Bears excel despite obstacles

Published 9:18 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sportsmanship in high school athletics is an enigma—often talked about but rarely seen.

But if there were a sport that could serve as an example for the rest of how players, coaches and fans of different teams can coexist peacefully, maybe even enjoy each other’s company, that sport would be track and field.

Six Billingsley athletes found this out as they were performing at the Alabama High School Athletic Association decathlon and heptathlon at Hoover High School on May 13-14.

Having never competed in—or even practiced—the pole vault event, the Bears found themselves the recipients of instruction and poles from other athletes and cheers from fans of other teams.

“I’ve never seen parents and kids root for kids from other teams in any other sport,” Billingsley coach J.T. Lawrence said. “They were dreading it, but that ended up being one of their favorite events.”

The Bears did well enough, even on the pole vault, to post impressive finishes, which came against athletes from mostly larger schools that boast much better equipment.

Jay Tyus finished 13th in the decathlon, while Jamar Hopson was 26th, Donte Vinson was 38th and Tim Simon was 47th out of more than 50 competitors in the decathlon. In the heptathlon, the Brittany Brown finished 24th and Lori Davis was 28th.

All the athletes except Davis, a freshman, are seniors, and the group is believed to the first from Billingsley to compete in the events in at least this decade.

“I was glad I got to go,” said Brown, who was a part of the Billingsley track program for three years.

“I was nervous because I was looking for there to be a lot of good athletes up there, but I settled down when I got into my events,” Vinson said.