Saturday, July 10, 2010


Howard makes a name for herself with shot put

@ Macon Telegraph

There aren’t many shot put competitors in Georgia as good as Sarah Howard.

She is currently the top-ranked high school shot putter in the state, and she is No. 13 in the nation. And after her sophomore year at Trinity Christian, she already has the second longest throw in Georgia high school history, private and public school included.

In this year’s GISA state meet, she won the shot put by 10 feet, breaking the GISA state record by 4 feet, and added the discus title. For that, Howard has been named The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Much of Howard’s success can go right back to her family.

“My dad threw the shot in high school and then in college at the University of Georgia,” said Howard, who also has the highest GPA in Trinity’s sophomore class. “I can remember picking up the shot put when I was 5 or 6, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. As I got older, I tried most of the other sports, but I wasn’t real good at any of them. I seemed to always go back to shot putting and as I got older, I kept getting better.

“I really enjoy it now, because it is a great way to get to spend a lot of time with my dad. He is fun to hang out with and has been a great coach for me. He knows when to push me and he knows when to ease off.”

Howard has been training hard all summer, trying to get stronger. She recently finished second at the New Balance National High School Meet and will travel to Singapore at the end of the month as part of the American team in the Youth Olympics.

“I went to Italy last year for the Youth Olympics and didn’t do that well, but I feel like I am way ahead of where I was last year,” she said. “I feel like I know what to expect this year, and it won’t be so overwhelming to me. I just want to continue to gain experience and enjoy myself, and if I can do that, I think I will perform well. I have put in the time in the weight room and working on my technique, so I feel pretty good about the trip.”

With two more years of high school, Howard really hasn’t thought much of where she will go to college but does hope to continue throwing the shot put on that level.

“It’s something that I really like to do, and I would like to see how good I can get,” she said. “I know that I have a long way to go, but I definitely hope to continue throwing in college. I am usually pretty focused on my training, but it is great to have someone like my dad around that knows the kind of training I need to be the best.”

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Rear Admiral Bill Goodwin retires

Ends 35-year Naval career with ceremony Friday

@Fox 43

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Rear Admiral John W. "Bill" Goodwin retired from the U.S. Navy following a 35-year career during a ceremony Friday aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) pierside at Naval Station Norfolk.

Goodwin most recently served as the Assistant Chief of Naval Operation, Next Generation Enterprise Network (ACNO NGEN) in Washington, DC. Prior to that, he served in Norfolk as the Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet (AIRLANT).

A native of Dublin, Georgia, Goodwin graduated from the University of South Carolina and was commissioned in May of 1975. He earned master's degrees from the Naval Post-graduate School and the Naval War College.

Goodwin was designated a naval aviator in 1977 and has experience flying the A-7E Corsair and the F/A-18 Hornet. He served as the commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and the underway replenishment ship USS Rainier (AOE 7) and was the first commanding officer of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). As a Flag Officer, Goodwin served a tour of duty with the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany; commanded the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group and served as AIRLANT Commander prior to assuming the duties of ACNO NGEN.


Patriot Academy Welcomes New Staff

By 1LT Kyle Key
May 7th, 2010

Human Resources NCO, SFC Tony J. Edmond

“God Bless the Guard!” can be heard echoing through the halls of the National Guard Patriot Academy High School when Sgt. 1st Class Tony J. Edmond reports to work. Edmond, a native of Dublin, Georgia, reported to the Patriot Academy in April 2010 to serve as a Human Resources Non-Commissioned Officer.

The Patriot Academy is the U.S. Department of Defense’s first and only accredited high school for dropouts who wish to serve their country and earn their diplomas. Approximately 1.2 million high school students nationwide drop out each year, a trend the National Guard Patriot Academy is trying to end–one Soldier at a time. Edmond said he has the passion and dedication it takes to help guide these former dropouts to make positive changes.

“I just really want to make a difference in young lives,” said Edmond.

Edmond is a 17-year military veteran having served on submarine duty with the U.S. Navy and as a human resources specialist with the Georgia and South Carolina Army National Guard. He is a 1983 graduate of East Laurens High School in Dublin and is currently scheduled to graduate from the American Military University with his bachelor’s degree in Military History in the fall of 2010.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Keen Fast Tracking In Grand-Am

Jonathan Ingram
Senior Writer, Friday, 2 July 2010.By Jonathan Ingram
Senior Writer

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Leh Keen is on the fast track in sports car racing. That’s not a reference to the infield and oval road course at the Daytona International Speedway, scene of Saturday’s Grand-Am Rolex Series race. Keen’s career is on the fast track.

