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Author: heraldtribune-editor

Player of the Week

This week’s Paul Peavyhouse Player of the Week is Boone’s Nicole Griffith. Nicole recently signed with Tusculum. To see …

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Treasured coat brings gentle reminder of true meaning of Christmas


Special to the H&T

Trying to locate my winter coat in the overstuffed coat closet, my hands fell upon the one jacket I could not bring myself to donate to a well-deserving charity. 

The well-worn garment, ordered 10 years ago by my husband, quickly became his favorite “go to” covering once the days began to slip from fall into winter. Worn so much, the stiff outer fabric had become as soft as chamois and the brown leather collar and elbow patches were as smooth as kid gloves.

My adult sons quickly tired of my constant coaxing to take their dad’s coat. Each would remind me the jacket was too large, too small, too short.  “It does not fit, Mom!”   

It had only been two months since this coat had protected its owner from the winds and chill of the approaching winter . . . and 10 years of the cycling seasons.

Five days and Christmas would be here. The weather report was ominous, warning of bone-chilling temperatures and a chance of a white Christmas.

Could I just forgo Christmas this year?  

This would be the first Christmas without my life partner, the love of my life. Forty holidays as “WE.” How could I possibly get into the Christmas Spirit?

Fortunately the days were filled with the all-too-familiar chaos of the seasonal rush. There were gifts to buy and gatherings to attend. I was going through the motions, but my heart was numb and I certainly was not filled with the Christmas spirit.

Late in the day I realized I’d better grab a bite to eat before I attended the high school Christmas Band Concert. As I pulled into to the empty parking lot, I immediately noticed a handsome young man with his arms folded as though he was trying to warm his shivering body. 

His chiseled features were softened by black curls framing his handsome face. A sweatshirt and rugged, faded, denim jeans clothed this forlorn young man.

My first thought was, where was his jacket? The temperature was already slipping into the 30s and judging from his shivering body, his attire wasn’t doing much to insulate his body. Did he have warmer clothing in the large plastic garbage bag perched on a nearby bench?

As I approached him our eyes met and I asked if he would like to get something hot to eat. His eyes lit up as he replied, “I would appreciate a cup of hot coffee!”  

“Please, get a hot meal, my Christmas gift to you,” I said.  

As he gathered his belongings I quickly entered the restaurant and told the manager about his next customer and that I would take care of whatever he ordered.

I was settled in the dining area by the time my newfound acquaintance had his food.  I invited him to join me.  Who was this stranger?  

“Are you from around here?,” I inquired. 

“No ma’am, I’m from Alabama.”

“What brings you this way,” I asked.   

“I’m on my way to West Virginia.”

“What’s in West Virginia?”  

“I have friends who can help me.”  

With that I started sharing the weather forecast. Did he have a coat and warm clothes in his plastic bag? No, he did not.  

Immediately my thoughts flashed to the forest green coat hanging in my closet. I told my new friend that I had a warm coat at my house that needed a home, and if he’d wait five minutes I’d run to get it.  

Surprisingly, he agreed.  

As I dashed out to my car, I said a silent prayer that he would still be there when I returned.

At home, I quickly gathered a woolen scarf, a warm knitted cap, fur-lined leather gloves, and THE coat. These items had protected my partner from the elements for many years and now they would help warm the body of a stranger.

To my relief, the young traveler was still seated in the restaurant when I returned. After handing the jacket to him, he slipped his arms into the sleeves and wrapped it around his slim body.  

It was a perfect fit, as though it had been custom made just for him. The scarf and gloves would ensure more protection against the bitter cold.  

He thanked me profusely for the gifts, and I must say that the coat never looked better.

The coat I couldn’t part with had found a purpose.  

Time was slipping by. I needed to get to the high school for the Christmas concert, so I headed to the trash can to empty my tray. When I turned around, my dining companion was not there, nor was his tray or the dark green plastic bag. 

Had he gone to the rest room or to the counter to order something else? I asked the manager if they had seen where he went. No one had seen him leave the building. It was as though he’d vanished into thin air.  

As my mind raced to recount the past 45 minutes, a sense of peace came over me and my soul was filled with the joy of the season, the season I had so dreaded.

