During the Jan. 11 meeting of the Dawson County Board of Education, the board held special recognitions for several of the Dawson County High School sports teams, including the DCHS Varsity competition cheerleading team, the DCHS Varsity football team, the DCHS Varsity softball team and the DCHS Varsity boys cross country team.
The Dawson County High School varsity competition cheerleading team made history this year as only the fourth state champion team in the county’s history. According to Superintendent Damon Gibbs, who was the parent of a cheerleader for many years, he knew from watching the competition that the girls had it in the bag.
“I watched our girls cheer in the region competition and when they finished I stood up and my wife said to me ‘where are you going?’,” Gibbs said, “and I said ‘we gotta go’ and she said ‘you don’t wanna wait until the announcements are made?’ and I said ‘no need; these are the best I’ve ever watched’.”
Gibbs, who will retire at the end of the 2021-22 school year, said that this is the first time in his career that he’s had a direct connection with a state champion team.
“The level that you guys competed at this year is hard to put into words because it was about as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen and I’ve been doing this a long time,” Gibbs said to the cheer team during the board meeting. “Rarely do people get to be in the presence of the best, but I gotta tell you these Lady Tigers are the best. They are state champions, and I can’t tell you how proud I am to be associated with them.”
Head Coach Kim Fleming spoke during the meeting, expressing how proud she is of her team for their big win.
“I can honestly tell you this is not the most talented team I’ve ever had but they were the team that could come together and work together as a team, and that’s what made the difference,” Fleming said.
Fleming said that this was her 34th year of coaching, and that her team, which won seven competitions and only lost one, had a phenomenal year.
“I think this is the most decorated senior class that I’ve ever coached because they won region all four years - this year state champion, for two years third place and their freshman year they were state runner-up,” Fleming said.
Out of the girls on the team, six girls were named to the All-Region team, and two received honorable mentions. Two seniors made the All-State team, which consists of only 16 members across the state, and one of the members was the first runner-up for All-State Cheerleader.
Three seniors from the team will graduate this year, but Fleming said that with the underclassmen who will be returning she is excited to see what next year’s competition cheerleading season holds for her team.
“We had 16 girls on the team and three seniors so we have a lot of talent coming back for next year so I’m really excited about what the future brings for Dawson County cheerleading,” Fleming said.
Terry Haymond, Director of Football for Dawson County High School, presented on behalf of the DCHS varsity football team, applauding the team’s members for their hard work this season.
“To start off the year we weren’t really picked to do very much; we were supposed to be fifth in the region,” Haymond said. “It was a young team, we weren’t really sure what was gonna happen, and we lost a lot of our offense that went on to college and had a lot of success there this year.”
But despite an unsure start to the season, the boys on the team managed to work together very well.
“We ended up coming together and gelling together very well,” Haymond said, “and finishing region second which was not supposed to happen so that was a big accomplishment.”
The team headed into the playoffs, where they won the first game against Sandy Creek before losing to Pierce County in the last game of the season.
“We had a great year; this was the seventh time the team has made it to the Sweet 16 which is a great accomplishment,” Haymond said. “We’re looking forward to next year to hopefully doing the same thing and keeping the tradition that has been started the last seven years and keeping it going.”
Haymond also took a moment to congratulate the other teams in attendance for their success in their respective sports, proclaiming what a good year it was for all Dawson County High School sports teams.
“To bring in coaches that want to go against the best is really what’s set the standard in Dawson lately,” Haymond said.
Lady Tigers Head Softball Coach Justin Rickett presented his team members and their accomplishments to the board, congratulating them on their success this season.
“This is an amazing group of young women that came together,” Rickett said. “We didn’t start out great and didn’t know what to expect going into it, but we finished fourth in our region.”
Rickett recounted the experience of taking his team to the playoffs and said that his team played as well as any team he’s been a part of.
“The way that the playoffs are set up and we get to go through, I got to see my kids really celebrate two times which is special to me and just a neat experience all the way around,” Rickett said. “It was really a great experience for me and I know these girls had a great experience as well.”
Dawson County Tigers Cross Country Head Coach Jonathan Tinsley finished out the presentations at the board meeting, congratulating his varsity boys cross country team on their 11th place finish at state.
“This was my first year coaching cross country at the high school; it’s a great cross country program and it was a great situation for me to step into but we lost four of our top five boy runners and our head coach,” Tinsley said. “We were in the hole to start with and we knew that, but these guys responded really well.”
Tinsley added that not only did his team excel this year, but other teams in the Dawson County cross country program did very well too.
“We’ve got a great cross country program; the middle school girls won the region, the JV girls won the region, the JV boys won the region and the varsity boys made it to the state level and finished 11th,” Tinsley said.
Tinsley added that their goal every year is to win the region and to hopefully get on the podium at the state level, and though they missed a top-ten finish this year by one place he couldn’t be prouder of how his team did.
“We’re just so excited about where cross country is at and where we’re going,” Tinsley said.
The students and coaches in attendance from all four DCHS teams were recognized and applauded by the board and by the audience members, walking across the stage to receive certificates of recognition and to shake the board members’ hands.