By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Class of 2017 recognition concludes this week with The Genuine Article’s Who’s Who Part 2. This area’s four schools, Tipton-Rosemark Academy, Munford, Brighton and Millington Central, are amazing. All four schools are filled with talented and intelligent children. And The Millington Star has the privilege of shining a spotlight on them throughout the school year. Here’s that light one more time.
Jacob Harrold & Angela Healy
This years winners have a slight contrast. One was raised in the Trojan Way and attended sporting events as a baby. The other moved to Millington after learning to love music in Memphis. Angela Healy is the daughter of MCHS Hall of Famer Mark. And she was able to leave her own mark on Millington Central High School. Meanwhile Jacob Harrold earned a spot along side Angela as a member of the Class of 2017 MCHS Hall of Fame.
Harrold was involved in band, choir, wrestling and high academics. When Healy wasn’t busy with softball and volleyball, she was a part of pep club, FCA, choir and Yearbook.
So we’ve established that Healy and Harrold were busy on their own. But the duo cared enough about its peers to contribute in various ways like cheering, traveling far distances and painting their bodies in black and gold.
Healy’s sweet and soft smile I met many years ago never dimension. She was shooting a basketball in the Millington Civic Center among other children in her peer group.
Over the years I watched Angela mature into a beautiful young woman. Calling games over the PA system when her father had to run to the studio. She organized events at school to increase fellowship.
Right there in the middle would be Harrold. He was active and known around the school for his bright smile.
As the past four years flew by, I would see that smile and face everywhere. By his junior year I figured out his name. His 30-Plus Club picture in the hallway was the final straw. I had to meet this guy.
He lived up to the hype in my mind. Jacob was an impressive young man with a great spirit.
Both are destined to do wonderful things that will benefit us all. They have the support, knowledge and will to do it.
Jordan Tincher & Camilla Irizarry
Most Talented breaks down into two categories. You can win this by just simply being talented in many ways like Millington’s Camilla Irizarry. Or you can be recognized like Trojan Jordan Tincher because you do so many different things in your sport of choice.
Let’s look at Tincher first. The baseball all-star wore many hats in his final game as a prep player. He was selected to the 2017 Shelby County All-Star Game held at USA Stadium.
Tincher played shortstop, second base and pitcher. That’s was a normal week for Tincher at Millington. He was Head Coach Zane Adams multi-purpose guy and leader by example. Tincher was active in the school and was a consistent supporter of his classmates. He learned how to be a quality person from his parents who are champions of the city of Millington.
Irizarry also has great parents. If you come to a game you can hear her father cheering on all the players in black and gold. But his biggest shouts were for his daughter “Milla.”
The MCHS Hall of Famer and top 10 student kept her parents busy participating in choir, volleyball, NHS, softball and more. From playing defense in the back row to snatching up a ground ball at short, she made things look easy. But like her male counterpart, she put in work and dedication to her craft.
True talent is using hard work, support and spiritual guidance to make the end results look effortless. Jordan and Camilla have mastered it.
Shania Johnson & Jessica Trice
Ok, I’ve been writing these Who’s Who for years. And normally I pick a male and female for each category. But since it’s my Genuine Article, I can change the rules. This year two girls have captured my ears, mind and will be in my heart forever. Munford’s Shania Johnson and Millington’s Jessica Trice are my Best Buds.
Simply, to achieve this honor you have to match me word for word. Both girls would simple talk to me. And you know it’s building into a friendship when they excuse themselves and return to finish the chat.
Shania is “My Maine Girl.” She would share stories about the Northeastern corner of the United States and how it contrasts with the South. But our love of basketball, family and just laughing kept us entertained.
Whether it was Arlington to watch Lady Cougar Volleyball in Regionals, Brighton to see the rival Cardinals play a district foe or after one of her basketball games, Johnson was going to make sure we had a conversation. I just hope she learned something from me. Because I surely pulled from her knowledge.
And yes, people in Maine eat more than lobster. But they do serve their tea hot. It’s cold up there.
While Shania and I formed a bond the past two years, I first met Jessica as a member of GLOW at Woodstock Middle School.
“You know my sister!”
Jessica’s first words to me and before I could try to figure out who it was. “Ariel. She plays softball.”
That exchange exemplifies Jessica. She’s quick to recognize and brag on others. But if you hang around her long enough you will see her play an outstanding first base. Once she gets out of her own head, she can stroke the ball all over the field. And she does not quit no matter what. Lack of playing time didn’t stop her from being dedicated to volleyball.
