Thursday, July 31, 2008

Start Time for Thrashers Game at Florida Panthers on Jan. 10 Changed to 1 p.m.

The start time for the Thrashers game at Florida on Jan. 10 has been changed to 1 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m.

Atlanta begins their ninth season on Oct. 10 when the defending Southeast Division Champion Washington Capitals visit Philips Arena at 7:30 p.m.

Season Tickets for the Atlanta Thrashers start at $10 per game and are available for the 2008-09 season by calling (866) 715-1500 or visiting Individual tickets for all regular-season Thrashers games at Philips Arena will go on sale Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased by visiting, calling (800) 326-4000, or by visiting the Philips Arena Box Office or any Ticketmaster Ticket Outlet.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Power Arms Vie for Aflac's National Baseball Player of the Year Honors

SSG Note: Kudos to Donavan Tate of Cartersville, GA. We're pulling for you!

PRNewswire/ -- Pitchers with incredible talent dominate the finalists as four hurlers are among the five players nominated for the fifth annual Aflac National High School Player of the Year Award, given to the country's top prep baseball player. The Player of the Year recipient will be presented with the Jackie Robinson Award, a trophy named in honor of the late Hall of Famer. Sharon Robinson, Robinson's daughter, will present the award at the Aflac All-American Awards Dinner held at the Omni Hotel on Aug. 8, 2008, in Los Angeles. Also on hand for the ceremony will be Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, who returns as honorary chairman for the 2008 Aflac All-American Baseball Game.

"We are extremely pleased to once again have Jackie Robinson's name associated with this prestigious award," said Sharon Robinson. "This award has gone to fine young men who exemplify what my father stood for, and gives recognition to the student athletes who strive for excellence and give back to the community."

  The Player of the Year nominees are:

-- Mychal Givens, INF/RHP, Plant HS - Tampa, Fla.
-- Austin Maddox, C/RHP, Eagle's View Academy - Jacksonville, Fla.
-- Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS - Mission Viejo, Ca.
-- Matthew Purke, LHP, Klein HS - Spring, Texas
-- Donavan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS - Cartersville, Ga.
-- Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy - St. Charles, Mo.

The inaugural Jackie Robinson Award, presented in 2004, went to Aflac All-American alumnus Justin Upton, a shortstop from Great Bridge HS (Chesapeake, Va.). The Arizona Diamondbacks made Upton the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 Major League Baseball June draft. Other winners were Cody Johnson, a first baseman/outfielder from Mosley HS (Panama City, Fla.) in 2005, Michael Burgess, an outfielder/pitcher from Hillsborough HS (Tampa, Fla.) in 2006 and Tim Melville, a pitcher/outfielder from Wentzville HS (Wentzville, Mo.), was honored last year.

The Jackie Robinson award, named after the first player to break the Major League Baseball color barrier, recognizes the nation's top rising senior who demonstrates outstanding character, exhibits leadership and embodies the values of being a student athlete. The player of the year nominees were determined by official Aflac All-American Baseball Game selection partner Perfect Game and media partner Baseball America.

The sixth annual Aflac All-American High School Baseball Game will be played Saturday, Aug. 9, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The event is the nation's elite high school baseball showcase featuring the top 38 rising senior players in an East vs. West match-up. The game will be televised live nationally on Fox Sports Net at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Proceeds from the game will benefit ThinkCure, the official charity of the Dodgers, which supports critical cancer research at City of Hope and Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles. Since 2005, the game has generated nearly $525,000 for charity.

To learn more about the Aflac National High School Player of the Year nominees and the Aflac All-American High School Baseball Game, visit

CPSC Staff Finds Synthetic Turf Fields OK to Install, OK to Play On

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff today released its evaluation of various synthetic athletic fields. The evaluation concludes that young children are not at risk from exposure to lead in these fields.

CPSC staff evaluation showed that newer fields had no lead or generally had the lowest lead levels. Although small amounts of lead were detected on the surface of some older fields, none of these tested fields released amounts of lead that would be harmful to children.

Lead is present in the pigments of some synthetic turf products to give the turf its various colors. Staff recognizes that some conditions such as age, weathering, exposure to sunlight, and wear and tear might change the amount of lead that could be released from the turf. As turf is used during athletics or play and exposed over time to sunlight, heat and other weather conditions, the surface of the turf may start to become worn and small particles of the lead-containing synthetic grass fibers might be released. The staff considered in the evaluation that particles on a child's hand transferred to his/her mouth would be the most likely route of exposure and determined young children would not be at risk.

Although this evaluation found no harmful lead levels, CPSC staff is asking that voluntary standards be developed for synthetic turf to preclude the use of lead in future products. This action is being taken proactively to address any future production of synthetic turf and to set a standard for any new entrants to the market to follow.

As an overall guideline, CPSC staff recommends young children wash their hands after playing outside, especially before eating.

AC Delco Chevrolet Cobalt NHRA Pro Stock to run this Friday at AMS

The wildly popular street drag racing program Friday Night Drags presented by AC Delco at Atlanta Motor Speedway will receive a few extra horsepower this weekend. Kurt Johnson’s AC Delco Chevrolet Cobalt will be on display along with making a couple of runs down the eighth mile drag strip along pit road. The NHRA Pro Stock racer currently sits third in the NHRA Pro Stock Powerade Series point standings.

AC Delco, through local distributor JI Express, will be presenting the 1,200 horsepower land rocket along with a large display unit this Friday night at the speedway. The display unit also includes a Drag Racing Reaction Time game for the fans to test their reaction time launching a simulated drag race. The game opportunity is free for the fans in attendance this weekend.

Friday Night Drags presented by AC Delco features nine exciting divisions of street legal drag racing along the Atlanta Motor Speedway pit road. Competitors are lined up in a heads up format with elimination rounds deciding the night’s divisional winners. Trophies are awarded to each division’s main event winner.

The festivities will also include the motorcycle drag races, the show-n-shine car show and the speedway cruise.

The pit gates open this Friday at 6pm. Drag race practice runs begin at 6:15pm. Tech closes at 9pm when elimination rounds begin. Tickets are $7 for spectators and $20 to enter the drag races.

For more information, visit and click on the icon for Friday Night Drags presented by AC Delco.

Wheelchair Games Provide Therapy, Fun for Disabled Vets

Photo: William Kafka, a disabled veteran from El Paso, Texas, prepares to take a shot during nine-ball pool at the 28th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Omaha, Neb. Department of Veterans Affairs photo

About 500 disabled veterans, including recently wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan, are entering their final day of competition here today at the 28th National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

The event is the world's largest annual wheelchair sports competition. It brings together veterans with spinal cord injuries, amputations or other mobility or neurological conditions to compete in 17 different events.

Veterans Affairs Secretary James B. Peake, who opened the competition July 25, called it a big part of the veterans' rehabilitation and said the games provide "a therapeutic extension" of the top-notch health care veterans receive in VA medical centers.

"Rehabilitation is crucial to living a full life following an injury," Peake said. "I applaud all of the veterans participating as they strive to achieve their goals during this week of athletic competition."

Competition was running fierce during the third day of competition yesterday, with participants fanned out to venues across Omaha to compete in swimming, basketball, track, weight lifting, softball, air guns, quad rugby, nine-ball billiards, field events, bowling, table tennis, archery, hand cycling, wheelchair slalom, trapshooting, a motorized wheelchair relay, and power soccer.

In addition, athletes with prostheses had the option of competing in several stand-up events.

Airmen 1st Class Silvia Lisseth and Crystal Holk, both active-duty airmen at nearby Offutt Air Force Base served as volunteers at a platform in the Qwest Center, where winners received their medals.

Lisseth said she was blown away by the veterans' enthusiasm for the games.

"It's amazing to see how much they put into this and how much heart they have in it," she said. Holk said she felt honored to announce each winner's awards before the medal presentations. "It's really inspiring to see how motivated they are to come and win these, and then to see the big smiles when they wear those medals," she said.

But Randy L. Pleva Sr., president of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, which cosponsors the games, said the games are about much more than medals. "They're a mix of camaraderie, competition and courage," he said. "And they're rehabilitation at its best for our paralyzed veterans."

Tiffany Smith, a recreational therapist from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, brought five patients to the games, three of them for the first time. "It's a real morale boost for them to come here and get challenges personally outside the hospital setting," she said.

The games "bring back their competitive streak and show them that they are able to return to what they used to do in a competitive way," Smith said. Meanwhile, they provide a forum for building leadership, self-esteem and a sense of teamwork, she said.

Participating in the games "opens a whole doorway for them," said Steve Zaracki, a sports coordinator who works for the Paralyzed Veterans of America. "You see their spirit open up. It's inspiring."

Zaracki said it's particularly gratifying to work with recent combat veterans who still are adjusting to their wounds.

"It makes you really want to provide for them because of all that they have done for us," he said. "You want to motivate them. You want to push them. You want to inspire them to say, 'Look, I can do this. There is life in a wheelchair.'"

Community News You Can Use

Frady Leads Germany to Summer Success

While several Panthers have been busy playing in wood-bat amateur leagues far from home, Georgia State baseball head coach Greg Frady has spent part of his summer coaching the German National Team in Europe. The highlight of summer was the Germans sweep of bitter rival France in a seven-game series.

Frady also led the German squad in an exhibition against the United States National Team, which is comprised of collegiate players. The Germans hosted the game in Regensburg in front of 2,500 fans, the second largest crowd ever at Armin Wolf Arena. Frady was proud of his team’s play, as the Americans held a 3-1 lead entering the eighth inning. The U.S. club scored six runs in the eighth and prevailed 9-3.

“It was a great game and the first time the U.S. team has played in Germany,” said Frady.

In the seven-game series against neighboring rival France, the Germans outscored the French 63-11 in the series and rode a powerful offense to 12-1, 16-0, 10-3, 11-1 and 9-3 wins in the first five games. Frady’s squad played small ball and completed the sweep with 2-1 and 3-2 wins in games six and seven.

