Locker Room: Pulaski County fans want their football program back!

By Dan Callahan
The Patriot

There’s been a problem at Pulaski County for a few years now. It’s football program has stopped winning. Cougar fans want that fixed. This week Stephen James was hired as its new head coach. James comes from Fort Chiswell. That school had a problem a few years ago, and hired James to fix it. He did. That’s a good sign. Can he do it again at Pulaski County? I think so.
What has happened to Cougar football? That’s likely one of, if not the most often asked question in Pulaski County in recent years. PCHS has been playing football for 40 years. The career record for the school in football is 282 wins, 163 losses, and three ties. That’s a 63% winning ratio.
Now for the concerning aspect of that. Of those 40 years, 24 of them belong to Joel Hicks. His teams were 210-69 from 1979-2002. They won 75 percent of the time, and averaged 8.75 wins a season. Hicks’ teams won 15 district titles, seven in a row from ’91-’97, six region titles, and a Division 6, Group AAA state championship. His playoff record was 23-15. That’s 38 playoff games, that’s almost four additional seasons of football, and that was back when you had to be good to qualify for the playoffs.
So from that point, what happened? A lot, a lot of mistakes were made in this opinion. A lot of lesser, politically correct issues began to get in the way. It should be mentioned that much of the personnel from that time frame is no longer in the school system. The current administration should not be blamed for all that went wrong. But it must be in charge of getting it fixed. Sometimes unfortunate things fall onto your plate, deserved or not, but it comes with the territory. Let’s just say that sometimes you don’t really appreciate how good and positive something is, until you don’t have it anymore. The feeling here is that things are back on the right track.
Now the fate of Cougar football rests in the hands of James. He must be able to figure out why Hicks was so successful, and the rest have not been. The fact is this, take away Hicks’ 24 years and Pulaski County is 72-94-3, a 33 percent less productive program than under Hicks’ leadership, a losing record. Only during Jack Turner’s tenure, 42-33, 56 percent, has the program been able to remain above .500. Turner’s 12-1 region championship team and state semi-finalist in 2008 is the last really good Cougar team to take the turf in Dobson Stadium.
What has to happen to make Pulaski County a winner in football again? That’s the other question that’s been asked a million times. I think the attitude has to change. Based on conversations with others who’s opinions I respect, and my own personal interview with the new coach, I think James is the right coach at the right time to change the attitude. He has a lot to overcome. None of his current players have ever experienced a winning season.
I believe James is the type personality and type coach the Cougar program needs. He’s old school. He’s a physical style football coach. Pulaski County is not a “seven on seven football program.” The Cougars will not usually win because they play pretty football. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I think a good drive block is a beautiful thing.
To win, Pulaski County must be fundamentally sound, strong, in great condition, not only physically tough, but tough minded. The Cougars need to love the fourth quarter. The opposition needs to hate it. It was once that way. It can be that way again. Give James the tools, the staff, the support he needs, and let him go to work.
Pulaski County is not like any other program and its people are not like other fans either. I’m not sure I can explain that, but I know it’s different. The Cougar football fan loves to win, and absolutely hates to lose and sometimes takes too long to get over it. The people that buy a ticket on Friday night want one simple thing, they want to win. It’s not complicated, just win.
Football once was the golden egg, but some people started stepping on that egg. It was a big mistake. The community wants its football program back. They are tired of people stepping on it. Pulaski County wants to have a great football program again, and it can. Pulaski County has gone from the top of the mountain to the bottom, and out of the conversation. That makes no sense, but It can be fixed.
Why is that so important? Because the people of Pulaski County tell you it’s important. I believe Stephen James can lead the Cougar football program back into the light, back into the conversation, and if he does he’ll be the best thing to come along in Pulaski County since Joel HIcks. That’s high cotton.
But there’s a simple way to look at this. It’s very much like it was at Fort Chiswell. The Pioneers were down, way down. They hired James to fix the problem. He fixed it. Yes, the scope is a bit bigger at Pulaski County, but it’s still much the same type situation he faced at Ft. Chiswell. History indicates he can do the job.
Get behind him. If he asks for your help, help him! Let the people of Pulaski County have their football program back. Open the door. Invite the Cougar faithful in. Help Stephen James get this thing turned around. It’s a worthwhile undertaking. I wish him the best.

