Lady Devils serve up good performances at West Greene

Volleyball season is reaching the halfway point and the UCHS Lady Devils are beginning to show that they’ll be a team to be reckoned with at the district tournament being held in October.
After building up momentum with wins over Chuckey-Doak and conference rival, Johnson County, coach Junia Gindlesperger’s crew traveled to West Greene on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to play in their only match of the week.
It wouldn’t disappoint either.
The JV Lady Devils would come away with a win, dropping their first game by the score of 20-25 only to rally and win two straight by the scores of 25-22 and 15-12.
Varsity action would follow with the Lady Devils and Lady Buffaloes dueling it out in the first two games, with West Greene taking the early two games to none lead by the scores of 18-25 and 14- 25 and being able to win in the final game to keep the Devils away from a win in Mosheim.
Senior Mercedes Wright, came up from her libero position to lead the UCHS dig category with an impressive number of 38.
Not far behind followed Brooke Strother, who came away 19 digs during the night for coach Gindlesperger’s varsity squad.
Grayson Goddard brought in 16 digs along with Kaylee Nicholson’s 13, and Jacque Manzanares contributed six to keep up the key play put forth by the sophomore class of Lady Devils.
Senior Alex Lamaa rounded up the Devils with digs, hauling in 14.
Carrie Whitson and Emmie Thompson showed the their skills from the middle-hitter position, with Whitson knocking seven kills against the Lady Buffaloes and Thompson followed up with four kills of her own.
Thompson and Nicholson would also be in the ace category, with both girls hitting two each during the night.
Manzanares, Thompson, Nicholson, and Strother each came up with assists during the night to aid the Lady Devil effort.

Freshmen Fiesta Tournament
Sullivan North
Talk about an impressive showing for the younger girls.
The freshman squad from Unicoi County went on the road in Kingsport on Saturday, Sept. 10, to participate in the Freshmen Fiesta Tourney being held at Sullivan North High School.
The ladies began the day in pool play, going 2-1 by knocking off Science Hill and Sullivan North and falling to Sullivan South.
The 2-1 showing had the girls qualify for the gold bracket, being one of the top four teams out of a group of eight.
The girls battled hard and bowed out in the first round semifinal match against Dobyns-Bennett by the scores of 22-25 and 23-25.
There wasn’t a third place tiebreaker match.
“It was a good team showing,” coach Gindlesperger said after the tourney. “We saw some good competition and responded well.”
The freshman Lady Devil squad consists of Brittnie Rice, Haley Webb, Hannah Keasling, Emily Lynch, Devan Lamie, Victoria Baily, Destinie Hayes and Chelsey Harness.

This Week
The Lady Devils open up conference play once again by hosting the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones on Monday, Sept. 12, at the Devils Den in Erwin.
The game is a rescheduled match from the original Sept. 22 date, which is not on the schedule anymore. The game was scheduled to begin after the Erwin Record’s press deadline.
The girls travel to Sullivan East on Tuesday, Sept. 13, and end the week by hosting Sullivan North on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Game are set to begin with freshmen playing at 4:30 p.m., junior varsity at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 6:30 p.m.

Lady Devils serve up good performances at West Greene

Volleyball season is reaching the halfway point and the UCHS Lady Devils are beginning to show that they’ll be a team to be reckoned with at the district tournament being held in October.
After building up momentum with wins over Chuckey-Doak and conference rival, Johnson County, coach Junia Gindlesperger’s crew traveled to West Greene on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to play in their only match of the week.
It wouldn’t disappoint either.
The JV Lady Devils would come away with a win, dropping their first game by the score of 20-25 only to rally and win two straight by the scores of 25-22 and 15-12.
Varsity action would follow with the Lady Devils and Lady Buffaloes dueling it out in the first two games, with West Greene taking the early two games to none lead by the scores of 18-25 and 14- 25 and being able to win in the final game to keep the Devils away from a win in Mosheim.
Senior Mercedes Wright, came up from her libero position to lead the UCHS dig category with an impressive number of 38.
Not far behind followed Brooke Strother, who came away 19 digs during the night for coach Gindlesperger’s varsity squad.
Grayson Goddard brought in 16 digs along with Kaylee Nicholson’s 13, and Jacque Manzanares contributed six to keep up the key play put forth by the sophomore class of Lady Devils.
Senior Alex Lamaa rounded up the Devils with digs, hauling in 14.
Carrie Whitson and Emmie Thompson showed the their skills from the middle-hitter position, with Whitson knocking seven kills against the Lady Buffaloes and Thompson followed up with four kills of her own.
Thompson and Nicholson would also be in the ace category, with both girls hitting two each during the night.
Manzanares, Thompson, Nicholson, and Strother each came up with assists during the night to aid the Lady Devil effort.