“To sweep the French was quite a great accomplishment,” Frady said. “The team did a great job working this summer to develop and prepare for the 2009 World Cup in Europe.”

The World Cup was originally scheduled to be held in Cuba in 2009, but the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) moved the tournament to Europe to help “develop the market for baseball,” noted Frady. “Europe is one of the last frontiers for baseball growth.”

Thrashers Agree to Terms with 2004 Draft Choice Matt Siddall

The Atlanta Thrashers have agreed to terms with forward Matt Siddall, the team’s ninth-round selection (270th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, on a multiple-year contract, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. As per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Siddall, 23, recorded a career-best 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) in a career-high 41 games for Northern Michigan University last season. He was tied for second on the Wildcats in points, goals and assists, and led the team with 116 penalty minutes. The 6-1, 205-pound right wing posted a seven-game point streak from Feb. 22 – Mar. 9, recording 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in that span, including a season-high four points (one goal, three assists) on Feb. 22 vs. Nebraska-Omaha.

The native of North Vancouver, British Columbia has tallied 76 points (32 goals, 44 assists) in 147 career games over four seasons at Northern Michigan from 2004-08. Prior to his collegiate career, Siddall played for the Powell River Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League in 2003-04 and recorded 61 points (25 goals, 36 assists) in 45 games.

Season Tickets for the Atlanta Thrashers start at $10 per game and are available for the 2008-09 season by calling (866) 715-1500 or visiting Individual tickets for all regular-season Thrashers games at Philips Arena will go on sale Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased by visiting, calling (800) 326-4000, or by visiting the Philips Arena Box Office or any Ticketmaster Ticket Outlet.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Finneran Showing No Ill Effects from Knee Injury

The cheers for Brian Finneran sound a bit louder these days.

He's had great catches along the sideline and even more nice grabs over the middle during Russell Falcons Training Camp. But cheers aren't necessarily coming for his play alone.

His history made him a fan favorite.

The nine-year veteran missed the last two seasons with knee injuries. But his 15 career touchdowns (12 since joining the Falcons in 2002) ring clear in fans' minds. Every catch made during camp is a sign of a comeback. Every step of a pass route is a step in the right direction.

"My legs may have been a little heavy," Finneran said after his first practice this off-season. "I'm just easing into it but I felt pretty good in terms of football and knowing where I need to be."

Finneran has played in 86 career games. He has 187 catches for 2,647 yards. Most have gone for first downs, cementing his status as one of the team's better clutch receivers. Now he's earning his stripes all over again.

“I think it will be a great story if Brian makes it all the way back," added Head Coach Mike Smith, "He has done a great job rehabilitating and having to miss two seasons. He is doing everything in his power and we are going to bring him along slowly. We had a talk last night about when they were going to let him get in two practices a day. That should be coming very soon. That will be the true test to see if he can take the pounding of two practices. He has made a lot of nice catches here for us at camp so far.”

After the first day of full-pad work, Finneran was in good spirits.

“That is part of it, but the other comes in the preseason..." he said when asked about taking contact from the defense.

Finneran said he's been running routes at full-speed for several weeks but he's careful not to overdue it.

"I'll ice a little bit longer and work on a few things with the knee," he said. "(Coaches) have been taking care of me pretty good. If any soreness comes up I can talk to the coaches and they'll take care of me."

Finneran helped consistently on special teams before his injury and says he can also contribute there if needed. The injury won't hold him back.

"I made my NFL career playing special teams," he said. "If I had to go out there and play punt team, punt return or cover kickoffs... Even if I'm a backup guy they know if someone goes down I can fill right in.

"If they ask me to do that I'll be happy to do it."

So the cheers will continue with every catch the 6-foot-5 receiver makes. With luck and dedication, there won't be a repeat of the injury bug.

"I have not had any problems," Finneran said. "I feel good and I don’t foresee any problems.”

J Michael Moore Managing Editor

Monday, July 28, 2008

Valdosta named ESPN’s “TitleTown USA”

Governor Sonny Perdue today congratulated the city of Valdosta on being selected as ESPN’s “TitleTown USA.”

“While we all know of Valdosta’s football reputation, this contest also showed the city’s tremendous sense of community spirit and pride,” Governor Perdue said. “From the massive turnout at the ESPN taping to the wide margin of victory in the winning vote, it was clear that Valdosta would be as tough to beat in this competition as their teams are on the football field.”

“TitleTown USA” was a month-long competition on ESPN’s flagship show, “SportsCenter.” Sports fans from around the nation submitted nominations for what they considered to be “TitleTown USA” and voted on which town or city they felt best deserved this distinction. Out of more than 3,000 different applicants, 20 finalists were chosen. Valdosta, one of the smaller cities up for the award and the only city from the state of Georgia, competed against major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Detroit.

“This award truly represents the heart and soul of this great community,” said Valdosta Mayor John J. Fretti. “The excitement and unity shown for this effort proves that the Winnersville spirit transcends all aspects of our community. Valdosta will make our community, the state, and the nation proud!”

Valdosta is known throughout the region as “Winnersville USA.” This nickname has come about over the course of the past century as schools in Valdosta have won an unprecedented amount of championships. In all, Valdosta schools have won more than 450 titles. These titles have ranged across the spectrum of sports and at different levels of competition. It is, however, the football field that truly has set Valdosta apart from the rest of the nation.

Valdosta is home to Valdosta High School, which has won 23 state championships, 40 region championships and 6 national titles over the past 86 years on course to becoming the nation’s winningest high school football team with a win percentage of over 80 percent.

Lowndes High School has also shined on the football field having won 5 state titles, including 3 out of the last 4 state AAAAA titles.

Valdosta’s domination on the grid iron has also taken place at the collegiate level. Valdosta State University has established itself as one of the top college football programs in the country having won two Division II National Championships in the past 4 years.

Just this year, Lowndes High School won the football state championship, Valdosta State University won the national championship and Valdosta native J.D. Drew was named the Most Valuable Player of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

ESPN will officially crown Valdosta as “TitleTown USA” on “Sports Center” which airs at 6 p.m.

Georgia Junior Team Tennis Rocks!

SSG Note: Super kudos to the teams who represented the Southern Crescent Junior Team Tennis League. Teams from Braelinn Golf Club, The Summit, Peachtree City Tennis Center and Woodcreek were among those invited to play. What super kids we have! You all performed spectacularly. We are proud of your game skills and of your excellent sportsmanship!

Congratulations to all 998 junior team tennis players who competed this past weekend at the Georgia State Championships. With over 100 teams vying for the title of top racquet, competition was stiff. All of the players who participated in the invitation only tournament are to be congratulated. They are all winners.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

“Falcons Fit & Green” Initiative

The Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation (thefoundations), in partnership with Safeplay Systems and Nike, are leading a $600,000 “Falcons Fit & Green” initiative, which will support development of up to 10 green playgrounds in Metro Atlanta in 2009. The “Falcons Fit & Green” initiative advances the values of the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, which works to improve youth fitness across Georgia, and the values of the Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, through his family foundation’s Inspiring Spaces program, which works to promote green practices and to increase access to great public spaces. Learn more about the work of the foundations through their 2007 online annual report... Click to read: “Falcons Fit & Green” Initiative

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Alternative Warm-Up Program Reduces Risk of ACL Injuries For Female

Female Athletes Most at Risk for Ligament Injuries

The risk of potentially devastating tears to an important knee ligament may be reduced in female college soccer players by an alternative warm-up program that focuses on stretching, strengthening, and improving balance and movements, according to a CDC study published online this week in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. The program can be done without additional equipment or extensive training that other prevention programs may require.

Female athletes are at greater risk for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, compared to males participating in similar activities. The gender difference becomes even greater for noncontact ACL injuries, which occur usually in stopping, turning, or landing from a jump as opposed to colliding with another player or something on the field like the goal post.

"This study shows tremendous promise for female collegiate soccer players, especially those with a history of ACL injuries," said CDC's Injury Center epidemiologist Julie Gilchrist, M.D., lead author of the study. "Enjoying sports is a great way to stay fit. And to stay healthy, we encourage coaches, athletic trainers, and athletes to consider adapting this program into their routine."

The study explored the effectiveness of the Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP) program developed by the Santa Monica Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation, Santa Monica, Calif. The Foundation conducts research to prevent musculoskeletal and neurologic injuries. The PEP program is designed to help teams prevent noncontact ACL injuries without a significant investment in equipment or time. The session includes warm-up, stretching, strengthening, and sport-specific agility exercises.

The study followed 61 women's soccer teams with 1,435 players in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association for a single season. Twenty-six teams were randomly assigned to use the program and 35 other teams served as a comparison group. Teams participating in the study came from many different regions, conferences and experienced a variety of competitive success.

Researchers noted that while the number of injuries reported in this study was small, the use of the PEP program was effective in reducing the risk of ACL injuries, and the program can be done during regular practice time and without special equipment.

Significant findings include:

* Athletes on teams using the PEP Program suffered no ACL injuries during practice, compared to six injuries among other teams.
* Among athletes with a history of ACL injury who used the program, none experienced noncontact ACL injuries, compared to four injuries among other players with a similar history.
* In the second half of the season, athletes using the PEP program reported no ACL injuries, while other athletes experienced five injuries.

While many teams may conduct various warm up and stretching exercises, the PEP program focuses on improving biomechanical techniques in jumping, stopping and turning to reduce ACL injuries.

"PEP was developed specifically to prevent serious knee injuries and their consequences," said Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, director of the research foundation. "We recommend that teams use it as an alternative warm-up before training sessions. Putting PEP widely into practice, we hope, will continue to show reduced risk of ACL injury among soccer players."

The study was made possible by additional support from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, International Federation of Football Associations, National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the Santa Monica Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation.

