By Morgan Bryce
During the last 13 months, Smiths Station High School’s senior students and athletes have endured the devastation of an EF-4 tornado that wreaked havoc in their hometown and a worldwide pandemic that has completely changed daily life. For student-athletes, COVID-19’s presence brought their final seasons to an abrupt halt.
Keenly aware of this fact, the high school’s Male and Female Athletic Directors Brian Nelson and Shana Johnson worked together to create a wall of banners with photos of each of the student athletes, which was placed on the fences of the school’s baseball, softball and track and field facilities on Lee Road 298.
In a Facebook post to the Smiths Station Neighborhood News and Community Watch Group on Monday, Nelson explained that fall and winter sports, including band, had already received their senior banners, which is part of school tradition.
Students involved in springtime sports, including baseball, e-sports, golf, softball, tennis and track all received a banner, part of the school’s way of honoring their effort and commitment for their school the last four years.
“I felt compelled to (display) them instead of allowing (them) to sit in a box until we could come together again. Hopefully in the near future, these will be given to them to keep,” Nelson said.
Dozens of comments were left on Nelson’s post.
“Brian, you are doing a great thing,” Facebook user Larry Kuczenski commented. “These poor kids have been robbed of so many memories … it warms my heart and makes me proud to be part of a community that really pulls together.”
“This is awesome!!!” wrote Donna Scarborough. “Thank you. These kids deserve this more than anybody knows!!”
Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland posted a gallery of photos to his personal Facebook page and wrote: “Great job to the Smiths Station Athletic Department for honoring these deserving seniors during this trying time. Go Panthers!”
Toward the bottom of his post, Nelson asked people to be “respectful of the banners” and follow current “social distancing and curfew” deadlines when going to see the tribute.
“Thank you for your continued support of SSHS and Panther Athletics. From Coach (Mike) Glisson, Coach Johnson and myself, I hope that you and yours are safe and well,” Nelson said. “We look forward to seeing you soon! Go Panthers!”