Moments

Home Moments

‘That day was different’

0
Photo courtesy of NCAA.com

In the 1990s and 2000s, the University of Georgia established itself as the most dominant force in college gymnastics. The Gym Dogs have tallied the most team and individual national championships in NCAA history, producing a litany of All-Americans and Olympians throughout their 30-plus year run of success.

One of key contributors during the early days of that run was Karin Lichey-Usry, a heralded gymnast who was part of two national championship teams in the late 1990s. During her freshman season of 1995-1996, Lichey-Usry achieved what no other gymnast had done before – registering four perfect scores of 10 in a single competition. 

Passing the time, playing ball

0
Photo courtesy of Thomas Ehlers

This series went longer than seven.

In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, our household was out of options.

No live sports. This led to us watching the reruns of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, some of the more interesting programming Fox offered at the time. An active family of two teachers and three students, we were just sitting around in the middle of quarantine.

Until Major League Wiffle Ball was born.

For the game

0
Photo of Calvin Johnson courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Marlene Karas

It just came to him one day.

IJ Rosenberg, the president of the sports marketing firm Score Atlanta and former beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution among other sport-related titles, was the man behind the idea for a Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame. 

“One of the things I noticed was there wasn’t a hall of fame in Georgia that was specifically for high school football,” Rosenberg said. “You had a state hall of fame that had football players in it, but there was not one just for football. 

“And if you really look at Georgia, it’s right there with Florida, California and Texas as the biggest football states.”

A trip worth taking

0
Photo courtesy of Relton McBurrows

The plot is simple, yet far-fetched.

There’s this freshman college student who heads off to the stereotypical party atmosphere that many of us might associate with our days on a university campus. He sees a familiar face in a young woman with whom he shares a few classes and, well, one thing leads to another and they share a blissful evening.

Of course, plots need twists, and this plot has plenty of those. For starters, this freshman foolishly videotapes the encounter and then, somehow, a videotape of this encounter is inexplicably dropped in the mail and destined to reach, of all people, his high school sweetheart at her college a few thousand miles away. 

What ensues is a race against time to intercept the delivery of the footage before the original girlfriend has a chance to see it. As you might expect, hijinks ensue.

That’s the story of Road Trip, a raucous and, at times, raunchy comedy set at a fictional college in upstate New York. To tell it, Dreamworks and The Montecito Picture Company looked south and turned to the small college town of Athens, Georgia

Betting on belief: The story of Georgia Tech’s wild win over No. 1 Virginia in 1990

0
Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This is a guest feature article from Bill Chastain, a veteran sportswriter who worked for the Tampa Bay Tribune for several years covering everything from Major League Baseball to golf, before working for MLB.com to cover the Tampa Bay Rays. A freelance writer living in Atlanta, he also is the author of several books, including Peachtree Corvette Club and The Streak.

Georgia Tech’s football team flew to Charlottesville on November 2, 1990. They went straight to Scott Stadium for a light workout that Friday. A date with No. 1 Virginia awaited the following day.

Alice Ross watched while her husband, Tech coach Bobby Ross, took his team through its paces. Bill Millsaps spotted Alice and approached. The sports columnist and editor of the Richmond Times-Gazzette told her. “Virginia is going to whip up on ya’ll pretty good.”

“He was serious,” Bobby Ross said. “So she said, ‘No they’re not. You want to bet?’ He went along. They bet a box of Mounds candy bars.”

A reflection of place: The story of WNEG, part three

0
Photo of WNEG studios courtesy of John Hart

This is Part Three of our look back at the history of NewsChannel 32, a television station that provided in-depth coverage of local news and sports for Northeast Georgia. In Part One, we took a look at the formation of the station and the work of its news department, and you can read it here. In Part Two, we explored the reputation and reach of its sports department, and you can read it here.

If you can name it, Michael Castengera has probably done it.

He’s been a reporter and an editor. 

He’s worked in print journalism and broadcast journalism.

He’s run a local radio station and served as a consultant to some of the biggest media companies in the country.

It was a breadth of professional experience that made him the natural fit to lead a new hybrid journalism project at the University of Georgia that mixed education and newsgathering as WNEG — long a fixture for Northeast Georgia — migrated its operations south.

“When they acquired the station, because I had been a general manager, they decided that I would be the logical one to take over when we do it,” Castengera said with a laugh. “Well, like an idiot, I agreed.”

The promise of the station under the control of the University of Georgia made sense in the abstract, pairing one of the nation’s premier journalism programs with a professional, commercial television station to help create a learning laboratory. It represented a significant shift from the original intent of WNEG, which functioned largely as a community asset that focused on the stories of the small communities throughout the region.

