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Remembering Coach Robbie Rogers

If you are a local athlete there is a good chance at some point in time you were coached by Robbie Rogers. Rogers, age 45, died Monday, December 1, 2014 in the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Savannah after a sudden illness. Rogers coached a variety athletes in a variety of sports. In recent years he was best known for the contributions he made in all phases of the Toombs County wrestling program. He coached both the Toombs County Middle School and High School wrestling teams and also was highly involved in the Toombs Kids Wrestling Program.

Robbie's visitation was attended by over 600 friends and family including a bus load of wrestlers from Dodge County. At his December 4, 2014 service, the Wggins Brothers sang "It Is Well With My Soul" and "Beulah Land". Bill Benton, a long time friend, spoke of Robbie's legacy. Not just his wrestling legacy, but the legacy he leaves in the community and with his family. Benton pointed out there was more to Robbie than just wrestling and sports.

Kevin Hill, another longtime friend, talked about the first time he met Robbie. It was way before son, J.D., became an athlete. Robbie asked if he could help with the football team and this lead to a long association with the Bulldogs. Robbie along with Brad Bell, who passed away in November of 2013, kept statistics and painted football fields and did what was ever needed.

Hill, who started the wrestling program at Toombs County High School, talked about the long term impact Robbie had on the Bulldogs. Rogers creation of the youth program helped set up the Dawgs for their long run of success. The program has produced numerous state champions and finished as high as third in the state on several occasions. Hill also talked about Robbie's love of barbequeing. Robbie participated in the Real Squeal in Lyons. He also mentioned that he and Robbie like beach music and that Robbie liked to shag dance with Denise. J.D. inherited that love of beach music and he performs with the legendary group the Swinging Medallions playing the saxaphone and singing and dancing.

Robbie's cousin, Reverend Moore closed the ceremony by talking about Robbie's love for his family and how proud he was of J.D.

Many who atteneded the serivce were dressed in orange to honor Robbie's love of the Auburn Tigers. The Toombs County wrestling team showed up in full force all dressed in Bulldog colors.

Coach Robbie also raised and coached one of the all time competitors in Toombs County wrestling progam. His son, J.D,. ended his fine high school career by winning a state championship in the Toombs County Middle School Gym. J.D. won the 195 pound division with a late third period pin of Clayton Thornbury from Murray County.

J.D. Rogers wins his state championshp with a pin 

At the season-ending wrestling banquet Robbie and wife Denise received the Service Award for all they had done to support the Bulldog wrestlng team. Father and son then spent their last summer together competing with Team Georgia.

When J.D. was competing in Kids Wrestling, the two traveled around the state of Georgia competing in many events and J.D. won the championship belt. After high school J.D. signed with Brewton-Parker College and Robbie was in the process of starting a youth wrestling program in Mt. Vernon.

Coach Rogers sports knowledge wasn't just limited to wrestling. In the fall of 2013, J.D.'s senior eason, Robbie was an assistant coach on the Toombs County High School football staff working with the wide receivers. Rogers also coached cross country and track at TCHS. In addition Rogers coached Women's softball at Brewton Parker College, golf and football at Robert Toombs Christian Academy and a traveling baseball team, the Diamond Warriors- which was a summer all-star squad made up of players from local high schools.

Robbie grew up in Waynesboro, and was a graduate of Waynesboro High School. He was a graduate of Brewton-Parker College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Education and more recently a degree in Middle Grade Science. He worked with the Toombs County School System and was Past President of the Reidsville Jaycees, and held offices in Toombs County and at the state level of Georgia. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Lyons, and was preceded in death by an infant sister.

Coach Rogers is survived by his wife, Denise Moore Rogers; one son, John Dennis "J.D." Rogers, both of Lyons; parents, Robert and Jane Rogers of Waynesboro; siblings, Mark Rogers and wife Cristy of Hephzibah, DeAnna Faulk and husband Richard of Wrens, Richard Rogers and wife Shelli, David Rogers and wife Dana, and Amy Hance and husband Daniel all of Waynesboro; and numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Brewton-Parker Wrestling, Attention: Advancement Office, P.O. Box 197, Mt. Vernon GA 30445. 

In Memory of Brad Bell

Brad Bell, who gave so many 

hours to the Sweet Onion Tourney, was honored 

Mr. Brad Bell, age 45, of the Johnson Corner Community, died Thursday, November 28, 2013 from injuries received in an automobile accident in Evans County.  He was a native of Savannah, a 1986 graduate of Jenkins High School, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a minor in accounting.  He was a U.S. Air Force veteran; stationed in Goldsboro, and served in the Persian Gulf War.  He worked with Briggs and Stratton in Statesboro for seventeen years, and presently was the area manager of aluminum machining.   He moved to Toombs County in 1994, and was a member of the Oaks Baptist Church.  He was the statistician for the Toombs County Football Team and the Wrestling Team for ten years.  He was a community football coach and was the kicking coach for the Toombs County Football Team.  He was Past President of both the Redcoat Booster Club and the Toombs County High School Athletic Booster Club.  He was preceded in death by an infant daughter Cynthia Nicole Bell.

