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Shelia Mader

Shelia Mader

Sports Editor

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Danny Sims – student to teacher, coach and beyond

Any high school student knows that Shakespeare wrote that the world is a stage and that, in his lifetime,  a man plays many parts. 

Interestingly, we can look at those around us whom we know in one of those  roles and discover that this quote is so very true. 

For the last several decades, one member of our community held various administrative roles. In them, he was widely known as a dedicated and valuable  leader in education. Prior to those assignments, Danny Sims worked in a position that was perhaps more  demanding and maybe even closer to his heart. It certainly left him with some vivid and very rewarding  memories which he shared with this columnist last week. 

The school year began on Monday; with that,  football season is underway. No one knows the preparation involved in readying a team for its high  school football season better than Jackson County’s own Danny Sims. And, only those coaches and players who work and play together realize the permanence of memories and relationships borne of  those hot, sweaty practices which manifest into winning performances because hard work, strategy, and  tenacity become accomplishments of a lifetime. 

Danny came up through the ranks earning his spot as  head coach of Marianna High School football in 1982. A 1972 graduate of MHS Danny, was a four- year  member of the MHS football team. He then attended Chipola Junior College, as it was known at that  time, graduating in 1974 before going to the University of West Florida from which he graduated in  1976. 

Sims’ first job in education was as a PE teacher at Riverside Elementary from 1976 to 1981. With  the desire to coach in his system, he joined the coaching staff at MHS as an assistant coach in baseball,  football, and basketball working under head coach Wendell Davis in football. 

In 1981, Danny was  transferred to MHS as a PE teacher and became an assistant under Coach Ricky Smith. In 1982, he  took over a team that was 7-3 the previous year and led his team to a 10-1 record. 

Danny’s most  memorable game came when the MHS Bulldogs faced Monticello Jefferson County. Both teams  entered the game undefeated with Monticello ranked number one in the state and MHS ranked number  four. Both teams held a 6-0 record. 

The week of the big game came and his team watched film on  Monday as was the norm. They came out to the field and his seniors asked, “Coach, what’s it going to  take for us to win this game?” Danny said he told them, “Guys I’m going to be honest with you. If we are  going to beat this team, we are going to have to score 35 points. If we score less than 35 points, we get beat. We are a good defensive team and they are a great offensive team. We score 35 points and we  win.” There was a ton of hype as the game approached. 

Assistant coach Rex Wimberly was in the booth  and Danny had a headset on. He said he began to hear a hammering and asked Wimberly where the  hammering was coming from. Wimberly replied he wasn’t aware of any hammering and wasn’t hearing any. Danny said it was then that he realized his headset was picking up his heartbeat. He  removed the headset and began to pace the field to relax and settle down. He said he  walked up and down the sidelines, drank him some Gatorade and left his headset off. He said he was  more or less talking to himself that he had to calm down because he knew his kids would pick up on it if  he didn’t. 

The kick off came and the ball landed in the end zone giving the Bulldogs the ball on the 20- yard line. Danny vividly remembers the first play of the game with a smile on his face, “Twins left, flex  right, 86 out route, ran a tight end side of the field and Jeff Bowers was off and running for 80 yards and the score.” Within a minute, MHS led 7-0. Part of the excitement of the game came late in the game   when the Bulldogs scored to give them their 35 points of the game. Coach Sims had told them that if  they won the game, not only would he shave his head, he would get James Drayton to shave it. 

As the   points were posted on the board, the team did something totally out of character for a Danny Sims  coached team. They removed their helmets on the field and started rubbing their heads. Due to his  witnessing a player break his leg many years earlier from a helmet being on the field, Danny never  allowed his players to remove their helmets until they were completely off the field of play. The players  quickly remembered their coach’s rule and returned their helmets to their heads. But, come Monday, Drayton came to school equipped to ensure that Coach lived up to his promise of a shaved head with a  win. Drayton brought a very long extension cord and clippers to the middle of the field and, of course, the team gathered around to see the hair fall. 

