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Shelia Mader

Shelia Mader

Sports Editor

Website URL:

Inside the Cupboard

  • Published in Sports

The community lost one of the best men who called Jackson County home this past Friday. Although, he was not one you saw at every sporting event in the area, his influence carried over to the ballparks through his children and grandchildren. His son played an integral part of the Marianna High School football program for over a decade. He had no hidden interest in the program, he did not have a son on the team.

As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even have a son. He gave of his time freely and willingly every week, not only during the season but throughout the year helping and organizing fundraisers to promote a better program for the players. This should be an example for everyone to follow – give of your time. There are many youngsters out there who need a positive influence, a word of praise or encouragement. I don’t know that a kind word has ever costs anyone a single dime. But my, at the difference it has made in many youngsters across the world. With the demise of the ‘traditional’ family, there are so many children who do not have both a mom and a dad in the family household. They may spend time with one or the other but not together. Or they may not have a relationship with one parent or another.

The addition of someone in their lives leaves the possibility wide open for good things to happen. A little encouragement may keep Johnny or Suzy on the right track to becoming a responsible and successful adult. What a disappointment to have an outstanding game – whether it’s on a field or on a court – with no one there to praise you for your hard work. Be that person who makes a difference. Grill up some burgers, improve the facilities with a coat of paint, organize a fundraiser that helps offset the cost of playing the sport to the player’s family.

There are times when even a low-cost sport is just a little over the edge of what a single parent or even a two-parent family can afford. With the cost of everything at an all-time high, money becomes a big factor in whether or not a child can play a sport. And bottom line, players have pride – they like a top notch facility with state of the art equipment. A little shine on the shoe makes for a happier businessman, why not put a little extra out there for the players. With year-round training for just about every sport now, those who give 100% deserve a little boost to their spirit. And the best part is the feeling you will have for having been a part of a winning program – despite wins and losses on the field. And that’s the way it is from “Inside the Cupboard.”

Fans Make The Game

  • Published in Sports

Both loyal and not so loyal sports fans realize that it is an understatement that fans can make the game. Every venue---whether baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and the list goes on--- tends to have its own set of loyal fans – those who never miss a game, who never fail to let the referees or umpires know when they’ve missed a call, or the coach for a bogus, bonehead call. We have all observed them, fussed about them, encouraged them; yet we continued to look forward to a weekly dose of their entertainment.

When setting out to find those boisterous and entertaining fans, my first stop was a trio of fun-loving, ref-gouging men at Chipola College. It matters not if it’s the men or women playing. You can count on knowing every missed call just from the voices of Bobby Sims, Danny Sims, and Gary Jackson. The trio say they don’t exactly know when they became regulars but fans around them who have come and gone say it’s been some time now. Bobby Sims is an expert referee at basketball; he never misses a call. If you think he has missed one, ask him and he’ll let you know differently. If he had ever missed one or missed letting the official know when he messed up, he has plenty of backup from former superintendent of schools, Danny Sims, and retired businessman, Gary Jackson, who have his back. Of the three, Bobby is the most vocal of the group and usually the first to voice his opinion not only to the refs but also to the coaches. He may be vocal but is always politically correct in his criticism.

Travel down the road a piece to the basketball capital of Jackson County – Malone, Florida. The Tigers are known throughout the state for their basketball programs, girls’ and boys’. Just as well known is their loyal fan, Mr. Willie Hall. Mr. Hall is not clear on the dates he became a Tiger fan but is positive that it happened around the time integration came about in Jackson County. At that time, Mr. Hall relocated from Panama City and almost instantly became almost a Tiger fan. He’s cheered them through district titles, regional titles, but will tell you quickly that there’s nothing better than the thrill of a state title, a quest he’s been a part of for more than half a century. Willie is most animated, amazingly witty, and a virtual fixture at Malone games. But don’t let his antics deceive you; he is decidedly knowledgeable about the game. A devoted fan—he is one funny man.

Two of the more vocal fans I have had the pleasure of meeting reign from the town of Graceville – and these two take their basketball very seriously. Darrell Olds and Dennis Pittman are 1977-78 Graceville alumnae. Last Friday night at the Graceville-Cottondale game in Graceville, they were pretty convinced it was their play calling, coaching, and cheering from under the goal in the Cottondale gym that pulled off the Tiger victory. Bleachers are not their style; they are much more into the game from a standing position.

Moving to the eastern part of Jackson County to the Sneads Pirates, coaches and administrators will quickly tell you that Bubba Faircloth is hard to beat as a Sneads fan. He can usually be located on the top row of the bleachers and will be pulling hard for his Pirates. He has seen them through lean years and through some very prosperous years but no matter the outcome of the game, Faircloth is always a Pirate supporter. Fans can truly make the game enjoyable and much more often than not, this is what they do.

Fortunately, most such fans are only enjoying the game and each other in their own unique style. These diehard fans would never intentionally make anyone else from any team feel uncomfortable. Their participation is all in good fun. From those we know so well, there is never any truly negative or rowdy behavior. Of course, rarely there may be a situation involving fans who do let their own emotions get the best of them. All local sports events are monitored by administration and security who are familiar with the sports scenes locally and are there to deal with those who are determined to be inappropriately obnoxious. We, in Jackson County, are blessed to be able to enjoy funny, enthusiastic fans who are all there to cheer on their chosen teams. On your next outing enjoy the game and take time to seek out the loyal fans – they can give you insights and an education on the team(s) that you otherwise might not ever know.

