2019-20 Athletic Program Highlights
The 2019-20 TFS athletes, coaches, and teams lived the athletic mission of creating Seasons of Significance by demonstrating GREAT character, competence, and competitiveness and hosting GREAT events.
Besides seeking to be GREAT in performance, our athletes so often thrive in life by serving others. Goodie baskets for visiting teams, themed home contests, honoring heroes among us, educational awareness various physical and mental challenges, cookouts or eating with competitors, genuine appreciation shown to officials and hosts, mulching local parks or trails, serving at events, food banks, or other organizations that directly enhances community, our athletic teams demonstrate citizenship traits that are foundational to a thriving society.
In addition to assisting others, TFS received the overall GEMC Cooperative Spirit Sportsmanship Award for Region 8A as well as for the sports of girls cross country, boys cross county, girls track & field, and boys track & field. TFS MS sports that received outright or tied for the Tri State Middle School Conference Sportsmanship Award include girls cross country, boys cross country, boys soccer, and girls basketball. Marshall Williams received a Northeast Georgia Region Positive Athlete Award for Alternative Sport.
Without the final sport season in which TFS would certainly have scored quite high in girls golf, girls and boys track & field, and ESports, the Tribe scored 264 points to finish 27th overall of 95 GHSA Class A schools in the annual GADA Directors Cup. Our boys were 24th with 132 points while our girls added another 132 points to end the shortened year in 31st. In Region 8-A, TFS finished fifth of 11 schools overall; boys finished fourth and girls fifth.
In addition to Williams previously signing to compete at Emmanuel college for bass fishing, Davis Jennings signed to play baseball for the Brevard Tornados. Multiple swimmers had the option of competing at the next level, but chose to further their education in a different manner. At least one other senior missed out on other collegiate options because of the canceled spring season. Further, though the situation curtailed spring performances, we’ve recently received recruiting questionnaire interest from multiple colleges for our athletes and we have some who are training for that purpose.
Varsity volleyball qualified to the state tournament for the fifth year in a row, finished 22-20 as the Area 8-A Runner-Up and set multiple school records along the way. Kate Blackburn and Katy Corbett earned All Area 1st Team honors while teammate Lillie Free earned 2nd Team honors. Corbett was named BLITZ Volleyball Player of the Year. MS finished fourth in the North GA MS Volleyball League.
Our MS girls cross country won the Tri State Conference championship. HS cross country, in addition to hosting hundreds of runners in unique meets, earned the right to compete at the state championship - girls for the first time ever and boys for the first time since 1990. The girls finished 12th while the boys placed ninth. Evan Prince earned first team All State as well as All Area. Chris Geiger earned All Area status. Collin Kelly made special bench seating for our outstanding course as part of his Eagle Scout project.
We started a GHSA ESports program this year and one of its teams broke the Elite 8 to finish seventh at state, quite an accomplishment considering a new program. The squad had 21 participants for the fall league, 15 for the spring season.
The 17-8 Lady Indians basketball team made it to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season and placed Katy Corbett and Denika Lightbourne on the All Region 2nd Team. Boys basketball narrowly missed out on advancing to the Sweet 16 by a last second shot. Matthew Weidner shot into the elite 1000-point club. JV finished with a highly competitive 13-5 record. MS girls (12-1) won the Tri State championship; boys (10-4) were runner-up. Both squads have some dedicated and talented players. Spirit was raised with school decorations, the pep band at one game, a strong and boisterous student section, fat head replicas, and loud, proud, and positive varsity and JV cheer squads.
Adding ten new electronic targets to our incredible range helped the ten veteran and new precision rifle participants to hone their visual and shooting skills. We qualified for the USA Shooting SE Regional Championships in Anniston, AL but it was canceled. Junior Sam Stamey - named the top spring sport athlete in north Georgia by Mountain Scoreboard radio, earned the Level One (Junior) Rifle Coaching Certification from NRA/CMP/USAS on her way to a school record, 11th place in state USA Shooting (including NCAA athletes from two colleges), and a Junior Olympic National Championship berth, which will be hosted at a later date, possibly in the fall.
The bass fishing program qualified two teams (HS = Marshall Williams and Thomas Harris; MS = Molly Mitchell and Jake Mitchell) to their respective Division State Championships. We also joined the GHSA in bass fishing.