Together, coach and team members celebrated  the success from the previous Friday night!  Coach Sims continued at the helm of MHS football until  1987 when he moved into administration serving for many years as assistance principal at MHS,  principal at Riverside and, eventually, as Superintendent of Schools.  

In whatever role Danny was in, he kept the same rules in place.  With his staff, his teachers, and the students under his supervision,  he was upfront and told them only what he knew he could follow through on. And years after his coaching days came to an end, he always could be seen on the sidelines as a member of the chain gang or with the fans supporting the Bulldogs. 

Danny is married to Pam McGill Sims with whom he has four sons, Bryan, Will, Rick and Jon. He lives on his family’s farm south of Marianna where he occasionally takes time to reflect upon his coaching days and share his memories of the games and the young men with whom he worked. Football season is upon us! He most enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, making memories for the next generation.

Tee Ball a huge success in Cottondale’s Opening Day

  • Published in Sports

Cottondale held its annual Opening Day for rec ball with softball and baseball teams scattered over four fields through most of the day Saturday. With every team eager to take the field, none were more excited than the tee-ballers.  The innocence coupled with their enthusiasm provided fans, family, and players with tons and tons of smiles. 

Cottondale Gray takes on Cottondale Orange

The first game of the day pitted the Cottondale Gray and Cottondale Orange against each other with both teams giving it their all.  

Cottondale Orange went on offense first and they were eager to prove how much they had learned in practice Barrett Trimble and Sebastian Hernandez had great hits down the third base side with Duke Seiss and Dayton Weeks going up the middle to reach first safely. Taking their power down the right field side was Mason Farcash and Lawson Brooks. Ruby Kate Trimble and Madison Farcash dropped a perfect bunt just in the right spot to make it safely to first. 

For the Cottondale Gray team, Desi Martinez had a shot up the middle with no question of being safe on the bag, with Zoey Barnes and Brantley Seal equally as impressive finding the right side. James Hitchcock and Bella Robarge aimed for just the right hole on the right side to scurry to first base untouched. Kha’Darius Martin and Nathan Stoffels chose to go third base side to safely reach first. Skyla Baxley hit the ball to land just shy of eager hands to allow time to get to first without a tag. 

Defensively, both teams were impressive. The balls were quickly gloved and returned to the circle to prevent runners from advancing extra bases. 

Following the game, the two teams met in the middle of the field to exchange the traditional ‘good job hand slap’.

Cottondale Black battles with Cottondale Blue

The Cottondale Black and Cottondale Blue tee ball teams were more than just a little excited when it was their turn to take the field Saturday. Both teams had worked hard in practice and were ready to showcase their skills. 

For the Cottondale Blue team, Sawyer Baggett and Nick Brock found a nice little hole on the right side of the field and used their speed to make it to first untouched.  AJ Patterson and Bryson Meredith opted for the left side of the diamond, making the throw to first a little harder on the defenders. Elliot Batson and Colton O’Neil sailed their hits straight up the middle, giving defenders at short and second a chance to snag them. Carter Kelly landed a bunt in no man’s land and had himself a standup single.

For the Cottondale Black team, Michael Byram and Amelia Lee found an unguarded area between third and short that allowed them to safely land on first while Hailey Wade and Amelia Lee saw an opening down the first base line. Kaitly Monk and Carson Cosper were left side all the way, landing safely on first. Cooper McCord popped up in no man’s land for a single.

Defensively, the fans knew the players had worked hard when they saw their defense on the field. No time was wasted in approaching balls, gloving them and making the throw to the right spots, whether it was first base or the circle. 

School Board approves Sneads Elementary/Grand Ridge School changes

Tuesday afternoon at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Jackson County School Board, the Board voted on a 5-0 vote to implement the proposed changes for Sneads Elementary and Grand Ridge School, effective July 1, 2018.  Board Chairman Dr. Terry Nichols thanked the staff, the community and everyone involved in this decision.  He said it had not been an easy one but felt like this was best for the future. 

Effective July 1, Sneads Elementary will be PreK – 4 with Grand Ridge serving students in grades 5-8. 

Roofing and flooring issues at the Grand Ridge School have forced the school board’s hands on this move.  With some of the buildings aged at 84 years, the cost to demolish and rebuild or rent portables is more of a financial strain than the school board can bear at this time.

