Most popular sports stories in 2019

Hannah Proctor plays quarterback for CMS football.

Lady Raider under center: Hannah Proctor plays quarterback for CMS football


Oct. 18, 2019

When stories emerge of girls playing tackle football, more often than not it seems that they are usually in as a kicker or other positions where there is less chance of contact or injury.

From the grade-school level to the professional level, it is not often that female players seem to break from this norm. One just has to look back to this summer, when U.S. women’s soccer star and two-time world cup champion Carli Lloyd was entertaining the idea of being an NFL kicker.

This season at Coffee County Middle School, one of the football team’s newest members didn’t want to play special teams. Seventh grader Hannah Proctor wanted to be front and center with the offense as a quarterback.

“I just like getting to say things, getting to play, definitely,” Proctor said.

Proctor, 12, is a native of Smithville, where she attended Northside Elementary School. While in Smithville, Proctor also spent some time as a cheerleader.

She and her family moved to Coffee County in April 2018 before starting sixth grade. Later that year, she began playing quarterback at the Division 3 level of the Manchester Youth Football League.

In addition to playing for the MYFL in 2018, Proctor also played quarterback for the Tennessee Outlaws travel team that same year.


The Vinsons: Manchester basketball’s first family


Jan. 23, 2019

When looking at Central High School, Coffee County Middle School, or Westwood Middle, it’s not obvious what connects the three institutes besides the fact they’re all schools. Basketball fans may know the answer though – they’re all are linked by one family name: Vinson.

Matt Vinson is currently the assistant coach for the CHS Lady Raiders, while his daughter, Bella, is one of the team’s leading players. Over at Coffee Middle, you can find Matt’s brother, David Vinson, working as an assistant on the girls’ team and head coach of the sixth grade team. Sixth grader Olivia Vinson, David’s niece and Matt’s younger daughter, is an emerging talent who just wrapped up her first regular season on the CMS varsity team.

At Westwood, there isn’t a player or coach on the sideline with the family name; the connection is the gym itself. The Rockets and Lady Rockets play at the Joel Vinson Gymnasium, named for Matt and David’s father, the Lady Rockets coach for several decades.

“I never really thought of it as a family tradition, but I guess it is, in a way,” David said. “These girls (Bella and Olivia) are moving up, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were coaches one day too.”


Lady Raiders survive Stewarts Creek in overtime, beat Lady Redhawks 59-55


Feb. 25, 2019

The rain may have delayed Central High School girls’ basketball’s home playoff game to Monday night, Feb. 25, but it was worth the wait. Taking on Stewarts Creek in their Region 4-AAA Tournament opener, the Lady Raiders held on in overtime to defeat the Lady Redhawks 59-55.

“It’s like I’ve been on a rollercoaster. We won and then we lost it and then we won it again,” Coach Joe Pat Cope said. “We dug in there in overtime and it’s what great teams do.”

The win advances CHS to a semifinal matchup against Riverdale Tuesday night, Feb. 26, at the Lady Warrior’s home gym. Tomorrow’s winner will get the chance to play for the region title on Wednesday night, Feb. 27.

“This is a big win, a statement game,” Abby Morgan said. “We just kept our heads and got the win.”

Both teams traded leads early in the first quarter, before Bella Vinson knocked in a shot to make it a 5-4 advantage for Coffee County. The Lady Raiders held on through the quarter’s close to lead 9-7

The game stayed tight in the second quarter. Stewarts Creek briefly retook the lead twice, before three pointers from Ellie Graham and Morgan put CHS back in control both times. After the Lady Redhawks tied it at 17 with 2:30 left, Jacey Vaughn’s three-pointer put the Lady Raiders back in front, holding on for a 25-19 lead at halftime.


Ryan Sulkowski resigns as CHS head football coach


March 20, 2019

This story has been updated Wednesday, March 20 at 2:45 p.m., to reflect information recently provided by Central High School Athletic Director Rebecca Koger.

Central High School head football coach Ryan Sulkowski announced Tuesday morning, March 19, that he is leaving the Red Raiders and the school. His last day is April 15.

Sulkowski will be taking the head coaching job at Hunt High School in Wilson, NC, where he will be also be working as assistant athletic director. Sulkowski said part of the motivation for the new position was proximity to family.

“My wife, daughter and I have loved our time mentoring athletes at Coffee County over the past five years,” Sulkowski said in a statement. “We love the kids and community here in Manchester, but the timing was just the right time to get closer to family in North Carolina.”

He will assume coaching duties at Hunt High School on April 15.


Abby Morgan commits to Cumberland


Apr. 11, 2019

For the past four years, Central High School basketball’s Abby Morgan has been lighting up the court, both at home and beyond. Now, the Lady Raider will get to write the next chapter of her basketball story.

Morgan signed a letter of intent on Thursday, April 11 to play for Cumberland University starting in the 2019 season.

“I’m definitely excited and I’ll miss my team but I think this will be a good chapter,” Morgan said. “It’s definitely been a goal ever since I started playing basketball so it was really awesome to accomplish this.”

Morgan had a standout career with CHS, capped off by helping lead the Lady Raiders to a 28-5 record this past season. Morgan also reached 1,000 career points as a Lady Raider on Dec. 21 against Nashville Central Christian.


Darius Rozier signs with Columbia State


Apr. 12, 2019

For the past few seasons, Central High School basketball’s Darius Rozier has been putting on a show for Coffee County fans and dreaming for his chance to play at the next level. That dream became a reality on Friday, April 12 when Rozier signed a letter of intent to play for Columbia State Community College, starting in the 2019-20 season.