Meet Stephen James Tonight

A media event will be held in the Little Theatre at Pulaski County High School at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, 

2014. The public is invited to attend.

Patriot Exclusive! New Cougar head coach calls Pulaski County the ‘mecca’ of high school football in SW Virginia

By Dan Callahan
The Patriot

Stephen James was asked a simple question Tuesday evening. Why Pulaski County? He responded in a way that gladdens the hearts of Cougar football fans. He related back to his younger years in coaching. It was 2002 and he was the defensive coach for the Scarlett Hurricane of Marion. The playoffs opened in Kenneth J. Stadium. A lasting impression was made.

Cougar Head Coach Stephen James

Cougar Head Coach Stephen James (Photo courtesy of the Wytheville Enterprise)

“Man, what a chill I felt that night. I’ve never forgotten that game and that night. It was such an electric atmosphere. The stadium was packed. There was so much enthusiasm. As a coach you always want to be in that type atmosphere. It’s so meaningful to your kids. Our staff (Marion) was standing there and just took it all in. We knew we had walked into the mecca of high school football in southwest Virginia,” said James.
That memory remained with James during the remainder of his time at Marion and all during his nine successful years at Fort Chiswell. “I thought many times if I ever had the opportunity, I would want to look at Pulaski County. Anybody that knows anything about football from this region of the state, knows about Cougar football. ”
While the decision to come to Pulaski County was easy, the decision to leave Fort Chiswell was not. “It was tough today (Tuesday morning). It sure was. When you spend a lot of time at a place you develop relationships, you get close to the kids, and the people in the community. It was hard telling the kids I was leaving. Some of them were upset. Things landed a little hard for some people, and I understand that. But this is an opportunity I wanted, and could not turn down. I want to move up, and in this case I’m moving up a few divisions.” Ft. Chiswell is Division 1A, Pulaski County 4A.
But the future excites James. “I look at this as a challenge. It’s the next challenge in my coaching career. I wish the kids back at Fort Chiswell all the best. Our plan was to make another run at the state title next season, and I really hope they are able to do that. I’ll certainly be pulling for them. But at the same time, when you look at the history of Pulaski County football, and the level of competition, it just excites me that I have this great opportunity,” added James.
James will continue to live on Petunia Drive in Wytheville with his wife Rebecca who is an administrator in the Wythe County School System. They have a daughter who will enter the sixth grade next school year. “We’ll stay where we’re at for the time being with the family situation, but I’ll be around most of the time. We like the Draper area as far as looking at a place to build a home one day, but that would only put us a few miles closer than I am right now, so that’s down the road.”
Cougar fans want to know what type offense James likes to run. He likes to run what his players do best for the most part. “I think I have a feeling for the type youngster that plays football for Pulaski County, and everything depends on personnel. I like a power running game, I like to run the inside zone scheme and let the quarterback read things. But we will do what our kids do best. It’s that simple. I do enjoy passing the ball maybe six to eight times a game, but don’t like to get too carried away with that. The thing I like the most is knocking people around at the line of scrimmage.”
James says nothing is written in stone on defense either. “Last season at Fort Chiswell we ran a 50 front (five linemen on the ball) because we had a bunch of good linemen. If we have a bunch of good linebackers, we might run a four-man front. Personnel will determine those things too. I’m not going to be hard headed. We’re going to do what the kids can do, not just what you might like or want to do,” said James.
James’ coaching staff is not yet established, but it will likely not take too long before it is. “I’ve got to talk with some people. We’ve got some logistics to deal with, so the staff has not been totally determined yet, but I do not think it’s going to take a long time.”
Does James have concerns, as any new coach would have taking over a different program? Certainly, but he’s trying not to let too many concerns cloud the central issue as he quickly moves toward becoming the number one Cougar in Pulaski County.
“I’m sure I will have a lot of concerns in the near future, but right now my main concern is feeling like we are behind. I want to meet the players and start developing those relationships. I’m sure they are wondering some things. We want to put all the questions to rest. We’re going to start doing some things after school. We’ve just got to work hard, get stronger. The new practice rules will allow us to get a lot done this summer. We’ll work hard on the weights and conditioning, and start putting some things in pertaining to our schemes. The kids are going to be doing things differently, so we need to spend time with them. I’m not a complicated coach. I just feel like if you work hard, good things will happen. We’re going to work hard,” emphasized James.
And the plan? Is there a master plan? Not really. “It always begins in the weight room with me,” says James.
“Any plan that works starts in the weight room. We’re going to pump iron. The plan is to get the program bigger, stronger, and physical. I’m looking forward to getting to know everybody and working with the kids. I’m excited. I’m ready to go to work,” said James.

