Saying good-bye is a tough thing to do

Jackson GregI was afraid this day might eventually come, and sure enough, here we are, my last story as sports editor with the Fayette Advertiser and Democrat Leader.

Friday was my last day working here in Fayette, and fittingly, Fayette’s high school graduation was my last official assignment. But this story is the toughest one to write, and in typical “Greg Jackson fashion,” I waited until the final hour before our press deadline to put together these words. It’s not that I don’t want to write this column. It’s just that I don’t know quite how to put “thank you” into 1,500 words.

I’ve heard that the easiest thing to do may be to borrow a quote from a great writer. The last thing I want to do is to plagiarize in this “good-bye” column, but I’m going to do something I’ve always wanted to do for the past seven years.

I’m going to quote Seinfeld.

If you have gotten to know me over the years, you’ll known that is my favorite television show. There are a few people in particular who share my passion for random and useless Seinfeld knowledge, and I know they’re going to get a kick out of this. But the thing is, the quote I’m using isn’t a famous line from the show.

No, the “Yada, yada, yada…” quote doesn’t apply here, and no, “Serenity now!” doesn’t fit either, although I’m sure I’ve yelled that a few times after missing a deadline. Not even “These pretzels are making me thirsty!” can help me out with this column.

Instead, I’m going to refer to a quote directly from Jerry Seinfeld, and it won’t be found in any Seinfeld script. I came across a Rolling Stone article a few years ago that was published in 1998, which chronicled the final days of the show leading up to the shooting of the final episode. The story began with the final table reading, where the cast reads aloud the episode script for the first time.

Before the crew began the table reading, Jerry Seinfeld, the show’s co-creator and leading actor, stood up and said something that brought people in the room to tears. I’m sure if I were present, I would have needed a couple tissues myself.

Working on a show known for its unique, comedic humor, he stood up and said a very serious line. He said, “You’re going to hear me say ‘thank you’ a lot during the week —here’s the first one.”

Ever since I announced I was leaving Fayette back on April 22 to take a position as assistant sports editor at the Jefferson City News Tribune, my goal has been to say thank you every chance I would have over the next three weeks. But you all have beaten me to the punch on several occasions. The countless “thank yous” and “we’ll miss yous” have meant the world to me.

Still, I haven’t said thank you enough, and I wanted to use this final column as one big “thank you” to the entire Howard County community. So, here goes.

My first thank you goes to my former boss, Jim Steele. Without him, and a lot of luck, I wouldn’t be here in Fayette. Some of you may wonder why I mention I’m lucky to even be here. There’s a story behind that.

It goes back to March 2009, when I was a senior at the University of Missouri. My plan all along was the attend graduate school and learn the business side of the newspaper world, but when I discovered I was not accepted to grad school, I began to panic.

I didn’t have a backup plan with a fall-back job opportunity. I had two months until graduation and I was frantic. Later that night, I checked the job listings sent to me in an email by the School of Journalism career services department. There, in the email, was a listing for a job opening with the Fayette Advertiser.

I was stunned. This was too good to be true. How in the world did I get this lucky? I figured it had to be a sign. I immediately emailed  Jim that Tuesday night, we sat down for an interview that Friday, and the following week, I accepted this job. Seriously, how lucky can one guy be?

So thank you, Jim, for holding a job opening for a full two months, rather than hiring someone who didn’t need to wait to graduate from college. I hope the gamble was worth it.

My next thank you goes to my current boss, Pat Roll. I have worked for Pat since he bought the newspaper from Jim in February 2011, and it has been a privilege working for him. Not many bosses give journalists the leeway to do whatever they please, but mine did. In fact, he encouraged it.

I have talked to several area sports writers over the years, and with the many budget cuts in the newspaper business, they’ve had to cut back on their sports coverage. Their bosses won’t let them travel far to cover games. Overtime hours have been completely decimated. As a result, their coverage has taken a hit.

I’m the lucky one. I had the freedom to cover whatever games I wanted to attend, no matter the distance. If I needed a third sports page to cover the overflow of sports on a given weekend, Pat made it happen. It’s what you, the readers, would have wanted, and we hope you have enjoyed the expanded coverage the past seven years. So thank you, Pat, for being the easy-going boss everyone hopes to have.