That impressed me the most about her. She commits to something and she sees it through. Jessica wanted to please those around her like father Nate, mother Brandi, big sister Ariel, teammates, teachers, administrators, the janitorial staff, cafeteria personnel and even me.
Jessica is not perfect. She’ll be the first to tell you that. But she wants to be perfect for you if she cares about you.
I love Jess’ humbleness. She is a sweetheart and I would be proud to call her my niece or daughter. It’s not her academic achievements, scholarship to Missouri or being a two-sport athlete. Those are bonuses to the genuine person she is.
Thank you Jess and My Maine Gurl for all the chats, advice and lessons to help an old man. Genuine people are precious treasures to keep for a lifetime.
Blake Armour & Alex Malone
Ok, I just gave two young ladies some love. Now this category will be for the fellas. Let’s head to Brighton and shine the spotlight on Blake Armour and Alex Malone. This duo covers a range of sports like football, tennis and basketball.
Malone was a senior guard for the best basketball team in Brighton history. Coming into the season the headlines belong to juniors Taelyr Gatlin, Zach Lewis and Aaron Alston. But Head Coach Stan Gatlin made it clear to me in the preseason preview, Malone’s defense would be crucial and he would need to step up his offensive game if the Cardinals were going to reach new heights.
The senior guard heard his coach’s demands and surpassed them. Clutch shooting became part of Malone’s forte. He maintained his top-notch defense guarding both the opposing shooting and point guards.
The Cardinals will miss Malone’s intensity and focus to the little details on the court. He wasn’t worried about stats like points. He did the small things that made the Brighton core operate smoothly.
Another Brighton athlete about the final outcome over his own personal gains was Armour. Coming from a family blessed with athleticism and brains, Blake might be the poster child for the family. He used his sharp mind to play an outstanding year of linebacker for the Cardinals.
Armour earned an All-Star selection to the 2016 Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game. But the sport that made Blake a legend at Brighton was tennis. He qualified for State all four years making the trip three times. He set records and help make history as part of successful doubles teams.
Blake has done his part on adding to the great legacy of the Armour family. A family you can count on.
Thanks Blake and Alex for doing those little things that make history.
Rachel Woelm & Ethan Bell
Tipton-Rosemark Academy’s Rachel Woelm and Brighton’s Ethan Bell are inspirational. Bell was the heart of the 2016-17 Brighton Basketball Cardinals that reached Sub-State for the first time. And the fact that Woelm’s heart is beating today after surviving a car accident is profit of how amazing God can be.
Bell started the season coming off the bench. He was going to be a spark plug providing shooting for the Cardinals. But through roster changes and lineup shifts, Bell was a starter by the time Brighton made the trip to East.
When he entered the program, Bell was a raw talent known for just jacking up long range shots. By the time he graduated, Bell was making that shot more consistently. In addition Bell became a better defender, solid passer and wasn’t afraid to go in the paint to bang with the big boys.
The whole time Bell was grinding behind the scenes to fight for his playing time and to be a part of history. Nobody can take that away from him. He has earned it.
At TRA, one of the most beautiful sights on campus during 2016-17 was the jump serve of Woelm. In one graceful motion, Woelm would float in the air addressing the ball. Then with a force of energy, her arm would transform into a blade striking the volleyball toward the competition.
And with pinpoint accuracy Woelm would place the ball where she desired.
Many times I witnessed her take over a game and seize control for her squad with that trademark serve. The fact she was jumping, running, diving and hitting on the court was a miracle. To see her encourage teammates and lead along side fellow senior Joze Smith made her parents proud.
One day her father Charles let me know why every game, every play and every minute was so precious to the family. As I looked at the photo on his phone of a Rachel bruised and bedridden, I realized favor was smiled down upon her.
You can tell Woelm played the game like it was gift from God. She was fully dedicated at the same time enjoying every moment. Thank you Rachel for inspiring me. And Ethan your journey to the starting five taught me a lesson in perseverance.
Elizabeth Germany & Cameron Walker
A Hall of Famer and a Valedictorian made this decision easy. At Millington Central High School Cameron “Thor” Walker was involved with FCA, Chess and Pep Club. Then he was no stranger in making guest appearances at Oscar Nights, Homecomings and other events.
Walker worked along side classmates and teammates like Tyler Denson and Sam Stanifer in making the football team better and the school a better place.
