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Swimming against the current

Photo courtesy of Augusta University

Division I. The tip top of collegiate athletics. The highest point of the NCAA. With the largest conferences, highest levels of competition and biggest television deals, it’s where most schools and universities want to be.

One would think.

Currently, around a dozen colleges across the country are in the process of transitioning their programs to become a Division I school, but 30 years ago Augusta University did the opposite –  it moved down.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, the Jaguars were members in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) before moving to the NCAA’s Division II. Then, in 1981, Augusta joined the Division I ranks as a founding member of the Big South Conference. After completing the transition, the Jaguars stayed in the conference from 1986 through 1991. Then Augusta made another move by going back to Division II.

‘Tis the season for reading


There’s no mistaking that we love the written word at Beyond The Trestle, and in the spirit of the holidays we’re doing something a bit different. 

We’ve polled our team of writers, members of Trestle Collective and solicited some thoughts from our friend, Annie Jones, who owns the popular, independent bookstore, The Bookshelf, to collect a variety of book recommendations to guide you this holiday season.

We’re always grateful for your reading of BTT – and don’t forget that you can support us via Patreon as well as sign up for our free, monthly newsletter – so take a little bit of time to look through our picks below and feel free to check out some of the works our team has really enjoyed.

The ascension of Patric Young


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’


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


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


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


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


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


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.