Freshmen Fiesta Tournament
Sullivan North
Talk about an impressive showing for the younger girls.
The freshman squad from Unicoi County went on the road in Kingsport on Saturday, Sept. 10, to participate in the Freshmen Fiesta Tourney being held at Sullivan North High School.
The ladies began the day in pool play, going 2-1 by knocking off Science Hill and Sullivan North and falling to Sullivan South.
The 2-1 showing had the girls qualify for the gold bracket, being one of the top four teams out of a group of eight.
The girls battled hard and bowed out in the first round semifinal match against Dobyns-Bennett by the scores of 22-25 and 23-25.
There wasn’t a third place tiebreaker match.
“It was a good team showing,” coach Gindlesperger said after the tourney. “We saw some good competition and responded well.”
The freshman Lady Devil squad consists of Brittnie Rice, Haley Webb, Hannah Keasling, Emily Lynch, Devan Lamie, Victoria Baily, Destinie Hayes and Chelsey Harness.

This Week
The Lady Devils open up conference play once again by hosting the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones on Monday, Sept. 12, at the Devils Den in Erwin.
The game is a rescheduled match from the original Sept. 22 date, which is not on the schedule anymore. The game was scheduled to begin after the Erwin Record’s press deadline.
The girls travel to Sullivan East on Tuesday, Sept. 13, and end the week by hosting Sullivan North on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Game are set to begin with freshmen playing at 4:30 p.m., junior varsity at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 6:30 p.m.

JV, varsity split series against Sevier

The middle school was in action Tuesday, Sept. 6, when taking on John Sevier at Gentry Stadium.
Coach Larry Howell led both his teams into the series with mixed results in store for both.
The JV middle school squad (3-0) won by the score of 12-0 with the offense being led by quarterback, Michael Howell, and Nick Fender.
The varsity (1-3) encountered some trouble, by falling 22-6 against the eighth grade team.
Overall the games proved to be a valuable time for the young Devils to learn and progress throughout the regular season.
The Devils open back up action on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at Gentry Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

TWRA to sponsor hunter education class

A Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency endorsed Hunter Education Class will be held at Erwin City Hall Sept. 23-23, with a live firing exercise to be held for those who pass the written exam. The firing exercise will be held Saturday, Sept. 25, at Sciota Firing Range in Unicoi.
Everyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969, must possess proof of satisfactory completion of an agency approved hunter education course, in addition to all other licenses and permits required. they must also possess proof of successful completion of a hunter education class before hunting in Tennessee.
Those under 10 years of age do not need a Hunter Education certificate, but must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age, w ho must remain in position to take immediate control of the hunting device.
Anyone wishing to participate in the class must be at least nine years old when the class starts and bring their social security number to the class for registration. Class begins at 6 p.m. each night. Instructor is Jerry Hopson. For more information, call 743-8754.

