About five years ago I told my dad, who is one of my biggest fans but also one of the most blunt people you’ll ever meet, that I wanted to be the first female head coach in the NFL.
“You can’t do that, Lauren,” he said.
“Why?” I argued.
I was expecting some drawn-out response about how I didn’t know enough about football.
“Because you can’t go in the men’s locker room,” he said flatly.
Ah, I hadn’t thought of that.
That was my senior year of high school, and never did I think I would be where I am now.
I grew up an UGA fan; my grandad attended college there in the ’60s and the red and black passed down into my veins. I learned to spell Georgia by chanting the fight song in my head (I still do subconsciously whenever I have to write it out!) I had an UGA cheerleader outfit and one of my baby pictures has me holding a stuffed bulldog. One of my nana’s fondest memories is of dancing around the living room with me as an infant when Georgia scored a big touchdown against Georgia Tech. I’ve never considered myself athletic, but I believe I owe a lot of my passion for sports to Papa Skip and Nana.
Flash forward a few years and the first time I stepped foot on a sideline was as a cheerleader for the 8th grade Mill Creek rec football league. Cheerleading was not for me, and within a year I traded in pom poms for a six-foot flag pole as a member of the Mill Creek High School Colorguard.
In high school I lived for Friday night lights, and I have many fond memories of screaming myself hoarse for the Hawks while in the stands with the marching band. It was a well-known fact that I was the most spirited person in the band when it came to football, and while my coach would be yelling at me to pay attention during our warm-ups I’d be busy trying to figure out how much yardage we’d gotten from the last pass.
I guess my fellow classmates took note of my love for the game as well, because they voted me their Homecoming Queen my senior year. That is still one of my all-time favorite memories from high school- hearing my name called while standing on the 50 surrounded by family and friends.
I graduated from Mill Creek in 2015 but I had a hard time staying away from Markham Field. The University of North Georgia doesn’t have a football team, and Mill Creek decided to get really good the year after I left (this was the fall of 2015, the year they got knocked out by Colquitt County one round before the state championship.)
In the spring of 2016 I heard of an opportunity to work for the Gwinnett Braves, Triple-A minor league affiliate for the Atlanta Braves. Needing a summer job but hoping to avoid retail, I took it. I spent the next two summers as a Guest Relations Representative scanning tickets and welcoming fans. In addition to my already-sound knowledge of football, I learned all I could about America’s favorite pastime and a new love was born.
I spent one more summer at Coolray Field before graduating college, and this time it was as a member of the Promotional Team. That may be the most fun I ever had at work. Our team set up the on-field promotional games, signed up contestants, sold 50/50 raffle tickets and overall worked to make sure people had a good time. I certainly did- the memories I made with my team that year will forever be some of my favorites.
For a while I told people that I wasn’t interested in sports journalism, but the Lord as he fortunately often does had other plans. I got the opportunity to intern with the UNG Athletic Department my senior year of college, and I left Gwinnett County to plant some roots in the North Georgia mountains.
Two months ago I still wasn’t certain that I’d ever work in sports again, but when baseball started back up I knew I couldn’t live without it. I was fortunate enough to find an opportunity to apply with FetchYourNews.com, and even more fortunate to get an offer. And here we are.
I don’t tell you all this to brag on my accomplishments or give you some long-winded biography. I want to be just as much a part of your community as you all are now a part of my daily life. When I come to your sideline I want to know each of you and each of you know me. Part of being a great sports reporter is establishing a relationship with your team and community. Part of that relationship includes establishing trust, and how can you can trust someone if you don’t even know them?
One of the biggest reasons I keep working in sports is because of the the communities they create and the people I get to meet. There’s something about having a team to rally around that gets inside of you and never leaves. The people I have met so far and the connections I have made are priceless and will forever be a part of who I am and a big reason for why I do what I do.
So here’s to the journey ahead, and here’s to memories that are yet to be made and the relationships yet to be formed. I can’t wait North Georgia!
The young offense of the Murphy Bulldogs was on fire on Tuesday in their first round playoff game against Pine Lake Preparatory on Tuesday, but it just was not meant to be as the Dogs were eliminated from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1a State Playoffs, 12-7.
Murphy jumped out to an early lead thanks to Freshman Dawson Hensely, who doubled to left field on the first pitch of his at bat in the first inning and brought home Kellen Rumfelt and gave Murphy the 1-0 lead. After the Dogs gave up a run in the top of the second, Kellen Rumfelt was the man to really get things going as he doubled on the first pitch of his at bat to right field and brought home Payton McCraken and Josh Ott, giving the Dogs a 3-1 lead over Pine Lake Prep.
