Monday, July 30, 2012

Living Your Dream

My Sunday began very normally for me.  I began to pour over the pages and pages of Douglas history notes I've accumulated over the last several months waiting on a topic to raise its hand and speak to me.  I kept scrolling through page after page, but the notes were very still and quiet.

I got bored and clicked over to Facebook and complained that nothing was speaking to me, and as my friends often do….someone inspired me.   Susan, a friend who shares the benefit of growing up in Red Oak, Georgia with me asked, “Got any Olympic athletes from Douglas County? That might be interesting if there are.”

Hmmm….well, it might be interesting especially since Douglas County can claim an Olympian. 
I’m sure it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who reads my posts here that I’m not athletically inclined.

It just wasn’t my thing growing up.   

Recess during my elementary school days consisted of a few tense moments when teams were chosen for daily kickball games where I was usually one of the last ones picked, or periods of paralyzing fear that my teacher would make me climb the various obstacle course stations that involved climbing up and over a ladder or tower. 

If sports weren’t my thing then climbing and heights were certainly my downfall. 
It just wasn’t going to happen.  

 Life became a bit simpler when I discovered a well written note from my mom could excuse me from those hard to deal with areas of the obstacle course and friends were always willing to step in and kick the ball for me or more importantly RUN for me when we broke off into teams.  

However, I do admire athletes and love to watch sporting events from time to time. 

For the next two weeks I’ll get my fill with the 2012 Olympic Games in London watching everything from Archery to Soccer to Wrestling and let’s not forget those very interesting swim meets.

Watching the Olympic Games makes it even more enjoyable when we realize we have our own Olympian who hails from Douglas County. 

When you think of an Olympian from Douglas County you think of someone who might have competed in any number of areas such as swimming, track and field, gymnastics, etc. but Elana Meyers is an American Bobsledder.

Yes, you read that right….bobsledder as in ice and snow.

Myers was one of the less experienced atheletes on the U.S. bobsled team during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, with barely three years of experience, but that didn't stop her from winning her first World Cup Bronze medal in 2008 as a brake woman for driver Shauna Rohbock, and then topped the previous performance with a Gold medal at the World Cup in Whistler, Canada and Silver at the 2009 World Championship also with Rhobock.

This Douglas Sentinel article advises....Meyers grew up playing softball, and was a standout at Lithia Springs High School before moving on to George Washington University where she was a standout shortstop and finished with a .356 batting average.   She actually recorded the first hit, run and win in George Washington softball history.

Growing up and playing on the Olympic softball team was always a dream, Meyers said.  “I was fortunate enough to tryout, but didn’t make it.  So when I realized that dream might not happen I looked around and saw that they were looking for bobsled athletes.  So, I checked it out and came to Lake Placid and just never left.”

She walked away from the 2010 Olympics with a Bronze medal.

Early this month CBS Atlanta presented a story about Elana you can find below:

CBS Atlanta 46

I wish team USA much success in London, and send out a loud shout out to Elana Meyers as she continues to train for the Winter Olympics in 2014.

While it was very easy to find news stories, videos, websites, etc. regarding Meyers it was a little more difficult to find information… first……regarding a second Douglas County athlete I wanted to share with you. 

Have you ever heard of Oliver Clinton Hill?  

What about Johnny Hill?

In a way he’s Douglasville’s answer to Moonlight Graham whose career was used as a focus in the movie “Field of Dreams.”

If you were growing up in Douglasville during the 50s, 60s I’m told that you might have known Mr. Hill.  From what I’m told most people called him Johnny, and many considered him a real sports icon because he had a professional sports career before returning here to Douglasville to lead a quiet life.....but he didn't wear his former career on his sleeve.

Mr. Hill was born Oliver Clinton Hill in 1909 in Powder Springs, Georgia.   I’m not sure at what point he became known as “Johnny” or why, but I do know the Winn Family  genealogy indicates a Johnny Hill who played for the Atlanta Crackers  married Verda Smith, but does not give the year.  

 I began searching through the Atlanta Cracker rosters from 1916 forward looking for the last name Hill.  Finally, I hit the name Oliver Hill around 1938 and discovered an Oliver Hill playing for the Crackers had been born in Powder Springs.   I felt I was getting closer, but once I mentioned something on Facebook a dear reader mentioned a Find a Grave site for Oliver Clinton Hill here.   At that point  I had to admit there were too many coincidences NOT to think Oliver Clinton Hill and Johnny Hill were one and the same.

From there it was very easy to find this site where I found the most information available for Johnny Hill including this picture….\

Mr. Hill’s baseball career certainly appears to be one where he didn’t know what give-up meant.  During his eleven seasons playing professional ball he spent the most time with the Atlanta Crackers helping them win the league pennant, play-off titles as well as the Dixie Series.  

He was sold to the Boston Bees in September, 1938, and made his debut with them in April the next year.   As the site states he only lasted three or four days with the Bees before he was sold again to the Milwaukee Brewers.    He had worked his way up to the big leagues…..and spent less than a week there.

There are several American League teams after that prior to a three year stint in the Army during World War II followed by twelve years as a player-manager for various minor league teams.   

He left the game for good in 1948 and moved to Douglasville.   I’ve been told he worked for Thad and Patsy Smith at their furniture store loading and delivering furniture for a few years. 
Hill passed away from cancer in 1970.

My Sunday may have started off normally, but I ended up getting to examine two very different athletes during two different time periods, but each had goals and dreams and pursued them.

I think the most important thing is doing something you love….that’s the important thing.   Elana didn't get to represent her county playing softball.  She ended up in a very different place but didn’t give up satisfying her desire to compete.       

Johnny Hill didn’t give up either…..season after season he kept plugging away doing something he loved.   He didn’t exactly get to spend a lot of time playing in the big leagues, but he got there.  

He saw the course through to his goal….even though his goal might have been short-lived.....and sometimes that’s all that matters.

1 comment:

  1. I think Johnny Hill might have been one of the folks whose picture hung in the old activities building at Hunter Park as part of the "Douglas County Sports Hall of Fame."


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