GEORGIANA, AL (WSFA) - Georgiana High School in Butler County held a raucous celebration Wednesday over the success of its track and field team. The championship will mean far more down the road than just a banner on the gym wall. It's how it all started that makes the medals shine even brighter.
The school started its own track team just three months ago. The team had no equipment, no uniforms, no track. In fact, the team used the school parking lot to train.
Georgiana Mayor Jerome Antone read not only the proclamation but presented the key to the city to one of the rising stars for the Panthers, Chris Mixon. Mixon won the state title in the long jump. It's not only a championship for Mixon, but the first ever in any sport for Georgiana High School.
"It means a lot to me, because I am first to ever do this," said Mixon.
And it all started on the back parking lot eight months ago with a dream.
"I thought we had talented young people," said Butler County Public School Superintendent Dr. John Strycker.
Strycker single-handedly started the school's first track and field team. He himself is a long distance runner and had a vision of what this could do.
"I thought we could do it, but you didn't know," he said.
During the fall and winter months, Jamarcus Sims sweated, grunted and wondered whether it was all worth the effort. Sims ended up winning third place in the triple jump in the first year. Remember, this is a track and field team that started from scratch; no equipment, no jerseys, no track, nothing.
"Never thought about running track or nothing. I was like, 'This ain't gonna work out,'" said Sims.
It did work out and then some.
"A lot of the students are even now connecting this to academics. A couple have said, 'Hey, Dr. Strycker we know we can maybe run track in college. What does our ACT score need to be?'" Strycker said.
Overcoming hurdles early on, Mixon and Sims now understand what it means to persevere from nothing. It's also a story of the human spirit of what can be accomplished with the right attitude and a healthy dose of a can-do spirit.
"Never give up, man," said Mixon.
For Panther nation the inaugural year is in the books. Year two begins next spring. We should also mention the Georgiana High School girls 400 relay team will enter the new season among the top 5 in division 1A without a senior returning.