Anyone who thinks covering one county with just three Georgia High School Association schools has time to be bored doesn’t really know much about that one county with three schools that they’re covering.
There’s a lot — I repeat — a LOT happening either directly in the Newton County sports scene, or something that has a direct impact on our schools — particularly our GHSA schools.
So in this buffet-style Sunday Sound Off where I endeavor to give you a little bit of this and that, let’s start off with this:
GHSA. Typically whenever we mention the GHSA one of two things come to mind — tracking state championship results, or following some sort of controversy. And while the biggest thing that happened on the GHSA front this month isn’t particularly controversial, it does have some major ripple effects that will reach our schools, regardless of the outcome.
This past Wednesday, the GHSA had a meeting. In that meeting they heard a proposal. The proposal was to adopt a 50-percent sit-out rule for high school students who transfer from one school to another. Of course transfers are nothing new to high school athletics.
And particularly here in Newton County, we just dealt with a situation of our own with former Newton and Grayson running back Kurt Taylor, Jr. having been cleared of any wrongdoing in his one-semester move to Grayson to play football, and his subsequent “re-transferring” back to Newton to graduate with those he grew up with.
I won’t re-hash the story, nor the outcome. I wrote it about it in last Sunday’s edition, where Taylor and his father told their side of the transfer story after over a month of silence. But the proposal that the GHSA entertained Wednesday was designed to try and put a halt to such types of controversial transfers.
In summation, any athlete transferring to a new school would have to sit out for 50 percent of that respective sports season’s games. That 50 percent could roll over into playoffs or into the next season. And, if a student-athlete plays more than one sport, he or she would have to sit out 50 percent of all games for each sport.
Sounds simple enough. But then you get into waivers and appeals and all kinds of sticky stuff that I won’t spin your head about right now — in part because the GHSA elected to table the vote on it to — in the words of outgoing GHSA executive director, Gary Phillips — “let the committee continue to work.”
According to tweets from Macon Telegraph sports writer Ron Seibel, GHSA president Glenn White seemed to acknowledge that the proposal was still a work in progress.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” White said.
And maybe it is. But there are loopholes in every law, and some disadvantages exist, both for students who would seek to exploit those loopholes, and for student-athletes who get caught up in red tape and lose valuable playing time for making a bona fide transfer that really has nothing to do with gaining an athletic advantage.
One thing’s for sure: Everyone seems to think something has to be done to stop transfer abuse in high school sports. It’s just that no one is quite sure what that something is.
On to other things….baseball season is over in Newton County, but the reverberations from a special season are still being felt. Kudos to the Peachtree Academy baseball team for showing a gutsy performance in dominating a Westminster Christian team with a legit NCAA Division I (UGA) product. Neither game was close. In fact, most of Peachtree’s games weren’t close, after a rough 1-3 start to the season. Oh, by the way. This is coach Skip Argo’s third GICAA state championship with his second program. Sounds to me like the man knows how to coach on this level, particularly. Can’t wait to see if a repeat is in the cards for the Panthers next season.
While we’re talking baseball, big shout out to the Atlanta Braves. They honored the Hipps family and the Eastside baseball family all at the same time during a Thursday game at Sun Trust. Michael Hipps, son of the late Mike Hipps who passed away earlier in the season, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Henry County’s Jo Vaal Holingshed. It was yet another cool moment in what continues to be perhaps the sportsmanship story of the year, that keeps on giving.
Way to show you care in a classy way, Braves. Here’s hoping that good karma will come back on you in the win column this year!
Finally, when baseball season ends, spring sports comes to a close and spring football wraps up, you know it’s almost time to say goodbye to the current senior class. And although I didn’t get the benefit of a full four years, or even a full school year with the senior student-athletes of Newton County's Class of 2017, I got enough experience with them to know that they’re a special bunch of kids that comes from a special group of parents in an awesomely diverse and rich community.
To you graduating seniors I say congratulations on your accomplishments in high school that have paved the way for more on the next level. May you continue to make Newton County proud, and give this sportswriter plenty of reasons to get press passes to come watch you dominate in your collegiate and professional endeavors. Tons of blessings to you all!
Gabriel Stovall is the Sports Editor at The Covington News. He can be reached for tips and story ideas at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GabrielStovall1 as well as our sports twitter page @CovNewsSports.