However in the third inning Pine Lake Prep took the lead for good and never looked back as they tacked on 3 and then added 6 more runs in the 5th inning. The Murphy Bulldogs would not go away quietly though, as they gave PLP a run for their money in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring 4 runs and making the final score 12-7.
Kellen Rumfelt was given the start on the mound for the bulldogs as he went 3.1 innings and allowed 4 hits and 6 runs while striking out 4 and walking 5. Dawson Hensley and Jesse Kephart came on in relief, as Hensely threw 1.0 inning allowing 4 hits and 4 runs while walking 2, and Kephart threw 2.2 innings while giving up 2 hits and 2 runs while striking out 1 and walking 1.
The Dogs ended up with 8 hits in the game thanks to Braden and Kellen Rumfelt, McCraken, Hensley who all had 2 hits on the day.
The Dogs fought hard all season and proved a lot of nay sayers wrong, as the narrative all year was that they were too young to win any games and this season would just be a wash. That was not the case however, as a team who at the end of the year had no starting seniors on it, finished 13-5 and second in the SMC standings and made an appearance in the playoffs. This team will be really fun to watch in the coming years and we cannot wait to see them back in action next year.
The Murphy Bulldogs went up against the Rosman Tigers on Thursday at home, and were not ever really able to get any offense going, as they lost 11-0 to Rosman, the top team in the SMC.
Thursday evening game was between the 2 best teams in the Smokey Mountain Conference, and unfortunately the Dogs were just caught on an off night in their biggest regular season game of the year. Rosman got the offense rolling in the 1st inning, as they scored on a wild pitch, taking an early lead. It was all down hill from there for the Dogs as Rosman wound up pouring it on in the 5th inning, scoring 6 and sending the Dogs home early as the mercy rule took effect.
Payton McCraken and Joe Swain were pretty much the only bright spots in the Murphy offense as they both collected 2 hits a piece. Errors were the story of the day on defense for the Dogs as they got decent innings out of Josh Ott who started the day on the mound, but its hard to keep a team like Rosman from putting up runs when you have 5 self inflicted errors.
The Dogs have another conferece home game against Andrews on Monday, April 29th.
The Murphy Bulldogs went up against the Robbinsville Black Knights on Tuesday and thanks to some stellar work on the mound by Kellen Rumfelt, they were able to grab a conference win over a Robbinsville team who had stolen one from them earlier in the season.
Kellen Rumfelt started and finished the day on the rubber for the Bulldogs, and what a day it was for the kid as he threw 5 no hit innings. He started off hot tossing 2 strikeouts to the final 2 batters of the first inning after forcing a ground ball to the first batter he faced. Things only got better from there as he ended the day with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk. He threw 70 total pitches with 44 of those being strikes and was able to get the complete game win after the Bulldog offense quickly put up a 10 spot on the Knights.
The Dogs offense was ignited once again by Briggs Cornwell as he laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt and scored 2. In the fifth inning Caleb Allen and Braden Rumfelt knocked in a couple of RBIs for Murphy as they scored 4 runs and the game was called due to the mercy rule taking effect.
The Dogs collected 10 hits on the day thanks to Dawson Hensley and Payton McCraken who both had a multiple hit day. Kellen Rumfelt, Briggs Cornwell, Caleb Allen, Jesse Kephart, and Josh Ott all were able to put the ball in play against the Black Knights.
In Swain County on Friday the 22nd, the Dogs found themselves down again late in the game and just like last weeks game against Hayesville, they found a way to will themselves to a victory.
Josh Ott led things off for the Bulldogs on the mound and got through 5 and 2/3rds while striking out 5 Maroon Devils. The 6th inning is where things got rocky for the Bulldogs as they blew a 3-1 lead allowing Swain to score 3 runs.
That Swain lead didnt last long however as Dawson Hensley doubled on a line drive to center that brought home the tying run and also brought up slugger Briggs Cornwell, who had some late inning heroics last week when the dogs found themselves in a 8-1 hole against conference foe Hayesville. After 2 quick strikes on Cornwell he shortened up and poked one to right field, advancing to 2nd and scoring the game winning run. In the bottom of the seventh Dawson Hensley came out and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, striking out one and securing the victory for the bulldogs.
Murphy chalked up 6 hits in their conference win and Peyton McCraken and Dawson Hensley both had 2 hits a piece. Murphy advances to 4-1 on the year and 3-0 in Smokey Mountain Conference play.