Meet Stephen James Tonight

A media event will be held in the Little Theatre at Pulaski County High School at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23,  2014. The public is invited to attend.

Obituary for Elizabeth Dyre Handy Barbre Wills

Elizabeth Dyre Handy Barbre Wills, age 88 of Dublin passed away peacefully Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at her home.

Born July 12, 1925 in Glade Springs, Virginia, she was the daughter of the late Hallard Lundy Handy and Fannie Victoria Porter Handy, and the last surviving member of her birth

Elizabeth Wills

Elizabeth Wills

family.  Elizabeth was preceded in death by her husband, Robert “Bob” Wills; and former husband & father of her children, Marvin Britt Barbre; one daughter, Lynn Price; three brothers and five sisters.

Liz was a member of the Dublin Baptist Church and practiced a personal faith exhibited by her love of family, the beauty of nature and by living a quiet humble life.  Mrs. Wills enjoyed cooking, sewing, cleaning and providing a wonderful home.  She retired from the Radford Army Ammunition Plant after which she owned and operated a small alteration business.  Liz will long be remembered for her beautiful smile, devotion to others and her joy in finding beautiful glassware at every antique and thrift shop near and far.

Surviving 

Children & spouses

Carol B. & Otis C. Davidson-Dublin

Ginger B.  & Dan Davis-Kingsport, TN

Marvin W. & Roena Barbre – Roanoke

Connie B.  & Danny Haga-Dublin

Fourteen Grandchildren

Twenty four Great Grandchildren 

Funeral services will be held Thursday, 12 noon, April 24, 2014 at the Bower Funeral Home Chapel, Pulaski with Rev. Marvin W. Barbre officiating. Interment will follow in the New Dublin Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Dublin.

The family will receive friends Thursday from 10:30 a.m. until service time at Bower Funeral Home, Pulaski.

The family wishes to thank Good Samaritan Hospice for Elizabeth’s care and their support of the family.

To sign the online guestbook, visit www.bowerfuneralhome.com

Bower Funeral Home, Pulaski is handling the arrangement for the family. 540-980-6160

School system confirms James’ selection as new Cougar football coach

Staff Report

Pulaski County Schools has now confirmed the selection of Stephen James as the new head football coach of the Cougars.

School Superintendent Thomas Brewster issued the following statement late this (Tuesday) morning:

“Pulaski County Public Schools is pleased to announce that Stephen James has been named Head Varsity Football
Coach for Pulaski County High School, pending Board approval. Coach James has seventeen (17) years of coaching
experience. During this time, he has established a reputation as a talented and successful teacher and football coach.

“For the past nine (9) years, Coach James has been head coach at Fort Chiswell High School. Over the past five (5)
years, he has compiled a record of 49-14, including a 24-4 run over the past two (2) years. Last year, he led the
Pioneers to the most wins (12) in school history, and an appearance in the Virginia High School League State Semi
Finals.

