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NGAC Softball: Chattanooga Valley topples Ringgold

The Chattanooga Valley Middle School Eagles got off to a solid start in their 2014 softball season on Thursday night with a 7-4 home win over visiting Ringgold.

  • icon Updated: 1:31 pm

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Thursday 08/14/2014
Latest concussion ends career for Georgia's Hall
Posted: August 14, 2014

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia starting fullback Merritt Hall has been forced to give up football due to recurring concussions.

Georgia announced Thursday Hall, a junior, has been medically disqualified by the school's sports medicine staff.

Hall sustained a concussion last week during practice. According to Georgia, Hall had "multiple concussions" in high school and at Georgia before his latest injury.

Hall played in 25 games, including seven starts, in his first two seasons. Primarily a blocker, he had only three carries for nine yards in the two seasons.

Braves recall LHP Luis Avilan from minors
Posted: August 14, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have recalled left-hander Luis Avilan from Triple-A Gwinnett.

Avilan, who began the season as one of Atlanta's top setup relievers, is with the team for Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Avilan was 3-1 with a 4.85 ERA in 47 games when he was optioned to Gwinnett on July 19. He says he focused on his curveball and change-up at Gwinnett.

Avilan joins James Russell as left-handers in the Braves' bullpen.

The Braves relied on Avilan in 2013, when he was 5-0 with a strong 1.52 ERA in 75 games.

The Braves optioned right-hander Juan Jaime to Gwinnett following Wednesday night's win over the Dodgers.

Wednesday 08/13/2014
Falcons, Texans mix it up at joint practice
Posted: August 13, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) — For Brian Cushing, there's no substitute to being on the field.

The Houston Texans linebacker returned to practice on Wednesday, "a very small step" as he comes back from offseason surgery on his left knee and leg.

Cushing wasn't the only Texans' star back in pads as the team went through a joint practice with the Atlanta Falcons. Andre Johnson and Arian Foster were also back after being held out for most of training camp with hamstring injuries.

Cushing had been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of training camp. He didn't participate in contact drills. Cushing says he needs more live repetitions to learn the new defense under coordinator Romeo Crennel.

Texans coach Bill O'Brien says he hasn't ruled out any of the three players for Saturday's game.

Tuesday 08/12/2014
Clippers sale to Steve Ballmer goes through
Posted: August 12, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Ballmer officially became the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

The team said the record $2 billion sale closed after a California court confirmed the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the franchise to the former Microsoft CEO. Her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, had unsuccessfully fought the sale of the team he owned since 1981 in court.

The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the sale.

"I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers," Ballmer said in a statement. "Clipper fans are so amazing. They have remained fiercely loyal to our franchise through some extraordinary times."

Ballmer was nearly an NBA owner last year before owners chose to keep the Kings in Sacramento, rather than allow them to be sold to a group that included Ballmer and moved to Seattle.

Adam Streisand, Ballmer's attorney, said Tuesday that Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas signed the order authorizing the sale even if Donald Sterling's attorneys filed an appeal.

"We were ready," Streisand said. "Within minutes, the deal was signed, sealed and delivered."

He said even if Donald Sterling seeks an emergency order directing the judge to vacate his order, the attorney is confident an appellate court would agree that Levanas made the correct decision.

Donald Sterling's attorneys weren't immediately available to comment.

The sale ends some troubling concerns that had surrounded the team in recent months.

Doc Rivers would possibly have quit as coach if Sterling remained the owner, interim CEO Richard Parsons had testified. All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who also is president of the Players Association, might have sat out and convinced other players to join him. Sponsors who already started to flee after a recording of Donald Sterling making racist comments was released might have stayed away for good.

None of that appears to be a problem with Ballmer taking over what could be a powerhouse team next season. By agreeing to the record purchase price, he's already proven he's willing to spend in contrast to the famously frugal Sterling.

The transaction ends Donald Sterling's run as the longest-tenured owner in the NBA after 33 years. After buying the Clippers in 1981, he moved the franchise from San Diego to Los Angeles three years later.

The 80-year-old real estate mogul has been in probate court fighting his wife's proposed deal to sell. At issue was whether Donald Sterling killed the deal by revoking the trust after his wife removed him as a trustee. Shelly Sterling acted after doctors found Donald had symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

The drama began in April when the recording surfaced of Donald Sterling dressing down his girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games. The audio spurred the NBA to ban Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million.