And thank you, Linda Vroman and Kim Thompson. Our newspaper office is a small establishment, and it takes everyone pitching in to make this newspaper a successful one. They have been a great help to me over the years and I really appreciate it.

I want to say thank you to Geoff Moorehead, the Fayette High School athletic director. Because of him, I’ve always been the first to know when there are changes to a schedule, or if there has been an update for a future event. Once he receives All-Conference and All-District lists, the first thing he does is pass them along to me. And if I’ve needed a ride to an away game, he would call me before I had a chance to call him and ask for a ride. So thank you, Geoff, for keeping me “in the know” all these years.

Before I move on, I’d be remiss if I skipped over this. When former sports editor Justin Addison wrote his departure column, he made a request for folks to ask Geoff about scuba diving story from a past trip to Florida. I think I’d like to continue this storytelling tradition. So the next time you see Geoff, be sure to ask him to tell you the story about how I was once mistaken for his 14-year-old son. I hear he loves telling that story.

I’d also like to thank my family, which has been supportive and helpful to me since I arrived in Fayette. Whether it was my brother Brian covering games for me while I was on vacation, or my parents giving me a fresh pair of eyes to proofread my high school basketball preview, they never once hesitated to help at a moment’s notice.

Dad, thank you for coming to every Fayette football game you could attend and keep track of stats, so I wouldn’t have to juggle a clipboard and a camera. I won’t be needing to use a camera with my next job, so I think I can handle the stats on my own now. Hopefully we’ll be able to golf again this fall at the Falcon Open. I know the coaches will miss having you around at their games.

I have an endless list of coaches to thank and a limited amount of space to fill. I wish I could thank each of you individually, but then I would miss my deadline by about three hours.

This sports section wouldn’t be possible without the willingness of coaches to send me stats and scores. During the winter, all five high schools and Central Methodist may be playing basketball on the same night, but I can only be in one place. The coaches have been gracious enough to send me anything I need, making me look like a better sports editor. So thank you, coaches, and I hope your teams have many successful seasons down the line.

And most importantly, thank you, readers. Newspapers are a dying industry, but nobody would be able to tell that by looking at our readership. Please continue to follow the teams in these sports pages. There is a lot of great talent in this small area. Trust me, I know.

Well, I’ve made it to the end, but I feel like I’m forgetting something. Oh, now I remember what it was.

“Thank you!”

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A panoramic view from the sidelines

I was cleaning out photos in my cell phone a few months ago, and I realized I had several panoramic photos saved on my phone. For the most part, those photos are of gyms, fields and parks in the area.

I figured now is as good of a time as any to share those photos. Enjoy!


Fayette High School basketball gym


Fayette High School football field


Fayette High School softball field


Central Methodist University Davis Field


Central Methodist University Puckett Field House


Central Methodist University Estes Field


New Franklin High School basketball gym


New Franklin High School baseball/softball field


Glasgow High School gym


Glasgow High School Gold Star Park


Glasgow High School Bob Monnig Community Track (before the renovation)


Harrisburg High School basketball gym


Harrisburg High School softball field


Harrisburg High School football field


Salisbury High School basketball gym


Sturgeon High School basketball gym


Slater High School basketball gym


Atlanta High School basketball gym


Tina-Avalon High School basketball gym


Jefferson City High School Fleming Field House


Marshall High School Lyon Bowl


Westran High School football/baseball field


TR Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon


Mizzou Arena


Hearnes Center

Posted in Central Methodist University sports, Fayette High School baseball, Fayette High School basketball, Fayette High School football, Fayette High School softball, Fayette High School track, Glasgow sports, Harrisburg sports, Higbee sports, New Franklin sports | Leave a comment

Fayette hires Roger VanDeZande as new high school football coach

The following story will appear in Wednesday’s Fayette Advertiser, but for you loyal readers, I’ll give you a one-day head-start on the subscribers.

* * * * * * * *

VanDeZande named Fayette football coach

Harrisburg assistant spent five seasons as football head coach at Southern Boone

By Greg Jackson
Sports Editor


Roger VanDeZande

The Fayette school board met in a special closed session on Saturday morning. One of the items on the agenda was to finalize the hiring of a new high school football head coach.

