Five Minutes: The Call that Changed My Life Forever

We’ve all got a best friend, or a lifelong friend who has been or was with us through it all. For me, Jody Sanford was that friend.

For 16 years, we were and still are thick as thieves, constantly getting on our siblings last nerve. In fact, we knew just when to ease up on them.

I like to think of our relationship with each other as sort of a modern day Bonnie and Clyde-type relationship, no we never killed anybody, nor did we ever run from the law, but we always had each other’s backs no matter the circumstances.

We never hurt anybody, but you knew where we stood. If you saw one of us, more than likely you saw both of us, because the other wasn’t far behind.

I’ve had my share of ups and downs over the past seven years, happy moments when I seemed to escape everything and then I’ve had moments where I’ve cried myself to sleep.

To know Jody was to love her, I can’t think of a single person who didn’t love Jody. When she loved she loved hard, but Lord help you if you got on her bad side.

She was never one to sugarcoat anything just to make somebody feel better about themselves. She would tell anybody exactly how she felt about them and it could be anywhere.

I know I got on her nerves more than once and I’m not going to lie, she got on mine too. But we never let that create a void in our friendship.

I clearly remember the day God called her home, I was sitting in the back of the house on the computer, mom was in the kitchen cooking green beans, and my brother was in his room.

It was about 4:30 at this point, and mom came running to the back and said “Jody, Jody!” I was wondering ‘What trouble has she gotten into now?’ Because the two of us were notorious for constantly being in trouble and never getting out of it.

I didn’t think much more of it, because I had just seen her the day before at Bazemore Field, I figured she had just gone off on somebody and everything was going like it normally did.

But then, before I knew it, my brother came into the room and took my phone, which made me mad because nobody really told me what was going on.

At about 6:30 p.m., the house phone rang, I picked it up, it was mom I couldn’t even get the word ‘hello’ out of my mouth good before she said “Jody’s gone,” my world felt like it was closing in on me.

Mom said “I can’t talk right now, I’ll call you back in five minutes.” At 6:35 p.m., the phone rang again, and that’s when she explained what happened and then I fell apart because I had just lost not only my best friend, but my very first friend.

The friend that went off on me constantly, who took me home from school on multiple occasions, the one who literally made me do my school work by saying “Don’t make me tell Mrs. Ellen.” I knew she would do it in a heartbeat, so I just rolled my eyes and did my work.

The one who I played with when we were both in diapers, I spent many nights at her house during the summers, had multiple inside jokes with her, etc. I could go on and on for hours about what she meant to me.

A few days passed by, and I was at lunch and they called me to the counselor’s office, I was confused why was I being called to the counselor’s office? I didn’t need a counselor.

When I entered the office, I headed to the back into a meeting room where several more of my friends, including my brother were sitting.

It wasn’t long until her brother walked in and asked us to be pallbearers at her funeral. I wasn’t sure I was mentally capable of doing it, but I knew it’s what she would’ve wanted. So, I hugged her brother and fell apart, he said “Don’t cry, she’s in a better place, she’s with God at His right hand waiting on you.”

The night of the visitation, I entered the church, which is just about a mile from my house and was met by her entire immediate family.

There, her dad, with a frame that stands well above six feet, hugged me tightly as he fought back tears and said “That girl was crazy over you buddy.” He and her mom escorted me into the sanctuary, where Jody’s body was, I broke down when I reached the casket.

I couldn’t believe this was actually happening, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. We had talked about going to college together but that wasn’t going to happen.

The next day at her funeral, I was sitting in the front left pew with all of the pallbearers, when it was time to carry the casket to the hearse, I stood up, took a deep breath and grabbed the handle of the casket with my right hand.

I walked down the steps of the church toward the hearse and loaded the casket into the hearse, I was wearing sunglasses and I lifted them up as soon as I loaded her in the back of the hearse and patted the casket.

I was met with multiple hugs and then headed to the cemetery, when we arrived at the cemetery behind the hearse, I felt my throat get a lump in it. I approached the hearse and loaded the casket onto the lowering table. Then was met with more hugs.

Jody, thank you for always being here for me. Thank you for the memories, thank you for the arguments, the random times we rode around town together, the ice cream dates, and so much more.

I’ll never forget you, you’re safe with me.

Love,

Your best friend, Braxton Parmer.

Tennessee to Face Tough Mid-season Test in Hard-nosed, Second-ranked Alabama in Knoxville

It’s no secret that the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry has fallen off of a proverbial cliff in the last 13 years, from 2007 to last year, but that doesn’t take away from the downright hatred and bad blood that continues to flow rapidly through the veins of these two programs, and fans of the two respective programs alike.