His wife of 58 years then took control of a family trust and negotiated the $2 billion sale of the team to Ballmer. Shelly Sterling said she was initially given her husband's blessing to sell the team and he praised the deal she reached.

When it came time to sign it at the end of May, however, Sterling said he would not sell and would sue the league.

Ballmer said he will be "hardcore" in giving the team, Rivers, the staff and players the support they need.

Rivers called it "an amazing new day in Clippers history," and said he's inspired by Ballmer's passion for the game.

Ballmer, Rivers and Clippers players will attend a new fan festival announced for next Monday at Staples Center.

Monday 08/11/2014
Slive: College sports in 'historic evolution'
Posted: August 11, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive says college athletics are "going through a historic evolution."

Slive released a statement Monday after a judge's ruling that players in FBS football and Division I men's basketball are entitled to at least $5,000 a year for rights to their names, images and likenesses. He says the judge on Friday appropriately recognized "the importance of integrating academics and athletics in this decision."

The NCAA says it will appeal U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken's ruling against the NCAA's argument that its model of amateurism is the only way to operate college sports.

Slive says "the ultimate consequences" won't be known until legal questions are resolved. He says the judge's decision and recent changes in NCAA governances represent "a historic evolution of the landscape of college sports."

Baseball: Ringgold Baseball Academy set for September
Updated: August 11, 2014 - 11:55 am

Ringgold High School fifth annual Baseball Academy is scheduled to take place for groups of 12 pitching and hitting. Group times will be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. or 7:15 p.m. - 8:15 p.m. The academy will run four consecutive weeks starting Sept 2-3. The cost is $100.00. Contact Ringgold baseball head coach Brent Tucker at btucker.rhs@catoosa.k12.ga.us to reserve your time.

Douglas County High School player dies after overhydrating
Posted: August 11, 2014

DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia high school football player is dead after drinking too much fluid during practice.

Relatives of 17-year-old Zyrees Oliver had him removed from life support early Monday in a hospital in Marietta. He had no brain activity.

Oliver was declared dead a short time later.

Oliver played football at Douglas County High School west of Atlanta.

Relatives say the youth complained of cramping during football practice on Tuesday. Aunt Tammy Chavis says the teen drank two gallons of water and two more gallons of Gatorade.

Oliver's mother picked him up because he couldn't drive, and he later collapsed at home and was taken to the hospital by helicopter.

Relatives say doctors told them Oliver suffered massive swelling around the brain from over-hydration.

The coroner says an autopsy is planned.

Saturday 08/09/2014
Chickamauga karate students compete in state championships
Posted: August 09, 2014

Chickamauga United Karate students competed at the Tennessee state karate championships in Cookeville, Tenn., Saturday, Aug. 2. From left: Willie McDaniel, Wendell Bruce IV, Jason Guffey, Tim Marks and Curcha Marks. Not pictured, Gavin Bruce.

St. Jude Rodeo returns to Ringgold
Updated: August 09, 2014 - 11:45 am

The 17th annual St. Jude Rodeo will ride again this evening at Yates’ Farm and Miller Arena in Ringgold.

Friday 08/08/2014
Rain halts play early at PGA Championship
Posted: August 08, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The second round of the PGA Championship was off to a soggy start and a sudden stop Friday.

A steady rain forced officials to suspend the round after just 20 minutes because of too much water on the putting surfaces. Work crews already were using squeegees on the greens when another burst of showers hit Valhalla.

Play was halted 45 minutes before Rory McIlroy was to tee off, and as Ryan Palmer was playing the first hole.

Palmer, Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell shared the first-round lead at 6-under 65. Palmer was the only one from that group who played in the morning, which typically has easier conditions.

Rain was in the forecast for most of Friday. While it would make the greens soft, it would make the course longer.

Wednesday 08/06/2014
Windham wins Chattanooga Junior Classic
Updated: August 06, 2014 - 9:37 pm

Congratulations to Tucker Windham of Lakeview-Middle School for winning the 2014 Chattanooga Junior Classic at The Honors today. Tucker, son of Karen and Todd Windham, won the 12-and13-year-old division.