Unicoi County’s defense outplays Chuckey-Doak

The heat in Tennessee may of been on scene during last week’s slate of high school football games, but the Devils from Erwin made sure to bring a little fire of their own while traveling on the road for their second game of the season.
The Unicoi County Blue Devils (1-1) showed a complete 360 on Thursday, Aug. 25, by rebounding from a 35-0 home-opener loss to defeat the Chuckey-Doak Black Knights (1-1) by the score of 28-10.
Doak, who was expected to place fairly high within the Blue Ridge Conference, came into the night’s contest after posting a 54-6 winning performance in their first game of the season.
“We took our lumps last week and the boys were challenged,” coach Jerad Huskins explained after the game. “We just went back and did what we needed to do to prepare for (Doak) during our practices and the guys did a great job out there tonight.”
The Black Knights would score first after a stalled Blue Devil drive that resulted in a Joe McNabb field goal that had Chuckey-Doak on top 3-0 at the 3:45 mark of the first quarter.
Unicoi’s offensive efforts were stalled on drive No. 1, but Hunter Goddard’s kickoff return from the Devils 20-yard line to their own 45 gave the spark needed to ignite the fireworks for coach Huskins’ squad.
After a Goddard 10-yard reception from quarterback Austin Hensley, Hunter Abbott made the first big bang of the night for the Blue Devils offense.
“Hunter (Abbott) and Austin (Hensley) are kind of our one-two punch,” Huskins said. “You cover one and it keeps the other open, both of them did what we needed them to do during the night.”
Unicoi only needed two plays during their drive, with Abbott racing forward to the endzone with a 45-yard touchdown that gave the Devils a 7-3 lead following a Tomas Vazquez extra point.
Abott came up for the rushing attack of Unicoi County, contributing with 88 yards on 12 carries from scrimmage.
The battle of the defenses would be in effect until halftime, with Unicoi rebounding from a 15-yard penalty thanks in part to a stop in the backfield by Hunter Burnett and Chase Honeycutt’s fumble recovery to keep momentum on the Devils side.
The Devils would go into halftime with a 7-3 lead, but the Black Knights would not go away by returning the opening kickoff of the second half back for a touchdown.
It would be the last time the Unicoi would trail during the night.
“Defensively we shook some things up and moved around some personnel,” Huskins said. “We prepared for Doak and made sure that if they were going to beat us, it would be through the air. The guys on defense came up big overall with the forced fumbles and stops on fourth down, it was good to see the improvement over the week.”
Josh McKinney and Cody Harris were a part of the host of Blue Devils who helped on the defensive side of things with stops in the secondary against the Black Knights’ passing attack.
Unicoi’s offense was unable to punch through on their first drive of the second half, but after a Matt Lingerfelt stop the Devils were able to cause the second forced fumble of the night with Jordan Berry coming up from the linebacker spot to aid in the fumble recovery near the Black Knight’s redzone.
Berry’s name would be soon called again.
After a Hensley first down run, the Blue Nation in attendence would see Hensley connect with Berry on a touchdown pass that gave the Devils the lead again at 9:00 spot of the third quarter.
With the Vazquez extra point, the Devils would be back on top 14-10.
Unicoi would cause their third forced fumble on the night on the Black Knights next drive, but Hensley’s next pass would be picked off by a Doak defender.
Accounting for three touchdowns and aiding in stops on defense, Hensley would make up for the interception.
“We came out here tonight and executed the way we needed to” Hensley said. “The coaches did a great job of getting us ready tonight.”
Hensley would run from one yard out on his first rushing touchdown and three yards out for the second, to give the Devils the final score of 28-10.
Hensley finished the night going 13-21 passing with three touchdowns (one passing, two rushing) with an interception.
The Devils will be back on the road for their upcoming game on Friday, Sept. 2, traveling up to face coach Mike Atwood’s Longhorn squad from Johnson County.
The game will mark the Devils first conference game of the year, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

JV Results
The UCHS JV Devils were at home on Monday, Aug. 22, against the junior varisty of South Greene.
Unicoi came away with the 28-6 win, with Thomas Tipton coming up with three of the touchdowns during the night for the Blue Nation.
Garrett Clark came up big defensively for the Devils including an interception but had to leave the game due to an injury on the field.
The JV Devils will be on the road Aug. 29, to play against the junior varsity of Chuckey Doak, gametime is slated for 6 p.m. after The Erwin Record’s Monday evening press deadline.