Hawks Guard Named to 2008 Rocky Mountain Revue All-Tournament First Team

Hawks guard Acie Law IV was named to the 2008 Rocky Mountain Revue All-Tournament First Team. Law averaged 16.2 ppg, 3.6 apg and 2.2 rpg in helping lead Atlanta to a 4-2 mark in the Revue. He ranked 6th in scoring and 6th in assists in the tournament field. Jeremy Richardson and Othello Hunter also received votes for the All-Revue squad.

All Revue team:

Eric Boulton to Participate in Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta “Rehab Summer Games” at Philips Arena on Monday, July 28

Atlanta Thrashers forward Eric Boulton will be on hand for the annual Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta “Rehab Summer Games”, which take place Philips Arena on Monday, July 28 from 9:30 a.m. – Noon. The “Rehab Summer Games” allow more than 350 area children to compete in various events such as basketball, wheelbarrow races, tricycle races, dance contests, obstacle courses and more.

The Games are a unique and motivational way to incorporate therapy goals into a patient’s summer activities. The patients train hard during physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions and the Games give them a chance to show off all of their skills.Boulton will be on hand to meet the children and their families, play games and sign autographs during the event. This is the ninth annual event for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the sixth consecutive year that Philips Arena has hosted the event.

WHO: Thrashers Forward Eric Boulton
WHAT: Ninth annual Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta “Rehab Summer Games”
WHEN: Monday, July 28 from 9:30 a.m. – Noon (Boulton will be on hand from 10-11:30 a.m.)
WHERE: Philips Arena

Army Wrestler Earns Greco-Roman Berth in Beijing Olympics

Photo: Staff Sgt. Dremiel Byers defeats U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program teammate Spc. Tim Taylor in the finals of the 264.5-pound Greco-Roman division of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team wrestling trials June 15, 2008, in Las Vegas. Byers won the best-of-three series, 2-1, and earned a berth in the Summer Olympics, scheduled for Aug. 8-24 in Beijing. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command

Army Staff Sgt. Dremiel Byers secured an Olympic berth by defeating U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program teammate Spc. Timothy Taylor in the Greco-Roman heavyweight finals of the U.S. Olympic team trials for wrestling June 15.

Three other soldiers reached the finals of their respective weight classes but fell short of earning spots on the U.S. Olympic Team during the three-day tournament at the University of Nevada Las Vegas' Thomas and Mack Center.

Byers, the 2002 Greco-Roman heavyweight world champion, defeated Taylor in their first match, 1-1, 4-0, but lost the second bout of their best-of-three series, 2-5, 2-1, 1-1.

"Taylor is pretty good at being a wall when he wants to," said Byers, 33, a native of Kings Mountain, N.C., who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., where he trains daily with Taylor. "I really don't have any tricks for him. He knows what I'm going to do every time.

"He's a fast learner, a quick study, and his body's coming together," Byers said of Taylor, a 2007 armed forces champion who finished second in the U.S. nationals and third in the U.S. World Team trials last year. "That first match, I saw it. And in that second match, I really saw it – this guy is coming, and he's defending hard. I knew it was time to take it up a notch and do what I'm supposed to do."

In the decisive third match, Byers dominated the first period, 4-0. In the second period, he scored five points with a high-amplitude throw of Taylor that ended the match and tournament in dramatic fashion.

"I just felt that if I worked my under hooks it would pay off, and right there in a clutch moment, it paid off – just like I had hoped," said Byers, who was interviewed by his former training partner and archrival, MSNBC wrestling analyst Rulon Gardner, who struck Olympic gold at the 2000 Sydney Games and bronze in the 2004 Athens Games.

"It's been a long road. It's been a real long road," said Byers, who thanked a long list of supporters -- including All-Army coach Staff Sgt. Shon Lewis -- who helped him along the way. "Some of it was luck, and a lot of it was hard work. I'm very fortunate to be here right now. I think life starts now."

Byers said he plans to fulfill the promise of winning an Olympic medal for his late grandfather, Theodore, in Beijing in August.

"He probably would have asked me why I lost that one match," said Byers, who won his spot on the Olympic team on Father's Day. "Coming out that tunnel, and every time I looked up, I said, 'I know you're watching. I know you're watching.' I wish he could be here."

Taylor made sure soldiers would be represented on the U.S. Olympic Team by reaching the 264.5-pound finals against Byers with a 3-0, 0-3, 1-1 victory over Russ Davie of New York Athletic Club.

"I knew whoever won the first period was winning the match, regardless of what happened," said Taylor, 25. "I had to get the first period -- got the first period. Tried to stand up in the second period and he kept me down, so I just stopped moving. Third period, same situation: if I don't get turned, I win.

"Coach has been always saying that you have to have heart with 30 seconds left to win the match," said Taylor, a proud, new father of 3-month-old Makyla Aleece Taylor. "Being Father's Day, I was thinking about her. Reached down, thought about her, stood up -- and once I stood up, there was no way he was getting a point."

Several other soldiers competed gamely in the Olympic Trials.

The World Class Athlete Program's Spc. Aaron Sieracki wrestled through longtime nemesis Jacob Clark, a former Marine, and WCAP teammate Sgt. Brad Ahearn, who grappled with a broken hand, before losing 6-0, 3-0 in the 84-kilogram Greco-Roman finals to New York Athletic Club's Brad Vering, a two-time Olympian and four-time World Team member.

"I wrestled well, overall -- just wish I had stepped it up a little more for the finals," Sieracki said. "I just made a couple of mistakes, and if you make a mistake here, it's going to cost you."

Nothing stung Sieracki, however, quite like seeing his older brother, Keith, leave his boots on the mat, signaling the end of a brilliant Army wrestling career.

"Wow, that's tough to talk about," said Aaron, who buried his head in his sweatshirt to absorb the tears of disbelief. "He's the one who drove me. He's why I'm where I'm at. I can't believe he's retiring. It just won't be the same without him."

Staff Sgt. Keith Sieracki, an Olympic Trials winner in 2000 and 2004, lost to New York Athletic Club's Cheney Haight in the 74-kilogram Greco finale of the challenge tournament. Walking off the mat for the final time gave Sieracki a bittersweet sense of relief.

"I was hoping to do it at the Olympics, but I knew this was my last go-around," Keith said. "If you don't have the fire, mentally, it's hard -- you're on auto-pilot. I gave it everything I had. I just didn't have anything left. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to make the Olympic team, but when it's all said and done, I've been in the top two [in the United States] for the last 13 years.

"The Army has given me the opportunity to wrestle this long. I can't say enough good things about the Army. I never in my life thought I would get such a privilege. I get to be a soldier and I get to wrestle for the Army and honor these guys. It's amazing."

Sieracki lost his 2000 Olympic spot in a legal battle with Matt Lindland, whom Keith defeated on the mat in the U.S. Olympic Trials at Reunion Arena in Dallas. He also made the 2004 team that failed to qualify the weight class for the Athens Games.

"Yep, I'm [the answer to] a trivia question," said Sieracki, 36, an 18-year Army veteran who will be remembered as a two-time U.S. Olympic Team member who never graced a mat in the Games. "But now the pressure is gone. I'm so tired of carrying that weight on my shoulders, of hearing, 'This is your year.'"

World Class Athlete Staff Sgt. Glenn Garrison made it to the 60-kilogram Greco-Roman finals, but lost back-to-back matches to New York Athletic Club's Joe Betterman.

"I feel like I wrestled good in my last match -- thought I took it to him," said Garrison, 34, a five-time armed forces champion from Portland, Ore. "In my first match, I made a couple of mistakes that really cost me. I just didn't come out hard enough."

WCAP's Pfc. Jeremiah Davis finished third in the same weight class with a 6-4, 6-0 consolation victory over C.C. Fisher.

WCAP's Spc. Faruk Sahin, 32, a two-time Turkish national champion, lost 2-3, 7-5, 3-0 to Minnesota Storm's Jake Deitchler in the 66-kilogram Greco finals. Sahin was leading 5-0 in the second period before the bottom fell out.

"I guess I wasn't pumped up enough to win, but that was a great match," Sahin said. "He just goes, goes, goes, goes -- that's his advantage -- but I did my best. I'm happy with my performance. Now, I'll get ready for the CISM World Championships." The International Military Sports Council is known by its French acronym, CISM.

En route to his Olympic Trials finale, Sahin eliminated 2004 Olympian and All-Army teammate Sgt. Oscar Wood from the challenge tournament semifinals.

"He is the epitome of a warrior," Lewis said of Wood, who defeated Deitchler, 8-0, 8-0, earlier this year at the Sunkist Invitational. "He just leaves it all on the mat. We have a little saying that some people wrestle to the death and some people are scared to death. He's definitely a wrestle-to-the-death kind of guy. Every single time, he brings it, and I don't know what it is about the Olympic Trials, but he wrestled his butt off. I was getting excited for him to be a back-to-back finalist in the Olympic Trials."

WCAP's Staff Sgt. Marcel Cooper, 37, also left his boots on the mat after losing to Gator Wrestling Club's Harry Lester in a Greco-Roman 66-kilo consolation bout. This was Cooper's second retirement from the sport.

"I left my shoes out there four years ago at this same tournament," said Cooper, who then was wrestling for the Marines. "I just have too many injuries. My body can't hold up any more. I've been doing this for a long time. Guys are just younger and stronger. I just can't compete at that level no more. That's not the way I wanted to go out, but I have no excuses. I had a good career.

"It's time to let it go," added Cooper, who began wrestling at age 5. "I have a bunch of surgeries I've got to get. My body was really telling me four years ago to let it go. But I have no complaints. I'd do it all over again. I gave it my best, but I want to be able to walk after all this is over."

Lewis, a 13-time armed forces champion on the mat, paid Cooper an ultimate compliment.

"We went at it several times, and I always had utmost respect for him because he was one of the only guys I knew in the United States who could stop my gut wrench," Lewis said.

