Flag football rises in popularity

Flag Football is becoming a more popular and entertaining sport throughout the youth of America, especially between girls the ages of 14-17.

Karleigh Gorman, former high school flag football player advocates for girls playing flag football.

“It makes me feel like I’m equal to a guy, because guys always brag about playing football and girls can’t. It makes me feel important and it makes me feel like I have a right and I am empowered,” Gorman said.

In recent years flag football has made a wide appearance across the state of Georgia becoming more popular, a club sport and an official high school sport for girls. Only 15 colleges offer competitive collegiate flag football teams, with all the colleges being National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, NAIA. Only two of those colleges are in Georgia.

Flag football opens various opportunities for people of all ages. It provides people, specifically kids, the opportunity to branch out and broaden their skills. Kieth Wenrich, the director of recreational sports, mentioned that kids can benefit from flag football in all aspects. Flag football also opens doors for girls across the country and gives them more opportunities in the sports world.

“The ways are numerous, here are a few; physical activity, team building, socialization, well-being, leadership, sportsmanship, competitiveness, friendship, critical thinking, risk management” Wenrich said.

Many girls throughout Georgia have joined local club teams and or teams provided by their schools. This past year Fulton county of Georgia added flag football sports teams to most of their high schools.       

 “I do not see it becoming an NCAA sport.” Wenrich said addressing the chances of women’s flag football becoming more than a NAIA sport.

Although flag football is becoming more and more popular, it is not apart of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA. As of now there are no future plans for flag football becoming an NCAA sport. 

Even though it is still in the beginning stages of becoming more prominent, flag football is still enjoyed throughout the community.

Georgia baseball reaches postseason

The University of Georgia’s baseball team experienced a disappointing postseason that drove players to work harder.

Christopher Lakos, the assistant athletic director for the baseball team at the University Of Georgia, addressed the 2019 season and why the team is not getting back to that dominant 2019 form.

“Last year and this past year a lot of good players got hurt” he said.

With the amount of injured players a lot of back up players had to step up. These players had to work harder, and keep their spot on the starting roster. Most importantly help their team win. some may agree UGA may have players that will rise on the scene

Lakos added , “We have three players that will have a break out season two pitchers and one hitter. The pitchers are Liam Sullivan and Jaden Woods and the hitter is Corey Collins”.

Fans may agree that these players might have a breakout season, but the rest of the team needs to step up. In the most recent postseason the bulldogs had a record of 1-4 and got eliminated from the postseason early. The bulldogs showed a glimpse of what they capable of in a game against Hofstra University, wining the game 24-1 with 16 hits and 7 home runs.

Georgia fans have seen the bulldogs get defeated and defeat other teams, and there is only hopes for the best as the new season approaches

Hockey from the South

When people think about hockey, the first thing that often comes to mind is ice, snow and the cold — all traits of Northern cities. Most would not consider weather and Southerners. 

“The south should definitely have hockey, it’s just a great thing to have,” said former hockey player Austin Treubert.

Treubert started playing hockey at the age of 5 and stopped playing his senior year of high school. He grew up in Freehold, New Jersey so he was introduced to many opportunities in hockey. Around the age of 10, Treubert played against a team from North Carolina. This is when he realized there were teams in the South. 

Current hockey players, Matteo and Luca Salvatore, found it difficult to play hockey after moving from Canada to South Carolina. “Hockey was the only sport in Canada, it was the only thing to do,” Matteo Salvatore said. 

The set of twins started playing hockey at the young age of 3 and still continue with their careers today. “Hockey is now in a different environment for us and it was hard to adapt,” Matteo Salvatore said. “Traveling really impacted me, there should really be more places down here.”

Since hockey has started to open up more, Matteo and Luca don’t have to travel as much. Both boys would travel every weekend and miss parts of the week for hockey, “Traveling took a toll on me, having to fly then play five games a day was hard,” Luca Salvatore said. 

Sophomore David Eberly from Atlanta, who plays for the UGA Ice Dawgs, faced struggles when traveling, “I can’t explain the amount of things I missed out on due to traveling for hockey.” 

Due to his travels up north, Eberly only got one weekend off, if he was lucky. Having to travel almost every weekend can impact anyone. As more states like South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia started to have more teams, this lessened travel. 

 “We have lots of opportunities (in the South) now,” he said.

Danny Bryant, the arena general manager for the Classic Center, was very open to the idea of more southern hockey teams. Bryant said that Athens, Georgia will be announcing the arrival of their new ECHL team. This new arena will help attract more people for hockey. 

Over the past seven years, the UGA Ice Dawgs — who will play home games in the new arena — have won conference championships and have proved themselves as a competitive team. “People love the Dawgs — we always have a big crowd,” said Bryant.  “Even the students love it.”

The rise of hockey in the South has done more than add another sport for people to play and watch. It also has created a community. “I just love being in the environment it gave me and the community it created,” said Matteo Salvatore.

