Rather than return to her home in British Columbia, Canada, when her soccer playing career ends after next season at Austin Peay, Gina Fabbro is contemplating staying in the Midstate.
She has grown especially fond of the area with its friendly folks, honky-tonks, growing neighborhoods and ample healthcare job opportunities for nursing majors.
On June 24, Fabbro came up with another reason to stay. Her younger brother Dante became the top pick of the Predators in the NHL draft.
Gina, and her younger sister Sophia, who also plays soccer at Austin Peay, were with Dante and their parents in Buffalo at the draft when the Predators selected him 17th overall.
“It’s kind of crazy and a little ironic that we all ended up in Nashville,” Gina said. “I guess it was meant to be. I am a lot more determined to stay here now. Being able to watch my brother with the Predators honestly is going to be amazing.”
Dante, a defenseman who turned 18 four days before the draft, is committed to Boston University. He probably will play two or three seasons there before joining the Predators.
Sophia, who still has two years left to play soccer at Austin Peay, said the moment she and her family realized the Predators were going to draft Dante was electric.
“We hadn’t said much about the possibility of Nashville drafting him because we didn’t want to jinx it,” Sophia said. “We were all sitting at the draft and it was like five seconds before they called his name and a camera guy came up to our family, so we knew at that point he was going to Nashville. Our whole family just burst into tears. Gina and I looked at each other and were like, ‘Oh my goodness, this can’t be happening. He’s coming to Nashville, and all of us are going to be down here.’”
While Gina and Sophia wouldn’t allow themselves to expect Dante to be drafted by the Predators, they weren’t surprised he went in the first round.
“Since we were growing up, my family, my cousins and all of us, had the mindset that we were going to go to college,” Gina said. “Nobody really felt forced to, but we just all wanted to pursue that path, and sports helped us do that. So we were all very competitive growing up. I think that helped Dante develop into a really good hockey player.”
Because hockey season overlaps the college soccer season, Dante never has been able to see his sisters play at Austin Peay. He never had been to Nashville prior to the draft.
But he already had a pretty good idea about what to expect even before he arrived this past week for Predators Developmental Camp.
“My sisters have been talking about Nashville ever since they came down here,” Dante said. “They’ve had nothing but good things to say. They come into the city pretty often and go to Preds games, so all those connections really worked out. I’ve been walking around downtown a lot trying to get used to everything and enjoyed experiencing a lot of what they had already told me about.”
His sisters had told Dante that Nashville lives up to its title as the Music City, which makes it a good fit since the Fabbros are big country music fans.
“Country music is all we play when we’re together in the summers,” Dante said. “I love country music.”
“I told him it’s great in Nashville and you’re going to meet so many cool people,” Gina said. “And it’s just really fun there. I told him you do lots of stuff there we don’t really do in Canada.”
Gina and Sophia already had become Predators fans before Dante was drafted. They grew up with the game in British Columbia and found they missed it after they moved 2,535 miles to Clarksville.
“When we first got to school we realized how much we missed hockey,” Sophia said. “So we started going to Preds games. We’re always dragging our teammates down there. They didn’t really watch hockey, but some of them became fans.”
I guess the Fabbro’s were meant to be in Nashville. Dante your hard work has finally paid off and I am so happy I got to be there to see it. You make it easy to be your sister. You did good kid. Could not be more proud of you and all you have done. Love you forever. Xoxo❤️
Titans have job opening for big fuzzy raccoons
One of the longest tenured Titans employees has decided to hang up his gear. And that gear includes a giant raccoon head, costume and sword.
Pete Nelson, who has served as the franchise’s mascot T-Rac since 1999, retired this past week.
No word yet on whether another raccoon, the state’s official wild animal, has been trapped to replace Nelson.
Lipscomb pitcher Smith shining with Reds
Former Lipscomb star Josh Smith was called up to help the struggling Cincinnati Reds’ pitching staff, and he’s done just that.
Smith has spent most of his career as a starter with the Reds organization but was brought up from Louisville to help in the eight-man bullpen.
He’s 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 12 appearances.
“Josh Smith has become a guy that (Reds manager) Bryan Price can use for multiple innings and has done a really nice job,” Cincinnati Enquirer sports writer C. Trent Rosecrans said. “That’s something they’ve desperately needed out of the bullpen.”
Also, former Lipscomb catcher Caleb Joseph rejoined the Orioles on Thursday after recovering from a groin injury. Joseph underwent testicular surgery after being hit by a foul ball May 29.