Traditionally, the rivalry game has been played on the third Saturday in October. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic influenced schedules, the game was pushed back a week.

The Tennessee Volunteers and the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are set to renew their rivalry at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday in Neyland Stadium on CBS. Gameday seating will be at approximately 25 percent of the venue’s full capacity of 102,455.

Saturday’s game will be available over the airwaves of the Smokey Mountains on the Vol Network with Bob Kesling (play-by-play), Tim Priest and Brent Hubbs (analysts), and Kasey Funderburg (sideline) on the call.

The CBS broadcast will be brought to viewers by Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (analyst), and Jamie Erdahl (sideline) on the call.

Recent series history has been in favor of Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, as Alabama has won 13 meetings in a row (2007-2019). Tennessee has won nine of its last 12 games dating back to last season. Saturday marks the halfway point for the Volunteers’ season as Tennessee is off on October 31.

Tennessee punt returners are averaging 20.0 yards per punt return this season, which ranks third in the country and second in the Southeastern Conference.

Kick returner Velus Jones Jr., is averaging 25.0 yards per kick return this season, which ranks second among teams in the Southeastern Conference.

Tennessee’s defense has recorded two touchdowns thus far in 2020, which ranks third in the country and third in the Southeastern Conference.

20 Volunteers have made their Tennessee debut in 2020, including 17 true freshmen.

Inside the Series:

Saturday’s meeting between Alabama and Tennessee will mark the 103rd all-time meeting between the bitter rivals.

Alabama leads the series 57-38-7. The Crimson Tide lead the series in Knoxville, 26-20-1, Tuscaloosa, 10-4, and Birmingham 14-21-6.

Tennessee’s largest margin of victory in the series is 27 points (41-14, 1969 and 1995 respectively). Both of those games were played in Birmingham.

The Volunteers’ largest margin of defeat in the series is 51, which occurred in 1906, when the Tide beat Tennessee 51-0 in Birmingham.

Tennessee’s all-time record in games played on October 24 is 12-4-2, they are currently on a two game losing streak.

The last time a game was played on October 24 came in 2015 (19-14 L). The others came in 2009 (12-10 L to Alabama), 1998 (35-18 W over Alabama), 1987 (29-15 W over Georgia Tech), and 1981 (38-9 W over Memphis State).

Tennessee and Alabama have faced each other four times on October 24. The Vols own a 2-2 record again the Tide on that date, outscoring them 76-75.

Source: Tennessee Football Twitter.

Here’s to Seven Years of Living My Dream

It’s still so hard to believe that in less than three months, I will crank the speakers up and let my voice be heard at Bazemore Field in Wetumpka for the seventh year.

If you know me, you know how many hours I practiced announcing when I was little, it’s the only way that I could be around sports due to the fact that I didn’t play sports for long when I was a kid.

I played baseball until I was eight, because I broke my finger bunting a baseball when I was seven.

From that my moment on, I knew that the only way that I could see my dream flourish would be to pick up a microphone.

Over the past six years, I’ve had the honor and privilege of announcing for numerous then-future MLB draftees, announced in the AHSAA Class 6A State Baseball Playoffs, visited several colleges, and so much more.

In 2020, I plan on making many more new, unforgettable memories and sarcastic remarks, behind the microphone at Bazemore Field.

Here’s to seven years of living my dream, the best is yet to come.

Bad Blood Boiling: Wetumpka, Prattville to Renew Long-standing Rivalry Tonight in Tribe’s Home Opener

It’s been a long first five weeks of 2019 for Wetumpka, as they have traveled through seemingly every corner of the state, but tonight, that all changes tonight when the Indians open the gates of Hohenberg Field for the first time in the season and welcome bitter-rival, Prattville to town for the renewal of the two storied programs long-standing rivalry.

Glancing at the Opponent

Prattville comes into tonight’s game with a 3-1 record, which features wins over Foley, Stanhope-Elmore, and Enterprise and a loss to defending 7A state champion, Central Phenix-City, led by former Prattville head coach, Jamey Dubose. The Lions are led by second-year head coach, Caleb Ross. Prior to making the commute to Prattville, Ross spent time at Opelika (2017), McGill-Toolen (2014-2016), and Thompson (2011).

Inside the Series:

Wetumpka (3-2) and Prattville (3-1) will meet for the 58th time in history tonight, when the two teams kickoff at Hohenberg Field in Wetumpka. The series dates all the way back to 1922, a game that Wetumpka won 25-6. Although have 57 prior meetings, this series has had a hiatus of its own. The Indians and Lions didn’t meet from 2014 to 2015, but picked back up in 2016. Wetumpka has won the last three meetings in the series and will look to continue that streak tonight, September 27, 2019.