Three soldiers competed in the women's freestyle tournament.

Sunkist Kids' 17-year-old Tatiana Padilla pinned WCAP's 1st Lt. Leigh Jaynes with 14 seconds remaining in a 55-kilogram freestyle semifinal.

"I just made a technical error," Jaynes said. "You need to be on your game at all times, and she stuck me in the last 20 seconds. It's heartbreaking, but she's a fighter, and I knew better to tie up with somebody who didn't have anything to lose at that point."

In the same weight class, 2nd Lt. Tina George, a two-time world silver medalist and seven-time U.S. World Team member, lost to Gator Wrestling Club's Sally Roberts in the semifinals before wrestling back to take third place with a consolation victory over GWC's Sharon Jacobson.

WCAP's Sgt. Iris Smith, a 2005 world champion and four-time U.S. Nationals champ, lost 1-0, 0-2, 3-0 in the women's 72-kilo challenge tournament semis to NYAC's Kristie Marano, a two-time world champ and nine-time world medalist, the most among U.S. women. Marano prevailed with a takedown in the final 20 seconds of the match.

"Iris definitely had the momentum going, and Kristie was tired," Lewis said. "That takedown really was a tough one for me. I expect my world champions to get it done, but when you lose, you can't say anything but we've got to get better."

Lewis said he realizes the end is near for a few more All-Army wrestlers.

"The gladiators are going to get moved out by the younger gladiators one day, and that's really what's happening," he said. "Over my 20-plus-year career in wrestling, I have never seen so many people retire at the same tournament. It's a changing of the guard, and that's the way it's supposed to be."

Author Tim Hipps works in the U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs Office.
Community News You Can Use

Thrashers Announce Assistant Coaches for 2008-09 Season

The Atlanta Thrashers have announced their assistant coaches for the 2008-09 season, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. Joining Head Coach John Anderson’s staff will be former Rochester Americans Head Coach Randy Cunneyworth and former Chicago Wolves Assistant Coach Todd Nelson. Thrashers Assistant Coach Steve Weeks and Video Coach Tony Borgford will remain with the team in their current positions.

“Randy and Todd have a great deal of experience and we’re fortunate to be adding them to the coaching staff,” said Anderson. “They will complement what we already have in place with Steve and Tony and will bring additional expertise to the team. I’m looking forward to working closely as a staff and beginning our first season together.”

Cunneyworth, 47, just completed his eighth season at the helm of the AHL’s Rochester Americans and earned a 306-267-67 record in 640 career games behind the Amerk’s bench. He ranks second on the franchise’s all-time list for games coached and wins and is only the second coach in the franchise’s 52-year history to coach 500 games. Cunneyworth had his best coaching season in 2004-05 when he led the Amerk’s to a 51-23-6 record, 112 points and the team’s first-ever Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the league’s point champion. He was honored with the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach, becoming only the third Rochester coach to win the award.

Prior to his coaching career, the Etobicoke, Ontario native played 20 seasons of professional hockey, including 16 seasons in the NHL with Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Hartford, Chicago and Ottawa. In 866 career NHL games Cunneyworth recorded 414 points (189 goals, 225 assists) and served as captain for Ottawa for three seasons (1995-1998). He appeared in 273 career AHL games with Rochester and Springfield, tallying 270 points (166 goals, 104 assists). He was originally selected by Buffalo in the eighth round, 167th overall, of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft.

Nelson, 39, has spent the last two seasons working as an assistant coach for Anderson in Chicago (AHL), winning the 2008 Calder Cup with the Wolves. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native broke into the coaching ranks during the 2001-02 season as a player/assistant coach with the Muskegon Fury of the former United Hockey League. Nelson spent one season as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, before returning to Muskegon to make his head coaching debut with the Fury in 2003-04. He led the team to back-to-back Colonial Cup Championships in his first two seasons and to a third-straight semifinal appearance in 2005-06.

Nelson played 12 seasons of professional hockey, which included NHL stints with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. He appeared in 306 career AHL games with the Portland Pirates, Hershey Bears, Rochester Americans and Grand Rapids Griffins, totaling 168 points (37 goals, 131 assists) and 223 penalty minutes. Nelson captured the 1994 Calder Cup with Portland and was inducted into that franchise’s Hall of Fame in 2007. Originally selected by the Penguins in the fourth round, 79th overall, of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, Nelson also tallied 172 points (28 goals, 144 assists) and 308 penalty minutes in 464 career International Hockey League games with the Muskegon, Cleveland and Grand Rapids. He was named an IHL All-Star in 1992 and 1993.

Weeks, 50, enters his seventh season with the Thrashers and has more than 25 years of NHL experience as a player, coach and scout. In addition to his regular duties as an assistant coach, the Scarborough, Ontario native also serves as a goaltending specialist.

Borgford, 34, enters his 10th year with the Thrashers organization and his third as video coach. Borgford served as video coordinator for the team from 2002 until his promotion to video coach in 2006.

Season Tickets for the Atlanta Thrashers start at $10 per game and are available for the 2008-09 season by calling (866) 715-1500 or visiting Individual tickets for all regular-season Thrashers games at Philips Arena will go on sale Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased by visiting, calling (800) 326-4000, or by visiting the Philips Arena Box Office or any Ticketmaster Ticket Outlet.

Emory Physicians Assistant Student Only Georgian to Provide Care at Olympics

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has selected Harris Patel, MA, ATC, as part of its 62-member medical staff. Patel is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) currently enrolled in the Physicians Assistant Program at Emory University School of Medicine.

Patel will leave on July 28 to spend five weeks with the athletes, beginning with training camp in Dalian and then on to Beijing. Patel is the only medical professional from Georgia assigned to the USOC medical staff.

He began his career as an athletic trainer in 1998 and has been working with premier athletes since he was an undergraduate at the University of Georgia.

Patel's responsibilities at the games will include prepping U.S. athletes for practice or competition and evaluating injuries to determine the best course of action for the welfare of the athlete. He will also be involved with implementing treatment and rehabilitation programs.

"We are on call for the athletes 24/7 because they depend on us as medical professionals," says Patel. "We have to be on our feet for any medical emergency both on and off the field."

Patel's experience throughout graduate school and beyond is an impressive mixture of working on the medical staff of NFL football teams and spending his summers working with Olympic athletes.

His relationship with the USOC began in 2005 when he was selected to go to Sherbroke, Canada. for the Youth World Championships in Athletics. He interned with the USOC medical staff in Colorado Springs in 2004, working with all varieties of U.S. athletes, and traveled to Helsinki, Finland, for the 2005 World Championships in Athletics. In 2006 he traveled to Birmingham, England, for a track and field meet, and then on to the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"I sometimes have to look back and wonder how I got all those opportunities," he says. "I have been very blessed and very fortunate."

Patel graduates from Emory's Physician Assistant program in December 2008. He plans to stay in the field of primary care and sports medicine. He says,"God has a plan" for him and he will follow that plan -- after he passes his boards.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

UGA offers guaranteed Gameday parking on campus for $120

University of Georgia Parking Services is selling season-long parking permits for all six home football games in the North Campus and Carlton Street parking decks.

Passes cost $120 plus shipping and handling and are sold exclusively at until 5 p.m. Aug. 20. They will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sherreard Finishes Top 20 at British Open

Georgia State’s Tom Sherreard finished his week at the 137th British Open with a 2-over par 72. With winds gusting at up to 40 miles per hour, Sherreard posted a 14-over 294 to finish in a thirteen-way tie for 19th.

Padraig Harrington repeated as British Open champion, shooting a 69 to best Ian Poulter by four shots with Greg Norman in third.

Sherreard’s 72 gave him his second best round of the week, good enough to vault him 16 spots up the Sunday leaderboard.

After opening his final round with three pars, Sherreard hit a skid bogeying holes four through seven, the most treacherous stretch of the golf course this week.

Posting a 4-over 38 on the front, Sherreard battled back towards par with an outstanding eagle-birdie finish. Sherreard’s eagle at the 17th was one of only four on the day, the fourth belonging to champion Padraig Harrington.

Making Sherreard’s run in the Open even more astonishing was his ascent from 90th at the end of Thursday’s round to a final tie for 19th.

Sherreard’s 19th place finish ties him with this year’s Masters champion Trevor Immelman, three-time major winner Phil Mickelson, and former PGA champion Davis Love III.

His finish bests those of two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, top-ten ranked Sergio Garcia, and former Georgia Tech golfer David Duval.Thomas Sherreard was one of two amateurs to make the cut at Royal Birkdale. Many other top golfers were eliiminated in the two-day cut.

Sherreard made his final round a memorable one, too, as he chipped in for eagle at the 17th hole and made birdie on No. 18 en route to a 72.

The two amateurs who made the cut both finished in the top 20. Sherreard had one of the just 17 sub-par rounds in the entire four days of the British Open.

Thriller Viper Jet Car This Week at the Speedway

Virginia’s Dick Rosberg and his Thriller Viper Jet Car will return to Atlanta Motor Speedway this Thursday and Friday night. Rosberg entertained fans last season with an exciting 250 mile per hour pass down pit road during the NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend. He will be back again this week to entertain at both Thursday Thunder and Friday Night Drags presented by AC Delco.

Rosberg will create a 6,000 degree flame while approaching the start line before hitting the thrust that will create thousands of horsepower propelling him down the eighth mile drag strip. The show is reminiscent of Wiley Coyote riding his TNT rocket while chasing the elusive road runner.

Race fans will also enjoy a full night of racing on the quarter-mile bullring Thursday night and the eighth mile drag strip on Friday. All weekly divisions of competition will be in action on both nights. Legends Cars, Bandoleros and Thunder Roadsters on Thursday evening. Pro, Street Outlaw, Sportsman, Pro Four, Tuner, Trucks, Domestic Advanced, Domestic and ATV on Friday.

