Photos Andy Calvert

Working to improve, having fun with teammates, and striving to do well in both region and state highlight the thoughts of Coosa High School athletes Dean White, Isabelle Phillips, Gavin East, and Brinley Wilson.

Gaven East

East, who plays first base, some outfield, and occasionally pitches for the Eagles baseball team, says he thinks this year’s squad can be something special.

“I think the chemistry we have on this team is special. If we stay together and keep our energy, that will lead to success,” he says. “Last year we made it to the sweet 16, and I think this team has a chance to go that far and maybe do even better.”

East relishes the role of being the No. 2 hitter and the ability to play multiple positions in the field.

“Being a No. 2 hitter is very situational. If the lead-off guy gets on it’s my job to move him over anyway I can whether it’s a walk, a bunt, or a hit and run,” he says. “I’ll possibly be in the pitching rotation this year as well, and I just enjoy being able to help out the team any way I can.”

As for the hopes of success this season, East believes the squad has the potential to make some serious noise if they can manage to do a few key things.

“It’s going to take trust in each other. If someone does something wrong, the number one thing is for us to keep the team up and stay positive and not get down,” he says. “Our region is always solid in baseball, but if we stay positive that will help us go a long way.”

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Isabelle Phillips

Bringing the team closer together is something Coosa’s girl’s soccer squad is working on in preparation for the 2023 campaign, and Phillips, who plays left wing and forward, is doing her part to help establish good team chemistry.

“Really a big thing for us is for the whole team to be able to come together and just learn to trust each other,” she says. “If we can all commit to that, then we can do well this season.”

Phillips and a few of her teammates are club soccer players, meaning they play just about year-round while some others just play for the school.

“That’s one of the big differences between travel soccer and high school soccer. All of the players on the travel team are working hard to get better individually and to get better as a team. Sometimes with the school team, there are players who are working hard but some others view it as more of an activity,” she says. “If we can build that communication and trust with each other more it will help. We’ve all been reaching out to each other as teammates and trying to get to know each other better.”

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Brinley Wilson

As for hopes and goals this season, Phillips thinks that if the team can grow closer together, it has a chance to do well in the region and possibly reach the state tournament.

“I really hope that we can make it to state,” she says. “I think that with our team and chemistry we can do it, and I’m really comfortable with everyone here.”

For Wilson, this spring season is about trying to get her steps down on the hurdles and aiming to set a new personal record in her races.

Wilson will be competing in the 400 meters and the 100 hurdles, two events that are a bit different. The 400 features one lap around the track while the 100 hurdles force runners to jump over 10 hurdles while completing the 100-meter distance.

“In the hurdles, there is a three-step technique I’m supposed to use, and it’s not super easy to learn. It takes a lot of trust that I’m going to be able to hit my three steps and the momentum I build will send me over the hurdles and not hit them, fall and roll,” she says.

While she competes individually in the other two events, she also typically runs a leg on the 4×400 relay team, and that event holds a special place for her.

“Really my favorite event is the 4×400 relay. It’s the end of the meet and everyone is pumped and everyone on the relay is relying on each other,” she says. “I typically like to run the third or fourth leg. I feel like the more stressed I am, the faster I will run for my team.”

While Wilson also runs cross country for Coosa, she says she enjoys the social aspect of track and field and Coosa’s track team.

“Track is different from cross country. I enjoy having faster-paced and high-stress events,” she says. “Also, I get to see my friends from other schools too.”

As for her hopes for this season, she says she wants to try to set personal records in her races and not get shin splints.

White isn’t too worried about shin splints as that’s not a typical malady golfers deal with. Instead, White is focused on getting better at his game and trying to help the Eagles to a third consecutive trip to the state golf tournament.

“A perfect season for me would be to beat everybody I’m up against and for us to make it to state like we did the last two years,” he says. “Hopefully, I can also break 80 and move up the line. But it’s going to take a lot of practice, patience, and perseverance to do that.”

Speaking of practice, White manages to get a couple of days of hitting in each week in between his dual-enrollment classes and a job he works.

“I usually try to play twice a week, hit at the house, and putt when I can,” he says. “But I also work, so I don’t always get all the practice time I want.”

White also hopes to maybe be able to record an eagle on a hole this season too.

“The best I’ve ever done is a birdie,” he says. “I’d like to get an eagle and of course, I want to get a hole-in-one.”

While some sports are well-known at schools, White feels that not too many people know about him and his teammates at Coosa.

“I don’t think a lot of people even realize Coosa has a golf team. No one knows how hard it is to actually go out and play and do well,” he says. “I love my teammates. They are good, close friends and I love being out there on the course with them.”

An injury while running at Auburn ended Jim Alred’s long-shot hopes of possibly competing in the Olympics, so he turned to writing and has been crafting award-winning stories across multiple mediums ever since. Along the way he’s been chased by a grizzly bear, worked as Goofy at Walt Disney World, been nominated for two Emmys, interviewed celebrities like Tiger Woods, Bo Jackson, Bill Clinton, coaches his daughters in cross country and soccer and can often be found running with his wife, Tara, around Rome.