Wiregrass War: Wetumpka Continues Road Trip With Visit to Dothan Friday Night

We’re now a week into the 2019 high school football season and Wetumpka (1-0) is coming off a confidence-building win over Fairhope (0-1) in the season-opener. But many hope the Tribe can take the many positives that were taken from the season-opener with them down to Dothan, Alabama this Friday.

A Glance at the Opponent:

The Dothan High School Wolves (0-1) are in their first year of existence after conjoining former rivals Dothan and Northview, resulting in the change of mascot. 41 years ago, Dothan and Northview were merged prior to separating and fielding two separate football programs. The Wolves are led by first-year head coach Smitty Grider. Overall, Grider is in 15th year of coaching at the high school ranks. Prior to landing in Dothan, he led the Hazel Green Trojans to a (4-7) season in 2018 and falling to Oxford in the first round of the 6A playoffs by a final score of 42-14. Before going to Hazel Green, Grider piloted the Park Crossing Thunderbirds from 2014 to 2017, resulting in three playoff appearances in four seasons as Park Crossing’s pilot and three consecutive region titles from 2015-17. Prior to making the trip to Montgomery, Coach Grider led the Beauregard Hornets from 2006-13. Grider’s career record is 111-50.

Gridiron History Between the Opponents:

The Dothan Wolves (0-1) and Wetumpka Indians (1-0) have never met under the current moniker in the two programs storied history.

Week 1 in Review:

Wetumpka (1-0): Used late plays Friday night to come out of Fairhope victorious 35-24.

Dothan (0-1): Had their game against Clay-Chalkville postponed until Saturday. But that didn’t help the Wolves much as the Cougars ripped apart Dothan 37-14.

Game time is set for 7pm between Dothan and Wetumpka Friday night at Rip-Hewes Stadium in Dothan, Alabama.

Pictures: Tiffany Singleton

Graphics: Amelia Nettles.

It’s Almost Time for Friday Night Lights, College Football, and the Busiest Months of My Year

Normally, I write about Braves Baseball, but tonight I decided to write about football, a sport that I haven’t written about yet. We all love football season, the sights of traditions, the sounds of helmets colliding, whistles blowing, rowdy fans screaming at the referees from the stands and all of the things tied in with the sport of football, especially college football down here in the South, where it’s all about the Iron Bowl and Alabama and Auburn, it’s about bragging rights when it comes down to it. But for me, a Tennessee fan, I just hope we make it to a bowl game, sadly. In just a few weeks, Florida and Miami will kick off the football season on August 24th at 6pm. As for me, a multi-sport broadcaster of almost seven years, football season is without a doubt the busiest time of the year me. During football season, I take on the responsibilities as The Voice of Wetumpka High School JV games, Wetumpka Middle School games and Wetumpka 9th grade football games. Many of you may asked ‘what do you do during the time between multiple sports?’ Here’s your answer, get ready for the next sport. In the past, I have broadcasted sports ranging from baseball to basketball and everything in between, so I don’t get much down time, but, it’s what I was born to do, so I’m not complaining. This will mark my 4th year as a football broadcaster and 7th year overall and if it’s anything like the past six, it will be incredible. Needless to say, I’m ready for the busiest months of my year.

A Visit With Rod Bramblett and Auburn Baseball

Days after my visit to Jacksonville State for the Murray State game, I received a message saying that Auburn University Baseball wanted me there for a game…little did I know that this would be my first of two visits with the Tigers. While I was there I got to tour the Auburn football facilities and baseball facilities including the locker room and team laundry room. I even got to go down on the field before the April 22, 2014 game vs. South Alabama. I also got to meet The Voice of the Auburn Tigers, Rod Bramblett, former MLB star Gabe Gross, get my picture taken with Cam Newton’s Heisman Trophy, have my picture taken beside Bo Jackson on the outfield wall (no, not the real person, although I wish it would’ve been). etc. Auburn ended up defeating the Jaguars 8-0 that night. My second trip to the Plains came on April 4, 2015 for the Auburn-Arkansas game. Auburn ended up losing that game 5-4 in extra innings. I will always be grateful for the opportunities that Jacksonville State, Auburn and numerous other colleges and universities have given me. Thank you for believing in me and seeing the passion that I have not only for announcing but also for the game of baseball. I’ve heard it said many times that “If you don’t love what you’re doing, why are you doing it?” Always be grateful for opportunities presented to you, it will pay off in the end.

Next entry: A Visit with the Montgomery Biscuits.