TSSAA honors Maryville, Heritage, Dalton and Burleson

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By Lance Coleman
Blount Today

Two Blount County high schools, a schools director and a restaurant owner took home honors from the TSSAA in a recent ceremony at Knoxville Central High School.

As part of the A.F. Bridges Awards, the TSSAA issued sportsmanship awards to Maryville High School and Heritage High School on Nov. 6. TSSAA also honored Maryville Schools director Dr. Mike Dalton as District School System Administrator of the year and Aubrey’s Restaurant owner Randy Burleson as District Contributor of the Year.

Heritage High School athletic director Terri Bradshaw said the awards to Heritage and Maryville are compliments to the area. "On the list of all the schools across the state, I didn’t see anybody who had two schools nominated from same district, much less the same county," she said. "That was quite a compliment to our area."

Bradshaw said schools are nominated through TSSAA, which sends out a list of all the schools in the previous school year who weren’t issued unsportsmanlike calls or had anyone ejected during a game or match.

"You’re asked if you know anything about those particular schools and to write about them," Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw had to complete a form explained what all the staff and coaches did to encourage sportsmanship and citizenship and ethics. Heritage was a division finalist. "It is the third time Heritage has won that award," she said.

Heritage High School principal Patricia Mandigo said sportsmanship is something the coaches stress.

"It certainly is one award we were in hopes we were going to take No. 1. We felt we excel in sportsmanship and that type of behavior. Our coaches teach it and expect our athletes to be good sports and good athletes," Mandigo said. "We were thrilled that we were one of the winners."

Maryville High School principal Ken Jarnagin said his school system was happy to receive three honors from TSSAA, including being able to nominate Aubrey’s for the District Contributor of the Year. Jarnagin praised Burleson for his efforts in supporting the Maryville school system.

"First of all, Randy Burleson is not only a personal friend, but he’s been very, very supportive of our school and school system. We go to him with requests, sometimes large requests and some incidental and he always says, ‘Yes, how can I help?’ Other times we don’t even approach him, he comes up with ways he might help our school," Jarnagin said. "There are no strings attached. He’s just trying to do what he can to help our school and promote goodwill."

Jarnagin praised Dalton for receiving the superintendent’s award for this district. "Mike Dalton is a former athlete himself and very much understands the athletic process and what it takes to achieve the success we’ve been able to achieve in athletics at Maryville High School," he said.

Jarnagin described his boss as a leader who doesn’t get in the way of progress or try to micromanage. "He’s a leader who stays back and lets the experts do what they do. He hires the right people, puts them in the right spots and waits for success to happen."

The other award from the TSSAA was the sportsmanship award to the Maryville High School student body. "We had been nominated once before and won for the region. We were very fortunate and honored to receive this award on behalf of the student body for their outstanding show of sportsmanship in all athletics," he said.

Jarnigan said that following an incident in which someone brought a raccoon doll to this year’s Alcoa/Maryville football game, students from both schools took a proactive stance in the weeks after the game to deal with issues related to the matter.

"We are very fortunate to have students who will step up and try to take a positive leadership position when these issues arise. We do have a committee of students that are working together between Alcoa High School and Maryville High School to ensure a couple of things," Jarnigan said. "One is we do continue to have that wonderful rivalry we have between the athletic departments of both schools. The other half of the equation is they’re ensuring we continue to have respect off the playing field. These students should enjoy a healthy, productive rivalry that is part of high school. What we don’t want today is to let that bleed over into actually lives, and it begin to affect them in other ways. This Diversity Council is a positive step to bringing both schools together, looking at similarities and differences on how we can move forward together and teach these young adults on how to progress forward."

Mike Dalton said that TSSAA recognizes nine school system administrators from across the state with the award per year as far as athletic support in the schools. "I was honored to be one of those," he said. "I was honored to be part of a team of persons recognized."

Dalton also praised Burleson for support the school system’s teachers and athletes. "They’ve been a strong supporter of education in general and particularly a support of teacher training," he said of Burleson’s Aubrey’s restaurant. "They’ve provided meals and snacks to assist with the cost of training programs with teachers. They’ve been a very consistent supporter of schools in the area."

Randy Burleson said he was surprised when the restaurant was singled out for helping schools. "I was blown away," he said. "It’s not often you get recognized for doing the right thing."

Burleson said having the Maryville football players come to Aubrey’s for pre-game meals keeps them together, the coaches know where they are and the parents know they’re eating well. "I like to think they win because we feed them good food," he said. "We’re feeding champions at Aubrey’s."

Bernard Childress, Assistant Executive Director of the TSSAA said, "Being recognized for one of these awards as a school or individual should be seen as one of the highest honors in high school athletics in our state. Those who receive the awards truly reflect what high school athletics should be about, and that’s good sportsmanship and good citizenship."

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