Fayette Front Page
Georgia Front Page

Curry Announces Football Staff Hirings

Georgia State head football coach Bill Curry has announced the first three members of his coaching staff with the hiring of John Bond as offensive coordinator, John Thompson as defensive coordinator and George Pugh as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator. That trio possesses a total of 71 years of college coaching experience, including 32 seasons as an offensive or defensive coordinator as well as five seasons as a collegiate head coach.

Mike Riddle, who played under Curry at the University of Kentucky, also joins the staff as director of football operations.

Bond, a 22-year coaching veteran, has spent the last 11 years as an offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, Northern Illinois, Army and Illinois State.

Thompson, the head coach at East Carolina in 2003-04, has been a defensive coordinator at Mississippi, where he served in 2007, as well as Florida, Arkansas, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State and was co-defensive coordinator at South Carolina.

Pugh was the wide receivers coach at Houston in 2007 and has also been an assistant coach at UAB, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Pittsburgh as well as the head coach at Alabama A&M (1989-91). He has strong ties to the Atlanta area after serving as the head coach at Columbia High School (1978) and Meadowcreek High School (2003-04).

“I was very pleasantly surprised to be able to attract three men with the experience and success of John Bond, John Thompson and George Pugh,” said Curry. “I covered all three while I was at ESPN, and I saw them coach and watched them work under pressure. I’m thrilled to be able to get those types of coaches to come to Georgia State and be excited about being here.

“And I’m very pleased to have someone as smart and as detailed as Mike Riddle to be our Director of Operations.”

Curry was named Georgia State’s first head coach on June 13. He and his staff will begin recruiting immediately to sign the Panthers’ first class in February 2009, and Georgia State will begin play in 2010 and will compete at the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA.)

“We’ll spend much of this week working on organization and meeting with various departments in athletics and on campus,” said Curry. “And of course, we’ll begin to work on recruiting. We’re received many, many letters, emails and DVDs from prospective student-athletes and from high school coaches about prospects, and we’re going to evaluate every one of them.”

Offensive Coordinator

Hired as Georgia State’s first offensive coordinator, John Bond is a 22-year veteran of college coaching who has spent the last 11 seasons as a Division I offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, Northern Illinois, Army and Illinois State.

Bond spent the 2007 season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Georgia Tech, where his offense was led by all-Atlantic Coast Conference running back Tashard Choice, who led the ACC in rushing and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

He spent the previous three seasons coaching one of the nation’s most prolific rushing attacks as offensive coordinator at Northern Illinois (2004-06). All-America Garrett Wolfe led the nation in rushing in 2006 after ranking second as a junior and fifth as a sophomore. The third-round draft pick is now with the Chicago Bears.

Bond helped Northern Illinois to two Mid-American Conference Western Division titles and two bowl games, highlighted by a 9-4 record in 2004, when the Huskies ranked 11th in the nation in rushing, 14th in scoring and 14th in total offense.

“When I was with ESPN, I covered some of John’s games at Northern Illinois, and I saw an offense that was so well conceived,” said Georgia State head coach Bill Curry. “No matter what the defense did, the offense had an answer, and it wasn’t just Garrett Wolfe running the ball all over the place.”

Before going to Northern Illinois, Bond served four seasons (2000-03) as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Army, where he fashioned a wide-open offense that broke 35 school records.

Bond’s first full-time coaching position was at Southwest Missouri State, where he served as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator from 1986-90. The Bears won two conference titles and reached the NCAA I-AA playoffs twice, advancing to the quarterfinals in 1989.

He served as quarterbacks coach at UTEP from 1991-93 and then as quarterback coach and passing game coordinator at Delta Sate in 1994-95.

From there, Bond moved to a four-year stint at Illinois State, serving as wide receivers coach in 1996 before he was elevated to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for his final three years (1997-99). The Redbirds ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring his final two years. In 1999, Illinois State reached the NCAA I-AA national semifinals, and Bond was a finalist for the American Football Coaches Association’s Assistant Coach of the Year award.

His coaching background also includes two seasons as a student assistant (1983-84) and one year as a graduate assistant (1985) at his alma mater, Arkansas, where he worked under Lou Holtz and Ken Hatfield.

A native of Rogers, Ark., Bond was an all-state quarterback for his father, Gary Bond, at Rogers High School. The elder Bond is a member of the state’s high school federation Hall of Fame, and John was inducted into the Rogers High Hall of Fame.

Bond, 45, who played one season at Arkansas before a career-ending injury, earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1985.

He is married to the former Jennifer Wilder and has two daughters, MacKenzie and Mallory, and one son, Brody.

Defensive Coordinator

John Thompson brings 24 years of college coaching experience, including 21 seasons as a defensive coordinator, to his position as Georgia State’s first defensive coordinator. He also served two years as the head coach at East Carolina.

Thompson previously worked one season with Panthers’ head coach Bill Curry as linebackers coach at Alabama in 1987.

Recognized as a top defensive mind, Thompson has worked as a defensive coordinator or co-coordinator at Southeastern Conference schools Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina, as well as at Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State.

As a defensive coordinator, Thompson has seen more than 40 of his defensive players drafted by, or sign with, National Football League teams. Forty of his defenders earned all-conference honors, five were named all-America, and one, former Northwestern State linebacker Gary Reasons, has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

“John was with us at Alabama as a very young coach but an outstanding one, and we have stayed in touch through the years,” said Curry. “He has coached at all those places because people have sought him out to be their defensive coordinator after they couldn’t move the ball on him. He finds a way to convey a defensive that is simple to our players but utterly confusing to the opposing offense. We’re going to need to that, especially early on.”

Thompson spent the 2007 season as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Ole Miss. That followed a one-year stint as the athletics director at his alma mater, the University of Central Arkansas, which he guided in its move to NCAA Division I. He served as co-defensive coordinator at South Carolina in 2005.

As the head coach at East Carolina in 2003-04, he coached three first-team all-conference players and seven all-freshman selections.

Thompson was the defensive coordinator at Florida in 2002, when the Gators’ pass defense was ranked seventh in the nation, allowing just 162.4 yards per game. He also spent two years at Arkansas, serving as co-defensive coordinator in 2000 and then defensive coordinator in 2001. In 2000, the Razorbacks were second in the nation in pass defense while leading the SEC in pass defense and total defense. The following year, Thompson helped lead Arkansas to the 2002 Cotton Bowl.

Thompson’s first position as a defensive coordinator came at Northwestern State, where he served from 1983-86, and again from 1988-89 after spending the 1987 season at Alabama.

In 1990, he became the defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech for two seasons before moving to Southern Miss as defensive coordinator in 1992. He was given additional responsibility as assistant head coach in 1993. In Thompson’s seven seasons at Southern Miss (1992-98), the Golden Eagles won or shared two Conference USA titles, twice ranked among the top 25 nationally in scoring defense and made two bowl appearances.

In one season at Memphis in 1999, his Tiger defense ranked 11th in the nation in scoring defense and 20th in total defense.

A native of Forrest City, Ark., Thompson began as a high school coach in 1977 while pursuing his bachelor’s degree at UCA. He continued to coach prep football until moving to the college ranks in 1982 as a graduate assistant at Arkansas.

A high school quarterback, Thompson was inducted into the Forrest City High School Hall of Fame in 2006. His playing career also includes two seasons as a defensive back at Central Arkansas. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from UCA in 1978.

Thompson and his wife, Charleen, have two sons, Cabe and Hays.

Assistant Head Coach/Recruiting Coordinator

Veteran assistant coach George Pugh joins Georgia State’s first football staff as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator. He will also coach receivers.

In addition to 25 years in college coaching, Pugh has strong ties to the Atlanta area after serving as the head coach at Columbia High School (1978) and Meadowcreek High School (2003-04). As a college coach, he has recruited the Atlanta area throughout his career.

“George is an outstanding recruiter because is highly respected by the high school coaches, he has a remarkable personality and he shows an uncanny knack of knowing where the players are,” said Georgia State head coach Bill Curry. “He knows how to find, sign and develop talent, especially if they are wide receivers.”

Pugh also has head coaching experience, directing the Alabama A&M program from 1989-91. In his three seasons, the Bulldogs posted a 19-10 record, winning three Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and reaching the NCAA Division II playoffs in 1991.

In 2007, Pugh served as receivers coach at the University of Houston, helping the Cougars reach the Texas Bowl and coaching Donnie Avery, who was selected in the second round (33rd overall pick) of the 2008 National Football League draft by the St. Louis Rams.

Prior to that, Pugh served two seasons (2005-06) at UAB. That was his second tour of duty with the Blazers, where he also worked from 1995-2000, both times working under head coach Watson Brown. In his first UAB stint, Pugh helped the Blazers in their transition to NCAA Division I-A.

He worked as an assistant coach at Arkansas in 2001-02.

Pugh began his coaching career in 1976 as an assistant coach at Columbia High School in Decatur, Ga., where he served one season as an assistant coach and one year as head coach. He then moved to the college ranks, serving as receivers coach at UT-Chattanooga (1978-79) and then New Mexico (1980).

He then spent one season at Pittsburgh, helping the Panthers reach the 1982 Sugar Bowl, before a seven-year stint at Texas A&M (1982-88). The Aggies won three Southwest Conference titles and played in three Cotton Bowls during his time there.

Pugh also coached high school football in Alabama at Selma High School (1992-93) and Luverne High School (1994).

A four-year letterwinner as a tight end, Pugh played at Alabama under head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. During his four years (1972-75), the Crimson Tide lost just one game, highlighted by a national championship in 1973. He earned his bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation from Alabama in 1976.

Pugh is married to the former Lelettrice Hines. The couple has three daughters, Stephanie, April and Brittany, and three sons, Marcus, Michael George and Joshua.

Director of Football Operations

Mike Riddle has been named Georgia State’s Director of Football of Operations on head coach Bill Curry’s first staff.