Former Tigerbelles being honored at Olympic trials
Former Tennessee State Tigerbelles Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice and Madeline Manning Mims are among the former Olympians being honored at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore.
They planned to participate in the opening ceremony Saturday at Hayward Field and also will join other Olympians who will be recognized throughout the trials.
“It’s exciting,” said Cheeseborough-Guice, who is director of TSU’s track and field program. “It’s going to be like a reunion.”
In 1975, at age 16, Cheeseborough-Guice won two gold medals in the Pan American Games, including setting an American record in the 200-meter dash. She went on to be named to three U.S. Olympic teams.
From 1967 to 1981, Mims won 10 national titles and set a number of American records. She participated in the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympics. At the 1968 games, she won a gold medal in the 800-meter race.
Midstate colleges represented at Olympic Trials
Speaking of the Olympic Trials, former Belmont track All-American Joe Frye, now a Bruins assistant coach, learned this past week that he qualified and will compete Wednesday in the hammer throw.
Former Lipscomb All-American Madi Talbert also qualified for the trials in the 3000-meter steeplechase, which is Monday. She is the first Lipscomb athlete ever to qualify for the Olympic Trials.
Vanderbilt has two athletes in the Olympic Trials.
All-American triple jumper Simone Charley was invited to the trials and will go from Eugene, Ore., to San Salvador, El Salvador, to represent the United States at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association Under-23 Championships.
And sprinter Jennifer Edobi, who is from Nigeria, will travel to Sapele, Nigeria, for the trials in the 400-meter dash.
Garretson nearly wins back-to-back in Chattanooga
Nashville golfer Nick Garretson came close to winning the Chattanooga Classic for the second consecutive year.
The former Franklin Road Academy and Tennessee Tech golfer shot a two-day total of 5-under-par 135 and finished just one stroke behind winner Casey Flenniken at Creeks Bend Golf Club in Hixson, Tenn.
West End alumni establishing athletics hall of fame
A West End High School Athletics Hall of Fame is being established by the school’s alumni association.
Five individuals who participated in athletics at the school, which was open from 1937-68, will be inducted in the inaugural class in August.
After that, subsequent classes will be added every two years with two inductees from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s being selected by a vote of the alumni.
Coach Forum coming up at Vanderbilt
The lineup of speakers for The Coach Forum at Vanderbilt includes former NFL player and author Joe Ehrmann, three-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Josh Davis, former Vanderbilt basketball star Shan Foster, Christ Presbyterian Academy football coach Ingle Martin, former Titan David Ball, six-time national champion UCLA gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos, WSMV-4 anchor Rudy Kalis and Vanderbilt athletics director David Williams.
Vanderbilt and the Nashville Coaching Coalition are partnering for the forum, which is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. July 21 at the Vanderbilt Student Life Center.
It is open to the public.
Issues that will be discussed include mental health, eating disorders, ending power-based violence, work-life balance for coaches, team trust and character development.
TSSAA officials will offer a rules meetings to football and soccer coaches who attend.
For more information or to register, visit thecoachforum.com.
TSU greats going into new hall of fame
TSU basketball greats Dick Barnett and John McLendon will be inducted in the inaugural class of the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame. Barnett is included among 11 players, and McLendon is one of three coaches.
Barnett led the Tigers to the NAIA national championships in 1957, 1958 and 1959. McLendon posted a record of 144-20 at TSU (1954-59).
The induction will be Nov. 17 at Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.
WKU’s Doughty receives C-USA’s top honor again
For the second-consecutive year, Western Kentucky claimed the top award in Conference USA with former Hilltopper quarterback Brandon Doughty being named the C-USA Male Athlete of the Year on Thursday.
Doughty broke every passing record in WKU’s program history. His three-year record as the Hilltoppers’ starting quarterback was 27-11. Doughety was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round.
If you have an item for Midstate Chatter, contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 and on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
SPORTS ON NASHVILLE TV
Top five local ratings for sporting event on television for June 20-26:
1. Gymnastics: U.S. Olympic Trials (June 26), 4.6 rating
2. NASCAR: Sonoma 350, 3.8 rating
3. Boxing: Showtime on CBS, 3.4 rating
4. Gymnastics: U.S Olympic Trials (June 24th), 3.3 rating
5. PGA: AT&T National (final round), 3.2 rating
Each rating point is equal to 9,902 Nashville homes.
Source: Mark Binda, WTVF-5 programming & research director