Brad is survived by his wife of twenty five years, Gina Nasworthy Bell of Johnson Corner; three children, Kristin, Matthew, and Anna Claire ; parents, Lewis and Jane Bell of Savannah; three sisters, Lisa Queen of Jacksonville, Florida, Glenda Miles and husband Ricky of Savannah, and Dee Dee Collins and husband Wes of Reidsville; mother-in-law and father-in-law, Glenda and Gleen Nasworthy of Johnson Corner; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Gloria Nasworthy Phillips and husband Tyler of Johnson Corner; and nieces and nephews, Erica Atkinson and husband Trey, Amanda Brodmann and husband David, McKenzie, Zach, and Tanner Collins, and T.J. and Avery Phillips.  

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Billy Robertson Scholarship Fund, C/O Toombs County High School Athletic Booster Club, P.O. Box 1446, Lyons GA 30436 or the GVF Foundation/Courtney Wilkes Scholarship Fund, C/O Vidalia Onion Business Council, P.O. Box 2611, Vidalia GA 30475.

NOBODY, gave more time to the Toombs County athletic program than Brad Bell. Take his contributions to the wrestling program. When the Bulldogs would host a tournament Brad would be there from start to finish handling all the statistical work and on a Saturday that would be from early morning to late in the afternoon. He traveled with the team to tournaments and would be there at sectionals, in Dublin, and the state tourney whether it was in Macon or way up in Gwinnett. Brad also ran a website which promoted the wrestling team. You could really tell that he was not only in to the sport, but also wanted all Bulldog wrestlers to do their best. He spent many, many hours in the wrestling room during the season. Coaches Kevin Hill and Robbie Rogers said, at the funeral, that Brad kept extensive records on every Bulldog wrestler and every match they competed in.

Brad also contributed a lot of his time to the Bulldog football team. This past season he was the kicking coach and what a job his group did. Punter Brandon Dowd was first team Region 2 averaging nearly forty yards a boot. Brad's work really payed off in the victory over Jeff Davis when kickers Oswaldo Guzman and Cole Williamson set up the Bulldog offense with some effective kickoffs that the Yellow Jackets either bobbled or fumbled. Brad would spend practice on a separate field working with his punters and kickers at their makeshift goal post. Question- did he build that goal post? I betcha that Brad really enjoyed being on the coaching staff, especially with his buddy Robbie Rogers. The two started with the Bulldogs as statisticians.

For years Brad helped all of us with football stats. Without Brad who would have known that Jamar Smith ran for 2,034 yards in 2013. Brad supplied these stats to the coaching staff, ToombsNow, Y-101 radio and anybody who needed them and for that we are very grateful.

Brad also helped get the Pit ready for a Friday night of Bulldog football. As soon as the B-Team game would end on Thursday he would be on the mower cutting the grass and he also helped line off the field. Nobody had to ask Brad to do it. He just did it. Coach Hill said that Brad started off helping him with the grass cutting chores and several years ago expanded that responsibility. Coach Rogers said that Brad mastered painting the "Flying T" at midfield and that he took great pride in how the field looked on Friday nights. For years Brad ran a website which promoted the Bulldog football team. He and his wife Gina took pictures and each week Brad would prepare a preview for the upcoming game. 

Brad also spent a lot of his time supporting the Bulldog soccer teams. He helped line the field that his son Matthew and daughter Anna played on. Matthew was a two-sport athlete. He was the football team's place kicker and played soccer. In 2008 Matthew scored the game-winning penalty kick in the Bulldogs 2-1 win at Vidalia. Matthew played on the 2007 team that went to the Elite 8. Anna played on a TCMS team that played for the MGMSAA championship. Brad's oldest daughter, Kristen, was in the Red Coat Marching Band. In her senior season she was the drum major and she also played basketball for the Lady Bulldogs. Brad was also the president of the Red Coat marching band. 

Brad helped all the Toombs County sports teams. For four years he was the Booster Club president. He constantly was trying to get Bulldog fans to support the program by attending Booster Club meetings. Brad would send out e-mail reminders. Can you imagine what the TCHS sports program would be like if there were 100 Brad Bells instead of just one.

After reading all that Brad contributed to the Toombs County sports program, you might think that this was his full time job, but it wasn't. He already had a fulltime job that required plenty of travel back and forth. 

How did Brad Bell do so much in just a 24 hour day?  

Courtney's number 14 retired

 Courtney's parents- Cordy and Toni Wilkes- display retired jerseys

Playing soccer for the Toombs County Lady Bulldogs was always a passion for Courtney Wilkes. While wearing number 14 for the Lady Bulldogs Courtney played her position with a physical style that made her a successful and reliable defensive player and she was also a spiritual leader on the team. On March 2 Toombs County retired Courtney's number prior to the Lady Bulldogs 9-0 win over Brantley County. Courtney's younger sister Callie scored a goal in the Lady Bulldog victory. Freshman Julie Sheppard led TCHS with four goals. Watch the ceremony You Tube

The Bulldogs also beat Brantley County by an 8-1 score. Efrain Zamarono scored four goals all in the second half in the Bulldogs' first regular season victory of the season.  