Lady Devil squad has busy opening week

The volleyball season is back for UCHS.
Coach Junia Gindlesperger's squad is back at the grind for the 2011 campaign after experiencing a busy opening week for her Lady Devils' squad.
“It's been a busy week for us,” Gindlesperger said. “We've had a good competition throughout the week and the girls have responded well.”
The girls opened up their season on Monday, Aug. 22, at the Devils Den in Erwin against a senior-loaded Daniel Boone squad, but would end up falling in a close match against the Trailblazers by the scores of 16-25, 24-26 and 21-25.
Mercedes Wright would come up big for the team during the night, coming away with 31 digs. Sophomore Brooke Strother would have an impressive performance, with 21 digs and coming up with two kills and one assist.
Grayson Goddard would follow along with her sophomore counterpart, coming up big with 16 digs.
Seniors would lead them team with kills, as Emmie Thompson would get six and Alex Lamaa would follow with four of her own. Fellow senior, Sarah Lingerfelt, contributed with her other counterparts by hitting 17 digs, one kill and having six assists.
Juniors Bethany Gibson and Carrie Whitson brought in successful performances, with Gibson hitting 18 digs with three aces and Whitson showing the defense with two blocks and three kills during the night.
The girls would go back to the drawing board on Tuesday, Aug. 23, with Chuckey-Doak coming to Erwin for the next match of the night.
The Black Knights would come away with the win by the scores of 25-14, 25-21 and 25-13.
Wright would come away leading the dig category with 20 on Tuesday. Lingerfelt hit nine digs and tallied in one assist. Gibson raked in four digs and one assist of her own. Whitson would have a kill with the Lamaa and Thompson rounding out the rest of the scoring efforts, in order, of having five digs and one kill and two digs and one assist.
The varsity efforts would be wrapped up on Saturday, Aug. 27, by participating in the Elizabethton Cyclone Invitational, which was held at the high school in Elizabethton and T.A. Dugger Middle School.
Following successful outings against David Crockett and home team, Elizabethton, the girls would advance on to participate in the gold division for the winners of pool play.
The Lady Devils would draw the Lady Hilltoppers of Science Hill and the girls of Johnson City would be just too much for UCHS.
“It was a great experience for us,” Gindlesperger said about the Cyclone Invitational. “We got a chance to see and play against talented teams and it helps us to see where we stack with the teams around the area. The girls showed their heart in the second game against Elizabethton, and they just did a great job of battling during the tournament.”
The Devils will be back to another busy week starting off by traveling on the road to face the South Greene Devils on Monday, Aug. 29.
The Lady Devils will open up conference play on Tuesday, Aug. 30, by traveling to Elizabethton to face the Lady Cyclones. The Three Rivers will be calling the girls again on Thursday, Sept. 1, as the Lady Longhorns will be traveling to the Devils Den in Erwin.
Unicoi will be traveling to Chuckey-Doak on Wednesday, Aug. 31, with only junior varsity and varsity playing, and gametime begining at 3:30 p.m.
For the rest of the week, freshmen games are scheduled to begin at 4:30, with junior varsity at 5:30 and varsity begining at 6:30.
The junior varsity were in action back on Saturday, Aug. 20, with the head coach stating the girls are starting to impress.
“Our JV girls did great in the PlayDay at Science Hill,” Gindlesperger said. “They came along and just showed what they could do.”

YMCA slates men’s league

The Sacred hand Men's Basketball league registration for t his year is currently available at the front desk at the YMCA. Industries, Churches, Teachers and business establishments and friends are welcomed to participate. The cost for the league will be $375 per team. Games will begin on Sept. 29. All applications just be turned in by Sept. 10. Fee will not be due until Sept. 19. Pick up your applications at the Y. For more information, call Lisa White at 743-3361.

Childrens soccer to begin

Applications for Praise and Believe Soccer, to play in the 2011 Fall Soccer League, are now being accepted. The cost fort he league is $50 for members and $55 for non-members. A parent meeting will be held on Sept. 29, at the YMCA gym at 6 p.m. Sign ups will be accepted during the parent meeting. Schedules will be provided and any questions parents may have will be addressed. Fro more information, call Lisa White at 743-3361.

ZumbAtomic classes set

ZumbAtomic classes for children will be taught by Ricki Laviano, a newly certified Zumba instructor. The classes are for kids ages 4-12. The class will take place on Mondays at 3:15 p.m., upstairs. This is an after school program that is specifically designed for the young children. As a new mother and professional dancer, Ricki will help your child reach their goals and establish an “I can do it” attitude. For more information, call Lisa White at 743-3361.

Unicoi boy on team who won 10U world series

The East Tennessee 10-and-under travel baseball team, which is made up of kids from the Tri-Cities area, won the Global World Series on July 24. the tournament was held in Orange Beach, Ala.
The team defeated North Florida 4-1 in the quarter finals; Missouri 6-5 in extra innings in the semi finals; and came from behind to defeat Louisiana 9-7 in extra innings in the championship game.
The championship finished off a season that saw the team ranked as high as fourth nationally out of 870 teams. The team finished with a record of 49-16 overall and won nine of the 16 tournaments it played, including back to back state champions.

Elks to hold golf tourney to benefit UCHS golf team

The Erwin Elks are hosting a benefit golf tournament to raise funds for the Unicoi County High School golf teams, on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Start time is 7 p.m. This will be three-player, blind draw. After the first nine holes, players will take a break. The second nine holes will be played in the dark, with glow in the dark golf balls. The entry fee is a $25 donation.
Anyone who does not play, but would like to make a donation call Daniel Bailey, 743-4454, Ethan Hensley, 220-7861, Erwin Elks, 743-8559, or Diana Tucker, UCHS golf coach, at 743-1632.

‘Y’ sets baseball registration

Registration for the 2012 Faith and Promise Baseball League will be accepted through Oct. 28.Draft day will take place at the YMCA gym on Oct. 31, at 10 a.m. to establish teams and choose time and location of practice. The Y will be hosting a kick-off week, where each team will be scheduled to play one game before the season begins. All registrations will be firm to end on Oct. 28 to ensure that team shirts will be delivered on time for the first scheduled kick-off game which will be held Nov. 28-Dec. 3. All volunteer coaches are to fill out 2010 coaching applications and sign contracts ASAP to establish colors and mascot names for their team. For more information, call Lisa White at 743-3361.