Fourteen swimmers qualified to state, where TFS male swimmers finished seventh, the highest place ever. John Nichols (2nd Team), Riley Barron (3rd Team), Caden Griffis (3rd Team), and Hunter Weyrich (3rd Team) each earned All State honors. Seven new school records were set. The MS boys finished ninth at the GISA State Championships. The program also continues memorable traditions as well as hosting GREAT, themed swim meets, commended by many visiting schools.
Both boys (11-2) and girls (11-1) MS tennis teams won the Mountain League Championship trophy. Senior Zhiyang Shu finished 3-0 in varsity tennis before the Covid-19 interruption.
In the corona virus shortened spring, our renewed MS baseball team won its only game, as did JV; varsity was 4-4. Junior Chathan Clouatre was named to the Georgia Dugout Preview Preseason All State team. The baseball growth and passion compelled us to build a new MS field, ready for the ‘21 season.
Girls soccer made the most significant growth of all teams since last year, equalling last year’s win total in the first two games. The MS boys team won its first Tri State Championship while finishing 11-1. The MS girls were 2-1 before the pandemic. Moreover, an overall soccer passion led us to join the GHSA Region 8-A and move all soccer to the spring season, beginning in 2020-21.
Girls golf won its only tournament with Brinson Hall and Maggie Jackson taking the top two spots, respectively. Both girls are college prospects and on the radar for furthering their education while hitting a little dimpled ball into a hole better than most.
Both MS girls and boys teams won the only track & field meet (a ten team invite), setting six school records while leaving multiple athletes ranked in the top 25 in the entire state, some in the top ten. The HS team ended abruptly with multiple athletes ranked as high as first in Class A; numerous athletes were ranked high in the Area, with individual and state placing hopes dashed.
Seven TFS athletes lettered in three seasons. Fourteen more participated in the fall, winter, and spring seasons; 59 others competed as dual sport athletes. Chris Geiger earned 15 letters in his Indian career. Nine athletes competed all seven years at TFS in at least one sport (Kate Blackburn, Reeves Cody, Chris Geiger, Caden Griffis, Hayden Johnson, Reid Kafsky, John Nichols, Laurel Smith).
A TFS signature event was the second annual TFS Athletic Legends Hall of Honor, inducting Ralph Daniel ‘67, Mike Kemp ‘69, and Chris Pic ‘88 while promoting the strength of who we are by honoring the GREAT traits and examples of former lights in the mountains. In addition, Zatrick Pearce ‘17, Michael Van Hooser ‘17, and Nyah Williams ‘19 were inducted into the BLITZ 2019 Hall of Fame class.
Our media presence, both print and social, has progressed. We now have a Director of Sports Information and a growing Instagram presence in addition to our Facebook and Twitter outreach. We are at an all-time high regarding the number of stories distributed to print media. We are enahncing our TFS website and expect it to be exceptional within the next year. We also added professional photography as a purchasing choice for families and for its efficiency with yearbook and team/individual promotion. We live streamed games for volleyball, basketball, baseball, and soccer.
During the Covid crisis, we promoted our kids with feature stories, coaches connected with their athletes and teams via emails, texts, digital cards, phone conversations, virtual gatherings, and individual/family social distancing meetings, and we distributed structured and option rich workout systems and nutrition resources for students, athletes, and staff to stay healthy and fit during sheltering. We supplied parents and athletes with college recruiting resources as well as previously presented specific information regarding sudden cardiac issues. Coaches were given diverse professional development resources, as well as options to assist the athletic program in an array of areas; many excellent tasks, planning, and advocacy were accomplished during this time.
Facility enhancements include: much-needed stadium concessions and bathrooms; new bathrooms, paint, and distinct organization as part of the fieldhouse renovation; running path upgrade; new pole vault pit; exponential progress on the new state of the art natatorium including much research about best practices; cross country course awards platform and signs; tennis court resurfacing; ten electronic targets for the stellar precision rifle range, increased Golf Performance Lab usage by a growing MS golf program; and enriched equipment and training for our middle school athletes. The October 2019 AthleticBusiness edition featured the new TFS Sports Fitness Center, an admirable and distinct health resource replete with logo graphics, a broad spectrum of traditional, functional, cardio, machines, technology and innovative stations, and plenty of options to meet the growing needs of students, athletes, faculty, and staff. We even incorporated additional after school hours supervised by a former collegiate strength and conditioning coach.
Though the spring was like no other situation any of us have ever experience, the TFS family made lemonade, hunkered down and set new goals to return with a vengeance, and realized even more what it means to be GREAT, to take nothing for granted, and to be a part of solutions in an ever-changing world. The Tribe state of mind will thrive despite all odds.
Tallulah Falls School Athletic Director