The importance of the one

0
Photo courtesy of Braves Archives

As Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium rocked around him, the roar of 51,875 fans mushrooming up, out, and over a success-starved city, a breath after Atlanta-born Marquis Grissom ran down Carlos Baerga’s drive in the gap, Bob Costas delivered his line.

“The team of the nineties has its world championship!”

Everyone who heard his words the night of October 28, 1995 understood. They remembered the gut-wrenching Game 7 loss to the Twins that ended 1991’s magical run, and falling to Pat Borders and the Blue Jays in ‘92, and seeing the 104-win ‘93 season go for naught with an NLCS loss to the Phillies. 

Disappointments all, even within the context of a team and a city that had accomplished little of note in the decades leading up to its first major professional sports championship. 

But now? A spellbinding performance from Tom Glavine, a solo home run from David Justice, and it was done. It was theirs.  

“It was a breath of fresh air. It was exultation,” said Wayne Coleman, who watched the celebration unfold from the same seat in the front row behind the third-base dugout he had held since 1982. “It was just delirium. It was joy.” 

A reflection of place: The story of WNEG

0
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Cathey Arbitter

Admittedly, it probably wasn’t a good idea.

But here was Jennifer Cathey Arbitter making her way through a wooded area in White County, Georgia to capture some b-roll footage for an upcoming segment. There had been a stabbing in the area, and the local sheriff wasn’t available for an interview at the moment. 

No matter. She asked where she could get some shots, and the folks at the police department told her where to look.

The limited resources of her television station — they cobbled together their newscasts with “shoestrings and paper clips” as she recalled some 20 years later — meant here she was, alone with a camera in the woods.

And that’s when the truck stopped by.

The gentleman behind the wheel seemed sincere and non-threatening. Mostly, he just seemed puzzled why there was this young woman lugging around a bulky camera so close to where he lived.

He checked to see if she was OK and what she was doing, to which Arbitter responded she was a reporter, letting him know there had been a stabbing in these very woods, and she was getting some footage for the 6 p.m. broadcast.

The Legend of The Hoosehead

0
Joe VanHoose looms over ESPN's "College Gameday" crew

ESPN’s “College Gameday” road show is bringing its production to Athens this weekend for Georgia’s home opener against Auburn. While COVID-19 restrictions will shift the broadcast inside Sanford Stadium, meaning no throngs of fans with outrageous signs, this does offer an opportunity to tell a story involving two of your humble editors here at BTT. On September 28, 2013, ESPN visited Athens to host its popular football preview show in advance of a Top 10 matchup between Georgia and LSU. 

The game itself was heralded as one of the biggest ones to be played Between The Hedges in years with LSU bringing Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to the Classic City to tangle with Georgia and its All-American running back Todd Gurley. 

At the time, Joe and Johnathan were working at a regional public relations and marketing agency with an Athens office known for its own brand of shenanigans and hijinks. Joe was knocking on the door of his 30th birthday, and the team in Athens decided to celebrate the only way they knew how — by printing out a massive photo of Joe’s face and getting it on “Gameday.”

The pursuit of belonging, part two

0
Photo courtesy of NCTTA

This is Part Two of our exploration of the Anderson College and Augusta College table tennis rivalry. In Part One, we took a look at the formation of both programs, and you can read that here.

Part Two …

Derek May is a chopper.

You’ll need to understand table tennis — competitive table tennis — to know what that means.

It’s a style of play that typically confounds most folks on the table. It’s built on patience, relying on defensive measures to bait aggressive players into making mistakes. 

Today, if you watch table tennis in the Olympics — or, let’s say, on ESPN’s annual “Ocho Day” coverage — you’re likely used to seeing the players slowly and steadily backing up as they deliver stronger and stronger strikes. It’s an intensity that exceeds your likely experiences of the game, cobbled together at your college’s student center or during a rain delay at your neighborhood swimming pool.

It’s fast-paced. It’s forceful. It’s overpowering.

A chopper, however, counters this cleverly. They might retreat, but also may creep up closer to the table. Shots may feature spin … or they may not. Strokes may appear firm, but they might land soft.

“Their biggest weapon is deception,” said Greg Riley, a member of Anderson College’s table tennis teams in the early 1990s. “So they’re just chopping the ball. They’re not attacking, not hitting or trying to smash it past you. They’re just chopping, but a lot of the time they’re using different variations. The same stroke with different spin on it.”

Choppers like Derek, however, didn’t faze Riley.