Riddle, who played under Curry at Kentucky, comes to Georgia State from Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Ga., where he served as line coach in 2007 before being elevated to offensive coordinator.

He previously spent four seasons at Indiana, serving as a graduate assistant and offensive quality control assistant.

Before going to Indiana, Riddle coached three seasons of high school football, working with the offensive line at Colerain High School in Cincinnati, Ohio (2000) and Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, Ky. (2001-02).

Riddle joined the Kentucky program as a walk-on and lettered four years (1995-98). He was honored as the Wildcats’ Scout Team Player of the Year in 1996 and earned a scholarship for his final season (1998).

“Mike was walk-on for us at Kentucky, and I’ve always thought walk-on football players are some of the finest human beings because it’s so hard to do,” said Curry. “They come to practice and work hard every day, and they may never get to play but they hit the snot out of the starters. Mike Riddle was one of those guys, and now I’m very pleased to have someone as smart and detailed as Mike on our staff.”

Riddle earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Kentucky in 1999 and added a master’s in secondary education in 2000.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Riddle is married to the former Brandee Lampley, and the couple has one son, Landon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

State of Georgia Kicks off Braves Dream Pass Sweepstakes

Baseball fans and other Georgians who vacation close to home this summer now have an additional reason to enjoy Atlanta Braves games. Georgia’s Tourism division, housed in the Georgia Department of Economic Development, has kicked off a Braves Dream Pass Sweepstakes at Turner Field.

People who sign up for the free Georgia Dream Pass before Sept. 1, 2008 are eligible to win a selection of prize packages including $10,000, first-class Atlanta Braves game experiences with a special appearance by a Braves player or other celebrity, weekend getaways and MVP passes to see Atlanta’s top attractions. MVP attractions include the Georgia Aquarium, New World of Coca-Cola, Six Flags Over Georgia and Stone Mountain Park.

The Georgia Dream Pass is a part of a state tourism initiative that encourages Georgia residents to visit golf course and attractions in the state. The Dream Pass entitles holders to special privileges and exclusive benefits at participating attractions all over the state, including special tee times, behind-the-scenes tours, gift shop discounts, priority parking or gift bags. There are no points to earn and membership is free.

The Georgia Dream Pass promotion kicked off in 2007 and has seen increasing success as the rise of fuel prices have motivated Georgians to spend leisure time closer to home. While anyone can acquire and use a Dream Pass, the rewards are often based on frequency of use, and thus are readily available to those who live or stay near the member golf clubs and attractions.

The sweepstakes’ Georgia Vacation Grand Prize offers one winner an array of weekend getaways to get out and explore Georgia. The Grand Prize winner will receive four Atlanta Braves suite tickets to the Sept. 21 home game; limo service to and from the game; a special appearance by an Atlanta Braves celebrity; dinner at the 755 Club; weekend stay for two at Blue Ridge Aska Lodge Bed & Breakfast and rafting on the Chattooga River; weekend stay for two at Kingwood Resort and a round of golf; and weekend stay for two at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Drawings will also take place for four additional prize packages for the Sept. 21 home game, each of which will include limo rides to and from Turner Field, dinner at the 755 Club, Braves suite for four, a special appearance by an Atlanta Braves celebrity or Georgia VIP, and MVP Passes.

Participants who sign up for the Georgia Dream Pass by Sept. 1 are automatically entered in the sweepstakes. Memberships are available by visiting or by visiting the Georgia Dream Pass tent located outside the front gates of Turner Field 5:00pm – 7:00pm during Braves games on July 31, Aug. 14 and Aug. 16, 2008. Contest details are available at

The Braves Dream Pass Sweepstakes will also turn the eighth inning of each home and away game into the Georgia Dream Pass Inning. If an Atlanta Braves player hits a grand slam during the Georgia Dream Pass Inning, one randomly-drawn Dream Pass card member will win $10,000 from the Braves Radio Network.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state's sales and marketing arm. The agency attracts new business, encourages the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, and locates new markets for Georgia products. It also markets Georgia to tourists and promotes the state as a location for film, music and digital entertainment projects. For more information, visit

Thrashers Offer 2008-09 Mini-Plan Ticket Packages

Atlanta Thrashers mini-plan ticket packages, along with full-season and half-season plans, for the 2008-09 Regular-Season are on sale now. Mini-Plans for the upcoming season include 13-game and seven-game Weekend Packs and All-Star Packs (please see attachment for specific games), featuring the best games and top opponents at Philips Arena this season at a great value.

The 13-game Weekend Pack includes 12 Friday, Saturday and Sunday games and one Thursday game during the 2008-09 season. This plan is highlighted games against the Pittsburgh Penguins (Thursday, Dec. 18), Boston Bruins (Sunday, Dec. 28), Philadelphia Flyers (Sunday, Feb. 8) and the Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings (Friday, March 20).

The seven-game Weekend Pack features six Friday, Saturday and Sunday games along with one Thursday game for the upcoming season. Opponents for this option include the Buffalo Sabres (Saturday, Oct. 18), Penguins (Thursday, Dec. 18) and the Red Wings (Friday, March 20).

Fans can also choose the 13-game All-Star Pack, which features the Thrashers marquee games and best opponents for the 2008-09 season, including contests against the Penguins (Thursday, Nov. 20), New York Rangers (Wednesday, Dec. 10), Chicago Blackhawks (Wednesday, Feb. 11) and Montreal Canadiens (Friday, March 6).

The seven-game All-Star Pack is highlighted by seven of the top games in Blueland this season, including games against the Southeast Division-rival Washington Capitals (Friday, Oct. 10), Penguins (Thursday, Nov. 20) and Canadiens (Friday, March 6).

Dominiques Wilkins to Visit the Atlanta Hawks 2008 Kia Motors Summer Hoops Tour in LaGrange

Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dominique Wilkins will make a special appearance at the Atlanta Hawks 2008 Kia Motors Summer Hoops Tour stop in LaGrange on Thursday, July 24. The event will take place at the Troup County Parks & Recreation Department beginning at 10 a.m. Festivities include a youth basketball clinic led by former Hawks guard Charlie Criss, interactive elements from the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers, an appearance by Hawks mascot SkyHawk as well as the Kia Motors Summer Hoops Tour vehicle on display. Admission is free and open to the public.

This summer, the Hawks and Kia Motors America have come together to host the second Atlanta Hawks Kia Motors Summer Hoops Tour at more than 20 locations around metro Atlanta. The Tour is a free, high-energy basketball clinic that focuses on teaching the basic skills of the game to children. Each participant receives instruction on the fundamentals of basketball from former Hawks guard Charlie Criss, who will share tips designed to help participants improve their game and love of the sport. Criss also speaks on the importance of education, dedication, teamwork and responsibility and how skills developed on the court apply to everyday life. Each participant receives an autographed Charlie Criss player card and an official Atlanta Hawks 2008 Kia Motors Summer Hoops Tour hat. Visit for more information.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thrashers Announce 2008-09 NHL Regular-Season Schedule

The Atlanta Thrashers, in conjunction with the National Hockey League, has announced the entire 82-game schedule for the 2008-09 NHL regular season (see attachment for complete schedule). Individual game tickets for the regular season will go on sale Saturday, Sept. 20 at 10 a.m.

The Thrashers, who open the season on Friday, Oct. 10 at home against the defending Southeast Division-champion Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m.), will host 23 different opponents at Philips Arena over the 41-game regular-season home schedule, including nine teams from the Western Conference.

This season’s Thrashers schedule is highlighted by 22 weekend games at Philips Arena, including 10 Friday games, six Saturday games and six Sunday games. Along with seven Thursday contests, 29 home games this season will be held between Thursday and Sunday.

Under the NHL’s new schedule format, Atlanta increases the amount of games it plays against Western Conference opponents by lessening the amount of games against teams in the Southeast Division (from eight to six). The resulting eight games are reallocated against the Western Conference.

Due to the format change, Thrasher’s fans will enjoy seeing additional Western Conference teams in action at Philips Arena this season, including the Stanley Cup-champion Detroit Red Wings (March 20, 7:30 p.m.). Overall, the Thrashers will play each non-conference team once with an additional game against three select teams (Colorado, Detroit and Nashville) for a total of 18 games against Western Conference opponents (nine home, nine road), up from 10 total games in the old format.

The Thrashers will now play Southeast Division rivals (Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington) six times, including three at home and three on the road (24 games in total). Atlanta will face Atlantic Division teams (New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) and Northeast Division teams (Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto) four times each (40 games in total).

Every team in the NHL will appear at Philips Arena this season with the exception of Anaheim, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Jose.

Start times for Thrashers home games held Monday through Thursday and on Saturday will continue to be at 7 p.m., with the exception of Jan. 14 vs. Ottawa (7:30 p.m.). All Friday games begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday home games will start at either 3 p.m. (Nov. 30 vs. St. Louis, Feb. 8 vs. Philadelphia, March 8 vs. Calgary) or 5 p.m. (Nov. 2 vs. Florida, Dec. 28 vs. Boston, Jan. 4 vs. Tampa Bay).

As previously released, the six-game preseason schedule is highlighted by three games at Philips Arena, including contests against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m., the Nashville Predators on Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.

Thrashers Agree to Terms With Unrestricted Free Agent Forward Marty Reasoner

The Atlanta Thrashers have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent forward Marty Reasoner, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Reasoner, 31, has appeared in 465 career games over nine NHL seasons with Edmonton, Boston and St. Louis, earning 176 points (64 goals, 112 assists). He has also recorded eight points (six goals, two assists) in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games with Edmonton and St. Louis.

The 6-1, 205-pound center appeared in all 82 games for the Oilers last season, his sixth with the team, recording 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists). He played in his 400th career NHL game on Nov. 10 at Calgary and recorded a season-high three points (one goal, two assists) on Mar. 22 vs. Colorado.

