a few yards, they would get flagged for ‘false start’ and ‘off sides’ which pushed them back. It was apparent that the Rebels had established an early lead that would put too much pressure on the Bears to come back later in the game.
Second quarter began much like the first, with the Rebels adding to their lead. Rebels moved the pigskin downfield with Kendall 24-yards, Holloway 6-yards, and Owensby 26-yards and the touchdown. Sosebee with the extra point brings up the score 28-0 with 8:05 left in the 1st half.
With less than five minutes left in the 1st half, the Bears execute a trick play (triple reverse) and find themselves at the Rebels 6-yard line. From there, the Bears took on Rebels defense before lighting up the scoreboard the only time that night, 28-7.
After their touchdown, the Bears seemed to have caught a second-wind, or maybe the Rebels backed off a little, allowing the Bears to get into the red zone on Rebels 19-yard line. The momentum of the game may have been turning the Bears way, but that same moment was short lived when the Bears had a turnover.
The Rebels take over at their own 19-yard line with 38 seconds left in the 1st half. The Bears intercepted Holloways attempt to connect with Ingram before the buzzer sound ended the 1st half with the Rebels on top, 28-7.
It was obvious after the Rebels first half, Head Coach Chad Cheatham needed to go into the locker room and maybe remind the Rebels that they had not yet won the game and they needed to finish the game.
In the 3rd quarter, the Bears received the kickoff but weren’t successful in moving downfield. The Bears made it to their own 35-yard line before being pushed back 5-yards for a flag on the play. This caused the Bears to have to punt.
With Kendall’s 20-yard punt return, the Rebels start on their own 44-yard line. The Rebels were unable to get anything going in that drive and were forced to punt that would give the Bears the ball on their own 34-yard line.
In the 3rd quarter, the Rebels defense stopped any hope the Bears had of getting into the end zone. The Bears were forced to punt and 44-yard punt, the Rebels were put on their own 1-yard line. Basically, having to run 1st down out of their own end zone, Holloway handed off to Owensby and gained 26-yards giving the Rebels some breathing room as the sound of the buzzer ended the quarter.
Rebels start the 4th quarter on their own 27-yard line and only 12 minutes away from winning the first region game of the season. The Rebels left it all on the field as they made quick work of crossing the 50-yard line into Bears territory. Holloway handed off to 35 Will Mosley for a 52-yard touchdown. Sosebee was on fire as she went 5 for 5 lighting up the scoreboard 35-7.
The Rebels defense did not allow the Bears to get any positive yards. Mason Rhodes and Jackson Weeks kept the Bears at the 31-yard line for the 2nd and 3rd down. Rhodes tackled a Bear at their own 21-yard line for a loss of yards bringing up a 4th down. Bears backed the punt, 31 Campbell Constentino blocked the punt and 50 Matthew Lewis made the recovery at the Bears 11-yard line.
A Rebels drive to their own 9-yard line, and on the 4th down and elected to go for a 21-yard field goal attempt. 38 Alex White with a 21-yard field goal giving the Rebels 38-7 with 7:39 left in the game.
The Bears received the kickoff and attempted to make their way into Rebel territory but at this point there was no moving the ball past Rebels defense. With 3:51 left in the game, the Bears found themselves 4th and 8 at their own 43-yard line. 83 Dalton Ross tackled a Bear for a loss at their own 36-yard line for the turnover on downs.
With a little less than 3:30 left in the game, Rebels took over at their own 36-yard line. Owensby gained 25-yards, Matthew Postell gained another 7-yards, and Norton rushed the last 7-yards for the touchdown. Sosebee went for a successful 6 for 6 and the Rebels broke the scoreboard 45-7.
The Bears received the kickoff with 2:57 left in the game. The Rebels kept them in their own territory for the last two minutes and the buzzard sounded ending the game leaving the Bears at the 40-yard line.
The Rebels played a great game as many players put their hands on the ball and defense made some great plays—like Constentino’s block on the punt and Lewis’s recovery. The Rebels win their first regional game against the Bears.
Let’s see who comes out on top during tonight’s game. The Rebels will be playing East Hall High School at home at 7:30! It’s alumni night, along with Fannin Park and Rec, so come out and support all the Rebels dating back to the 80s!
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – It may seem like a small gesture to some, but for those in Gilmer County, Georgia, a simple jersey is relating a lot more than meets the eye as they receive a memorial jersey to honor Gilmer’s middle school principal, the late Larry Walker.
