Bainbridge has an excellent athletics community

Published 10:12pm Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I congratulate Bainbridge High School Bearcats head football coach Jeff Littleton, and his players and coaches on their exciting 27-24 victory in overtime against the Dothan High School Tigers last Thursday night at Rip Hewes Stadium.
Daniel Provence’s 25-yard field goal in overtime sealed the victory. It was a true team effort on offense, defense and special teams.
I thank conductor Pascal Ward and the members of the award-winning Bainbridge High School Marching Bearcat Band for the opportunity to ride to the game with them.  Their halftime performance was outstanding, as usual.
I will be riding with them again this Friday to Leesburg for the Bearcats final regular season game, a Region 1AAAAA affair against the Lee County High School Trojans.
I sat in front of Daniel Provence’s parents, Dan and Bonnie Provence, and his grandmother, Dan’s mother and my dear friend Dee Provence, who presented me with an ample supply of boiled peanuts to snack on during the game.
Dee’s late husband and Dan’s late father John Provence was also a dear friend of mine. John was always very active in the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce and other local civic affairs. He was one of Bainbridge and Decatur County’s greatest ambassadors.
After the game, Dee bent over and whispered something special in my ear.
“John would be so proud of Daniel,” she said.
“He surely would have,” I whispered back.
John would also be proud of Daniel’s sister Aubrie Provence, who is an outstanding senior soccer player at Oglethorpe University.
It’s always special when the sports community honors a local resident.
Sandy Bowers, a Decatur County native and resident, was prominently featured in the “Bakersfield Californian” newspaper’s Oct. 21 sports section.
It talks about how Bowers served as the school women’s athletic director from 1976 to 1996 when intercollegiate women’s athletics was in its infancy in the early 1970s, but mushroomed in the decades that followed.
Bowers oversaw the tremendous growth of Bakersfield College’s women’s athletics during her tenure.
I also want to thank former Bainbridge High School Bearcats, Middle Georgia College Warriors, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros infielder Earnest Riles on correctly predicting the outcome of the 2013 World Series.
Riles, a member of the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame’s first class, predicted that the American League champion Red Sox would beat the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals in six games. That is exactly what happened.
Riles achieved two very significant milestones during his outstanding major league career.
As a rookie with the Brewers, he was named “USA Today” American League Rookie of the Year and as a member of the San Francisco Giants, he hit the 10,000th home run in the history of the Giants franchise in New York and San Francisco. The bat and ball from that historic home run is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Riles, who is from Climax, shares that city’s sports pride with another prominent resident.
James Butler, who had outstanding football careers with the Bainbridge High School Bearcats and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, was a member of the New York Giants football team that beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. One of the city limit signs coming into Climax is dedicated to Butler.
Climax is justly proud of Ernie and James, two outstanding athletes and young men.

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