In an interview with Superintendent of Schools Larry Moore recently, Moore said, “It would be a reconfiguration. Currently Grand Ridge is a Pre-K through eighth grade school and Sneads is a Pre-K through fifth grade school.  We currently need more space at Grand Ridge and we looked at different options. And of course, construction is very expensive and renting portables is very expensive. But then we looked at our enrollment numbers and we can by moving Grand Ridge to a fifth grade through eighth grade center and Sneads Elementary becoming a Pre-K through fourth grade center, we have plenty of space, according to the data that we have and the enrollment that we have currently, we can house the Pre-K through four at Sneads Elementary and grades five through eight at Grand Ridge and we will have enough space without building, without renting any additional portables and we will be in good shape.”

Moore said that with school choice being a legislated mandate, students can move outside of their zone. They can be out of county or within county. 

Moore said, “The progression would be Pre-K through fourth would be Sneads Elementary School and then move to Grand Ridge for the fifth grade through eighth grades and then Sneads High School nine through twelve.”

Moore said as far as geographically there was six to seven miles between Grand Ridge School and Sneads Elementary. He said financially this was the best solution, “It would prevent us from having to rent portables or build additional space. We are utilizing the space we currently have and with the current enrollment it will work well. But more so from an educational standpoint, it would be very good.”

School board member Chris Johnson said after the meeting was held in Grand Ridge, he was certain he would have received feedback but he had not except for when he had brought it up. Johnson said he had even had some say that this move should have long been done. 

School board member Charlotte Gardner reiterated much of what Johnson said in that she had expected calls, emails, or messages opposing the change, but had been very pleasantly surprised. School board member Stacey Goodson chimed in with the same sentiments.  

The Board is hopeful of assistance from area churches and groups with moving the materials and personal education materials of teachers at the schools who will be affected by the change. 

Marianna Bullpups are 2018 Conference Champs

  • Published in Sports

The Marianna Bullpups concluded their season in the best possible way – with a 10-2 win over the Madison County Broncos.  For the championship game, coach Clint Brock sent Chris Gable to the hill. Gable went six and one-third innings before giving way to Cole Nobles to get the final two outs. Gable gave up two runs on four hits, two walks, and fanned nine batters while Nobles gave up no runs on one hit and no walks. 

Marianna blew the game open in the first inning with five runs crossing the plate. Waylon Crumpler showed why he had the leadoff spot with a single, stole second and moved to third on a single by Tucker Brock.  Brock took second on an overthrow before a walk to Brantley Willis loaded the bases. Daniel Stoutamire, ‘Big D’ singled to score Crumpler before Chris Gable helped himself out with a two RBI single up the left side.  Cole Nobles drew a walk before a fielder’s choice by Zank Monk scored Stoutamire with Brennan Faircloth laying down the perfect bunt to score Gable for the final run of the inning.

Crumpler singled for the second time in the game but was caught stealing in the second inning. A ground out and a flyout left a goose egg on the board. In the third inning, a two-out reach on an error by Chris Gable was all the offense the Bullpups could muster.  The fourth inning didn’t show any more promise with Marianna going three up, three down.  

The offense picked up in the fifth inning with three runs crossing the plate.  Tucker Brock led things off with a single and stole second. Brantley Willis singled to put runners on the corners for an RBI single by Daniel Stoutamire that scored Brock. Stoutamire stole second and with a sac by Chris Gable scoring Willis and putting Stoutamire on third.  Cole Nobles picked up an RBI when he singled to score Stoutamire, Giovanni Scott singled for the last offense of the inning with Marianna leading 8-2.

Marianna added a pair of insurance runs in their final inning. Brennan Faircloth led off with a single and moved to second on a single by Waylon Crumpler. Tucker Brock laid down the perfect bunt back to the pitcher to score Faircloth.  Brantley Willis flied to deep center to score Crumpler with Daniel Stoutamire doubling to straightaway center.  A groundout to short left Stoutamire on the bag at second but the Bullpups had more than enough runs to take the conference championship win.

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