Reasoner played in 124 American Hockey League games with Worcester and Hamilton in parts of four seasons, totaling 127 points (57 goals, 70 assists) and a plus-15 rating. He has three points (two goals, one assist) in four Calder Cup Playoff games with Worcester in 1998-99.

The Honeoye Falls, N.Y., played three seasons with the Boston College Eagles of Hockey East from 1995-1998, where he tallied 162 points (69 goals, 93 assists) in 111 games. He was selected as the Hockey East Rookie of the Year following the 1995-96 season and was named to the NCAA East First All-American Team in 1997-98.

He has represented the United States in international competition on five occasions, including the World Championships (2002, 2003, and 2006) and the World Junior Championships (1996 and 1997).

Reasoner, who was selected by St. Louis in the first round, 14th overall, of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, was traded to Edmonton by the Blues with Jochen Hecht and Jan Horacek for Doug Weight and Michel Reisen on July 1, 2001. He was later traded to Boston by the Oilers with Yan Stastny and Edmonton’s second round selection (Milan Lucic) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft for Sergei Samsonov on Mar. 9, 2006. Reasoner signed with the Oilers as a free agent on July 4, 2006.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thrashers Agree to Terms With Forward Angelo Esposito

The Atlanta Thrashers have agreed to terms with forward Angelo Esposito on a multiple-year contract, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Esposito, 19, appeared in 56 games with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season and ranked third on his team with 69 points (30 goals, 39 assists). He finished second on the Remparts in playoff scoring with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 11 post-season contests. The 6-0, 190-pound center also appeared in one game for the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League after signing an Amateur Try Out on April 13, 2008.

The native of Montreal has recorded 246 points (96 goals, 150 assists) and a plus-69 rating in 173 career regular-season games with the Remparts. He has added 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 39 career QMJHL playoff games. Esposito was honored as the league’s Top Offensive Rookie and named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team following the 2005-06 season. He was also named the winner of the 2006-07 Mike Bossy Trophy, given annually to the QMJHL player judged to be the best professional prospect.

Esposito was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, 20th overall, of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. His rights were acquired by the Thrashers from Pittsburgh with Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen and a first-round selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft (Daultan Leveille) for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis on Feb. 26, 2008.

Atlanta Thrashers Season Tickets start as low as $10 per game and are on sale now for the 2008-09 season by visiting or calling (866) 715-1500.

Gingrey Helps GOP to 11-10 Win in Charity Congressional Baseball Game

In one of the closest games in recent Congressional history, Republican and Democrat Members of Congress faced off last night in the 47th Annual Congressional Baseball Game -- a charity game held at the brand new Nationals Park, home to the Washington Nationals.
Republicans defeated the Democrats 11-10 to take home the coveted Roll Call Trophy for the eighth consecutive year. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) wore the #11 Shorter College uniform.

The game was back and forth early, with the score notched at four apiece as Republicans came to bat in the bottom of the sixth. Rep. Gingrey stepped in as a pinch hitter and reached first base on a fielder’s choice to keep the rally alive. His run would eventually score as the Republicans tacked on four runs in the sixth to take a large lead into the seventh and final inning.
The Dems battled back in the 7th, scoring six runs, but could not fend off late inning heroics from the GOP in their final at bat.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic Offers Tickets at Reduced Prices

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc., presenters of the Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic, announced today that tickets to its annual football game will be sold at reduced prices. The annual game, between rivals Tennessee State and Florida A&M universities, will take place September 27, 2008 at 4:00pm EDT in the Georgia Dome and tickets will start at just $10.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of "The Classic," presented by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. Under the new theme "History Happens Here. Play Your Part." a full suite of events - from September 24-27 - promises to offer something for everyone, including a family-friendly parade celebrating Georgia's academic scholars, job, college and health fairs, a step show and the famed Tennessee State and Florida A&M halftime show featuring the schools' award-winning marching bands.

"We recognize that the state of the economy has everyone looking for fun and cost-efficient ways to entertain themselves and their families. That's why we've worked with our sponsors to keep the ticket prices low - comparable to what you would pay for an evening at the movies," stated the 100 Black Men of Atlanta Chief Executive Officer John Grant.

This traditional rivalry football game between two Division I historically black college and university (HBCU) teams, Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Tennessee State University (TSU), is on its way to becoming the most recognized event in black college football and the nation's most anticipated and enjoyable HBCU classic game. Based on an intense opposition between two schools that goes as far back as 1944, this riveting game attracts tens of thousands of fans each year

Tickets are already being sold at all Ticketmaster outlets, at the participating schools, and through the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. As this will be the 20th Anniversary of the Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic, the 100 Black Men of Atlanta expect the game to sell out in advance. The classic rivalry lives on, and on September 27, 2008 the games will begin.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Emory Women's Basketball Squad Earns Spot on WBCA Academic Top 25 Honor Roll

The 2007-08 Emory University women’s basketball program was recognized for its collective performance in the classroom, earning a spot on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for Division III. The awards recognize teams throughout the nation in NCAA Division I, Division II, Division III as well as NAIA and junior colleges that have compiled the highest grade-point averages for the past academic year based upon nominations submitted by WBCA-member coaches.

The Eagles of Head Coach Christy Thomaskutty held down the No. 4 position on the Top 25 list, fashioning a GPA of 3.50 for the ’07-08 school year. The Emory squad had a strong showing during the recently completed spring semester, posting a 3.53 effort on the academic front. The Eagles were the lone representative from the University Athletic Association (UAA) to make the Top 25. Concordia University (WI) claimed the No. 1 ranking among Division III programs with a 3.637 GPA and was followed by Messiah College (3.627).

“Emory is a prestigious institution that challenges its students to be the best that they can be,” Thomaskutty said. “The team doing as well as it did is a testament to the drive and commitment that the players have for all aspects of their lives.”

South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota were the No. 1 finishers in NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II, respectively. The GPAs were calculated by dividing the total number of quality points earned by each student-athlete on an institution’s roster in the given academic terms by the total number of hours earned by the team.

Thrashers Re-sign Restricted Free Agent Forward Brett Sterling

The Atlanta Thrashers have re-signed restricted free agent forward Brett Sterling to a multiple-year contract, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sterling, 24, appeared in 13 games over two stints with the Thrashers last season, recording three points (one goal, two assists) during his first NHL season. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 5 vs. Washington, recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Oct. 13 vs. New Jersey and scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 20 at Tampa Bay.

The 5-7, 180-pound left wing also tallied 70 points (38 goals, 32 assists) in 70 regular-season games with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League in 2007-08. He added nine points (four goals, five assists) in 16 playoff games, helping the Wolves to the 2008 Calder Cup Championship, and was named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team.

The Los Angeles, California native has recorded 168 points (93 goals, 75 assists) in 147 career AHL games with Chicago. He also has 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in 31 career Calder Cup Playoff games. Sterling was named the winner of the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Trophy as the AHL’s Rookie of the Year and won the Willie Marshall Award as the league’s leading scorer during his first professional season in 2006-07.

Prior to his professional career, Sterling played four seasons at Colorado College of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association from 2002-06. He recorded 184 points (108 goals, 76 assists) in 150 games with the Tigers and was a Top-10 Finalist for the 2005-06 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to the nation’s top college hockey player.

Sterling was selected by the Thrashers in the fifth round, 145h overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Atlanta Thrashers Season Tickets start as low as $10 per game and are on sale now for the 2008-09 season by visiting or calling (866) 715-1500.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Atlanta Hawks A-Town Dancers Final Auditions Set for Saturday at Stats Restaurant

Forty-three performers have been selected to compete in the Final Auditions for a spot on the 2008-09 Atlanta Hawks A-Town Dancers. A fun-filled weekend of events is planned with these talented individuals and all of Atlanta is invited to take part in the activities.

Tipping things off will be the sixth annual “Fabulous Finalists Mixer” on Thursday, July 17. The festivities begin at 8:30 p.m. at Atlantic Station’s Ten Pin Alley. Fans are invited to meet and mingle with each of the 43 finalists, who will be available for photos. Judges will be on-hand to determine the dancers’ ability in public speaking, poise and social aptitude. Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite dancer through ballots distributed at the event. Admission is free.

Ten Pin Alley is located at:
261 19th St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30363
Phone: (404) 872-3364

On Saturday, July 19, the public will have the opportunity to witness the Final Auditions live and in-person (beginning at 1 p.m.). Fans are invited to Stats restaurant in downtown Atlanta, as the finalists have one more opportunity to show off their moves for a panel of judges. Following the last group of dancers, the judges will confer and the 2008-09 A-Town Dancers will be announced for the first time. V-103 personality Elle Duncan is serving as emcee for the event. Admission is again free.

Stats is located at:
300 Marietta St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
Phone: (404) 885-1472

Additionally, fans can help select the squad by visiting and voting for their favorite dancers. Video clips and photos of each finalist are also available.

Atlanta Hawks 2008-09 season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting or calling 1-866-715-1500. The Hawks, a member of the National Basketball Association since 1949, play in the Southeast Division, along with the Charlotte Bobcats, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.

Thrashers Open 2008-09 NHL Regular Season on Friday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Philips Arena Against Division-Rival Washington Capitals

The Atlanta Thrashers will open the 2008-09 NHL Regular Season against reigning NHL Hart Trophy-winner (MVP) Alexander Ovechkin and the Southeast Division-rival Washington Capitals on Friday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Philips Arena. The Thrashers complete 82-game 2008-09 NHL regular-season schedule will be announced on Thursday, July 17.

Under the NHL’s new schedule format, the Thrashers will play 18 games (nine home, nine road) against Western Conference opponents, up from 10 under the previous format. The Thrashers will play 12 Western Conference teams once with two games (one home, one road) scheduled against three selected non-conference opponents. The three Western Conference team’s scheduled for two-game series against the Thrashers this season are the Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings, the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators.