Walker defines student/athlete. Now his next chapter will include school and athletes. Walker has signed to play rugby at The University of Memphis, with a goal of helping to make it an official NCAA sport.With the power of Thor, he will use his hammer of intelligence and skills to make that a reality.
Another sharp mind and hard worker at Millington was Germany. She outlasted classmate Taylor Dickerson to win the top academic spot.
Germany helped create a Yearbook, song in Carnegie Hall and did much more while playing soccer. The daughter of a lawyer, Germany has picked up on many traits that guided her to the top of MCHS. She knows how to dress, she can negotiate and she knows how to listen to people. True smarts is being able to learn from others.
Mr. and Ms. Millington Star
Tyler Denson & Johnna Jones
What young man should represent The Millington Star’s coverage area for 2017? Which young woman should be the face of TRA, Brighton, Munford and Millington this year?
Millington’s Tyler Denson and Munford’s Johnna Jones were my picks for Mr. and Ms. Millington Star respectively this year. Both have so much in common that would have easily made them a selection for the various other categories.
Denson and Jones are multiple sport athletes, solid academics, involved in the community, children of dedicated parents, spiritually guided and focused beyond the normal teenager.
Let’s start with Denson. The Millington Trojan was captain of three sports his senior year. Football, wrestling and soccer helped Denson showcase his leadership and heart.
He’s the first winner of The Millington Star’s Male Athlete of the Year to be captain in three varsity sports at the same time. “The Captain” earned that title in so many ways. But let me take note of just a pair.
When I was introduced to Tyler, it was a couple of years ago when he was wearing a back brace. The young man suffered an injury to his spine that could have taken away his mobility. While sports would be an afterthought to most, getting back to the mat, stepping onto the gridiron once again and playing soccer with his brother Carlos and Dalton motivated Tyler to get back.
The young man used his trademark determination and oversized heart to reach his goals. He never took a play or moment in any sport for granted.
My second example of Tyler’s worthiness for Mr. Millington Star came this past football season when he suffered an injury and had to miss half of the season. An undersize linebacker and defensive back, Denson wasn’t afraid to use all of his God-given ability to stop offenses.
But on paper you wouldn’t think a defensive unit would miss a player his size. But during a game at Melrose Stadium against Kingsbury, the Falcons were having some success against the Trojans’ defense in the first half. One of Tyler’s teammates said on the sideline, “This wouldn’t be happening if Tyler was out there.”
Tyler wasn’t around when those words were spoken. But his of the game must have felt it. He spoke to his teammates at half and inspired them to victory.
Victory was common for Jones at Munford. She was a part of successful track relay teams and the 2016 District 13-3A champion Lady Cougar Basketball team. She was MVP during that run.
And this past season, the All-Region selection sparked her team to a Sub-State appearance after beating Arlington for the Region 7-3A title.
Jones, the daughter of Munford Football legend Johnnie, was known before she even stepped on campus. But by the time she left Munford High School, Johnna earned her name in Cougar Sports history.
Instead of seeing the title of Johnnie’s daughter as a burden, Johnna used it as a resource and place of motivation. Her Dad trained her mind and body for the challenges ahead. Her mother Trena was nearby for addition work, encouragement and support.
It was a phone call from Trena years ago to come see a Munford Middle Basketball standout that started The Star’s coverage of Johnna. She was special and displayed skills above the average eighth grader.
Then Jones endured a humbling stretch her freshman year. She spent more time on the bench than the floor. In her ear the whole time were Johnnie and Trena. “You’re good Baby.” “Keep working and improving.” “They will need you and you be ready when that time comes.”
Nothing was given to Johnna. She earned it. By her sophomore year you would clearly see she was going to be vital to that basketball team. Her outside shot became lethal. Her ball handling went to another level. And she started to emerge as a leader off the court.
MVP her junior year and in her senior season she was mindful to step aside on some night to let Gabby Crawford and Shania Johnson do their things. She helped younger teammates like Ali Gover and Kennisha Mason emerge as key pieces to the Sub-State run.
From the humble beginnings to her signing with CBU, Johnna conducted herself with a poise, dignity and awareness of the legacy she inherited. And the Ms. Millington Star managed to increase that into a family legacy.
Family help both Johnna and Tyler to the next level. As both had to overcome hardships to reach the top, I bet they would agree a good support system and faith goes a long way.