This wayward stranger had given me the gift I so desperately needed that Christmas in 2000. Now, 20 Christmas’s later I can still see the face of the hitchhiking stranger. 

Was he really a stranger?

May the message of the Christmas Story fill your hearts with peace, joy, and love.

Crockett boys fall to Elizabethton at home


H&T Correspondent

The David Crockett girls basketball team hadn’t played since a Nov. 28 loss to Cocke County in the Hardee’s Classic championship game when it took the court Monday in Maryville.

And the coronavirus pandemic that had led to a 23-day layoff also left the Pioneers without Mackenzie Baldwin and Nora Walters.

But senior Emma Gouge poured in 20 points and grabbed six rebounds and first-year coach Thomas Gouge’s Pioneers improved to 4-1 with a 70-52 win against First Baptist Academy in the Maryville Heritage Christmas Classic.

“It was just great to get back on the court and play,” Thomas Gouge said. “We’ve not played since the Hardee’s Classic, which was nearly a month ago. To come out our first game after the long layoff with two key players still out and score 70 was promising and shows the potential this team has. The girls have really been getting after it and our practices are intense battles every day.”

Crockett also got 11 points from Alyssa Suits and nine from Kaylee Tester. Halle Scott and Kadence Fannon added eight apiece.

“We have depth and the underclassmen have really stepped up as well,” Thomas Gouge said. “We just have to lock in and stay focused and improve daily. The future of our program is very bright, and I believe for this year’s team the sky is the limit.”

David Crockett’s boys had a less enjoyable week. Second-year coach Cody Connell’s Pioneers dropped a home game against Elizabethton on Tuesday and a pair of games in Maryville on Friday and Saturday, and Connell said he thought the Pioneers should’ve won all three.

Elizabethton escaped 65-63 on a last-second put-back by Will Willocks. With the score tied, the Cyclones attempted a 40-footer with some six seconds left, and then missed a follow attempt of the air-ball. But Willocks grabbed a second offensive rebound.

“I thought we played good for about 31 minutes and 55 seconds,” Connell said. “It was just one of those unbelievable finishes there at the end where they got two offensive rebounds. And when that happens you’re not gonna win many games. …

“The first shot was about five feet in front of half-court. Their kid got the rebound and did a reverse layup. He missed it, but our guy tried to block the shot. And when he did his guy snuck in and got the rebound and laid it in with no time left. It was kind of depressing, very depressing.”

The trip to Maryville was even more disheartening. The Pioneers (5-4) lost 59-53 to Concord Christian on Friday and 59-55 to Maryville Christian on Saturday, and Connell said his team should’ve prevailed rather comfortably in both games with effort and focus.

“We got up 15 both games,” he said. “Concord Christian outrebounded us 47-20 with 26 offensive rebounds. And we were way more athletic.”

The Pioneers were flat much of the way in both games, which were played in what were essentially empty gyms.

“We’ve got to learn not to rely on the crowd or the atmosphere to get us pumped,” Connell said. “We also shot 18 percent. You’re not gonna win any games doing that. 

“Maybe it’ll wake our guys up a little bit. We lost two games in our Christmas tournament last year we had no business losing last year. Right after that we kind of turned it up a little bit. We got back home and started playing really good basketball.”

Ayden Begley and Mason Britton scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, against Elizabethton.

Begley had 19 points against Concord Christian. Isaiah Lang had 12 points, five steals and three assists. Britton tallied 10 points and eight rebounds.

Clint Pierce scored 27 points against Maryville Christian.

Britton is averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks on the season. Begley is averaging 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Daniel Boone boys lost 48-45 at Gate City on Monday. The Trailblazers, who led by seven with four and half minutes left, were outscored 20-4 during a game-ending tailspin.

Samuel Stroupe led Boone with 13 points. Breiydon Gilliam and Caleb Head added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Head had six assists and six rebounds, both team highs.

The Daniel Boone girls (0-6) lost 45-36 to Tennessee High on Dec. 15. Savannah Jessee and Maci Master had 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively. Freshman Josie Jenkins’ six points led the team.

The Trailblazers are scheduled to play Cloudland on Tuesday at Ridgeview Middle School due to the court being redone at Bobby Snyder Gym.