Sports a fun outlet for Nick and Laura Rogers

Say hello to the Rogers in the neighborhood of Erwin.
Nick and Laura Rogers are both product of the Blue Devil Nation that have given the community something to enjoy while watching sports during the 2011 season at the high school and middle school level.
Older sibling Nick, who recently graduated from Unicoi County High School, spoke about what drove him into the sports world.
“Growing up I started playing basketball at the Y (YMCA) and played tee-ball”, Nick said. “My parents got me into sports early, and I really thank them for it.”
Between the two sports, Nick found his calling on the diamond instead of in the gym.
“I just loved baseball,” he stated. “Basketball was fun too, but I was a kind of small to continue playing it when I got older.”
Baxter Field was the area that called the older Rogers. He played for hall of fame coach Charlie Baxter during his tenure at the high school and was a part of the 2011 squad that battled back through an early rough start that eventually led to a district and regional championship.
“The biggest thing I learned during my time playing baseball at the high school was patientence, where I had been sick I had to sit out some of the season but it was a big thing to learn while playing,” Rogers explained. “ The friendships made while playing was a thing I enjoyed the most. Being able to travel together and just have fun– it was just a fun experience.”
With Nick graduating and attending Clemson University in the fall, the community will still have a Rogers in the Blue Devils ranks, with Laura continuing her sporting career going into the eighth grade at Unicoi County Middle School.
“My parents were big into getting me into playing sports,” Laura explained.
The younger Rogers followed in the footsteps of her big brother, by playing softball and basketball early. But unlike Nick, Laura’s sports journey would take her to the confines of a gym – but not with a basketball.
“I really enjoy playing volleyball,” Laura said. “It’s the one sport I’m best at, it’s fun and it’s a sport where you get to talk a lot on the court.”
With Laura taking a different turn than her older brother, Nick is still there to support his little sister.
“I’m kind of out of my element to help her with Volleyball,” Nick said, “but I go to the games and support her. I’m proud of her.”
Laura will be apart of the UCMS Volleyball squad during the 2011 season.
Despite the abundance of sibling support, there are still occasional brother/sister argument.
“We would pass the ball out in the yard, but we’d sometimes argue about what type of ball to throw,” Laura said.
Overall, even with the normal brother and sister arguments, Laura explained how Nick influenced her ways in the sporting realm.
“He worked when he was playing, and I want to do my best to be like how he was and what he did while he was at the high school,” she said.
The Blue Nation has wonderful time following the siblings within the ranks of the Blue Devils athletic programs, and the Rogers are apart of a vast group of kids in the community who continue the tradition of bringing top notch athletes to Unicoi County’s middle and high school.

Gibson siblings friends, not rivals

Brothers and sisters always fight.
Whoever established that common belief hasn’t met the Gibsons.
During the successful year for the boys of Baxter Field and the ladies from Lady Devil Diamond, Blue Nation was treated to a pair of Gibsons – Scott and Bethany – who each aided their respected teams to a district and regional championship during the 2011 season.
Scott, who recently graduated from Unicoi County High School, explained that his brother first introduced him to the idea of playing sports.
“My older brother (Robert), who is eight years older than I am, got me interested in sports,” Gibson said. “I remember going to watch him play in baseball and football games. Me and him would mess around in the backyard. Whether it was showing me the proper way to a baseball or a good batting stance, he helped tons.”
However, it wasn’t just baseball the oldest brother helped with. In fact, Robert also helped Scott with football.
“We’d be in the backyard and we’d throw the ball around…” Scott said. “We also worked on tackling, it’s where I broke my first bone.”
Scott reminisced that sports were just a part of life, but the tides turned towards baseball at age 11.
“Football was really the game I enjoyed until I started travel baseball,” Scott explained. “Anthony Whitson and Pat Goddard showed me the real game of baseball and I just loved it ever since.”
The opportunities Scott had over the years helped him aid the 2011 Blue Devils baseball squad. Scott left the bullpen and became the Devils’ ace as the season progressed. He also contributed on the mound and with the bat during the post-season run for the Devils, coming one game shy of a state tournament berth.
However, Scott wasn’t the only Gibson on a diamond during the baseball/softball season.
The youngest Gibson, Bethany, was apart of coach Grady Lingerfelt’s 2011 softball squad, which advanced to the state tournament after conference, regional and district championships.
With two older brothers involved in athletics, the sports lifestyle is just a normal way of life for Bethany.
“Growing up as the youngest child with two older brothers who were both involved with sports, (sports) was more like a normal thing to do,” Bethany said. “You wake up, go to school, then go to your practice or game. That’s just the way it was. I am really glad that I was raised around sports. I love it.”
The experience aided Bethany in assisting the Lady Devils’ season by coming up in key situations with clutch base running and a successful stint within the JV ranks of the softball program.
A state tournament trip always helps too.
“Where to start about the state tournament?” Gibson said. “This was the most amazing experience ever. One of the things I got to take out of it was the level of the competition. Another thing was the fact that teams really do come together as a family because I know ours did. Our team was really close, and we had a lot of fun together.”
When siblings play sports, it’s typical to see a sense of a rivalry between the two. But that’s not the case with the two Gibsons.
“Bethany is like my best friend,” Scott stated. “We’re not like most brothers and sisters. We hardly ever bicker and fight. Of course, we have our disagreements, but we are very close with each other.”
The youngest Gibson seconds that statement.
“I really look up to him because of all his achievements,” Bethany said. “He’s like my best friend. We help each other out, and we’re always there for one another.”
In the case of the recent graduate, Scott has no problem with helping Bethany with her play on the diamond.
“I love to help her improve on her game,” Scott said. “I believe she’s actually got to the point of where she won’t listen to hardly anyone besides me and her coaches of course.”
The youngest Gibson agrees with her older brother.
“My brother is a huge help with softball,” Bethany explained, “I really love for him to come watch me play because if I do feel as if something I am doing isn’t right, I know I can ask him about anything. So basically I am the luckiest sister in the world to be given the two greatest brothers ever.”