By a vote of 5-0, the school board approved the hiring of Roger VanDeZande as the Falcons’ new head coach for the 2016 fall season.

“I’m really excited,” VanDeZande said. “I love the school and I love the size of the school. The community is great and I think there is a lot of potential there.”

VanDeZande’s subsequent teaching assignment has not yet been finalized but will be approved by the school administration for the 2016-17 school year. He replaces former head coach Tom Oakley, who resigned in December after four seasons as head coach and 19 years total with the Fayette football program.

After going through several applications for the position, the school administration narrowed the pool of candidates to three people: VanDeZande, Greg Hough of Carrollton High School and Rich Johnson of Braymer High School. The three finalists were interviewed on March 1 and, later that night, were introduced to the public at a reception held at the high school. Approximately 120 people attended the reception and had the opportunity to meet and talk with each of the head-coaching candidates.

“The Fayette R-III School District wishes to thank everyone who participated in the reception for the head football coaching candidates,” stated the Fayette school board in a press release, following the announcement of VanDeZande’s hiring on Monday morning. “Your comments were important and were taken into consideration as the interview team met to discuss the future of Fayette football and the classroom component tied to this position. Roger VanDeZande was the finalist selected and has been approved by the board. Coach V will be meeting with players and parents soon to begin preparing for the upcoming season.”

VanDeZande said he was very encouraged by the response from the community at the public forum.

“I thought it was great,” VanDeZande said. “I got the same kind of response from Fayette fans every time I see them. I look at Fayette fans and they always seem to be very hopeful. It gave me the chance to talk to kids, parents, board members and quite a few people who didn’t have kids and just came.”

VanDeZande is currently teaching at Harrisburg High School, where he has been for the past two years. VanDeZande coaches three sports at Harrisburg. He serves as an assistant football coach, assistant girls basketball coach and assistant track and field coach, all at the high-school level.

Prior to coaching at Harrisburg, VanDeZande spent five seasons at Southern Boone High School, where he served as the football and track and field head coach. In five seasons with the Eagles, VanDeZande posted a 21-32 record and guided Southern Boone to the Class 3 state playoffs in 2010 and 2011. Southern Boone won a district championship in 2010.

“The most important thing to me is to see the change that comes over the young people in the program,” VanDeZande said. “Over the years, I’ve found some secrets, as far as strength and conditioning and offensive football, that I think we can have some success. I want to make it fun for everybody.”

VanDeZande said he has been coaching football for 37 years and has compiled an overall record of 129-121. Before he came to Missouri to coach football, he spent 12 years coaching in the NAIA and NCAA Division III ranks.

In 2001, VanDeZande was named the AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year while serving as the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Southern Oregon. The Raiders reached the quarterfinals of the NAIA playoffs that season.

After spending five years at Southern Oregon, VanDeZande coached for two seasons at North Central College in Illinois, serving as the defensive coordinator. He then returned to Oregon to become the head coach at Lewis & Clark College and came back to Illinois to spend three seasons as the head coach at Blackburn College, which dropped its football program after the 2008 season.

Following his several years coaching college football, VanDeZande was hired as a physical education teacher at Southern Boone for the 2009-10 school year.

In regard to coaching philosophy, VanDeZande has what he calls the “four points of purpose.” Those four points are academic excellence, winning with class, developing character and demonstrating leadership.

“We’re going to work on those things, but we’re going to work awful darn hard on getting bigger, faster and stronger,” VanDeZande said.

VanDeZande said he met with the assistant football coaches last week and intends to meet with players, parents and teachers within the next week. He added that he wants to get in MSHSAA contact days as early as he can once the school year ends, and he added that he will have the weight room open two times a day, so the kids will always have an opportunity to come in and lift.

“We’re going to lift, lift, lift and get ready for the season, starting ASAP,” VanDeZande said. “This summer, I expect all players to attend 90 percent of the workouts in the offseason. In the long term, I expect our team GPA to be a 3.25.”

The Fayette football team is coming off a 4-7 record in the 2015 season, reaching the Class 1 District 6 semifinals. The Falcons had a total of eight All-Conference players and three will return next season.