Tuesday 08/05/2014
Clinic owner charged with distributing steroids
Posted: August 05, 2014

MIAMI (AP) — The owner of a now-defunct Florida clinic was charged Tuesday with conspiracy to distribute steroids, more than a year after he was accused of providing performance-enhancing drugs to New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and other players.

Federal court records show Anthony Bosch is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute testosterone. The documents do not specify whether the charges are directly related to the Major League Baseball scandal.

Court documents say that from October 2008 through December 2012, Bosch willfully conspired to distribute the anabolic steroid testosterone.

Bosch surrendered Tuesday morning, and eight other people also have been arrested, said Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Mia Ro.

A Miami New Times report from January 2013, which sparked MLB's investigation, said Rodriguez had bought human growth hormone and other substances from 2009 to 2012 from Bosch's clinic, Biogenesis of America. The newspaper said it had obtained records detailing the purchases by Rodriguez and other ballplayers.

Fourteen players associated with the Coral Gables clinic were disciplined last year by MLB, including a season-long 2014 suspension imposed on Rodriguez.

MLB had sued Bosch and his clinic but withdrew the lawsuit in February. The lawsuit had accused them of conspiring with players to violate their contracts by providing them with banned substances.

Although the lawsuit sought unspecified damages, it also provided a way for MLB to subpoena clinic records.

Rodriguez, who denied using banned substances while playing for the New York Yankees, initially fought the suspension. He finally ended his fight with MLB in February, accepting the suspension and withdrawing a pair of lawsuits against the MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Rodriguez's suspension is the longest penalty in the sport's history related to performance-enhancing drugs. He was the only player involved in the scandal to contest his penalty.

Monday 08/04/2014
Parkway Baptist hosting first annual golf tournament
Updated: August 04, 2014 - 1:32 pm

The first annual Parkway Baptist Golf Tournament will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. at Battlefield Golf Club.

FOOTBALL: "Meet the Panthers" set for August 15
Updated: August 04, 2014 - 1:33 pm

The 2014 “Meet the Panthers” Night will be held on Friday, Aug. 15 at Ridgeland High School.

Gordon Lee alum accepts the Dare
Posted: August 04, 2014

Amanda Browning lettered in volleyball, cheerleading, competition cheerleading, tennis and track during a highly-successful athletic career at Gordon Lee High School.

For Michael Phelps, there's no place like home
Posted: August 04, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) — Sitting on the deck at his beloved Meadowbrook, Michael Phelps glances toward the pool where he was once afraid to put his face in the water.

"This is me," he said, a slight smile curling off his lips. "This is home."

This is where Phelps put in most of the work to become the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. This is where he's looking to add to that legacy after an aborted retirement, his eyes firmly on the Rio Games two years away.

And as the world's greatest swimmer takes his comeback to its biggest stop yet — this week's U.S. national championships in Irvine, California — it's important for him to remember where he came from.

Why? Because for all the hoopla over LeBron James returning to Cleveland, there's no bigger homebody than Phelps.

He still trains at the pool where he learned to swim, a nondescript building in Baltimore's inner suburbs, right in the middle of the Jones Falls flood plain.

Drive past the shuttered ice rink with weeds growing up at the edges and there it is, a rectangular cube of gray concrete blocks.

Inside, kids do cannonballs off the side of the pool, teenagers sun on the faux beach with umbrellas stuck in the sand, geriatrics glide slowly through the water looking to ward off the advancing years.

In the middle of this scene out of Anywhere USA, there's Phelps and his star-studded training group, an impressive collection of gold medalists, world champions and national record holders.

"It's funny," said his longtime coach, Bob Bowman. "When I come out here and see kids playing around, that's just what Michael did every day when he was a little kid. When I first met him, he was just playing around in the pool, playing games with his friends."

As they wrapped up preparations for the national championships, Phelps and Bowman shared an exclusive look at what goes on behind the scenes with The Associated Press.

___

TRAINING FOR GOLD

Before the Athens and Beijing Olympics, Phelps would push himself to the brink of exhaustion in practice, swimming up to 16,000 meters a day. Now, he's putting in about half as many laps in the pool but doing longer sessions in the weight room, resulting in a more muscular physique.

