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Small Town Sports

Justin Jones receives a Bison helmet from seniors Matt Gilliam & Shelley Pate.

What is it about small town sports? I?m so glad you asked. Having spent my early and high school years at a 4A school on the gulf coast, I have experience, knowledge and the vision in my mind of those years and those teams. During my high school years, ?64-?66 the baseball team won the state championship in ?64 and ?66 in 4A. As I reflect back, those teams were good but not great but they played every game of those seasons with heart and as a team. We had a football team in ?65 that averaged 270 lbs. on the O-line and D-line. (Bigger than all NFL teams that year) but could not advance in the play-offs because there was not a heart for winning. Then in ?74, I followed my little brothers whose football team won a 4A state championship and every team they played that year was better than them on paper but not nearly as much heart. On every snap of the ball, the ?team? gave 110%, for the coaches, fans but mainly for themselves.

For 20 years I played professional softball on my weekends and I reflect back now that we beat teams we shouldn?t have because they were much better teams but we played with so much heart.

I moved to Leon County in ?92 and took my youngest brother to a 2A football game. After just a few minutes of watching he turned to me and said ?I wish I could bring our whole 5A team to watch these kids play with so much heart.

Now back to the question I started this article with, ?What is it about small town sports??

Its kids with big hearts that make small town sports happen and they may not win championships that often but they can be counted on to play like champions.

I would like to finish this article by speaking as ?Pop?, which is what the kids who are close to Justin Foley calls me. As ?Pop?, what I love about small town sports is how the kids, coaches, fans and rival teams have wrapped their arms around Justin Foley as one of their own as a special needs kid. If he were at a big school, he would just be a number among others.

While at Buffalo Justin was manager/water boy for 6 years and got to score a TD. He got a base hit for the baseball team, he made a 3 pointer in basketball and he ran the 800 meter in track for two years then finally he played on the golf team for 4 years and finished 3rd in district and 15th in the regional out of 95 boys his senior year.

Wow, I know the answer to the question of ?What is it about small town sports??

To all of the people who have been a part of Justin?s life, we love what you made him into.