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The ascension of Patric Young

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This is a guest submission from Mike Bernos, a writer, essayist and public relations professional.

Even in a wheelchair, Patric Young is a hulking presence. 

His ripped torso fronts a 250-pound, 6-foot-9-inch frame that once dominated Southeastern Conference basketball opponents as a two-time All-SEC forward and Defensive Player of the Year at the University of Florida before signing with the New Orleans Pelicans and eventually competing professionally in Europe. 

It is a chilly mid-November day in 2022, and he is about to give his first motivational speech at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Corporate Headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s not the speech he ever saw himself giving even a year ago.  

A car accident in July in Nebraska damaged Young’s T-7 and T-8 vertebrae, which resulted in losing the use of his lower body. The mishap occurred a week before he was to be married. 

‘We should be in a better place’

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There have been highs, there have been lows. 

There were Sweet Sixteens and six-win seasons.

There have been first-round draft picks and postseason tournament bans. 

There has been Dominique Wilkins gliding through the air and Tony Cole showing off an illegally acquired TV on ESPN.

Welcome to the world of Georgia men’s basketball.

In its 117 seasons of play, Georgia is 1459-1367, good enough for a .516 win percentage all-time. That’s middle of the road by percentage, but it’s second-to-last in the Southeastern Conference (Ole Miss boasts a .499).

Speaking of Ole Miss, the Rebels are the only school in the SEC that the Bulldogs have beaten more times than they’ve lost. Every other SEC school has owned the Dawgs in their respective series.

One thing’s for sure: consistency from the University of Georgia basketball program has been hard to come by.

Michael Dean stares at 60

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Editor’s Note: This story contains adult content and strong language – or, at least, stronger language than you usually get here at BTT. Reader discretion is advised. 

The first thing that you need to know about Michael Dean is that Michael Dean refers to himself as Michael Dean when he tells a story he’s in.

And he tells a lot of stories.

Stories like ending up on the losing end of a game of Drag Queen BINGO in Las Vegas. Or trying to give his now ex-fiance away to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Or how he ended up with the saying on the back of his T-shirt:

Not Jimmy Dean. Not Paula Deen. Michael Dean.

Embracing the history of the game

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There are no gloves. The hurler – err, pitcher – delivers the black leather ball underhanded. 

It’s base ball (yes, with a space), and it’s different. It seems backward in this match (game) on Oct. 15 in Greenville, South Carolina, but it’s just the way each club nine – team – likes it.

Each year the Shoeless Joes from the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library take on the Georgia Peaches from the Ty Cobb Museum in a vintage baseball game. The teams alternate hosting the game – in Greenville or Cobb’s hometown of Royston, Georgia – using rules from the 1880s. This year the Shoeless Joes are playing host.

Peter Gibbons made the trip from Hartwell, Georgia to play for the Peaches. He’s played in the game a couple of times, and he loves it.

Front row DGDs

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You can’t miss them.

At every home football game (and a few away), the Spike Squad supports Georgia from Section 109, donning their famous spiked shoulder pads and painted all over.

Since its formation in 2010, the group has established itself as a staple to Saturdays in Athens, growing in number and popularity through the years.

But the Spike Squad’s impact goes further than bringing noise and excitement to Sanford Stadium. Its members have stories from across campus and beyond, and plenty of hard work behind the scenes to bring Georgia fans their energy.

Life on the lip of the cup

This is a guest submission from Mike Bernos, a writer, essayist and public relations professional. Though it is inspired by true events, it is a work of fiction.

“Moonlight floods the sky from horizon to horizon; How much it can fill your room depends on its windows.” —  Rumi  

It had been 21 years since I sat on this bench perched on a levee at Audubon Park overlooking the nearly mile-wide Mississippi River. I lived on Magazine Street during that long-ago summer of 1970, not far from the park and its golf course where I worked as a caddy. During those days, the river’s fog seemed to settle around my head as I drifted, nearly lost, after the loss of my mother one month short of my 12th birthday. Following her death my father went absent, too, hanging out more often than usual in the backroom gambling dens and 24-hour bars of New Orleans. 

I remembered thinking about a lot of things, “working on mysteries without any clues” as the song goes. But that would change, including the arc of my life, one Friday morning in late July. I arrived at the club just after 6 a.m., which even at that hour the humidity drew sweat like a sauna. I waited only 30 minutes before being assigned a foursome and in particular the bag of the Irishman, Cullen. A wiry man in his late forties with slightly hunched-over shoulders, he kept no close friends, and members regarded him as an enigma since joining the club three years earlier. No one knew where he came from; rumor had it that he had been run out of his hometown in Ireland for embezzling a small fortune.

The work is what matters

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In the past, Philip Jenkins always had a crew. Now, he’s a one-man team.

He’d worked his way through golf courses across the Eastern U.S., climbing his way to assistant superintendent of TPC Sawgrass, home to THE PLAYERS Championship. 

Yet, just four years after taking the job, he decided to change it up. Jenkins is now the golf course superintendent at Palm Valley Golf Club & Practice Range in Ponte Vedra, Florida. The par-3 executive course and practice facility is just 10 miles south of TPC Sawgrass, but it’s an entirely different world. 

Lost Tracks of Georgia: Athens Speedway

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It’s been 30 years since race cars have roared around Athens Speedway. Looking around the place, you can tell. 

A mature patch of woods now covers the old race track property off Jimmy Daniel Road in Athens. If you didn’t know there was a ⅜-mile dirt track and long stretch of concrete grandstands sitting in the shadows of the pines off the two-lane road, you wouldn’t even think to look. 

A legacy of dominance

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Photo courtesy of Score ATL

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Parkview High School’s first state championship.

Buster Faulkner started under center for that title-winning team. 

Of course, at the end of the season.

Faulkner, who earned time at quarterback as a sophomore early in the season, was given the starting job after coaches decided to move junior quarterback Jeremy Muyres to wide receiver.

They made the right move.

The 1997 team captured the title, but Faulkner says those Panther teams from a few years earlier were the breakthrough for a Gwinnett County dynasty that would stretch out across  the next decade.

A different shade of blue: The Trail Creek spill

Photo courtesy of Johnathan McGinty

There are a lot of blues in this world, even in the literal sense.

There’s the soft blue of a clear morning sky or the rich blues of the deep ocean. The navy blues that make up the marks of so many sports teams, as well as the paler blues prevalent in spring flowers.

On July 29, 2010, a different shade of blue flowed through Trail Creek in Athens. 

It was bright. It was harsh.

This blue contrasted against the greenery of summer, lush leaves filling out the plentiful trees that lined the waters. Gone was the murky, muddy mixture that punctuates creeks and rivers throughout the South. In its place was a near-neon blue snaking its way through a network of tributaries and leaving streaks of artificial color in its wake.