Marianna Cheerleaders Compete in Blountstown

  • Published in Sports

Marianna’s cheerleaders combined their varsity and junior varsity squads this past weekend for competition in Blountstown. The team walked away with a second-place finish.

Varsity captain Anatasia Mitchell took first place in the Best Jump category. The girls demonstrated excellent cheer, jump, tumbling, and stunting skills in the two and a half minute routine, leaving room for few adjustments to be made prior to their next competition.

Following the competition, cheer coach Debbie Dryden expressed her pleasure in the girls’ performance, “Arnold won but they (MHS)did really well. It was close.”

Their next competition will be held on January 10, 2015 at the annual Chipola College Cheer Extravaganza. On January 24, Marianna High School will host the FHSAA Region I Cheerleading Finals.

Team members are: front row- Alyssa Wiley, Allie Hinson, Cailee Heinemann, Cianna Harris, Anastasia Mitchell, Kiara White. Middle row- Grace Daffin, Delaney Basford, Maggie Larkin, Libby Buchanan, Amy Gearhart, Sydney Holland, Mallory Dykes, Alexandria Hencely, Sabrina Mandrekas, Shelley Dryden, TyAnna White. Back row-Zannah Glisson, Nyasia Rhodes, Ellory Fuqua, Marybeth Harkins, Alyson James, Hannah Nobles, Lauralee Gause, Lily Evans, and Devon Jernigan. The girls are coached by Debbie Dryden, Maria Long, and Jordan Moore

Ebby Harris

James Edward Harris left this world last Friday, less than two weeks after he and his family were told he had the big “C”, cancer. As I write this, I am in awe that I never knew a James Edward Harris – I knew a kind, always smiling, forever upbeat man named ‘Ebby’ Harris. Everyone whose life Ebby touched was richer for having known him. He touched lives in a quiet way, led them many times without them realizing he was changing their minds for the better. He had a way of influencing you and teaching you that left you with a feeling of accomplishment. He was very careful to never make anyone feel inferior when he was in charge.

Harris was a 17-year employee of James & Sikes Funeral Home. Chris Sikes says of Harris, “Ebby was my second daddy, I’ve told him many times how fortunate I was that he came into my life. We fished together; he took my boys fishing. He was a business advisor to me for almost 20 years and, to me, he had great business sense. He had learned from his dad, Floyd Harri,s and he learned well. He was a classy guy, always had it together. I don’t know that Ebby changed one bit in the 20 years I knew him. I used to tell him, if only I could age as gracefully as you have. He’d get on my tail when he needed to and if he thought I needed to change something, he would suggest it in a way that I knew he was right and never made me feel inadequate about it. His family took Traci, my boys, and me in; he was a mentor to all of us. When I lost my dad six years ago, Ebby stepped right in to fill those shoes. It was just a Godsend for me that God put him in the funeral home because he knew everyone and was liked by everyone and his presence there was felt by everyone.”

In life, everyone makes enemies, whether intentionally or not. Someone is not going to like something about the way you do this or that – not so with Ebby Harris. He made no enemies and everyone who met him walked away a better person. He had an infectious smile, a sense of humor most people can only dream of having. Those same sentiments are echoed by long time school board employee Sherri Johnson, “It was a pleasure to work with Ebby. He believed in having fun, but he wanted the work done and he wanted it done right. He was Gator fan and I was a Seminole. Oh, the fun we had going back and forth with that. But above all, he was a man that loved his family. That was always very evident. He will be missed by all that knew him.”

Rex Wimberly worked with Jackson County School Board during Ebby’s time there but knew him as a friend who showed him the way a civic organization should be run, “Ebby was a good man, a good father, and a mentor to all of us younger guys. Of course I’ve known the Harris family for a long time. Ebby and my mom graduated together. It was through civic clubs and other things that you really got to know what a fine man he was. We just enjoyed each other’s company. Dianne and I were just talking awhile ago about that little? rice smile that looked like he would break out laughing at any moment. Every Thursday, we sat right by each other at the Chipola Civic Club. If I wasn’t there he would take over my duties as secretary. He taught me how to be a secretary and to do it the right way. He just took me under his wings. His daughter Marsha just said the other day that I and many others were the sons he never had. He was just a mentor, he mentored many of us younger guys and we are all better for it. He just always made you feel very welcomed. He was all about helping the community in whatever way he could. He loved people and loved being around people. He was about helping the community and he always made sure that if there was a need in the community he was going to meet it. He loved Marianna; he loved the friends he had here. Ms. Jean was the love of his life and his family meant everything to him. He was a behind the scene guy, never searched for the attention for anything he did.”

Danny Sims spoke with the highest regard about Ebby, “He did everything with integrity,was honest, straightforward, and a good employee that cared about the schools. My time with Ebby goes way back. When Ebby was in high school and even earlier, my dad had a little grocery store out in Elsi Demonde ??Heights. Every day Ebby would get off the bus and immediately head to daddy’s store. He would work doing anything Daddy would give him to do. Before long he was working every day. He wanted to work all the time. My dad married late, in his thirties, and so he took off a couple of days to go to Panama City after his wedding. He talked to Ebby’s dad, Floyd, and asked if he could use Ebby for those two to three days while he was gone. So, Ebby had permission to miss school at 14 years old to run the store. Ebby was the only one he trusted.

Yes, Marianna lost an amazing man today but, oh, the memories he left behind. Though many are saddened by his loss, there is also joy in the remembrance of the relationships he enjoyed, the memories we have of him, and the impact he had on the lives of so many.

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