UCHS graduates shine for Unicoi Raiders

Who says the season ends after you graduate?
Several Unicoi County High School graduates have joined Unicoi County’s Raiders baseball team.
Austin Arrowood and Coty Vanhoy are two of the most recent graduates from the Blue Devil baseball program and join the Unicoi Raiders, who currently participate in the Greene County Adult Baseball League.
“They're great baseball players,” Raiders coach Andy Slagle said. “We have fun in the dugout. Coty has done a great job for us pitching and Austin came up big for us in his first game by hitting a homerun for us.”
The Unicoi Raiders (9-0) have become an outlet for baseball players around the area of Erwin and Unicoi to continue their slugging dreams and not have to settle with slow pitch softball, as the Raiders' skipper eluded to.
“We always go out here to have fun, of course we want to win,” Slagle said with a chuckle. “But the main thing is to give people a chance to continue playing the game they love, without having to settle for something less.”
The talent is widespread throughout the league.
“With us being one of the better teams, we'll always see a team's best,” the Raiders' coach explained. “Whether it's someone throwing in the mid-low 90s or teams putting power on their lineups, they keep it tough on us, but it's fun.”
The talent can be found on the squad from Erwin as well, including local Blue Devil greats.
“(D.W) Whitson and (Logan) Rice have came through big for us throughout the year,” Slagle said. “It's always big for them because they pitch in college, and this gives them the chance to actually take a few cuts at the ball.”
Off-season training is something big with regards to the Raiders.
“Some of these guys are collegiate baseball players,” Slagle said. “And of course the worst thing to do in the off-season is nothing, so we try to be there to help players continue their play, without having to slow down until their seasons start up.”
Rice, who currently pitches for the East Tennessee State University baseball squad, is one case of a player who is continuing superb playing after a collegiate season is over with, by joining Boo Marrow as one of the two tops pitchers on the Unicoi team.
“Having a 16-strikeout performance always help confidence,” Slagle said. “But he's been a big help for us and we hope we're helping him as well by giving him a chance to continue pitching while during the off season.”
No matter what, at the end of the day, the Raiders are there for fun.
“We go out to every game and have a good time,” Slagle said. “We may win a game 15-0 or lose one 2-1, no matter what though we always try to have a great time. Whether it's cutting up with the guys in the dugout, giving someone a hard time after a strikeout, or even cheering on a player after a homerun – it's all about having fun.
The 2012 Raiders' squad will be looking for possible new players as well, as Slagle said.
“It always varies over the years, sometimes guys can't make it and there a lot more teams within the league next year, so if someone is looking to continue playing baseball, we're here.”
The Raiders opened up play on Monday, July 11, against the Colts, after The Erwin Record's press deadline.

