Coaches are great role models, like Ariail and Reynolds

Published 2:30 pm Monday, December 31, 2012

As we begin a new year, it’s a good time to evaluate the Bainbridge and Decatur County sports scene.
In my opinion, we have strong coaches heading up all of our Bainbridge Middle School and Bainbridge High School sports programs.

They are not only fine people. They are also great role models for the young male and female athletes they lead.
The veteran of the group, and one of my favorite people, is Bainbridge Middle School Bearcats coach Donald “Chip” Ariail, who just completed his 21st season as a middle-school coach. He is also head coach of the Bainbridge High School Lady Cats soccer team.

He is also a very talented artist and art teacher at Bainbridge Middle School.

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In addition to his coaching duties, Ariail also serves as the Region 1-AAAAA football statistician and is the Bearcats’ football historian.

In the back of the Bearcats football program each season you will find seven pages full of Bearcats football history compiled and chronicled by Chip.

In contains the records and week by week scores of each Bearcats season from 1923 through 2011. Coach Ed Pilcher’s 2012 Bearcats will be added to next year’s program.

A 1981 graduate of Bainbridge High School, Chip played on the defensive line for former Bearcats head coach Jimmy Hightower in 1980.

For a number of years, Chip coached with coach Byron Reynolds, one of my late friends and role models.

Coach Reynolds coached at Cairo High School when I was a student there in the 1960s. When he was coaching here and I was covering his Hutto Middle School Tigers teams, we often reminisced about our days in Cairo.

He talked about how much he enjoyed coming over to my late dad’s drive-in restaurant after practice, and sharing an ice cream cone or milk shake with me.

I’m sure many of my readers have similar fond memories of Southwest Georgia sports figures, like Chip and I do.
While I enjoy sports at all levels , there is just something special about middle-school and high-school sports.
The athletes involved in the events are not on a full four-year college athletic scholarship or making huge salaries in professional sports. Instead, they are playing for the glory of their school, their community and their county.

In conclusion, I just want to thank Chip and all the other fine coaches I work with each year. Their cooperation and willingness to sit down and talk with me when I am working on stories is greatly appreciated. I wish them all a happy new year, and a great 2013.