Matteo Salvatore has been on multiple teams at one time with so many different players. Some of them are from the North that have decided or have been recruited to play down South. Players coming from the North to the South is not uncommon. The current UGA Ice Dogs roster features 14 players from northern states, including New York, Maryland, Wisconsin and Colorado.

Regardless of where they came from, all of the players on the team have developed a strong bond and have even taught others some other skills that they know. “It was fun learning new things that other guys had learned from up north, they definitely brought some newer things” Eberly said. 

Luca Salavote, a goalie for his team, said that it was important to him when he got to show some of his skills to other players that didn’t have them. Due to the lack of camps and training facilities in the South, many native Southern hockey players missed out on opportunities to improve their game. Eberly noted that kids from New York or Maryland have a slight advantage from the other players. 

Whether from the North or South, Austin said hockey players share a common bond — their passion for the sport and their desire to share their love for it. 

“Hockey is more than just a sport, it lets people come together and be one big family,” Austin said. “It’s a community of people that love each other, I think every kid should have that.”

2022 NFL Draft: Georgia’s Winning Streak Continues

The NFL Draft is the one night a year where a player’s life can change by just one announcement.

Claude Felton, senior associate athletic director of The University of Georgia said, “Most players that want to go to these big schools dream of being in the NFL.”

Georgia football set a number of records in the 2022 NFL Draft. 15 players were drafted from the University, making this the highest number of players selected from a single school in the seven-round draft history. Additionally, Georgia set the record for the most defensive players drafted from a single school in the first round. 

Key Georgia players such as Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Lewis Cine and many others were drafted by a NFL team. This worried many fans, who pondered over what the team will do next year without these Georgia stars. 

“No matter how good a coach you are, if you don’t have the players, it’s going to be hard to get to where you want to go,” Felton said. 

To solve this issue, Felton discussed head coach Kirby Smart’s main prioritization in the off season, recruiting. Recruiting is one of Georgia’s strengths. Smart mentioned that recruiting is 50% of his job. Especially after the 2022 National Championship game, high school boys dream of playing at a top performing university.

“Those 15 guys that got drafted, there was a time when no one had heard of them either,” Felton said while discussing accurate recruiting. 

While most players’ main goal is to declare for the NFL Draft, not every player chooses that path. College football players are allowed to declare for the draft as early as their junior year of college. This has been the case for many Georgia alumni such as Herschel Walker, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. 

However, it’s still normal to see players stay for their fourth year and get a degree or have one more chance to enjoy their time in college. In this upcoming season, Nolan Smith, Willam Poole, Stetson Bennett and many others will be making their way back between the hedges one last time.

“Some guys wanted to stay their whole four years and graduate, but a lot of guys knew when it was time for them to go and chase their dream,” said Julian Rochester, former defensive lineman at the University of Georgia. 

The Draft will forever remain one of the most historic nights in football. A so-called late pick in the 6th round could end up winning the Super Bowl and breaking countless records. Playing on the Georgia football team does not just mean putting on pads and running on a field. It means being a part of a family and doing whatever it takes to help your team succeed. 

The 15 players that were drafted in the 2022 draft will achieve great accomplishments on their respective teams. Equally, Georgia fans will never forget the impact all of the players the team lost had on the program. 

Georgia still has many young talented players on their roster as well, such as Brock Bowers and Kelee Ringo. Needless to say, the Georgia football team and staff is confident that they have everything it takes to be at the top next year.

“Kirby Smart and the entire Georgia football program will do their best to keep continuing being a championship football team”, said Rochester.

Recruiting critical to Bulldogs’ success

Everyone knows about Coach Kirby Smart’s success on the football field as head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. But that’s only half of what we see.

“50% of Kirby Smart’s job is recruiting and evaluating players,” said Claude Felton, senior associate athletic director at the University of Georgia.

After winning the national championship in January, the number of amazingly talented players who want to come to Georgia has increased dramatically. Although the increased talent pool has given Smart lots of options, in some ways it has made the process more difficult.

“Only so many positions are available,” Felton said, adding that coaches have to take into account ensuring that all positions are filled on the field.

Another factor to consider is there may be several qualified recruits available, but the team cannot exceed the number of scholarships that are allowed, which adds another complication to the recruiting process.

“You have so many scholarships that you are allowed to give out,” Felton said.

For all NCAA Division I FBS schools, that number is 85. 

Even after considering the number of scholarships and position needs, Felton said there are other factors Coach Smart has to consider, which includes the player’s stats, football history, academics and other things.

The defending national champions Georgia Bulldogs lost some key position players to the NFL, including overall first pick edge rusher Travon Walker, 13th pick defensive lineman Jordan Davis, 22nd pick linebacker Quay Walker, 28th pick defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt and 32nd pick safety Lewis Cine. But Georgia fans should feel confident that Coach Smart’s recruiting will help fill those gaps.

We lost some good players, Felton said. “But that doesn’t mean that the players coming up on the team won’t be as good as the players who left.”