Cheerleaders win big at camp

After recently attending two cheerleading camps, the Unicoi County High School varsity cheerleaders brought home several trophies .
According to UCHS cheer coach Debbie Bennett, the girls on the squad performed well and positively represented Unicoi County.
“As a returning veteran cheer coach, I am extremely proud of the hard work and the effort the varsity cheerleaders have made this summer,” Bennett said. 
In mid June, varsity cheerleaders headed to the National Cheerleaders Association camp in Gatlinburg, where the girls competed against squads from all over Tennessee and Kentucky.
“They brought home more trophies and awards than any other squad,” Bennett said.
UCHS cheerleaders were awarded the spirit stick each night in closing evaluations. In addition, they received the spirit stick for overal evaluations on the final day of camp. The ladies also received the final spirit award megaphone, the overall superior squad trophy, the Herkie Team Award for Superior Stunting, the Superior Leadership Award, the Superior Final Evaluation Cheer, the Superior Final Evaluation Chant, the Superior Game Day Chant, the Superior Game Day Cheer, the Superior Dance Originality Award, t he Superior Performance Ribbon and the Excellent Red Ribbon Stunt Routine.
The entire squad also received pins from St. Jude’s Research Hospital after writing fundraising letters.
Kiana Watson tried out and was selected as a member of the All-American NCA squad. She is now eligible to compete in London, England.
“We are extremely proud of her,” Bennett said. “Due to the large number of Superior Awards (the squad) received, we are now eligible to compete in the Macy’s Day Parade, and we won a bid to the Senior-Junior National Championships for the 2011-2012 school year.”
After five days of rest, Bennett and the squad then traveled to the University of Tennessee KNoxville campus for a second camp hosted by the Universal Cheerleaders Association.
“This camp was even more challenging due to a great deal of injuries, a tornado, no electricity for a night and the amount of squads competing,” Bennett explained. “We received the Spirit Stick each night and came home with the Final Evaluation Spirit Stick. We also received the coveted ‘Banana’ that only eight squads had the honor of receiving during the entire camp. During Final Evaluations, we received the Superior Squad Trophy and the Superior Varsity Routine Trophy.”
Squad Captain Haley Jeno, along with Hannah Carufel, co-capain, and Watson, received the pin-it award–an award given to cheerleaders who display kindness, friendliness and overall great character.
Alexa Parsley tried out and made the All-American UCA squad for the second year in a row.
“All of the long days and nights of fundraising finally paid off,” Bennett said. “The UCHS varsity squad represented Unicoi County extremely well. Thanks again to all of the parents, businesses and supporters of the cheerleaders. Without you, none of this would have been possible.
We  have cried and suffered through a lot of complex routines with injuries, walked miles a day in the pouring rain, agreed to disagree–and still we have come out on the other side, stronger, more bonded, more trusting and certainly more well skilled.

For Vanhoy brothers, football comes natural

Athletics are just natural to certain families.
The Vanhoys fall under this catergory.
“My family has had a ton of great athletes,” Coty Vanhoy said. “It was an influencing factor into getting me involved with sports.”
Vanhoy, a recent graduate from Unicoi County high school, lit up the highlight reels of the althetic programs for the Blue Devils throughout his career; coming away with specatular plays on the gridiron during the football season and grabs from centerfield while playing at Baxter Field.
“My parents were key to getting me started in sports,” Vanhoy explained. “They played and I wanted to follow along in their ways.”
Vanhoy capped off a successful run as a Blue Devil by helping aid the Unicoi County baseball program to a district and regional championship in the 2011 season, coming away one game shy from a state tournament berth.
“To this day I couldn’t tell you which sport I enjoy the most,” the proud member the Blue Nation said. “I love the game of baseball, but I also enjoyed the closeness of the teammates while playing football. It’s a tough choice.”
Blue Nation has another Vanhoy athlete in the making.
Say hello to Tanner.
“My brother (Coty) was what got me into playing sports,” 6-year-old, Tanner Vanhoy, said. “I want to follow in his footsteps.”
Tanner is following in the same path as older brother, Coty, getting into football and baseball at a young age and already showing what he can do on the gridiron and baseball diamond.
The bond shared between the two brothers continues to grow as they work together practicing, as the older Vanhoy eluded to. “I’m always working with him trying to make him a better athlete and a better person as well,” Coty said.
Coty’s advice for his younger brother: “Always keep your head up when your down and be humble when your on top.”
Baseball is where the boys seem to enjoy working the most together.
“(Coty) helps me alot,” Tanner said. “He’s helped me with my pitching, it means alot to me.”
Pitching was a speciality for the older Vanhoy during the baseball season, while manning the duties in certerfield, as well as coming away with key wins against opponents in the Three Rivers Conference during the regular season.
There’s motivation for the younger Vanhoy as well.
“I want to do what he did,” Tanner explained. “Like I said, he’s a great athlete and I really want to follow in his footsteps.”
The newest addition to the list of Vanhoy athletes seems to be in good hands behind the support of his big brother.
“I hope he does more while he’s at UCHS than I ever dreamed of accomplishing,” Coty said. “He’s very important me and I will always help him to do whatever he wants to do.”
The Vanhoy family line has had a thrill-seeking filled time with the older Vanhoy, and now the fun’s just beginning with Tanner, especially with the help from big brother Coty said, “I’ll always do what I can to help him beat big brother.”