VanDeZande joins Fayette as the Falcons will begin a venture into an expanded Lewis & Clark Conference. Next season, the conference will add Knox County, Schuyler County, Scotland County and Harrisburg, VanDeZande’s current school.

VanDeZande is a 1978 graduate of Bend High School in Oregon and received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Oregon State University in 1982. He lives in Ashland with his wife, Terri, and her two children, Blake and Brady. Terri is a graduate of Central Methodist University and a 2007 inductee into the Hairston Hall of Fame. She played basketball, softball and soccer for the Eagles.

VanDeZande also has two sons, Jared and Matthew. Both are graduates of the University of Missouri.

Posted in Fayette High School football | Leave a comment

Class 1 District 10 basketball All-District team

The Class 1 District 10 All-District basketball teams were announced earlier today. Of the 20 spots (10 boys and 10 girls), Glasgow and Higbee occupied eight of them.

This wraps up the All-Conference and MBCA All-District lists. Don’t worry, though. We still have several more postseason honors to go.

  • Central Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters All-District
  • Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters All-State (I hope…)
  • MBCA All-State
  • KRES All-Star team
  • KMZU Dream Team
  • And, of course, The Fayette Advertiser All-Area Team and MVPs

Those will be announced at various points throughout the month of March, and maybe into early April. For now, let’s get back to the Class 1 District 10 All-District team.


  • Bryant Hubbard, sr., Glasgow
  • Chase Wooden, sr., Tina-Avalon
  • Jacob Beal, sr., Higbee
  • Kennedy Davis, jr., Glasgow
  • Keaton Eddins, sr., Hale/Bosworth
  • Tre Whitley, sr., Brunswick
  • Garrett Johnson, jr., Northwestern
  • Luke Churan, jr., Tina-Avalon
  • Max Sinclair, sr., Tina-Avalon
  • Kabyl McMillan, soph., Glasgow


  • Jaden Monnig, soph., Glasgow
  • Devin Grossman, jr., Hale/Bosworth
  • Rhiannon Runyon, jr., Higbee
  • Lilly Churan, jr., Tina-Avalon
  • Sydney Sanders, sr., Northwestern
  • Abby Koehl, sr., Keytesville
  • Sabrina Huddleston, jr., Higbee
  • Abbey Rounkles, jr., Tina-Avalon
  • Devyn Yung, sr., Glasgow
  • Sydney Fisher, jr., Hale/Bosworth
Posted in Glasgow sports, Higbee sports | Leave a comment

2015-16 Class 2 District 7 basketball All-District team

All right, now that we have All-Conference basketball taken care of, it’s time to get the show on the road for All-District. First up is Class 2 District 7, which is one team of 10 players for each gender.

I haven’t seen a Class 1 District 10 list, and I doubt it will be published until Glasgow’s seasons are finished.

But back to Class 2 District 7. The boys list consists of two players each from New Franklin, Harrisburg and Fayette. The girls honors two players each from New Franklin and Harrisburg and one player from Fayette.


  • Garrett Francis, jr., Salisbury
  • Matt Edwards, sr., Westran
  • Cade Combs, soph., Harrisburg
  • Kaleb Anderton, sr., New Franklin
  • Jacob Denslow, sr., Westran
  • Blake Dawson, soph., Fayette
  • Tommy Phillips, jr., Fayette
  • Brendan Gray, jr., Harrisburg
  • Ronnie Perkins, sr., New Franklin
  • Brock Richards, sr., Salisbury

* * * * * * * *


  • Cory Burton, jr., Westran
  • Bailey Ivicsics, sr., Harrisburg
  • Molly Lyons, sr., New Franklin
  • Madison Matney, soph., New Franklin
  • Kortnee Vaught, sr., Sweet Springs
  • Maddy Denslow, soph., Westran
  • Kelsey Marek, jr., Salisbury
  • Haleigh Strodtman, sr., Fayette
  • Sara Colyer, jr., Harrisburg
  • Lynzi Miller, jr., Sweet Springs
Posted in Fayette High School basketball, Harrisburg sports, New Franklin sports | Leave a comment

Cooper County Activities Association releases 2015-16 All-Conference basketball team

And now we are to the CCAA. It was a really good season for the girls in the conference, with two teams climbing into the top 5 in the state rankings at one point. It’s also worth noting that Jamestown and Prairie Home split the conference title, but Jamestown won head-to-head.


