By Matt Hill
The Bulldog Classic is a golf tournament that unites Hampton athletic programs and athletes and even brings in Warriors, Longhorns, Cyclones and other golfers with roots elsewhere to help the kids.
The tournament took place Saturday at Elizabethton Golf Course, and some of Hampton’s greatest sports figures like J.C. Campbell, Jerry White and Doug Phillips all played.
Hampton’s girls and boys basketball teams are much different than at some schools in the fact they work together. All the money raised was split between the girls and boys programs.
“This shows me and our players what they mean to the community, and we’ve got a record number of teams and players,” Hampton head girls coach Leon Tolley said. “And it also shows them that they are accountable not only in practicing during the off-season, but with their play during the season. They’re getting a lot of community support. It’s just a fun day.”
There were people playing who have ties to other schools in the area like Elizabethton and Johnson County, who, despite being rivals, were enjoying a day of golf and putting school rivalry aside.
“We have a lot of friends from other towns and other schools who play and support us,” Tolley said. “It’s a good day for everybody.”
While some other schools have animosity between their own athletic programs, Hampton has a solid core of support across the board from the golf team to the baseball and softball programs.
The girls and boys basketball programs are no different, and they do want each other to succeed.
“To me this is what has always set Hampton apart from other schools,” Tolley said. “The coaches work together and in this day and time fundraisers like this are ultra important for us . It’s not only for team camp, but every time we go out somewhere to eat the kids don’t have to use their own money. That would mean a lot to me if it were my child to know they wouldn’t be left out on their own. This tournament really is the lifeblood of our program.”
A lot of former coaches and alumni come back to support, and the support among former students at Hampton High School is second to none.
“They say once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog,” Tolley said. “It gets competitive at times, but it always like a family atmosphere and it’s fun to be a part of it.
“I’ve got the greatest job in the world because I get to coach where I grew up and with people I grew up with, and you get support and you don’t have people stabbing you in the back. It also puts a lot of responsibility on the coaches and players not just to win, but to do the best you can because the people of Hampton are hard working people, and they want the athletic teams to be hard working as well.”
Fellow Hampton alumnus and boys head coach Ned Smith feels the success of Bulldogs basketball brings people out and the fact both programs work together.
“There will be about 150 people here,” Smith said. “Coach Mike Matheson and Coach Leon Tolley work hard on this.”
Jeff Moore, Tim Moore, Andy Shelton and Bill Seanett made up the winning team with a score of 50.
Last week’s winners of the 2-Man Scramble, Jeff and Lucas Andrews, were on opposite sides this time playing on different teams.
In this father-son battle, it was Lucas who had the upper hand as his team shot 57, two strokes better than Jeff’s team, who shot a 59.
GLOWBALL TOURNAMENT REGISTRATION UNDERWAY
The EGC Glow Ball Golf Tournament takes place on June 15 from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight. Registration opened on May 26 and is continuing.
The tournament is limited to 20 teams. They will play nine holes during the day and then nine holes after dark.
Food will be served in-between sessions.
For more information, contact Elizabethton Golf Course at 542-8051.
DUGGER FINISHES RUNNER-UP IN CROSSINGS TOURNEY
Happy Valley golf standout Cameron Dugger recently finished second in a major junior tournament at the Crossings in Jonesborough
The AAJGT Tour came to the area and Dugger finished as runner-up against golfers from all over the southeast.
Dugger shot 68 the first day, and was possibly heading toward a win, but tailed off to a 73 on Sunday.
Still, the effort was very impressive for this Warrior golfer.
“I didn’t play too well on Sunday, and the kid that won it shot 69 the first day and 67 the second day, so he played pretty well,” Dugger said. “I was leading after the first day and I was lucky to do that because I shot +1 on the front and -5 on the back.”
Dugger really did thrive the first day, as his entire golf game really was in-sync.
“If I was hitting the fairways, I was pretty sure I was going to hit it to 10 feet and then hole the putt,” Dugger said. “Adam Shanks says when you’re making bogeys and just paring, and you try to force a birdie, you’re going to make more bogeys. Whenever you start birding and you know you can birdie, that’s when you step on it and that’s what I’m trying to do. I just couldn’t do it the second day.”
The 73 was a learning experience for Dugger, but to be in a position to win a major tournament gives him the confidence to know that with continued hard work who knows where this might take him.
“It’s hard to shoot really low both days because it’s a new thing,” Dugger said. “My game is progressing, so the thing that I have to work on is cleaning up my rounds better. I shot 68 first day and had to shoot -5 on the back, “ Dugger said. “I should be able to shoot -2 on the front and -5 on the back. It’s basically just cleaning up my rounds and not struggling as much with the putting.”
In addition to junior events, the rising senior will play in the Tillinghast Invitational next week and the East Tennessee Amateur as part of the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour.
CARTER NAMED NEW HEAD GOLF COACH AT HAPPY VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL
For the third time in three seasons, one of the hottest golf programs in Northeast Tennessee will have a new coach.
With the departure of Randy Ross for the upcoming school year, the Happy Valley athletic department has turned to Tucker Carter to continue the success that Ross had last season.
Happy Valley won district and regional championships last season, and dominated in almost every match it was involved in. The Warriors qualified for the state tournament as well.
Despite the loss of Milligan College signee Nick Kyte, the Warriors return four starters from last year’s team, and they should threaten once again for a trip to the state.
Matt Hill is the golf and tennis correspondent for the Elizabethton Star. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.