The driver from Dublin, Ga., began the season as the Rolex Series’ defending co-champion in the GT class. In March, Keen co-drove a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car to victory at the Sebring 12-hour in the GT Challenge class of the American Le Mans Series.

In May, he was part of a four-man team that finished second aboard a Ferrari 430 GTC in the 24-hour race at the Nurburgring, the world’s most challenging GT race. In June, Keen was on the podiom in second place aboard the same Ferrari at his first Le Mans 24-hour.

This weekend, Keen is co-driving a Mazda RX-8 for Dempsey Racing with James Gue, who qualified fourth in class behind pole winner Sylvain Tremblay’s Mazda. Over-all, the No. 41 Dempsey Racing entry will start 16th behind Daytona Prototype pole winner Ricky Taylor, whose Dallara-Ford leads the field in the 100th race of the prototype class launched in 2003.

Titled the Brumos Porsche 250, the race will be the fourth in six weeks for the Grand-Am series – and the fifth race for Keen in that span.

A GT class specialist, Keen considers Daytona his home track. While accompanying his father, he saw his first race at the famed Florida track at the age of 13. “I had been begging to go before that,” he said of the relatively easy trip to Daytona from Dublin to watch the Rolex 24 at Daytona, “but my mother made me wait until I was older.”

Most of his friends drove pick-ups, but Keen followed a path laid out by his father, Lehman Keen Jr., a banker with a fondness for powerful Porsches.

Keen’s informal training included track days with the Porsche Club of America in his father’s equipment, which included a Porsche 911 993 GT2 Evo that had raced at Le Mans in 1996. “We showed up with the biggest gun and kicked everybody’s butt,” recalled Keen. A stint at the Panoz racing school at Road Atlanta followed when he was 18.

“I’ve really just always been into driving cars,” said Keen, who taught himself to drive on the dirt roads around Dublin, located in the rolling piney woods region between Macon and Savannah. “I’ve been doing that since I was 16. I always wanted to progress with the car and develop it a little bit better. The first car I drove was a Mercedes E320. It belonged to my grandfather and was four-wheel drive and no traction control. It had very good steering angles. I really had some fun with that car.”

In his first season in the Grand-Am Rolex Series in 2005, Keen co-drove a Porsche to victory at Watkins Glen with Autometrics Motorsport. He scored a victory with Synergy Racing at Mid-Ohio in 2006, then was brought on board at the front-running Farnbacher Loles Motorsports for 2007.

After a heavy crash at Mid-Ohio caused by a car blocking the track curtailed his season, Keen came back to win at the track in 2008 with Farnbacher Loles. A pairing with Dirk Werner in 2009 resulted in a Grand-Am Rolex Series GT championship for Farnbacher Loles, a season that included another win at Mid-Ohio, one of the most technically demanding tracks in North America.

When the Farnbacher Loles team broke up shortly after the end of the 2009 season due to the legal problems of financial consultant Greg Loles, Keen kept in touch with the team’s technical guru, Horst Farnbacher.

Keen credits Farnbacher, whose son Dominik is also a driver at Hankook Team Farnbacher, for sharpening his skills. “I hadn’t really evolved too much at that point (when he joined Farnbacher Loles in 2007),” said Keen. “Then I started to evolve strongly. I always got along well with Horst and I always got along well with Dominik.”

An effort to stay in touch with Horst Farnbacher paid off once his Ferrari team was launched with the backing of Hankook Tires. “It’s just weird how thing work out,” said Keen. “I kind of got to know Horst a little better so I could go to Le Mans. Then we ended up going to the Nurburgring.”

At the Nurburgring, Keen drove in the fastest class over-all aboard his Ferrari in a starting field of 198 GT machines on the famed “Green Hell” circuit measuring over 15 miles. At Le Mans, the GT2 class Ferrari was the slowest of the four classes in the high-speed French race dominated by the prototypes of Peugeot and Audi.

Now he’s back at his home track where the Daytona Prototype category is marking the 100th start for the closed cockpit cars. Keen is open to the prospects of driving a prototype, but it’s not a priority.

“One thing now, I’m getting content with what I’m doing,” he said. “I never had a thing for prototypes. I’m so totally into GT cars.”

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at

Jonathan Ingram
Senior Writer, Friday, 2 July 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Old Bulldog teaches new tricks

June 30, 2010 by RYAN BLACK

@ The Red and Black

Former University baseball player Jasha Balcom may not be in professional baseball anymore, but it is possible in the near future you may see a player he groomed playing in the MLB.

Balcom founded HittersBox Baseball Inc. a little over a year ago.