First team

  • Jacob Beal, sr., Higbee (Co-Most Valuable Player)
  • Creed Flood, soph., Prairie Home (Co-Most Valuable Player)
  • Ross Kendrick, jr., Prairie Home
  • Trenton Barbour, soph., Jamestown
  • Garrett Wolfe, soph., Jamestown
  • Wil Clark, jr., Higbee
  • Luke Allen, jr., Calvary Lutheran
  • Ross Schlichting, sr., Calvary Lutheran
  • Wyatt Hunziker, sr., Jamestown
  • Wyatt Borghardt, jr., Prairie Home

Honorable mention

  • Cameron Crawford, jr., Higbee
  • Cole Duenckel, sr., Calvary Lutheran
  • Alex Flannigan, jr., Calvary Lutheran
  • Austin Flippin, soph., Jamestown
  • Ben Stock, sr., Prairie Home

* * * * * * * *


First team

  • Mickayla Strother, sr., Jamestown (Most Valuable Player)
  • Shianne Rhorer, jr., Prairie Home
  • Alli Muri, sr., Jamestown
  • Rhiannon Runyon, jr., Higbee
  • Lexi Muri, sr., Jamestown
  • Rebecca Thompson, jr., Calvary Lutheran
  • Makayla Zey, sr., Prairie Home
  • Sabrina Huddleston, jr., Higbee
  • Mackenzie Strother, sr., Jamestown
  • Rachel Distler, jr., Prairie Home

Honorable mention

  • Taylor Burnett, fr., Bunceton
  • Josie Flood, sr., Prairie Home
  • Brooke Rollins, jr., Calvary Lutheran
  • Daina Derboven, sr., Higbee
  • Geocie Sager, soph., Higbee
  • Rachel Lenz, jr., Bunceton
  • Lauren Wieland, soph., Bunceton
Posted in Higbee sports | Leave a comment

Central Activities Conference announces 2015-16 All-Conferene basketball team

I received this list on Monday morning, but it’s been a busy couple of days. There are lots of New Franklin and Glasgow names on this list, and this might be the first time I’ve seen a team in this conference get all five starters honored AND a bench player. That’s pretty remarkable for the New Franklin boys basketball team.


First team

  • Bryant Hubbard, sr., Glasgow (Most Valuable Player)
  • Kaleb Anderton, sr., New Franklin
  • Clabe Reed, sr., Cairo
  • Ronnie Perkins, sr., New Franklin
  • Kennedy Davis, jr., Glasgow
  • Chance Wells, sr., Sturgeon
  • Adam Monnig, jr., Glasgow
  • Jerrod Riley, sr., New Franklin
  • Regan Meisenheimer, sr., Pilot Grove
  • Hayden Hackman, jr., Glasgow
  • Keshawn White, soph., Slater
  • Brady Rentel, jr., Pilot Grove

Honorable mention

  • Jacob Hendrix, sr., New Franklin
  • Kenny Stone, fr., Sturgeon
  • Blake Carleton, sr., New Franklin
  • Austin Jones, jr., New Franklin
  • Kabyl McMillan, soph., Glasgow
  • Ian Denton, soph., Cairo
  • Jimmy Layton, fr., Madison
  • Austin Thomas, soph., Madison

* * * * * * * *


First team

  • Marley Winkler, sr., Cairo (Most Valuable Player)
  • Jaden Monnig, soph., Glasgow
  • Lauren Mills, soph., Sturgeon
  • Molly Lyons, sr., New Franklin
  • Anne Reynolds, sr., Glasgow
  • Keleigh Bennett, fr., Madison
  • Madison Matney, soph., New Franklin
  • McKenzie Dubbert, fr., Cairo
  • Emily Schupp, fr., Pilot Grove
  • Janie Leathers, jr., Cairo
  • Monica Tracy, jr., Cairo
  • Breanna Wright, sr., Slater

Honorable mention

  • Emma Bright, fr., Sturgeon
  • Devyn Yung, sr., Glasgow
  • Hunter Salmons, jr., Madison
  • Allison Keen, jr., