While many high school varsity sports teams played numerous practice sessions and random tournaments throughout the summer month of June, only two teams played in a consistent, sanctioned summer league. Those teams were Wildcat baseball and Lady Redskin softball. Not coincidentally, a standout player from each of these leagues tied for June’s Bryan County Athlete of the month award.
It may be in these summer months that an athlete’s drive and dedication can truly be measured. While certainly many of their peers are taking it easy during summer break, June’s co-winners are examples of those few who instead saw this time as an opportunity to hone their skills and practice their craft of their chosen sport which, to them, is much more than a mere pastime.
Wildcat Jeremey Goolsby and Lady Redskin Tara Miles are June’s winners. They received their certificates during an awards banquet on Thursday at the family sports pub Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Richmond Hill.
In Bryan County softball, Tara shined like a diamond in the month of June. Her strong defense at third base and power hitting, that led to multiple triples and home runs, make her a clear summer MVP for the Skins and an easy pick for the June award.
Tara is also a potent member of BCHS basketball team and has been practicing with the team when she’s not on the softball diamond. Like in softball, new head basketball coach Mario Mincey has recognized Tara’s talent and is looking to her leadership to help guide his team.
All signs are pointing to this coming season to being Tara Miles’ stand out year. Tara has played softball since she was old enough and, from all accounts, has gotten noticeably better with each passing year. From T-ball to 3 prior years at BCHS to travel leagues to church leagues, Miles has finally grabbed hold of the leadership role and appears to be ready to run with it.
"I’m really proud of the way she’s improved this summer," said softball head coach Kim Covington. "She’s right where she needs to be. She was already a strong player, but Tara has stepped up her game this summer in both hitting and defense."
Tara’s sister, Shannon Jarrell, points to a GSU softball camp Tara attended in the beginning of June to explain much of her improvement. "Immediately after the camp, I began to see a drastic improvement in her confidence," said Jarrell. "She started hitting better too."
"She’s such an intense player," said Covington. "Her will to win is second to none on the team."
Another thing happened in June which Tara said has helped her attitude toward the game. Instead of her usual summer routine of joining a travel team, Tara became a camp counselor to 5 and 6-year-olds at the YMCA in Pooler.
"Softball is my favorite thing to do, but I’m probably the most competitive person on the team," said Tara. "It used to eat me up every time we lost a game. I’ve learned to calm down. Working as a camp counselor has helped me with softball by teaching me to be more patient."
"Tara has been competitive ever since she was little," said her mother, Selina Miles. "She used to beat everybody when racing her pony."
Although touted as having a strong pitching arm, Tara has swayed from that position, choosing instead to focus on catching and third base. On the latter, Covington touts Tara as being "probably the best third baseman in the region."
By all accounts, Tara has some strong attributes outside of the sporting world as well. She is an honor roll student at BCHS and her mother said "she doesn’t drink or smoke, she cleans the whole house - she’s just a really good kid."
Tara’s future goal is to attain an athletic scholarship so that she may continue to play softball on the college level.
In the meantime, Tara predicts great things for the Lady Redskin softball team as a whole for the coming season. She described how the rookies to the team are looking strong and how fellow seniors Lindsay Seger, Ashley Barfield, Brittany Freiberg and Meghan Shuman are all at the top of their game.
"We were more of a family last year, but we weren’t as talented as we are this year," she said.
"Tara has stepped up to be a team leader," said Covington. "She has served as a catalyst this summer and made this thing work between the new girls and those who were already on the team. I really look forward to what she will bring to our team this year. She will absolutely be one of our key players."