Is it just me or has another year passed us by with warp speed?
It seems like yesterday that I was writing about my first year as a sports writer and now I am well on my way to being a three-year veteran.
There have been many trials and tribulations along the way but this job is far and away the most rewarding that I have ever had for many reasons that I am eternally grateful for.
I have attended hundreds of sporting events ranging from the pros to T-ball, and I have enjoyed the extreme privilege of enjoying the best seat in the house and reporting the results back to the community in a forum that now allows the fans and parents to share their own thoughts and insights for all to see on the interactive T-G web page.
Looking back, I am very impressed with many of the student athletes and the coaches that participate in the various sports programs available in Bedford County.
In no particular order, I would like to share some of my thoughts, and memories of this past year that have left a lasting impression with me.
I am a baseball man through and through and I have a deep appreciation for coaches like Chris Parker, Shane Shoemake, Tim Priest, Brad Frazier, Jon Martin, Porter Hardison, Robert West and Scott Comstock.
Parker has very quietly developed some of the best talent in the mid-state and has placed a high percentage of his graduates into programs at the next level. Cascade is lucky to have him and will be even luckier to keep him in the coming seasons as schools in larger venues take notice of his accomplishments. He is one of those type coaches that the immortal Dizzy Dean used to say could "take his and beat yours, then take yours and beat his."
Parker will be the first to tell you that coach Comstock is a big part of that success.
Shoemake was an outstanding infielder at MTSU and was the driving force behind turning what was basically a cow pasture into one of the most pristine middle school diamonds that you will ever lay eyes on. His enthusiasm for the game is readily evident and he led the Liberty Patriots to an outstanding season in their inaugural campaign.
If you have ever hung out at the local youth ball parks you have probably run into Priest. I am very impressed with any team that he coaches. His teams are fundamentally sound and supremely prepared for any game situation.
He pays attention to details and expects his ballclub to follow suit. Perhaps even more importantly, I have never heard him raise his voice to any kid on his team. He prepares them and lets them play the game.
We need more like him. Ditto Robert West with his youth basketball travel teams. Better bring your 'A' game when you face his squad.
There have been many changes the past year when it comes to the hardwood sport.
Community High has two new coaches, in Allison Layne, who is home grown, and Jace Bryant, who had an outstanding career at Collinwood and then went on to star at Freed-Hardeman.
Layne stepped in for Tony Garrette who resigned after an 18-win season. He is now enjoying his role as full-time husband, daddy and athletic director.
Layne has embraced her new job and has the Viqueens playing at a high level despite the absence of one of her best players in Jessica Thompson due to an injury. She is a no-nonsense coach and has very quickly earned the respect of her players and opposing coaches.
Ms. Jewelene Segroves has been invaluable to the Community program and is a big part of their success as well.
Bryant took over a team that won 12 games last season and has them well on track to blow that figure out of the water this season. He is almost as much fun to watch coach as the kids during the games. He too, appears to be a fast track coach that larger schools will attempt to lure in the near future. I am grateful that he is a small-town kind of guy.
Charlie Pope presides over a three-and-whatever team right now but make no mistake about it, his strategy of scheduling his team against the best competition that he can find in the early going, no matter their classification, will pay off as the district starts to really heat up now that the holidays are behind us. The Champions have taken their lumps, but learned to compete in playoff-type conditions from day one. They will be in the thick of the race when all is said and done because of his foresight.
Chad Spencer has already paid huge dividends for the Lady Champs. They just spanked one of their biggest rivals this past Friday night after getting swept last season with basically the same rosters on the floor.
Somewhere, coach Rick Insell is smiling.
Kevin Hinson quietly continues to put quality players on the floor for the junior Viqueens and will be looking to win his third straight tournament title this postseason. He is a very understated and underappreciated professional that just keep winning.
Mike Edmondson is as classy a guy as you will ever want to meet and it still takes me aback to see him on the Orange and Black bench after so many stellar seasons in different colors. He continues to coach with as much passion as ever before and commands as much respect as any coach in the area. His teams will always take a bulldog-like approach to the game.
Lynn Burkey and Kevin Thomas' accomplishments are well chronicled by my friend and outstanding fellow scribe Gary Johnson. The Eagles and Eaglettes set the standard for all others to follow.
Speaking of standards. How about those Webb Feet?
Jeff Mitchell, James Garcia and Ricky Dycus have turned their programs around out there in Bell Buckle. The Feet are 10-0 on the season and the Lady Feet are no longer considered an easy 'W' for opposing teams.
These coaches' hard work and dedication are exemplary and the results speak for themselves.
Kenny Parker can flat out coach some football and all you have to do is look at Cascade's record to prove it. He too, sends players on to the next level in large part due to his ability to motivate.
Johnnie Frost has a daunting task ahead of him in getting the Community Viking program up and running from the ground up, but he is up to it. His team showed steady improvement in their first varsity season and you can count on them showing vast progress next time around.
I am sure that after this article is published that I will recall other noteworthy individuals that should have been mentioned here as my brain starts to slumber at this late hour. I can only take solace in the fact that not one person mentioned or not mentioned here does what they do to draw attention to themselves, or praise from a small-time reporter.
It is all about developing our youth to reach their maximum potential on the field as well as in the classroom so that they are prepared to take on their role as citizens later on.
They are the true unsung heroes among many in our community.
I am proud to be associated, even in a small way, with each and every one of them.
Jimmy Jones is a Times-Gazette sports writer.