“Coach James is a graduate of Emory and Henry College where he played three (3) years of NCAA Div III football and
four (4) years of NCAA Div III Baseball. Coach James will be teaching Physical Education and Health classes.

“A media event will be held in the Little Theatre at Pulaski County High School at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23,  2014. The public is invited to attend.”

See The Patriot’s earlier story for more details on Stephens’ selection.

James new Cougar head football coach

By Dan Callahan
The Patriot

The Patriot has learned that Pulaski County High School has a new head football coach and it didn’t go far to find him. Stephen James, who has been the head coach at Fort Chiswell in Max Meadows, will be the new mentor for Cougar football beginning with the 2014 season.

His name will be presented to the Pulaski County School Board for approval.

The position was highly sought after with head coaches from across the state showing considerable interest in becoming the Cougar head football coach. There were applications from almost every region of the Old Dominion and approximately two dozen coaches applied for the job.

James will replace Todd Jones who resigned in early spring. While Pulaski County football has been struggling in recent years, Fort Chiswell has been flourishing. The Pioneers have posted records of 11-2, 9-3-1, 5-5, 11-3, and 12-2 the past five seasons under James’ leadership.

Last season was the high water mark for the Pioneers under James. The team advanced all the way to the Division 1 state semi-final game before falling to Essex, 38-13. Essex was routed in the state championship game by Altavista, coached by former Cougar assistant Mike Scharnus.

Those 12 victories features wins over Rural Retreat twice, George Wythe, Radford twice, James River, Galax, Grayson County, Narrows, Bland, and Covington. Fort Chiswell, until recent changes in the Virginia High School League classification system, was a long time member of the Mountain Empire District.

James and his family are residents of South Pentunia Road in Wytheville. He wife, Rebecca, is the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Wythe County School System.

Hiss leaving as Pulaski County’s assistant county administrator

Staff Report

Pulaski County will soon be without an assistant county administrator.

While there’s been no official word from Pulaski County administration, Assistant County Administrator Robert Hiss made his departure plans known through a Facebook posting.

In his post, Hiss said, “It’s official, we are moving to Athens, Ga. I am taking a new job as Assistant Manager for the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government.”

Hiss continued,  “We are going to really miss our friends and acquaintances in the New River Valley and Pulaski County. However, we are also looking forward to this new opportunity and chapter in our lives.”

Hiss came to Pulaski County in early 2007 after serving five years as administrator of Meriwether County, Ga.

 

McCraw: Job of dispatcher both stressful and rewarding

Vickey McCraw is one of eight communications officers with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office.

Vickey McCraw is one of eight communications officers with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office.

By LINDA WILLIAMS

Staff Writer

Last week was National Telecommunicators Week. A week set aside to honor those 911 dispatchers who are our lifeline when help is needed at one of the worst times in our lives. People who remain calm and set aside their own emotions to give you the help you need as quickly as possible.

Vickey McCraw is one of eight communications officer in the

Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office under the direction of Sheriff Jim Davis. There are two 911 dispatchers on each shift. Dispatchers work on a 12 hour rotating schedule, both day shift and night shift. These folks are the last people you want to call, but the only people you want to talk to when faced with a life threatening emergency.

The job, according to McCraw is hard at times,

yet very rewarding.

“I started working here for the first time in 1992. I walked in, sat down and that was it. I was hired. Down the road six months later I went for one week of training at the New River Criminal Justice Academy. They do things differently now,” said McCraw.

McCraw worked at the sheriff’s office for three and a half years then, after taking a year off to be with her family, she worked at Pulaski County High School as a Cougar assistant for two and half years. In June of 2000 she returned to the sheriff’s office and has never left.

“I was in the fire department the first time I was hired so that was a plus. I knew how to handle the fire rescue part of it.  I started out in Dublin in 1986 as a firefighter then moved to Newbern. This past year I took life-time at the Newbern Fire Dept. I’ve been there for over 20 years,” said McCraw proudly. Lifetime meaning she is now a lifetime member of the Southwest Firefighters Association.

