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We'd like to give a big, BIG thanks to Papa John's and Michael Griffin of the Tennessee Titans for a sizable donation given to Hunters Lane High School this week.

Michael came by Hunters Lane with a check for more than $8,500 to be used for healthy snacks and fresh food for students.

The money was raised through a pizza promotion done at Papa John's restaurants. Both Michael Griffin and executives from Papa John's were proud to particiapte, saying how important it is to be involved in the community and to give help young people who need it.

Thank you for the donation!

Michael Griffin with Principal Susasn Kessler and Assistant Principal Andrew Davis

Tennessee Titan Michael Griffin with Hunters Lane principal Susan Kessler & assistant principal Andrew Davis.


Chris Cotter decided early in life he wouldn’t be another statistic. He would not be “average” or accepting of the bare minimum. He would expect a lot out of himself – only the best – even if he didn’t expect much help from others.

He moved around a lot, often changing schools in the middle of the year. Until high school, he had never stayed at one school for longer than one year, giving him precious little growing time in his classes and with friends. After suddenly losing their rented home to an unexpected sale, Chris’ family found themselves without many options. Through all of this misfortune and despite hard times, his mother stayed strong and provided for her sons. Chris was able to stay with another family, but it would not be the only time he found himself without a home. He realized then he couldn’t depend on others to help him succeed. He’d have to do it himself.

One day while searching on the Internet, Chris found an article claiming young men in his situation would never lead successful lives, never rise above the statistics for “average black men.” He would not accept that.

Through hard work, Chris earned a 3.5 grade point average and is graduating with honors this weekend from Hunters Lane High School. He never accepted Bs and only worked toward As – even in honors and AP classes.

He has been accepted to Berea College in Kentucky, where he’ll study to become a math teacher. The school has offered him full scholarships for all four years, totaling $100,000.

The young man who always has a smile, but hasn’t always had good fortune, has found his path in life. And he will soon be making a difference in the lives of young students very much like himself.

Congratulations, Chris. We couldn’t be more proud of you.


Hunters Lane High School has won a $1,000 grant from a major restaurant chain to feed those who need it most. The grant from Darden Restaurants, Inc. allows the school to provide food on the weekends to students who do not have access to consistent food sources outside of school. The money comes from the inaugural Restaurant Community Grant Program from Darden Foundation.

Hunters Lane is one out of 900 schools taking part in the program. It is a $1.7 million local grants program intended to help support nonprofit organizations in the hundreds of communities where Darden has restaurants. Those include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52. Nonprofits receiving grants support one of Darden’s three key focus areas: access to postsecondary education, preservation of natural resources, and hunger.

Thanks, Darden for helping our students!


Mark North

Board Member &

Sports Fan Mark North

It’s Official…Referees Deserve Kudos

The North Sports Report recently ran into TSSAA referee and Baxter ALC Principal Billy Fellman and was reminded that referees, umpires, and officials of all monikers deserve our gratitude for handling the difficult, pressure-packed, and often thankless job to officiate games. How important are the officials? Remember the old saying: “Without the referees, it would just be recess.” Wear the stripes proudly!

Award Season – A View from the Red Carpet

The Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame held its annual banquet at the Airport Marriott. With the honorees all donning black tie tuxedos, it is the most regal, celebrity-laden event of all sports related award galas. From media celebrities like George Plaster to college coaching legends Johnny Majors and Watson Brown to MNPS coaching royalty Wes Elrod and Jerry Pigue, to MNPS Sports Hall of Fame members Walter Overton (Pearl) and Bonnie Sloan (Litton), to over sixty mid-state football player honorees and their families, this is a can’t miss event. Even the NFL Hall of Famer Raymond Berry, fresh off his appearance at the Super Bowl delivering the Lombardi trophy to the stage, was in attendance. I am not kidding…the North Sports Report shook the hand that caught passes from Unitas.

The real stars, of course, were the student-athletes honored that night with the Charles W. Hawkins III Scholar Athlete Award. Those awards went to DeMarco Moore (Antioch); Jamaris Pye (Cane Ridge); Calvin Canada (East Lit); Justin Farr (Glencliff); Ben Ross (Hillsboro); Andrew Chomic (Hillwood); Victor Fletcher (Hunters Lane); Dustin Binkley (Maplewood); Caleb Azubike (McGavock); Ike Amadi (Overton); Demario Donnell (Pearl-Cohn); George Gutierrez (Stratford); and Ashuntae Bass (Whites Creek).

DeMarco Moore of Antioch also won the Jim Barrom Spirit Award for exemplifying the “highest qualities of sportsmanship.”

Oh, I almost forgot…the Hunters Lane Junior ROTC Color Guard presented the colors and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. As always, the MNPS ROTC students were outstanding.

