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Last week was special

Last week was a very eventful one for me and my dear friend Billy Simians Jr.

On Tuesday, we found out that former Bainbridge High School Bearcats Region 1AAAA defensive player of the year and University of Georgia Bulldogs All-Southeastern Conference defensive back Kirby Smart won the Frank Broyles Award, which goes annually to the top college football assistant coach in the nation.

Kirby, a fine young man who is defensive coordinator with the undefeated and No. 1-ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide that will play the second-ranked and undefeated University of Texas Longhorns in the Jan. 7 national championship game in Pasadena, Calif., is the son of former Bearcats and Rabun County High School Wildcats head coach Sonny and Sharon Smart.

Everybody in Bainbridge and Decatur County is very proud of Kirby, who I had the pleasure of covering as an outstanding swimmer, football, basketball and baseball player in Bainbridge.

Billy met Kirby a couple of years ago when he was at Centennial Field for the Bearcats game with Enterprise, Ala., High School.

Thursday night, Billy, a dedicated employee of Goodwill Industries in Bainbridge, rode in a place of honor on the Goodwill float in the Bainbridge Christmas parade.

Friday night, Billy and I went out to eat and ran into an old friend, William Widener, and his dear wife, Beverly.

William has done as much for young people in Bainbridge and Decatur County than anyone I know. As City of Bainbridge swim coach for many years, he was an integral part of the rise and success of Bainbridge’s Inland Port Swim Meet, which continues to this day. It is now hosted each summer by the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA Extreme Swim Team.

Many of today’s successful Bainbridge and Decatur County citizens got positive starts in William’s swim program and they have often told me what a positive influence he was on their young lives.

William also influenced a lot of young lives during his years as Bainbridge High School band director.

Saturday morning, I covered the seventh annual Bearcat Bash Invitational Swim Meet, hosted by Bainbridge High School, and had a nice chat with another old friend, former Bainbridge High School Bearcat quarterback and current Cairo High School athletic director Carlton Gainous, whose Cairo Syrupmakers swim team was in the meet.

Saturday night, Billy and I drove over to Cairo where I covered the basketball games between the Bainbridge Lady Cats and Bearcats and Cairo Syrupmaids and Syrupmakers.

Details on the two games, won by the Lady Cats and Syrupmakers, appear elsewhere in today’s sports section.

During the early season, Billy has been a big help to me at basketball games. He calls out the number of the player making a shot to me while I keep a running play by play.

Chronicling the coaching career of a great guy and coach like Kirby, renewing acquaintances with old friends and high caliber people like William and Carlton and enjoying activities with recent friends and high caliber people like Billy have been what has made my job special through the years.