Last Tuesday, Blanchard took time out to read to Cherokee County Elementary School teacher Jennifer Bomian’s second grade class as part of their “Mystery Reader” program. He read the book “Game Day” by NFL football players Tiki and Ronde Barber.
“I knew when I was a kid, I always looked up to the older guys, and I always enjoyed when they came and did stuff like this for me,” Blanchard said. “I’ll definitely take time out of my day to come read to these little guys. It’s always good for them to have somebody to look up to, and I just hope I can be that guy and set a good example for them.”
Blanchard also presented Bomian’s class with autographed pictures and drinking cups, helping make the occasion even more memorable for the kids.
“They think it’s so neat someone besides me reading to them,” Bomian said. “Anytime one of the readers come in, they’ve really been engaged with the book. They can tell you pretty much anything about it. When I ask the kids about who were the characters and what was the setting, they’ll be able to tell me unless they were just so focused on (Blanchard). It’s been a really good thing.”
Blanchard is the sixth “Mystery Reader” Bomian has had read to her class. The program, featuring parents, grandparents and people with community ties, began in October.
Bomian said the “Mystery Readers” can select a book of their choice or she will make a suggestion. She also encourages the readers to do a short craft or activity with the kids to tie in with the book they are reading.
Once a reader commits to read to her students, Bomian said she sends them a clue sheet to fill out, giving the kids hints as to who their “Mystery Reader” is.
“Right after announcements on the morning that the reader is coming, I give them their first clue. I ask the readers to give me clues in an order in which it doesn’t give them away right off the bat,” Bomian said. “Throughout the day, I’ll give them clues, and right before the person walks through the door, I’ll give them their last clue. I never tell them if they’re right or wrong. They don’t know until the actual reader comes.”
Several of Bomian’s students had guessed correctly that it was Blanchard before he arrived. Other popular guesses were Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Alabama football coach Nick Saban.
“It’s always a great feeling having a little kid look up to you,” Blanchard said. “I love it when I get to do something like this. I’m glad I got to do it.”
Blanchard is currently preparing for the Gamecocks’ upcoming baseball season. He reported to camp last Wednesday. Jacksonville State opens the 2011 baseball season on Feb. 22 at Auburn at 3 p.m.
The honors keep on coming for Piedmont sophomore linebacker Jamie Major.
Major (6-foot-1, 205) was recently named to the U.S. Air Force 2010 Sophomore All-American Team at linebacker.
Last season, Major posted 104 tackles (10 for lost yardage) and had 11 sacks in helping Piedmont (12-2) earn a berth in the Class 3A state semifinals. It’s the second big honor for Major in the past month. He also earned a spot on the Alabama Sportswriters Association Class 3A All-State Team, which was announced last month.
Cherokee County High School’s Nathan Prather has already gotten one job he loves as band director. Now he’s getting involved with something else he loves.
The 23-year-old Prather, who graduated from Jacksonville State University last April, has taken over as the Warriors’ new varsity soccer coach. He’s played the sport since he was nine, including his high school years in Villa Rica, Ga.
“It’s really cool being able to come here and do two things I absolutely love,” Prather said. “It’s exciting and overwhelming all at the same time, just being my first year and trying to get everything organized.”
Prather has drummed up a lot of interest since workouts began last week. Over 30 boys and girls have shown up for tryouts. The Warriors only had 13 players on last year’s team.
Several players who have shown up for tryouts have club soccer experience, which Prather said is a plus.
“It’s going to be nice having a little experience and several backups to sub in the games,” Prather said. “It’ll really start building our program.”
“I’d say about half the kids have never played this before, or they’ve played before but it’s been many years. At the very beginning (of practices), it’s simply understanding the game and understanding what’s expected.”
Prather plans on the varsity team being co-ed. With the number of players who have shown interest, Prather also believes the Warriors will have a junior varsity squad, which will also be a co-ed team.
“With a lot of inexperience, I think it would be best to keep them co-ed,” he said. “We’ve got a few who have played on club teams, both girls and guys. I think us combining both of those together, we’ll be able to build that youth that experience.”
Although their schedule isn’t finalized yet, the Warriors are tentatively scheduled to play their first home game against Jacksonville on March 4.
“It’ll be a good measuring stick playing against a really good team, then we can go from there,” Prather said. “The kids who are here are ready to go. I think this is going to be something we can definitely build upon.”
The 10th annual Youth Basketball Bash in Boaz is scheduled for Feb. 18-19 for teams preparing for YMCA district and state tournaments.
Age divisions are Boys 8,10 and 12 and Girls 10 and 12. Teams are guaranteed two games. Entry fees are $75 per team, and the deadline for entry is Feb. 11 at 2 p.m.
Games will be played at Boaz High School, Boaz Middle School and the Boaz Recreational Center. Admission to the event is $5 per day.
For more information, contact Jimmy Collins at (256) 302-4298, 840-0033 or 593-9211. You can also reach Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.