Unicoi’s Watson signs basketball commitment with Milligan College

Unicoi County High School basketball standout Christian Watson signed to play basketball at Milligan College under new head coach Bill Robinson, last Thursday, June 23.
“I watched (Christian) play about three times and loved the way he shot the ball,” Robinson said about his new addition. “He’s got a great way about himself and we’re happy to have him be apart of the program.”
Robinson, who will replace coach Tony Wallingford, knows what Watson can bring – not only to the court, but to the Milligan community.
“He’s the kind of kid you want at Milligan,” Robinson said. “With the grades he’s made, the Christian values he has and his skill on the court, he’ll be welcomed with open arms when he gets to campus.”
Watson joins teammate, Logan Lyle, as the second signee to Milligan from head coach John English’s senior class that accumulated more than 100 wins throughout their careers as Blue Devils and ended the season with a sub-state loss to Stone Memorial.
The UCHS graduate and former point guard is ready for the new experience.
“I just want to thank God for giving me this opportunity,” Watson said. “It feels amazing to get to be a part of the Milligan program. I can’t wait to get the season started.”
Watson explained that Unicoi County coaches English and Michael Smith taught him to not give up.
“They taught me so much,” he said. “The biggest thing was how not to quit. We’ve been down in a few of our games throughout the years, but the one thing they taught us was to never quit.”
Robinson explained that Watson will be playing in the 2/3 guard position for Milligan.
“We won’t need him having to handle the ball much for us like he did at Unicoi,” Robinson said. “We’ll be looking forward to having him on the court. His best years of basketball are still ahead of him.”

Cheerleaders prep for new football season

The Unicoi County High School Varsity Cheerleading squads are hard at work for the summer.
UCHS Head Cheerleading Coach Debbie Bennett has the ladies practicing over the summer. Not only are cheerleaders practicing cheers, but they are also learning new techniques. For the first time, every girl on the squad is attending tumbling classes to further their abilities in cheerleading.
This week Bennett is in Gatlinburg with the ladies for a regional cheer camp. Once the ladies return from camp, they will continue to practice before heading off to another cheer camp at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.
UCHS senior Haley Jeno, who has been named cheerleading captain for the 2011-1012 year, said she is excited for the upcoming year.
“I am so excited that we are practicing so much this year,” Jeno said. “I am also very proud of all of the girls on both squads. I know that we are going to have a great year, and I hope that our hard work shows when we step onto the football field this fall,.”
Bennett also expressed her high hopes for this year's squad, saying the girls are working hard to prepare for the upcoming year.
“I am really proud of all of the girls and the hard work they are doing,” Bennett said. “This group of young ladies is one of the best groups that I have worked with. They are learning and growing together not only as fellow cheerleaders, but as best friends. I would like to thank all of the girls for their continued hard work.”
She added that local residents and businesses have been instrumental in the squad's success.
“I would also like to give a special thank you to the community for supporting the squads,” Bennett said. “Without the contributions of local businesses we would not be able to attend these camps. I appreciate the parents and the patience they have had with me as we all are working and learning together. I know that these girls will make UCHS and this community proud this upcoming football and basketball seasons.”

Gibson tops in all-star homerun derby

The student athletes from northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia had a chance to step on the diamond for a final time on Thursday afternoon at Boyce Cox Field during the Fellowship of Christian Athletes annual baseball all-star game.
The squad from Tennessee picked up the win, scratching away with a 11-10 game by holding off a late eight-run rally by the boys from Virginia in the bottom of the ninth inning.
One Blue Devil from Unicoi County, Scott Gibson, came away with top honors of his own by bringing home the homerun derby title.
Gibson’s homerun over the other five competitors would be all that was needed to come away with the top nod during Thursday’s activites.
The Boyce Cox Field is the home of the major league baseball team, Chicago White Sox’s minor league affiliated team in Bristol, VA, the Bristol White Sox.
The measurements of the field are: left field 325 feet, center field 400 feet, and right field 310 feet.