When repairs are needed for any of the athletics programs at Smyrna High, Kenny Anderson is there to lend a hand.
“If one of the football team’s Gators or golf carts breaks down or the baseball team’s lawnmower quits working, he’s very handy and always willing to do what he can to get them going again,” Smyrna principal Rick Powell said. “He is at a lot of athletic events always willing to help out.”
Anderson, 42, is now in need of help and the Smyrna community is pitching in to do what it can.
He was diagnosed Aug. 26 with advanced esophageal cancer and told there is no cure and no survival rate.
The diagnosis, which came at Vanderbilt Cancer Research Center, came just a few days after Anderson was married. His wife, Katharine , is also a teacher at Smyrna.
Anderson, who teaches auto mechanics, has spent a total of 14 years at Smyrna in two different stints.
Smyrna’s football players will wear KA stickers on their helmets at their next game, which is Friday when Rutherford County rival Oakland visits.
A fund-raising campaign with a goal to collect $30,000 to help Anderson pay his medical expenses has been launched by the school. A total of $5,468 already has been raised.
Contributions can be made at gofundme.com//MrAndersonSHS.
The football players and coaches got the campaign rolling by chipping in and donating $1,000.
Football helmets will be passed through the crowd at Friday’s game for a collection to be taken, and a silent auction will be conducted on the track.
Anderson, who also is sponsor of the school’s trap shooting team, is currently at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America facility in Tulsa, Okla., where he underwent his first treatment this week.
“He had some complications and that’s why he’s still in the hospital,” Powell said. “He’s been there since (Sept. 2). He had been at school pretty much every day up until that point. The intentions were that he would go there probably for a week and then after he got over that treatment, would come back and return to school and work for a couple of weeks and then go back out there and do it again. These complications have taken longer than he anticipated.”
Powell is proud of the manner in which Smyrna’s students and teachers have rallied to assist Anderson.
“Some school’s faculties are closer than others and, of course, I’m prejudiced, but I think ours is pretty close-knit,” Powell said. “We’re just trying to do what we can to help out one of our own.”
Antioch’s Watkins joins Venom
Former Antioch star receiver Dontel Watkins, who spent time on the Titans’ roster in 2013, has signed with the Nashville Venom for the 2015 Professional Indoor Football League season.
Watkins played at Murray State, where he had 39 catches for 561 yards and five touchdowns in 2012.
He also was a track standout at Antioch.
Little Leaguer featured in SI
Blake Money, who played for the South Nashville All-Stars in the Little League World Series, appeared in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” this week.
The seventh-grader at Spring Station Middle School, who pitched and played third base, went 2-for-3 at the plate and hit a solo homer to lead South Nashville to a 12-9 win over Canada in a consolation game.
Tech assistant hoops coach writes book
Tennessee Tech assistant women’s basketball coach Allison Clark has completed her book, “Off the Back of the Rim: Uplifting Thoughts to Help You Rebound from the Bricks of Life.”
It is available on Amazon.com and chock full, Clark said, of inspirational thoughts and reflections she has relied on throughout her athletic career.
“We all go through hard times, and I feel like sports are a good way to help find out who you are, what you’re about and what’s in your tank,” Clark said. “It’s motivational; a very optimistic and positive book that will hopefully make a difference in somebody’s life.”
Clark, who also spent time as an assistant at Middle Tennessee State, played at Shelbyville, where she was a high school All-American and led the Eaglettes to the 1995 Class AAA state championship. She went on to play at Tennessee Tech, where she was a record-setting 3-point shooter and made the All-OVC first team.
“I’ve always tried to be a light for somebody every day, whether it’s with a smile or leaving them a little note or card or text,” Clark said. “I feel like we all need that person in our life who rekindles that spark and that love for whatever it may be; sports, playing in the band, your job, whatever.”
Ryan to retire jersey of ex-volleyball star
Father Ryan will salute former volleyball standout Ellen Mullins, who graduated in 2010, by retiring her jersey Thursday before the Fighting Irish’s home match (5:30 p.m.) against John Paul II.
Mullins, the fifth member of her family to play volleyball for Ryan, was a four-time all-state performer.
She went on to play at Tennessee, where she broke six school records.