Madison High School legend Houston Ragan was honored with the Bonnie Sloan Courage Award presented annually to a person who “overcame obstacles and fought back to succeed.” The award is named for Litton great Bonnie Sloan, the first deaf player in the NFL. If you don’t know the story of Houston Ragan, go visit him at Maplewood High School where he serves as one of the best school counselors in the state.

The North Sports Report had the unparalleled privilege to present the Bonnie Sloan Courage Award, and shared the stage with Bonnie Sloan, Houston Ragan and NFL great Raymond Berry. “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong”…It was me.

Stop and Make the Call

Houston Ragan coached me at Madison High many (I dare say many, many) years ago. I cannot express how gratifying it is to have the opportunity to thank him for the influence he had on me. If you have a coach, teacher, family member or anyone else who inspired you by their example, call them and say thank you. Great people like Houston Ragan don’t always appreciate the positive impact they have on people’s lives, so call and tell them … and I mean today!

Alumni Alert

Among the stars of the hardwood at the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena were McGavock star Ndidi Madu of the Florida Gators and Hillsboro star Isabelle Harrison of the SEC Tournament Champion Tennessee Lady Vols.

MNPS: The First Choice for Exemplifying the Highest Qualities of Sportsmanship


Mark North

Board Member &

Sports Fan Mark North

Antioch Lady Bears – Region 6-AAA Champs

The Lady Bears from Antioch High School took home the championship trophy in Region 6-AAA with an impressive run through the bracket. I like to say they “Bear-ly” won the tournament. The North Sports Report dictionary of sports terms defines Bear-ly in this context as: “in a bear-like manner; totally dominating; awesome. See Antioch Lady Bears’ performance in the 2012 Region 6-AAA championship game.” Congratulations to Coach White and the Antioch Lady Bears!

Antioch Principal Brian Mast has called a Code Blue for the Lady Bears’ Sub-state game Saturday night March 3 at 7:00pm at the Antioch High School gymnasium. Be there dressed in blue.

Hunters Lane Warriors – Advance to the Sub-State Round

The Hunters Lane Warriors are primed and ready for a sub-state match-up with Clarksville High School on Monday night March 5 in Clarksville. The highly ranked Warriors –led by Coach Anthony Sewell and point guard Billy Hughes – put together one of the best seasons in school history and are one win away from a trip to the state tournament. Everybody’s a Warrior fan Monday night!

Regional Tournament Hosts – Stratford and Hillwood Representin’

Photo Credit: Mike Straginger

Hosting a Regional Tournament requires the coordinated efforts of coaches, administrators, teachers, staff and students. Hillwood welcomed the 16 participating teams in Region 6-AAA, and Stratford hosted Region 5-AA. Fans of high school basketball from across the mid-state enjoyed the hospitality and great environment provided by their MNPS hosts. Congratulations to the Principals – Dr. Chauncy of Hillwood and Mr. Steele of Stratford – and everyone who worked on the tournaments for a job well done. The photo shows the Hilltopper ambassadors who helped me find my seat.

Middle School Basketball Champions

MNPS crowned the Middle School boys and girls basketball champions last week at Pearl-Cohn High Schools’ gym. Congratulations for a great season to Smithson-Craighead boys basketball team (Eastern Division Champions and City Champions), McKissack Middle School boys basketball team (Western Division Champions), Kennedy Middle School girls basketball team (Western Division Champions and City Champions) and Haynes Middle Design Center girls basketball team (Eastern Division Champions).

Brush with Fame

The North Sports Report rubbed shoulders with some of the greatest athletes and coaches in MNPS history this week at basketball tournaments. Stratford basketball great Ray Maddox was back in his old stomping grounds at the Region 5-AA tournament at Stratford. In the Hillwood gym on the same night were: Pearl High great and MNPS Sports Hall of Fame member Walter Overton (he was officiating the game); Glencliff High hoopster and leader of Metro Schools’ athletic department Roosevelt Sanders; Donelson High star Mike Tribue; Madison High baseball legend (also the most popular player in Nashville Sounds’ history) Gene Menees; MNPS Sports Hall of Famer Joanne Arnold Tribue (Antioch High school legend and presently the Coach of the Cane Ridge Lady Ravens); and last but not least Coach Carlton Collier, longtime Madison High and Hunters Lane basketball and softball coach. Wow… that is a lot of fame in one gym.

Vanderbilt Sports Medicine – Athletic Trainers…keeping it healthy

I witnessed an extraordinary burst of quickness from Hunters Lane Athletic Trainer Emily Carter when a Warrior hoopster took a tremendous fall last week. Emily was on the court, providing care almost instantly and showed exemplary skill and compassion in her treatment of the injured player and his family. MNPS student-athletes have the best athletic trainers in the country on the sideline for every game. A big healthy thank you to Vanderbilt Sports Medicine for providing the athletic trainers and for the care each provides our students.


MNPS: The First Choice for Extraordinary Bursts of Quickness

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