With a special moment before the middle school football games between these two schools on September 19, Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney took to the field with Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs and Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee for a special ceremony in order to present the jersey hosting the emblems of both Gilmer and Fannin.
After a few words about Walker’s life and a moment of silence honoring him, Gwatney and Downs shared their own moment holding the jersey together. The announcers explained the meaning of the ceremony saying,
“The jersey being presented to the Gilmer Middle School football team bears the name of Walker with the #1. Also on the jersey is the Fannin County School insignia and the Gilmer County School insignia. The jersey being presented is in memory of Larry D. Walker, principal of Gilmer Middle School, and signifying Fannin County and Gilmer County are together as one, both in spirit and community.”
With the funeral today, many are still dealing with the loss as they prepare their final respects. Others are coping in their own ways. But as a community comes together and the true reach of one man comes into focus, they are responding to the show of support. Kayann Hayden West offered her thanks on social media saying, “Thankful for the support of our community and the Walker family up and down the 515 corridor. Rivals on the field but united in purpose and heart.”
Fannin County High Schools Head Coach Chad Cheatham, born and raised in Fannin County, Ga. takes the floor at a recent Board of Education meeting. A new edition to Fannin County High Schools staff, Coach Cheatham was able to explain in detail his mission for Fannin’s youth.
Coach Cheatham gave a motivating speech as he laid out the foundation of Fannin Rebels mantra: 1) Faith, 2) Family, 3) Academics, and lastly, 4) Football. Is it strange to hear a Head Coach say that football needs to come last on a player’s priority list? Maybe, but Coach Cheatham has his reasons and his reasons are for the overall success of Fannin’s youth.
Coach Cheatham states there’s 4 things student athletes need to pursue excellence in:
“1) Faith: in our Creator, in our team, in our community, in our parents, and in our school system. Faith in believing in the process. And the sacrifice to get there may be hard, but you got to keep the faith.”
“2) Family: A lot of my players don’t go home to mom and dad. They go home to grandma or grandpa, or they go home to foster care. That’s just the state of reality that we are in right now. We focus on family and brotherhood and selfless play for one another. We’re teaching selflessness.”
“3) Academics: Education is the key to every door. 99% of our football players will never play football again but what they’re going to do is go into the workforce. They’re going to enter college, or technical school, or the military and they’re going to be great. And education and academics is the key to their future and we got to make our football players believe that.”
“4) Football: Why is the last thing football? I’ll tell you why. It’s because if you don’t have faith, if you don’t have family, and you don’t have your academics in order you might as well forget football because it isn’t going to happen.”
Coach Cheatham continues, “In order to be successful, you have to take care of the first three: Faith, Family, and Academics. We’re pushing self-discipline with our kids. Are we winning? We’re not winning on the scoreboard [the last two games] but are we winning in the field house and are we winning in their hearts? I think we are.”
It is apparent that Coach Cheatham takes an interest in the well-being of Fannin’s youth. His coaching style seems to motivate and uplift his players to be better people and aspire for greatness and excellence in all that they do. Let’s see what comes of this years football season, but most importantly, let’s what comes of the Rebels football players’ attitudes.
For the first football game of the season, one of the oldest high school rivalries squared off Friday night at the Huff-Mosely Stadium in Ellijay, Georgia. Fannin County Rebels versus the Gilmer County Bobcats. The Rebels beat the Bobcats 28-0.
Rebels elected to receive the ball first, Cohutta Hyde, ran the ball down field into Bobcat territory and got 1st down at the 30-yard line. Unfortunately, though, due to errors, turnovers, and fumbles, neither the Rebels or the Bobcats had a great first quarter and the score ended 0-0.
Once the second quarter started, it was apparent that the Rebels had settled in and shaken off some ‘first-game of the season’ jitters.
At 8:38 in the second quarter, Rebels lit up the scoreboard and gained their first touchdown of the game. Quarterback, Luke Holloway, had a nice hand-off to running back, Treylyn Owensby, and he got a rushing touchdown. Afterwards, the play was flagged for un-sportsman-like conduct due to Fannin’s early celebration. Kicker, Sara Sosebee, with the extra point gave the Rebels the full 7 points to Bobcats 0.
Late in the second quarter, Rebels defense forced the Bobcats to punt. Rebels, defensive back, Hyde, caught the ball and had what was hopefully a 60-yard return by getting the ball into Bobcat territory, but there were two blocks in the back, so the Rebels were forced back to the 40-yard line, which decimated a strong return.