“To come here and just be able to win and get better as a person and a player means a lot,” Rozier said about his time on the CHS team. “So to go [to Columbia State] and get to continue, it means a lot.”

Rozier had a standout career with CHS and capped it off by helping lead the team to its first regular-season district title in several decades. For his efforts, Rozier was named the 2019 District 8-AAA MVP and was named to the Region 4-AAA All Region team.

The senior went out with a bang in the team’s final game of the season. In the opening round of the Region 4-AAA tournament against Riverdale, Rozier reached 1,000 career points as a Red Raider.


CHS dance announces new coach, tryout dates


May 3, 2019

On Wednesday, May 1, the Central High School athletic department announced the hiring of Ashley Kraft as the new dance team coach.

Kraft has been involved with dance for 22 years. She was a member of the Collierville High School team in Collierville, Tn, as well as on the dance team at Middle Tennessee State University. During the 2008-09 season, she served as captain of the MTSU team.

Kraft is also serving as District 12 Coffee County Commissioner.

“We feel Coach Kraft has the knowledge and experience to take our dance team to a new level,” CHS athletic director Rebecca Koger said in a written statement.

An interest meeting for dance team tryouts will be held on Monday, May 13 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Times Square. A dance clinic for those interested in trying out will be held on Wednesday, May 15 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., also in Times Square.


Community comes together for hospitalized Westwood student, soccer player


June 5, 2019

Late Tuesday night on June 4, Coffee County deputy Kevin Smith started to organize a prayer vigil to be held at the Manchester Soccer Complex for Westwood Middle School student and soccer player Chloie Bellamy. Bellamy was hospitalized after a seizure left her unresponsive.

It took less than 24 hours for the word to spread and, by the vigil’s start at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, well over 100 people were in attendance to pray for Bellamy.

“I thought it was awesome to see the community come together in such a short notice,” Smith said. “It just shows how much this community can really come together in a time of need, especially in a situation like this.”

On Monday, June 3, Bellamy suffered a severe seizure around 9 p.m. that resulted in her being flown to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville. She had fainted prior to seizing and had not fully woken up since. While Bellamy was listed as being in stable condition, doctors were unsure as to what had caused the episode.

In the hours leading up to the vigil, Bellamy continued to stabilize and started to regain some consciousness. Further good news came at the start of the vigil when Bellamy’s breathing tubes were removed, meaning she had begun to breath on her own.


The man behind the memories: Pete Jackson’s CHS sports collection


July 9, 2019

For the past few years, students and visitors at Central High School have walked past a set of glass cases containing a collection of Red Raider and Lady Raider memorabilia. A large portion of these items came from Pete Jackson, a retired local businessman and CHS alumnus.

Jackson’s collection mainly consists of football, basketball and baseball-related items and spans several decades.

“In the early days they didn’t have all these other sports,” Jackson explained. “My stuff goes back from about 1922.”

From the 1922 football team photo, to items from the early 2000’s, Jackson’s collection provides a look into the long history of CHS athletics. With such a large collection, not all of it is on display in the cases.

“I don’t know if they’ve got that arranged out there, but I think I have a picture of every team from 1922 up,” Jackson said.

Jackson attended the school back when it was known as Manchester High School and graduated in 1963. While a student, he played on the football team as quarterback and started for three seasons.


Ultramarathon runners pass through Manchester


July 23, 2019

Last week, Manchester residents were treated to a different kind of athletic event. Over the course of several days, groups of ultramarathon runners passed through the city on their way across the state.

The runners were participating in the Vol State Road Race, a 314-mile (500 kilometer) trek from Hickman, Ky to Castle Rock, Ga. The course took runners on a mostly rural route across Tennessee. Manchester was located near the tail end of the race at mile 249.

After the race kicked off in Kentucky on Thursday, July 11, the earliest runners began to appear in Manchester that weekend. The larger bulk of race participants began to appear last week as they neared the close of the 10-day limit to complete the course.

Runners came from various parts of the United States and around the world. The varied terrain and weather made it a challenge, but didn’t appear to dampen the competitors’ spirits.

“It’s better than expected. It’s been rough right through here,” Chad Wooderson of Kansas City, Mo. said. “It’s different. I grew up in rural Missouri so some thing’s the same, some different.”

Runners said that the weather had varied from hot and humid to torrential rain and colder temperatures since taking off. David Bagey of Gold Coast, Australia said that these disparities affect all runners differently.

“I think it really depends on the individual at the end of the day,” Bagey explained. “Whatever you’ve gotta do to crack on.”

Participants stressed the importance of logistics in order to have a successful race. This included having adequate supplies and a sense of how far to travel in a given day and what town to reach before resting.


Celebrity Golf Tournament held at Willowbrook last Saturday


Oct. 31, 2019

Willowbrook Golf Club saw tournament action on Saturday, October 26, with former professional athletes in attendance.

The course hosted a WAB Sports Celebrity Golf Tournament to raise scholarship funds to help local students pay for college. The event featured retired NFL and NBA players, with the players divided into groups with participants.

The event was organized by former Clemson All-American basketball player and Bell Buckle native, Wayne Buckingham. Through his W.A.B. Sports organization, Buckingham has set up multiple fundraising events in various parts of the Southeast through sports camps and golf tournaments.

This was the first Celebrity Golf Tournament held in Manchester after previous tournaments were held in other parts of Middle Tennessee.

In first place was Dale Davis’s team. Davis also played basketball at Clemson and went on to have an NBA career from 1991-2007. Teams Davis played for included the Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons.

Davis’s team also included Jim Medler, Jeff Houck, Mike Jarrell and John Collins.

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