“I had never talked on the radio before, even being in the fire department. They told me, ‘You’re going to have to do it.’ I was petrified,” said McCraw.

“I don’t remember my first call, but the first thing they let me do was answer the guy’s (deputies) when they signed out somewhere or signed on at the scene until I got used to what was going on.”

Currently Pulaski County and the Town of Pulaski are finalizing an agreement that will result in the merger of the Pulaski Police and Pulaski County Sheriff’s dispatching operations.

McCraw sees that as a good thing.

“We’ll all be working together at the central dispatch center and they will hire other people also,” she said. “They say there will be no less than three people per shift. The new 911 center will be in the new sheriff’s office and there will be all new equipment including new telephone, radio and mapping systems. It will be a lot different, it will be really different for the police departments. We dispatch for our deputies, we have all the county fire department and the Pulaski Fire Dept. and all EMS (rescue) in the county which they (police dispatchers) don’t do right now. It is going to be a learning curve for them more so than for us, but they will do fine,” McCraw said.

Being a 911 dispatcher can be a very stressful job as anyone can imagine, but when asked how McCraw handles stress she offers, “Well, a lot of people feel they can go home and leave their job. I don’t think we ever leave our job,” said McCraw. “You hear things you never want to hear and you see things you never want to see. I’ve lived here all my life. I know a lot of people and I have talked to people who have no clue who I am, but I know who they are. You kind of carry that with you. Good, bad or indifferent you carry it with you.

“For instance, when the tornado went through, my husband and I were at the Wolfahrt House in Wytheville. When we got home I told him, ‘I’m going to work because it is crazy up there. They need everyone they can get.’ So I went to work.

When the phone rings you try to give the caller the attention they need. You get their address, you try to calm them down and then at least I can get someone headed their way. Whether it be fire, rescue or police.

When you call 911 we need the best information you can give us. There are times I know when you can’t be calm. I found my mother after she had a massive stroke. I couldn’t think of the number 911 and I am a dispatcher. So I understand. People want someone to cling too. We will try to stay on the phone with you as long as possible. If someone has a weapon we definitely need to know that, as well as whether they are intoxicated or on drugs and how they are acting.

Then I can talk to the caller and find out what is going on,” explained McCraw.

Another stressful aspect of the job, according to McCraw occurs when both dispatchers are on the line with 911 calls then a third 911 line starts to ring. “In your mind you’re thinking, ‘What is that call about?’ We answer all 911 calls first. If an administration line is ringing the 911 calls come first because someone could be in danger or hurt,” she said.

McCraw did not want to share her most difficult call, but did say the calls that involve children are the hardest. “Children aren’t asked to be brought into the world. Sometimes they are abused. So, to me it’s always harder when a child is involved. What you do is put your feelings aside and fall apart afterwards. I’ll cry or whatever after everything is over with. That is when I break down,” McCraw said.

The most important thing about a 911 call, McCraw says, is to get the caller what they need, whether it be EMS, fire or a deputy, as quickly as possible and deal with what you have just been through later.

In October of 2013, Autumn Duncan, McCraw’s current working

Dispatcher Autumn Duncan is back on the job.

Dispatcher Autumn Duncan is back on the job.

partner was seriously injured in a car accident. “It was very upsetting to hear firsthand that she had been hurt. She had just left the sheriff’s office and was on her way home, but I am happy she is back on the job and doing okay,” McCraw said.

The most annoying calls that come through a 911 line, according to McCraw, are those calls that ask, “How are the roads?”

“If you have a 911 emergency please call, but for road conditions please call VDOT,” she said. “Yes we have people out on the road, but road conditions are different everywhere. People will call on one of the 911 lines and ask how road conditions are on I-77. We don’t know! That is not in our jurisdiction. Those calls tie up the 911 lines and people who need help may be delayed in getting the help they need. During the last big snow my partner received a 911 call and the caller asked, ‘Is Wal-Mart open?’ Then there was the time someone called and wanted to order  a pizza from Pizza Hut, but they didn’t have enough minutes on their phone and wanted me to transfer them. We DO NOT transfer calls,” McCraw exclaimed.  “Some people think we are 411(directory assistance).”