The first half ended with the Rebels up by 7, but it was obvious that both teams needed huddles with their coaches; Coach Cheatham and Coach Wingard, to make changes and help improve plays.
After half-time, it was clear to see the Rebels made some adjustments. The Rebels had a much better performance with their hand-offs and executing their passes. Rebels brought in some more touchdowns and points after with Sosebee.
With 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Rebels quarterback, Holloway, rushed for a touchdown and Sosebee brought in the extra point.
Gilmer’s Bobcats fumbled in third quarter, Owensby picked up the fumble and ran it to the Bobcats territory on the 34-yard line before getting tackled.
Early in the fourth quarter, Rebels defense played harder than ever as they continued to keep the Bobcats from scoring.
While Bobcats had possession, Rebels defensive linemen, Pierson Archer, got the fumble at the 3-yard line.
Rebels quarterback, Holloway, rushed the ball but got tackled at the 41-yard line.
Rebels running back, Owensby, ran in for a touchdown, but the play was flagged for holding on Fannin.
Rebels defense in the fourth quarter stood strong as defensive back, Tate Heaton, took out a Bobcat at the 33-yard line.
Another great play by, Mason Rhodes, as he tackled a Bobcat at the 27-yard line.
With less than 3 minutes in the game, defensive back, Hyde, intercepts the ball from a Bobcat, and hauled it down field before getting tackled by a Bobcat at the 14-yard line.
Holloway passed off to Owensby and he ran for the touchdown gaining another 6 points for the Rebels. Sosebee, four and four for the night, gained the point and left the Rebels with 28 to Bobcats 0!
The takeaway from Friday night’s game is that the Rebels have a good football team. Coach Cheatham won his first high school football game as a head coach here at Fannin County High and as Rebel alum.
Come out to support the Fannin Rebels at their home game Friday, August 24th, against Lafayette High School at 7:30pm!
This past Friday at the Mountaintop Holiday Classic, the White County Warriors and the Pickens County Dragons traveled to Fannin County for their match up on day two of the tournament. Both teams were coming off of a loss from the first day of the tournament and ready to walk away with a win.
It was a high action and fast paced game from the start. The Dragons made the majority of their points from down low while the Warriors did most of their damage from driving the lane. Dragon post, Seth Bishop, led Pickens in scoring from the block with twenty-one points. Warrior guard, Austin Harris, led his team in scoring with twenty-four points due to his hustle. Warrior post, Austin Rowland, had the hustle on defense to make steals and contribute twelve points for his team. With the Warriors in the lead near the end of the third quarter, Pickens makes a buzzer beater shot to tie the game 17-17.
The hopes were high at the beginning of the second quarter. Both teams had the same chances of winning and were not giving up. The lead went from team to team and it became unpredictable on who would have it next. Warrior, Chandler Harris’s outside shooting came alive which put eleven points on the board for White County. Warriors, Reece Dockery and J. Ben Haynes, also had a good game above the key by each adding five points to White County’s score. The Warriors took a seven point lead over the Dragons at the end of the second quarter by making the score 29-22.
With Pickens down more than they had been the entire game, they were determined to make a come back. Both teams applied heavy defensive pressure on the other by putting a full court press into action. The press resulted in both teams getting steals and adding onto their score. At the end of the third quarter, White County doubled their lead over Pickens with a score of 47-33.
Pickens picked up the pace at the start of the fourth quarter. The Warriors start to put even more defensive pressure on the Dragons and draw fouls. Warrior, Jay Lepkoske, contributed one of his five points from the free throw line. The Warriors also started to have good looks inside which resulted in Kaleb Crane’s overall four points. Warriors, Daniel Rowland and Cooper Turner, followed the trend and each added four points onto White County’s score. However, the Warriors were not the only ones adding onto their score. The Dragons came back at the end of the fourth quarter with a score of 53-53, putting the game into overtime.
The intensity came alive at the beginning of the quarter. Both teams had four minutes to win the game. Pickens finally took the lead that they had been working for the whole game just to have the score tied once again at 63-63, putting the game into double overtime.
Four more minutes were put on the clock as both teams gave the game their all. The quarter was filled with hustle after loose balls, fouls from attempting to keep the other team from scoring, and heart. The back and forth of the game had everyone on their feet as they watched with anticipation. Although both teams played to the best of their ability, the White County Warriors had a 74-67 victory over the Pickens County Dragons.
The White County Warriors win puts their overall record at 9-4 while the Pickens County Dragons stand at 4-9. Catch the Warriors next game on January 2 at 5:45 as they travel to take on North Cobb Christian!