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Off the Field – A True Lady Blue Devil

By Keeli Parkey

My fellow staff members and I extend our prayers and thoughts to the family and friends of Ashlie Padgett. Padgett recently passed away from injuries sustained in an auto accident.

A three-sport athlete and a great student, Padgett was chosen as the female athlete of the year for Unicoi County High School last month.

I didn’t know Ashlie that well. I had really only interacted with her while working Lady Devil Basketball Camp a few weeks ago. I did watch her play several games  for the Lady Devil basketball team this past season and I was always impressed with how hard she played and her commitment to her team.

Part of my duties during camp was to be in charge of a league in which our 12-14 year-old campers were divided into teams and competed against one another in the afternoons. Ashlie was the coach of one of those teams.

From the first game she coached it was obvious how much she loved the game of basketball and that was contagious. She was very positive with the players on her team, encouraging them and cheering them on. At the end of camp, Ashlie’s team won the tournament and she, rightly so, took pride in what her players had accomplished.

Having played basketball at UCHS and served as an assistant coach for a time, I am proud that Ashlie was a member of our Lady Blue Devil family. 

From everyone I have spoken to, including head coach Kerri King, Ashlie embodied the qualities of a true Lady Blue Devil,.

“Ashlie’s physical attributes were obvious; she was gorgeous, smart and extremely athletic,” King said. “However, her more genuine gifts were her commitment to her teammates, loyalty to her friends, protectiveness of her sister, adoration for children and an ability to connect with people of any age. I was her coach, but I know she was my true friend.”

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With the departure of Curtis Carden, who left The Erwin Record for another publication, I will be handling our sports coverage for the coming weeks.

So, please send your sports news to me at [email protected] or call our office at 743-4112. Being a big sports fan, I am looking forward to covering Unicoi County sports this summer. I am ready to share the accomplishments of our athletes, coaches and residents.

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Even though I never played it competitively – except for some heated battles in PE class in high school – I truly love football. And by football, I mean soccer.

I fell in love with the sport during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which was played in Brazil and won by Germany. After that, I decided to start following a Barclay’s Premier League team. I researched most of the teams in the league, their history, their current standing and outlook for the future. I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagons of the successful and popular Manchester United or Chelsea teams. But, I also didn’t want to cheer for a team with little or no chance of climbing to the top of the table and winning the league.

In the end, I chose the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. The “Spurs” are rich in history and appeared to have a bright future ahead. (They finished third in the Premier League’s 2016-17 season behind the surprising Leicester City and Arsenal, so I think I made a wise choice.)

For football fans, the next month will be a very exciting time as the 2016 Copa America  tournament reaches the knockout stage and the 2016 European Championship gets underway.

Team USA advanced out of Group A as top seed of the Copa America with a 1-0 win over Paraguay on Saturday thanks to a goal by Clint Dempsey. They will face the second seed out of Group B on Thursday.

Even though Team USA isn’t participating in the European Championship, I am still keeping up with the action and throwing my support behind England.

Why cheer for England?

I find that it is way more fun to watch a competition if you have a horse in the race, so to speak. I chose England as my “horse” in this tournament for two reasons. First, the Three Lions have never won the European Championship and who doesn’t love an underdog? Secondly, five members of England’s team play for the Spurs, including my favorite player Harry Kane. The other Spurs representing their country are Dele Alli, Kyle Walker, Eric Dier and Danny Rose. I know they will make Tottenham proud.

Nicknamed the “Three Lions,” England’s national team was placed in Group B of the tournament with Russia, Wales and Slovakia.

England played to an unfortunate draw its opening fixture against Russia, 1-1, on Saturday, June 11. It was a match that saw Dier put England on the scoreboard in the 73rd minute of play. After the goal, it looked as if I would be watching the Three Lions leave with a victory. The 90th minute came and went and three minutes of stoppage time began. I was still hopeful even after Russia forced a corner in the 91st minute, until, Vasili Berezutski’s head found the ball and put it in the net. It was a disappointing results to say the least.

I remain hopeful for England to bounce back from the draw, win its group and advance to the knockout stage.

The Three Lions will face Wales at 9 a.m. (EST) on Thursday, June 16, and Slovakia on Monday, June 20, at 3 p.m., both of which will be aired on ESPN.

Even if you aren’t cheering for England, or any of the other 23 teams vying to be Europe’s best, I encourage you to turn on ESPN and watch a match or two. I think you will really enjoy it.