During the 2008-09 regular-season the Thrashers will play six games (three home and three road) against each of the four Southeast Division rivals, down from eight over the past three seasons, and will continue to play four games (two home and two road) against each non-division team in the Eastern Conference (Northeast Division and Atlantic Division).

The Thrashers 41-game regular-season home schedule will be highlighted by 22 weekend games, including 10 Friday games, six Saturday games and six Sunday games.

Atlanta Thrashers Season Tickets start as low as $10 per game and are on sale now for the 2008-09 season by visiting or calling (866) 715-1500.

Thrashers Agree to Terms with Restricted Free Agent Goaltender Kari Lehtonen

The Atlanta Thrashers have agreed to terms with restricted free agent goaltender Kari Lehtonen, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Lehtonen, 24, appeared in 48 games with the Thrashers last season, posting a 17-22-5 record, with a career-high tying four shutouts, a 2.90 goals-against average and a franchise-record .916 save percentage. The 6-4, 205-pound goaltender also appeared in two games during a conditioning assignment with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League after missing 16 games due to injury. He earned a 2-0-0 record with a 1.93 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in Chicago.

The Helsinki, Finland native has appeared in 158 career games with the Thrashers, earning a 75-61-14 record with 11 shutouts, a 2.82 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. He is the Thrashers all-time leader in games played (158), wins (75), shutouts (11) and save percentage (.913), and ranks second in franchise history in goals-against average (2.82). He appeared in two Stanley Cup Playoff games during the 2006-07 season.

Lehtonen has also appeared in 98 games with the Chicago Wolves, posting a 60-31-4 record with eight shutouts, a 2.32 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He has registered a 16-10 record in 26 Calder Cup Playoff games and helped backstop the Wolves to the Calder Cup Finals during the 2004-05 campaign.

Prior to his North American career, Lehtonen played with Jokerit Helsinki in the Finish Elite League from 2000-2003, posting a 39-19-8 record with nine shutouts and a 1.92 goals-against average. He was a two-time winner of the Urpo-Ylonen Trophy as the league’s top goaltender and was named the Most Valuable Player of the post-season while leading his team to the Finish Elite League Championship in 2001-02, as the league’s youngest goaltender, at age 18.

Lehtonen was selected by the Thrashers in the first round, second overall, of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Atlanta Thrashers Season Tickets start as low as $10 per game and are on sale now for the 2008-09 season by visiting or calling (866) 715-1500.
Community News You Can Use

Thrashers Re-Sign Forward Joey Crabb and Defenseman Nathan Oystrick

The Atlanta Thrashers have re-signed forward Joey Crabb and defenseman Nathan Oystrick, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Crabb, 25, appeared in 72 games for the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League last season, recording 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists), two shorthanded goals and a plus-10 rating. The 6-1, 190-pound right wing helped the Wolves capture the 2008 AHL Calder Cup Championship, tallying five points (one goal, four assists) in 24 playoff games.

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Crabb has appeared in 135 games with the Wolves over two seasons, recording 57 points (16 goals, 41 assists). He has also appeared in 30 AHL playoff games with Chicago, registering five points (one goal, four assists).

Crabb played four seasons with Colorado College of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association from 2002-03 to 2005-06, recording 110 points (53 goals, 57 assists) and 145 penalty minutes in 158 games. Prior to his collegiate career, Crabb spent one season with Green Bay of the United States Hockey League and two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program.

Crabb was selected by the NY Rangers in the seventh round, 226th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and originally signed with the Thrashers as a free agent on Aug. 31, 2006.

Oystrick, 25, played in all 80 games for the Chicago Wolves last season, recording 43 points (14 goals, 29 assists) and 159 shots. Among team defenseman, Oystrick tied for first on the team in assists, ranked second in points and tied for second in goals and power play goals (eight). The 6-0, 215-pound native of Regina, Saskatchewan also appeared in all 24 playoff games for the Wolves, helping them to the Calder Cup Championship while registering 11 points (three goals, eight assists).

In parts of three seasons with the Wolves, Oystrick has appeared in 162 games, recording 91 points (29 goals, 62 assists). He has also played in 39 Calder Cup Playoff games for Chicago over two seasons, tallying 17 points (three goals, 14 assists).

Oystrick spent four seasons with Northern Michigan of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association where he tallied 89 points (26 goals, 53 assists) in 151 games from 2002-06. Prior to attending college, Oystrick recorded 101 points (24 goals, 77 assists) and 372 penalty minutes in two season with South Surrey of the British Columbia Hockey League from 2000-02.

Oystrick was originally selected by the Thrashers in the seventh round, 198th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Atlanta Motor Speedway July 18 Events

Racing your car in reverse gear against one other driver for an eighth of a mile can be tougher than you think! This Friday night willing competitors are invited to give it a shot as Friday Night Drags presented by AC Delco offers the opportunity to race in the Backwards Drag Races. If you can drive in reverse gear, in a straight line and at a high rate of speed, you may be the first person to ever win the AMS Backward’s Drag Race! It is sure to create some wild excitement for the fans in attendance!

Plus, all nine weekly divisions will be racing.

Billy Clevenger, Alan Kidd and Tony Morse head into this week’s racing tied for first in the Pro Division point standings. Morse edged out a win this past Friday over Clevenger placing both in a first place tie with an absent Alan Kidd who had found the winner’s circle on July 4th. Arnie Cobb continues to look for his final round win, but remains only two points from the three leaders.

Newlywed Danny Lowry strengthened his lead in the Street Outlaw this past Friday night with another victory in his 1998 Ford Mustang. Lowry was married earlier on Friday before heading to the speedway for Friday Night Drags competition.

The Beetles are battling in the Pro Four as last Friday Tommy Gillepin picked up the main event victory. Gillepin moved ahead of fellow Beetle competitor Mike Chambers in the point standings while Tony Taylor is only two points away with his 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer. Brandon Stone, Matt Baade and Jason Miller are locked in a three way tie for fourth place.

Bill Hatfield, Dwayne Bethune, Mike Munoz and Rodney Tolbert lead the point’s races in their respective divisions heading into this week’s event. Five hundred and seventy-nine different competitors have raced during the 2008 Friday Night Drags presented by AC Delco series. The top drivers from each of the point’s divisions will be invited back for a special year end race along with season championship awards.

The weekly Show-N-Shine is also on the schedule for this Friday night (July 18). Car show enthusiasts can compete in several different divisions for nightly awards (top three spots in each class). All weekly winners will also be invited to participate in a special car show during pre-race festivities at this October’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the speedway. Plus, everyone in the car show has the opportunity to enjoy the speedway cruise prior to the nightly awards ceremony. All cars, trucks, SUVs and motorcycles are eligible to compete in the Show-N-Shine competition.

This Friday night (July 18) the pit gates and tech will open at 6pm. Practice runs begin at 6:15pm. Grandstand gates open at 6:30pm. Show-N-Shine Speedway Cruise at 8:20pm. Show-N-Shine Awards at 8:50pm. Opening ceremonies at 9:00pm. Drag Race elimination rounds begin ay 9:00pm.

Spectator ticket prices are $7; children five and under are admitted for free. Grandstand parking is free.

Drag Race or Show-N-Shine participant entry is $20. To enter both is $30.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Usher's Camp New Look 2008 Continues to Empower and Educate Inner-City Youth

PRNewswire/ -- Grammy Award winning entertainer and philanthropist Usher Raymond IV, in conjunction with his New Look Foundation, will welcome 126 underserved youths from throughout the country to the Atlanta area for this year's Camp New Look. Held July 14-27 at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, Camp New Look is a two-week summer camp which empowers children and educates them about the business aspects of the sports and entertainment industries. During the free camp, kids ages 12 to 17 will participate in workshops and seminars that will help them to enrich their skills in various areas including New Look's core components -- music, dance, sports, acting, and video production.

Now in its fourth consecutive year, the 2008 Camp New Look curriculum will include the fundamentals of launching a new fragrance. New Look campers will develop and launch a fragrance for an NHL All-Star athlete, getting help and advice from the executive team at Liz Claiborne Cosmetics. Campers will be taught the fundamentals of manufacturing, engineering, marketing, promoting and launching the fragrance. New Look has expanded this program and has also partnered with the WNBA's Atlanta Dream to provide internships with New Look alumni. The joint ventures with the NHL and WNBA will provide Camp New Look graduates with the chance to gain behind-the-scenes insights from the best in the business, while also allowing them to explore and enhance their talents and skills.

"This year's camp is going to be bigger and more exciting than ever," said Usher. "We really strive to provide our campers with the best support and most beneficial experience available. I want to move beyond the exposure of Camp New Look and create a true career pipeline for underserved kids so that they can turn their experiences into careers in multi-billion dollar industries."

Additionally, campers will take field trips to various companies and organizations that are designed to enhance their overall understanding of business. Special guests are also expected to visit the camp to share their professional experiences. Previous guests include music stars Ludacris, Omarion and Lloyd, and athletes Allen Rossum (Atlanta Falcons) and Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic).

On Friday, July 25, Usher and Charles Ellis, store director of Tiffany & Co. Atlanta, will host a private, star-studded reception at the lavish Tiffany & Co. at Phipps Plaza in Atlanta. The celebration will also mark the release of Usher's uCast -- a bi-weekly online series that features an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at Usher's life as a recording star, philanthropist and businessman. uCast is an educational podcast series that receives over 35,000 downloads weekly. Usher's uCast has enjoyed immense popularity, reaching as high as No.7 on I-Tunes music podcasts.

"uCast is really more than a podcast," said Usher. "It's an educational tool for learning how business in the entertainment industry really works. It allows New Look to distribute its message to thousands of viewers each week!"

New Look has served more than 1,300 teens from across the U.S. through Camp New Look in Atlanta and mini-camps in New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Milwaukee.