“I just decided to start my own baseball training company because I got tired of working my 9-to-5 job and I just wasn’t happy,” Balcom said. “When I founded the company, I was still contracting lessons at other facilities, and so I decided I needed to start my own place. I came over here to Competitive Edge Sports [facility], because this is where I used to train when I played for the Cubs, partnered with them to get space…and here we are.”

June 26 marked the grand opening of HittersBox in Duluth, and Balcom put on a free clinic for kids. Former Atlanta Braves catcher Javy Lopez and Atlanta Falcons defensive end Chauncey Davis stopped by to talk with those in attendance.

Growing up in Dublin, Balcom said baseball had “always been a passion” for him, and he was given ample opportunities to play locally since his father worked for the Parks and Recreation Department.

And though he loved Dublin, he said he saw that to reach his goal of becoming a MLB player, he would have to widen his perspective.

“I wanted to be a major league baseball player, and I wanted to do it so bad that I worked hard every day to get out of Dublin,” Balcom said. “I always wanted to go to college and then become a professional. I grew up wanting to go to Georgia, and assistant coach [David] Perno was the first coach to ever recruit me.”

Balcom eventually made it to the University, but not before a two-year layover at the College of Charleston, where he was named a Freshman All-America in 2001.

He transferred to Georgia in 2002 after completing his sophomore year.

“Jasha had great talent and gave us a good left-handed bat with some sneaky pop for [the] long ball,” Perno, now the head coach, said. “He was very athletic and could play all three outfield spots. He always was in a good mood with a smile on his face. He was a great teammate and a wonderful kid to coach.”

Balcom remembered one moment in his Georgia career above all else — getting to play in the first game Georgia and Georgia Tech contested at Turner Field in 2003.

“Playing in front of 10,000 fans that day…was incredible,” he said.

The game, dubbed the “Spring Baseball Classic for Kids,” was won by Georgia 10-3, with Balcom playing a key role in the victory. He went 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and three runs batted in. Balcom came to the plate with a tie game and bases loaded — every childhood player’s dream.

“It was 3-3, I came up, and it was a 3-1 count,” he said. “The crowd was on their feet, and I cleared the bases with a double, and you could hear all the Dogs ‘barking’ in the stadium. It was just an incredible moment. I got interviewed on national television after the game, so that was probably the coolest experience I ever had.”

After his time at Georgia ended, Balcom was picked by the Chicago Cubs in the 33rd round (973rd overall pick) of the 2003 MLB Draft.

Balcom played for the Cubs’ Arizona League rookie affiliate in 2003, and another Cubs affiliate, the Boise Hawks, in 2004.

In his final season with the Cubs organization, he was assigned to the Peoria Chiefs in 2005 before deciding to retire.

Though he never made it to the major leagues, Balcom said he enjoyed his time in the lower levels of professional baseball.

University alum Jasha Balcom works on teaching proper hitting technique with a young player. PHOTO COURTESY QUENTIN DAVIS

“It wasn’t easy being away from home, and all the long bus rides you had,” he said. “But you look back on it, and you’re young, and you’re getting to do something you love. I mean, I would have played for free just to get the opportunity to play every day.”

When he retired from baseball, Balcom then went into a different type of game — the high-stakes world of stock brokering.

“I didn’t know what job I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to make some money,” he said. “People from baseball opened some doors for me, and my uncle was a broker for 25 years at Morgan Stanley, so I saw what he was doing and I decided I wanted to get into that.”

Though Balcom made good money as a broker, baseball was something he could not push away from his mind for long.

He quit his job to give baseball one last shot in 2007, taking time to train in preparation for the upcoming season.

He joined the independent South Georgia Peanuts, appearing in 86 games, attaining a .304 batting average and collecting 100 hits in 329 at-bats. He also led the South Coast League in stolen bases (34) as the Peanuts won the SCL championship by beating the Macon Music 2-1 in a best-of-three series at the end of the season.

When he received no feedback from any MLB teams after his season with the Peanuts, he decided to call his playing career quits for good.

“I felt like I gave it one more shot, and I enjoyed it, but now it’s time to move on to bigger and better things,” he said. “So I’m at peace with my decision.”

Balcom still wanted a way to stay around baseball, so he started teaching lessons with 10th Inning Baseball Academy, Chipper Jones’s baseball and softball training facility in Suwanee for two years before he started HittersBox.

Now, Balcom is combining his love of baseball with the business sense he gained in trading stocks, and he couldn’t be happier.

“I wanted to be able to do baseball and become a business owner,” he said. “I wanted to be a business owner in the community… [and] being able to give back to the community and working with kids. That’s the thing I enjoy waking up every day doing.”