B.B. Branton: Sports Christmas Presents For Chattanooga

Monday, December 24, 2012 - by B.B. Branton

It’s been an excellent sports year for Chattanooga from the filming of a movie at Engel Stadium to national championships to hall of fame inductions.

The following have given the Chattanooga area a Christmas present of good publicity, notoriety and name recognition. 

In Keeping with the 12 Days of Christmas ... here are my 12 Highlights of 2012 …

Stephen Fox – No question the biggest and brightest present under the tree is a U.

S. Amateur and world team championship won by UTC golfer Stephen Fox … A life-changing few months for the quiet golfer with the magical 60 degree wedge … and we cannot wait until he tees it up with Bubba Watson on the first tee at The Masters on that Thursday morning in April …

UTC Women’s Basketball … wrapped in Blue and Gold, the Lady Mocs gave their fans one of the greatest gifts in program history and a night to remember … UTC gained national attention for its season-opening win against Tennessee, 80-71, before 8,000+ at McKenzie Arena on Nov.9 … Taylor Hall had 24 points and nine rebounds for the Wes Moore-coached squad, while teammate Alex Black added 14 points and four rebounds.

Janna Jahn – A tip of the cap to Janna and her Engel Stadium foundation board as they have tirelessly worked to put Engel Stadium back in playing shape … the Jackie Robinson movie “42” was filmed, in part, here and upon its release in the spring will bring attention to our city and remind young and old alike about “The House that Joe Built” 80 years ago.

Chattanooga State Softball … led by national tournament most valuable player and outstanding pitcher, Ashley Czechner, the Lady Tigers of Chattanooga State captured the programs first national championship in May in St. George, Utah … The Tigers defeated Salt Lake (Utah) Community College, 4-1, on a three-hitter by Czechner for the NJCAA Division I title as coach Beth Keyln-Randolph was named tournament coach of the year..

Wesley Cash – the former Baylor School and U. of Georgia tennis player won his second tennis grand slam in 2012 with doubles titles on indoor, grass, clay and hard courts … He also won all four in 2002 ... Dr. David Moore of Elite Sports Medicine in Nashville gave Wes one of the best Christmas presents ever – a new strong right knee in 2010 and two years later Wesley cashed in his chips along with a strong serve, backhand and net play and ran the table in the 55s to claim a grand slam.

Sue Bartlett – GPS tennis coach won the Women’s 55s National Clay Courts title this fall and will also head to Turkey as a member of the Great Britain Women’s 50s … Bartlett led her native country to the team gold medal in 2009 and has also earned the team silver (2010) and a bronze (2011) … The former UTC All-American has led GPS to team and individual state championships in 24 years as the Bruisers head coach.

Zan Guerry – Zan and his son Jeff who won their second senior father-son national doubles title in November …  The Chattem exec has won 31 national championships in singles and doubles ... He has won at least one national title in six decades starting with his first championship in the 11s in 1960 at Manker Patten.

Davis Tull – UTC sophomore defensive end has been named to four All-American teams … the former walk-on with a 3.43 grade point average has earned American Football Coaches Association first team honors and second team recognition by Associated Press, The Sports Network and Walter Camp … The Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year led the SoCon with a UTC single-season record 19.0 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks … he finished the year fifth on the team with 56 tackles while forcing three fumbles ... He is currently second on the Mocs' all-time list with 17.5 career sacks.

Heath Eslinger … UTC wrestling coach who took the bull by the horns and brought the impressive Southern Scuffle to McKenzie Arena (Jan. 1-2) to start 2012 with a bang for wrestling fans ... (the tourney was previously at UNC Greensboro until the Southern Conference school dropped varsity wrestling after the 2010-11 season) … defending NCAA champs Penn State, plus national powers Cornell, Minnesota and others also brought teams … Eslinger has added Oklahoma State, South Dakota State (with former UTC coach Chris Bono) and Northern Colorado to next week’s impressive field – Jan 1-2 … championship finals are Jan. 2 at 6 p.m.

Hannah Vanbiber … the Covenant College grad who works for CityScope magazine did a great service to our community with the inaugural edition of the CityScope High School Football Preview this past summer …Doubtful that anyone else has ever produced a four-color, high-end prep football preview yearbook for the Chattanooga area … Hannah (editor) and graphic designer Emily Long are to be commended.

And For Lifetime Service !! …

Luther Masingill – For his long overdue induction into the national radio broadcasters hall of fame … led by the tireless efforts of David Carroll (WRCB-TV Ch.3) and James Howard (WDEF Radio, 92.3 FM), Masingill was inducted in November .. The Chattanooga Central High School graduate  is also a member of the inaugural class of the Tennessee Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame (May 2012) … known mainly as an on-air radio personality keeping Chattanoogans informed on current happenings in our area, Luther has ties to the Chattanooga sports world as he once served as the p.a. announcer for the Chattanooga Lookouts under Joe Engel.

Gary Davis – For the retiring Coca Cola exec and his four decades of great work with various youth sports programs, especially Dixie Youth Baseball ... he started with the company by driving a truck in the summers while at Furman and worked his way up the corporate ladder to become one of the best spokesmen in the company … Gary, who led McCallie to Mid-South Conference Championships in swimming and baseball in the late 1960s, was a DYB district director in the early 1990s.


contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

PHOTOS: CCS, Silverdale In Thanksgiving Hoops Tournament

Chattanooga Christian wrapped up their Thanksgiving weekend basketball tournament Saturday night with boys and girls games against Silverdale. Lookout Valley and Lakeview Ft. Oglethorpe also participated. (click for more)

Lee Men Fall To Palm Beach Atlantic 68-66

The Lee men’s basketball team came up just short in a 68-66 non-conference loss to Palm Beach Atlantic in the Valdosta State Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday afternoon. A day after winning in overtime to Coastal Georgia the Flames came up a shot short against the Sailfish despite a 21-point effort from CJ Reese. Jervon Johnson added 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point ... (click for more)

Fire Breaks Out At McKee Bakery Plant 2; Damage Listed At $15,000Propane Tanks Were Near Blaze

Fire broke out at a McKee Food plant at Collegedale on Saturday night. At 6:45 p.m. , an employee at McKee Foods called 911 call reporting a fire at McKee Foods Plant 2 located at 10260 McKee Dr. Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department responded and arrived on the scene reporting flames 15 feet high at one end of the building of Plant 2. According to fire officials, ... (click for more)

City Council To Consider Policy That Job Applicants Would Not Have To Reveal Criminal Records

The City Council on Tuesday night will consider a policy that city job applicants would not have to reveal their criminal past. Councilman Yusuf Hakeem cited problems those with felony records have in securing employment. The policy would go into effect by the first of the year. The resolution says: WHEREAS, the City of Chattanooga (the "City") is committed ... (click for more)

Lung Cancer, The Deadliest Cancer In The United States

This time of year, I remember to give thanks for my faith, my family and friends and my health. Recently, I learned that lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer in the United States; in fact, more Americans die each year from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. One in 13 men and one in 16 women will develop the disease in their lifetime. It’s important to learn about ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We Can’t ‘Ban The Box’

I know a man who has over 20 former convicts from federal prisons who either work for him or who have retired with their dignity, pride, and self-worth restored. Better yet, I know some of them, men who have done “hard time” in prisons so wretched none of us would dare to go. So on the surface I applaud City Councilman Yusef Hakeem for seeing ways to get formerly incarcerated men ... (click for more)