Big R Remembered

Big R

By Robert George

This past week the Toombs County School system lost one of its biggest and most lovable supporters. Ronnie Yawn, who was known around the community as "Big R", passed away on November 16, 2011 due to heart failure at Meadows Regional Medical Center. He had been a loyal Bulldog for over 65 years.

Ronnie moved from Americus to Lyons in the early 1950's, with his parents, his brother Glynn and his sister Jackie. Big R was employed by the Toombs County School System for 37 years, where he was, in my opinion, the biggest and most loyal fan to watch the Bulldogs. At every home football, basketball or baseball game, he was always there, wearing his cap, with his fellow Bulldog fans, cheering for the Dogs, no matter what the score. Other than supporting the Lyons/Toombs Bulldogs, he was also a huge Georgia Bulldog and Atlanta Brave fanatic. He loved to watch movies and television shows and he would often imitate the famous personalities for fun. He had a special routine conversation that he enjoyed with each of his friends. These routines involved bantering and teasing, but they were always done in love and respect.

Former Lyons Buldogs coach Bill Schofill spoke at Ronnie's funeral and told of what a good person Ronnie was and how he had been a loyal friend who encouraged others. Coach Schofill was emotional as he explained that God had called the Big R to love the Bulldog community by just being the Big R. After Schofill moved away, his son Pat continued that friendship as he often took Big R fishing and enjoyed eating breakfast together as they sometimes ate with coach Schofill, who Ronnie respectfully called "The Big Man".

Kevin Hill, Jimmy and Doug Alexander were great friends of R, taking him to Braves gamed and exchanging baseball signals with Ronnie down the school hallways. Coach Mike Lothridge would give signals to R before he came down from the choir loft at Lyons Methodist Church. Ronnie would give signals back while the pastor was talking, unaware. Ronnie faithfully attended this where he served as an usher for many years. He remained an usher until FFA teacher Mark Montfort encouraged him to join the choir. Montfort said the Big R inspired him to read the Bible more each day.

When coach Anson Callaway came to Lyons in 1961, he tells of being awakened that first morning by a young teenage boy doing the "Tarzan yell" outside his window. He soon learned that this was his neighbor, Ronnie Yawn. They became great friends when R worked with Callaway at Lyons Junior High School. He lovingly referred to Coach as the "Chief". Coach Callaway loved Big R and worked with Ronnie's sister and caretaker, Jackie, to make sure that R did right. Jackie did a great job of helping her brother to be a good citizen, respected by many people in the community. This past Thanksgiving my family sat around the table and heard Coach tell Big R stories for over an hour as we laughed and reflected on Big R and what he meant to many families.

What makes a community? Is it big buildings or successful businesses? Or is it the people and the relationships that we have with others? The Lyons/Toombs County community had a unique relationship with a special man for over 65 years. Many people were impacted by this relationship. Ronnie Yawn had special needs that were met through his interactions with others, especially coaches. He was a good person and a loyal friend. We all miss Big R, but will never forget what he did and what he meant to us. "Book 'em Danno"

Listen to a tribute to the Big R featuring memories from coaches who were quite fond of Ronnie. Audio

Coach Greg James writes- I did my student teaching under Coach Calloway in the Spring of 1976.  Ronnie really made me feel at ease and was a big help to me. I always enjoyed his friendship and it was a joy when I would see him at games and when we would see him and Ms. Jackie out eating. Ronnie put a smile on many people's faces and he will be missed. The Big R, a Real Good Dawg! 

Coach Rodgers passes- Coach Earl Rodgers passed away on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at the age of 71. Coach Rodgers gave 37 years of his life to teaching and coaching student-athletes at many schools including Lyons Senior for 11 years. Coach was an assistant on the 1975 Lyons Class B State Championship football team and was named the Basketball Coach of the Year at Lyons Senior in 1975. Coach Rodgers was featured on Y-101 Radio in a three-part series audio  

 Courtney's Dream lives on

 Courtney's parents with the rebuilt 1952 Ford Tractor
Bible Baptist Youth Group finished Courtney's Dream

Courtney Wilkes was many things at Toombs County High School. A fine student, everybody's friend and an excellent soccer player. But, Courtney was also heavily involved in the FFA. Prior to her tragic death in June, Courtney was working on a FFA project. She and her father were rebuilding a 1952 Ford Tractor. Courtney never got to finish the project. However, her friends in the Youth Group at Bible Baptist Church did in an effort called Courtney's Dream. On Saturday, at the Toombs County Ag Center Courtney's Dream was unveiled. After a video tribute to Courtney, the tractor was driven in to the Ag Center to a standing ovation. Sam NeSmith, an eleventh grade student at TCHS, tells the story of Courtney's Dream Video also watch a Slideshow