Duncan offered this story. “One time someone called here and wanted to know how to spell a word. He was playing Scrabble I think,” Duncan said. “I proceeded to tell him that I did not know how to spell that word, but I did know how to spell incarcerated and that if he called 911 again he would be,” Duncan smiled.

“You would be surprised to know that a lot of people do not know their own address,” said McCraw. “Some callers are so upset they forget where they are. Then people traveling through on the interstate can’t tell you where they are. When a  911 cell call comes up, in order to get a location, the call hits a cell tower. It is called pinging. Most of the time it works pretty well and we can figure it out. When we receive a landline 911 call an address comes up,” McCraw explained.

According to McCraw, the number of calls dispatchers handle varies day to day. “Sometimes we have more calls, like during bad weather and during the summer on the weekends when things are going on. One season isn’t worse than another, just different. In the summer there are a few more calls maybe because people are out having a good time. Someone is having a party and the neighbor wants to go to bed. Teenagers and college age students and younger adults don’t take into consideration that they might live beside someone who has a baby that needs to go to sleep. You take an apartment building for example, you have a whole different mixture of people in there,” she said.

McCraw does have a stress relief valve. “I love to shoot. I have a friend who has a shooting range. I shoot there and then we own property. I’m lucky I live in the country and I can shoot on my own land. That releases it all! It all goes out the end of the barrel,” she says.

McCraw also enjoys photography and crocheting. She and her husband Jimbo have been married for 27 years. McCraw has one step-daughter and one granddaughter. She and Jimbo attend Mt. View United Methodist Church.

Thank you to all Pulaski County telecommunicators, we appreciate your work. Thanks for taking care of all of us!

Sutphin on comeback trail; marks 29 years as a sports coordinator

By MIKE WILLIAMS

Publisher

Last week marked 29 years since Eddie Sutphin first became a sports coordinator for the recreation programs in Pulaski County.

Sports has always been a big part of Sutphin’s life.  He grew up playing sports, especially baseball and softball.  He’s worked as

Eddie Sutphin rips one of his 235 career home runs in local men's softball action.

Eddie Sutphin rips one of his 235 career home runs in local men’s softball action.

a sports writer covering the games of area youngsters and adults.  And for these 29 years he has helped guide the sports development of Pulaski County’s youth.

“Eddie has dedicated most of his professional life coordinating youth recreation sports, mainly in the Town of Pulaski area,” said Anthony Akers, Director of Pulaski County’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“He began as a sports coordinator with the Town of Pulaski (I think 1986) and transitioned to the County of Pulaski in 2003. Eddie serves as the West sports coordinator along with John Myers as East sports coordinator in Pulaski County.

“Eddie’s knowledge of the history of sports in Pulaski County is remarkable. He can remember statistics from players in our recreation leagues as well as playing on the school teams. His unique ability to recall these sports accomplishments from countless athletes is very remarkable. This is a testament to the time and attention his has put into his work coordinating youth sports over the years. He is an avid fan and supporter of all our community youth sports programs. His historical knowledge is not only limited to Pulaski County, but he is very familiar with the history of athletics in our neighboring communities. Eddie is such a fine person and puts his heart into his work. I commend him for his dedicated service toward the youth of our community,” Akers said.

Dan Callahan, “The Voice of the Cougars” and football writer for The Patriot, speaks fondly of Sutphin – both as a friend, former co-worker and as a coach in the Pulaski County recreation sports arena.

