As has become the tradition, Piedmont capped its 2013-14 school year in sports Saturday night with the all-sports banquet hosted by the Piedmont Booster Club. Approximately 170 athletes received a ticket for herself or himself and a guest. In all, the Booster Club fed almost 400 people.
While many schools have individual banquets for a number of different sports, Piedmont athletic director and head football coach Steve Smith prefers one banquet at the end of each academic and athletic year.
“All the athletes put in the time and the effort and they deserve to be rewarded and recognized properly. At some places, they do two banquets a year. Some places do just a football banquet. Some places honor some sports but not others. I’m very proud of all of our athletes and the amount of time and effort that they put in. I just think it’s fitting that we recognize them properly, doing it in the environment and setting we do,” Smith said later. “Our booster club prepares a nice meal for them. The kids dress up nicely. I want our sports banquet to be the second-largest social function of the year behind the prom. That’s the goal behind it. We want it to be something special and something that they get excited about attending.”
After the athletes had eaten their fill of steak and chicken and vegetables and cheesecake, Smith began the program by presenting awards to the group he calls “Ultimate Bulldogs”, those athletes who have the dedication to complete the entire summer workout program successfully.
For the girls, Ultimate Bulldogs included juniors Carlie Flowers, Paige Gowens, Bre Green, Ashlynne Rivers and Riesha Thompson; sophomores Karri Green and Gena Prater; and freshmen Breanna Brazier, Jakieya Mitchell and Megan Mohon.
The boys receiving Ultimate Bulldog awards were seniors Caleb Adams, Exavyer Jackson, Jaret Prater, Ty Sparks, Denard Spears and Jamal Young; juniors Dalton Barber, Cody Daughtry, Tyler Lucas, Tyler Lusk, Alex Mancilla, C.J. Savage and Dreek Thompson; sophomores Brett Akin, Neonta Alexander, Bayley Blanchard, Colton Donaldson, Wil Mitchell and Seth Pope; and freshmen Derrick Baer, Austin Brazier, Taylor Hayes and Easton Kirk.
Following the presentation of the Ultimate Bulldogs, recognitions in individual sports began with track coach Mark Mitchell. Softball coach Rachel Smith, wrestling coach Harley Lamey, cheer coach Mandy Barber, volleyball coach Grace Strott, girls’ basketball coach Terrace Ridley, boys’ basketball ‘B’ team coach Matt Glover, boys’ varsity basketball coach Tommy Lewis, baseball coach James Blanchard and Smith as football coach followed. Golf coach Everett Kelley was unable to attend at the last minute and Smith recognized the members of the girls’ and boys’ golf teams on Kelley’s behalf.
Several themes developed as each coach spoke. One was the willingness of all the successful athletes to work to make the most of their potential. One was the expectation of the athletes and the coaches to compete at a high level and to achieve at that level. All the coaches spoke of the support they received from coaches of other sports. Each took time to recognize the advantage Piedmont has with the support of superintendent Matt Akin and principal Dr. Adam Clemons. Every coach praised the work of the booster Club effusively.
There were a number of special recognitions. Lewis presented each of his five seniors – Jamal Young, Denard Spears, Ty Sparks, Exavyer Jackson and Caleb Adams – with his jersey framed. Softball captains were Ashlynne Rivers, Mallory Roberts and Caitlin Tant. Sophomore Karri Green and senior Denard Spears were permanent captains for the track team.
Alexis Byers was cheer captain and Kathryn Lusk cheer co-captain. Jordan Buttram and Jamie Crutcher were recognized as wrestling captains. Girls’ basketball captains were Bre Green and Riesha Thompson.
For baseball, seniors Caleb Adams, Jaret Prater and Matt Strott served as captains.
Permanent football captains, selected by vote of the players, were seniors Caleb Adams, Exavyer Jackson, Tre Reese and Denard Spears and junior Dreek Thompson.
As football coach, Smith told the audience how dedicated volunteers Clifford Lawler, Jerry Goss and Mike Naugher – each with more than 35 years of keeping game statistics or filming games – have been to Piedmont’s athletic program.