The community is still in the clutches of the COVID-19, but it appears that school will start at some point and that scholastic athletics may not be far behind.
The Clinton Blaze athletic program will be heading into its fourth year of existence, and Clinton City Schools Athletic Director E.T. Stamey says he is excited about the coming academic year, which is slated to begin next month.
Things will begin with fall sports, including cross country, swimming and boys and girls basketball.
Cross Country and Track and Field: Terri Kerley will coach cross country and track for the Blaze and Lady Blaze. Both sports have made great strides in a short time, and Blaze athletes Kenzlee Hutchison, Charlotte Hutchison and Adeline Queener will head to the Junior Olympics in Florida Aug. 5-8.
Queener competed in a Knoxville Youth Athletics meet Saturday at Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville. She won the 100-meter dash with a time of 16.97 seconds and the 200-meter dash with a time of 36.00 seconds.
Cross Country Schedule: The Blaze cross country season is tentatively set to begin on Sept. 5 with the Victor Ashe Park Fall Classic. The season will go until late October. The Blaze will be at Cove Lake on Sept. 9 (elementary school meet) and Sept. 10 (middle schools meet). Clinton will be at Walters State-Sevierville Sept. 14-15. The Blaze will be at the Leisure Polls Meet Sept. 21-22. The Blaze teams travel to Knoxville and Johnson University Sept. 28-29.
The area championships are on Oct.10 and the state championships are scheduled for Oct. 24.
Boys and Girls Basketball: The Blaze and Lady Blaze hoopsters will return for their fourth seasons later this fall. Both teams are coming off historic seasons and both have several returning players.
Coaches Jeff Little and Donnie Woods return for Clinton’s boys, who won 15 games last season. Coaches Christin Webb and Lauren Murphy are back to coach the Lady Blaze, who notched 17 victories last season.
The teams have sold out several games in a row and Stamey said that they’ll see some new opponents this season and he thinks that will ramp up excitement even more for the teams and fans in 2020.
Basketball Record Book: Stamey has assembled a record book for the Blaze and Lady Blaze basketball team.
The Blaze’s single-game record for rebounds is held by Andrew McAmis. He had 12 in a contest against Caryville in 2018.
The Lady Blaze’s single-game record for 3-pointers in one game was set by Lainee Carmichael. She made two in a game against Caryville in 2018.
Swimming: Coach Zeke Rich returns to coach in the Blaze’s co-ed swimming program, which begins its third year during the fall semester. The program returns several athletes and those youngsters are talented, enabling Rich to build a solid and competitive program during the team’s charter stages.
The swim season is in limbo as the Clinton Community Center has yet to reopen since closing in March due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Bowling: Coach Tammy Thatcher will coach bowling again in the spring. The intramural league has become a hit in Clinton as it is a top spectator sport. The league has also helped the sport grow in the community as many parents of CCS bowlers have now taken up the game.
The league was cut short this spring. COVID-19 also forced the Clinton Community Center to close and it has yet to reopen.
In the spring, the Blaze will field a track and field team for the third consecutive season. The Blaze will also have an intramural bowling league. Bowling was cut short due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and the 2020 track and field campaign never really got started, according to Stamey, who recently finished his duties in the CCS’s meal distribution program. That ended on Tuesday, June 30 and provided students with 59,857 meals since schools shut down in March. Also this fall, Chris Carroll, a soccer pro from Knoxville, looks to have another clinic for aspiring male and female soccer players. Carroll hosts multiple camps for the city’s elementary school students every year.
“He likes coming here every year and he likes Clinton,” Stamey said of Carroll. “We get a large turnout and these kids are really good.”
Later in the academic year, Stamey said he hopes to have softball, golf and tennis clinics. Tennis was scheduled to start its first clinic run during the spring semester of 2020, but the health crisis caused that to be scrapped.
“I won’t have teams yet for the sports where we have clinics,” Stamey said. “We have players interested but I can’t find a place for us to play.” where we can compete.