“There are few people who have done more for our youth in Pulaski County than Eddie Sutphin. I had the pleasure to coach in the youth leagues in both football and baseball, and it was one of the most enjoyable periods of my life. I won far more than my fair share. I did that because I had great kids, positive, supportive parents, and I had Eddie. Like most involved in recreation sports, Eddie was always concerned about participation, but at the same time, he recognized that youngsters would gain far more from the experience if they were successful. We won the first region title over Grayson County in Dixie Youth Baseball for Pulaski Rec. Two years later we won back-to-back Sandlot Super Bowl championships at Salem Stadium, excellent, high qualify competition. We won because my kids were the best. I was proud of those kids, but I don’t believe anybody was more proud than Eddie.  “Eddie has always wished for good things for the kids, and if he could find a way to help you be successful, Eddie was the biggest supporter you had for your team,” Callahan said.

“Eddie has a big heart. He loves sports, loves watching kids play sports, he loves Pulaski County. He has been a great servant to the Town of Pulaski and the County. There is no better servant than one who serves our youth. He’s been a friend to thousands of kids, and he’s been a great friend to me for over 30 years. Many times in our lives we need help. Eddie was always there. He was a big help to me, and I know there’s a lot of young men now that remember their younger years playing ball, learning how to compete, and I’m confident they also think of Eddie Sutphin and how much he meant to them.  “Eddie is going through a difficult time right now, but he’s holding his head high. He should. He should be proud of all he’s done and how many kids he’s helped over the years. If the Good Lord could just find a way to reach down and touch a deserving person, I hope it’s Eddie.”

A fierce competitor in his playing days, Sutphin is now battling a new foe.  In December he was diagnosed with colon cancer.  He has been on medical leave from the county since then.

Sutphin believes he’s making a comeback.  Since December he has undergone chemotherapy treatment at the Blacksburg Cancer Center.  “The treatments are going good,” Sutphin said recently in a strong voice.  “I hope and pray it continues that way.”

Sutphin is feeling better and hopes to return to work this spring.  Possibly just in time for rec baseball and softball.

While many locally can attest to Sutphin’s work in recreation, it’s a good bet that not too many of today’s rec parents and players are aware of Sutphin’s own exploits in baseball and softball.

The truth is Sutphin was one of the most talented baseball players Pulaski County has produced – of course he would never say that himself.

But the numbers and the accomplishments say it for him.

A 1971 graduate of old Dublin High School, Sutphin was a four-year varsity baseball letterman.  He was former Dublin Dukes Head Coach Ray Dunavant’s starting center-fielder for three straight years.

He played on two New River District championship teams as a Duke, and his career high school batting average in 57 games was a stellar .353.

He was named the Dukes’ top fielder following both his junior and senior seasons.

After graduation from Dublin, Sutphin went on to Hiwassee Junior College in Tennessee where he played two seasons prior to attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  His college batting average was .345.

He was good with a glove in college also, and sported a career fielding percentage of a perfect 1.000 in over a hundred chances.

Following college, Sutphin turned his attention to slo-pitch softball, playing for numerous teams in the Pulaski, Wytheville and Radford areas.

Over a 33-year period (1974-2006) he even played on three Virginia State Championship softball teams.

He was a five-time MVP (1974-77 and 1981) of the Town of Pulaski / Pulaski County Men’s Softball League during his 29 years of playing.

He was the league’s all-time leader in games played, runs scored, times at bat and times on base.  He finished in the top 20 of all players in career on base average (.676) and home runs (235).

He lead the league in runs scored in five seasons, home runs in two seasons, and on base average one season in 1977 – a year he lead in all three categories.

He hit four home runs in one game (1975) and had five triples in a single game in 1996.

He played on seven league championship teams, and three in the Dublin league as well.

In the state championship tournaments in which he participated, Sutphin was named All-State Tournament in both 1988 and 1992.

No one should question these statistics, because – as Akers said earlier – Eddie’s knowledge of the history of sports in Pulaski County is remarkable.

So as the high school and rec games continue this spring and into the summer, and players compare their batting averages and number of home runs, they should think about what Sutphin accomplished.

And maybe take a moment to offer up a prayer for one of Pulaski County’s best to win the biggest game of his life.