More ‘best and worst’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Editor’s note: This column is continued from last week.

2003 provided yet another banner year for sports in Shelby County. New Year’s day marked my first full calendar year at the Reporter.

I witnessed the highs and lows of sports in Shelby County in 2003, first as a reporter and then as sports editor when I took over the position in September.

Here’s a look back at some of the best and worst in the year in sports.

Best excuse to speed: Be a member of Chelsea’s Bradberry racing family.

Most of us get a ticket when we drive too fast; these guys get a trophy.

Charlie Bradberry picked up perhaps the biggest win of his career in June when he took the checkered flag at Harmon Memorial Sunbelt Rentals 125 at Nashville Superspeedway.

The 21-year-old went on to win the championship in NASCAR’s Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series and has also run several races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Charlie’s brother, Gary Bradberry, raced in NASCAR Winston Cup in 1995 and raced ARCA races at places like Talladega as a rookie in 1994.

Bradberry racing is supported by Charlie and Gary’s father from the family garage in Chelsea.

Worst place to watch a game for the squeamish: Pelham Civic Complex, home of the Alabama Slammers.

Those with a weak stomach might want to stay away from the latest sport to invade Shelby County.

Hockey made its way into the area when Pelham landed a franchise from the World Hockey Association 2, a minor league hockey organization.

Intense hockey action includes big hits, blazing speed and yes, the occasional fight, making this a bad stop for fans of &uot;friendly&uot; competition.

Best dust-yourself-off-and-do-it-againers: Kingwood Christian School’s football team.

The lion-hearted Lions haven’t had much success in the win-loss column lately. In fact they didn’t win a game this season, or last.

Each time, the boys at KCS got knocked down, they got right back up and did it again.

The Lions didn’t let defeat get them down, making them the best example of perseverance this sports year.

Worst season for Auburn and Alabama fans: 2003.

Bama fans were given little to celebrate with the coaching carousel that took place early in the year. Mike Shula, who managed to grab the last chair before the music stopped, had a tough first season as the Tide finished with gut-wrenching losses to Auburn and Hawaii.

Auburn struggled early and often after being picked by one publication to win it all. The prediction-makers who said the national championship would come through Auburn were right after all, as the Tigers lost to split national champions LSU and USC. Auburn’s botched attempt to sneak off and hire coach Tuberville’s replacement before he was fired didn’t help things for Auburn fans looking for comfort after a disappointing season.

Ashley Vansant is the sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at