Even though Phelps is only 29, an age that many consider the prime for a male athlete, there's a lot of mileage on those dangling arms and shorter-than-expected legs (an unusually long torso is one of the anatomical keys to Phelps' success). His body doesn't recover as quickly as it once did, so he's focused on becoming bigger and stronger, in hopes of going faster over shorter distances. No longer will he compete in the 400-meter individual medley, a brutal event that is essentially four races within one. He dropped the 200 butterfly, as well, giving up one of his signature events.

At nationals, Phelps' longest event will be the 200 IM. He'll also compete in three 100s — freestyle, backstroke and fly. Still a daunting program, but nothing like rival Ryan Lochte, who's entered six events, or 17-year-old Katie Ledecky, who put her name in eight.

But perhaps the biggest change for Phelps is those he trains with on the Meadowbrook-based North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

There's Yannick Agnel, the towering Frenchman who won two golds at the London Games; Allison Schmitt, who captured five medals at the last Olympics; Lotte Friis, a bronze medalist from Denmark; plus Conor Dwyer and Matt McLean, both with a relay gold to their names.

"If I want to be the best in the world, I needed to have the best coach and the best group in the world," Agnel says. "Where else can I find that but here?"

From Bowman's perspective, this is just what Phelps needed, too — stiff competition, on a daily basis.

"It used to be if Michael was on fire, nobody could beat him," the coach said. "Now, if Michael's on fire, there are maybe a couple of people who can still beat him. They're that good."

___

HOME SWEET HOME

When Meadowbrook opened in 1930, it was not designed for competitive swimming. There were fountains in the middle, giant slides and high dives along the sides. Things changed in the mid-'80s, when a floating deck was installed to mark off the 50-meter racing distance. In 1995, a second pool was built, this one covered by a roof and surrounded by three walls, with tarps that can be lowered on the fourth side to keep it running in the winter.

Phelps' two older sisters were competitive swimmers at Meadowbrook, so it was only natural for him to take lessons when he was 6. Cathy Bennett was his first instructor.

"It sounds pretty important, doesn't it?" she said, laughing. "It didn't feel important at the time, I'll tell you that."

Phelps, to put it bluntly, was a handful.

"I hate to say that about Michael," Bennett said apologetically, "but he had every excuse in the world to get out of the pool. 'I need to go to the bathroom. It's too cold.'"

Actually, the youngster didn't feel comfortable putting his face in the water. Bennett told him to swim on his back. Within a few weeks, Phelps flipped over.

He never looked back.

Even as his fame grew, Meadowbrook remained pretty much the same. When it's time for training outside the pool, Phelps and his teammates trudge down a rocky path, to a "weight room" that is nothing more than slab covered by a tent. For pull-ups, they grab a U-shaped pipe and yank themselves off concrete blocks. On this day, Schmitt cut the bottom of her foot while walking back toward the locker room without shoes.

"It might not be the prettiest or the best facility to train in, but it gets the job done," Schmitt said, patching up her foot and spraying blood off the deck. "It's kind of homey."

Agnel prefers it this way.

"When you have something so fancy, you forget everything about hard work, the tough life," the Frenchman said. "In some kind of way, this helps us to be mentally tough, as well. It's pretty cool."

For Phelps, it's more than cool.

It's home — so much so that he and his coach now run the place.

"Who would think the greatest Olympian of all time would come from suburban Baltimore?" Bowman said. "But he's got to come from somewhere. It might as well be here."

___

Sunday 08/03/2014
Mason Sims, Team USA, capture world title in Poland
Posted: August 03, 2014

When Gordon Lee High School students talk about how they spent their summer when they return to class next Wednesday, Mason Sims will have a story to top them all.

Red Bulls dash Chattanooga FC’s NPSL title dreams
Posted: August 03, 2014

The Chattanooga Football Club is arguably one the most successful organizations in the entire 80-team National Premier Soccer League, with multiple Southeast Conference and South Region championships to go with its three NPSL national championship game appearances in the program’s short, six-year history.

Friday 08/01/2014
Rick Honeycutt World Series brings success for local teams
Updated: August 01, 2014 - 4:17 pm

The 2014 Rick Honeycutt World Series was another successful tournament for teams in the Catoosa-Walker County area.

Thursday 07/31/2014
Boynton Cannons win 9U Rick Honeycutt World Series
Posted: July 31, 2014

The Boynton Cannons won the 9-year-old division of the Rick Honeycutt World Series on Wednesday at the LFO Recreation fields on Barnhart Circle.

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