Blue Raiders’ ‘Dancing Man’ dies
One of MTSU’s most popular and recognizable fans, Will Shipley, also known as “The Dancing Man,” died on Sept. 5.
Shipley was famous for his dancing at Blue Raiders athletics events over the past 10 years. Video of some of Shipley’s dances went viral.
There will be a memorial at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville.
Nashville TV market ranks high
A lot of Nashvillians tuned in Thursday to the NFL game on WTVF-5 to watch Baltimore beat Pittsburgh 26-6.
Nashville, with a 14.8 rating (154,423 households), finished sixth out of the nation’s 55 markets, according to WTVF-5 program and research director Mark Binda.
The markets ahead of Nashville: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Dayton and Richmond.
Franklin wrestling pioneer dies
Former Marshall County and MTSU football star Bob Hardison, who later became a coach, died Sept. 7. He was 84.
Hardison started the wrestling program at Franklin in 1965 and was inducted into the school’s sports hall of fame in 2010.
After graduating from Marshall County in 1948, Hardison began his college football career at Cumberland. When football was discontinued at Cumberland, he transferred to MTSU — where he lettered in football, baseball and wrestling.
Along with wrestling, Hardison coached football, baseball and track at Franklin.
He later moved into administration and served as principal at Northside Junior High for 20 years.
Former Bison coaches former prep team
Former Lipscomb basketball player Jason Hopkins, who graduated in 2008, has returned to his alma mater of Edmonds-Woodway (Wash.) High to be the boys basketball coach.
He previously was the coach at Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, which is where he was born.
Columbia State underrated
Columbia State is ranked 12th nationally in the “Sporting News College Basketball Yearbook” Top 25 junior colleges, which is surprising considering the Chargers finished ranked third last year and return several key players.
One of those players is sophomore guard T.J. Dunans, who has committed to Auburn and is the “Sporting News” Preseason Player of the Year.
Football player sends coach sailing
A video of St. Andrew’s-Sewanee football player Wyatt Lindlau giving a hip bump to assistant coach McLain Still, which sent Still tumbling to the ground, showed up this week on YouTube.
The celebration gone wrong came during Sewanee’s 36-32 win over Franklin Classical last week.
National women’s golf tourney coming
It was announced last week that the 2014 Executive Women’s Golf Association Cup Finals will be played Oct. 10-11 at Hermitage Course.
Members from 120 different EWGA chapters across the country will compete in the match-play event, which will be among the largest women’s amateur tournaments in the state.
Blackman golfer breaks own record
Tanner Owens, a junior on the Blackman golf team and the 2011 Tennessean/Metro Parks Schooldays 12-13 division champion, broke his own school record at the Smyrna Municipal Course on Tuesday.
Owens fired an 8-under 64. His previous record was 65, which he set at Cookeville Country Club in 2012.
Ex-Commodore Robinson dies
Former Vanderbilt football player Mac Robinson (1947-1950) died Thursday. He was 85.
Robinson was a two-way starter at running back and defensive back for three consecutive seasons.
After graduating, Robinson practiced law in Nashville for 45 years.
UT All-American writes book about his faith
Former Tennessee All-American and All-SEC offensive lineman Chip Kell, who helped the Vols to a 28-5-1 record and three bowls in his three years (1968-1970) as a starter, has written a book, “All In God’s Glory: Adoption To The College Football Hall Of Fame.”
Kell’s adopted father was a high school football coach and helped Kell have a successful career on the field, which landed him in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Kell writes about relying on his faith to help him through the tough times. The book is available at most bookstores and at Amazon.com.
If you have an item for Midstate Chatter, contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 and on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
SPORTS ON NASHVILLE TV
The top five local ratings for sporting events for Sept. 1-7.
1. NFL: Titans-Chiefs, 24.3 rating
2. NFL: Packers-Seahawks, 20.0 rating
3. NFL: Colts-Broncos, 19.0 rating
4. NFL: 49ers-Cowboys, 14.7 rating
5. U.S. Open Tennis (final): 6.4 rating
Ratings for the SEC Network are not yet available
Each rating point is equal to 10,434 Nashville homes.
Source: Mark Binda, WTVF-5 program and research director