December 3, 2012

What's Going On: Right time for chili to be stewing

— One for the ages. A moment in time. The year they’ll never forget. There’s no shortage of tried-and-true clichés to characterize Northwest Whitfield’s 2012 softball season, during which the team captured the Class 4A state championship and created memories that will stick with those who were part of the run for the rest of their lives.

The Lady Bruins put countless hours of practice into reaching that goal — but ultimately, winning a championship is an experience you can’t put a price on.

As for the championship rings that commemorate such an event ... well, that’s something you can put a price on, and the folks who make such celebratory jewelry will be happy to quote you a figure if you’ll give them the specs.

Even in the best of times, money isn’t free and easy for most high school sports programs (nor high school athletes), but things have been even tougher for teams in recent years. High school sports don’t exist in a bubble, and the tightened belts that have resulted in other arenas from a weak economy are being worn by coaches and players, too.

At Northwest, things in the athletic department certainly weren’t helped by having to spend the past two years in a region where being the geographically isolated school meant decreases at the gate and increases in travel expenditures.

So, as the Lady Bruins prepare to purchase their state championship rings, they’re looking for a little help in footing the bill. But they’re not just asking for a handout, either, and that seems appropriate for a group that has shown no shyness at working hard in building a state-level program.

Jason Brooker — who led Northwest to the title in his first season as coach but was probably thinking more about steal signs than dollar signs when the Lady Bruins made their trip to Columbus for the state tournament — had a eureka moment recently while attending a fundraising chili supper put on by the high school baseball team in Crossville, Tenn., where his wife is from. Brooker was impressed by the event’s $10,000 success, and while he doesn’t expect that total to come from the Lady Bruins’ upcoming “Chili with Champions” fundraiser, he’s optimistic his players won’t have to be concerned about financing their rings if things go well.

The chili supper, which is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the school’s cafeteria, will include an auction and raffles in addition to the world’s most perfect cold weather soup. A $20 ticket feeds up to five people, and ages 5 and younger will eat for free.

“Each girl got 15 tickets, and if they all sell that many, it will cover their rings,” Brooker said. “And we asked each girl to get five or six companies or restaurants to donate something we could auction off. We’re going to do a 50-50 raffle, and depending on what we got, we might raffle off some other stuff.”

If you’re interested in purchasing a ticket or helping out the Lady Bruins, contact Brooker at Just like their title run, they’ll remember your help in celebrating the big victory.

And here’s a look at what else is going on:

• Looking for a way to work up an appetite for all that chili?

How about a 10-mile run — or a CrossFit workout?

Check out our Local Sports Calendar, which you can find today on page 2B and online 24/7 at, to find out more about those activities.

• When Georgia Rampage owners Kacee Smith and Amer Awad introduced Dalton’s new Ultimate Indoor Football League team this summer, they promised that games at the trade center would be a complete entertainment experience, with the show continuing even when the teams call timeout.

One part of that will be the Rampage’s dance team, which will hold tryouts for women ages 18 and older at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 in the group fitness studio at Bradley Wellness Center in Dalton. A $15 fee is required. To learn more, visit

• Home, home, home, home, home, home.

No, that’s not the answer to the question, “Where would I rather be than stuck in a crowded mall full of Christmas shoppers?”

It’s the answer to “Where will Coahulla Creek, Dalton, Murray County, North Murray, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield’s varsity basketball teams be playing this Friday?”

Factor in that Southeast’s opponent is Christian Heritage, and it’s another night when local hoops fans are lucky in the travel department. It’s a great chance to get out and support your team, so don’t miss it.

Marty Kirkland is sports editor of The Daily Citizen, as well as a prize-winning chili cook who thinks a pinch of cinnamon does wonders for what’s in the pot — which should include beans, no matter what Texas has to say about it. Got something you think we should highlight in “What’s Going On?” Let us know at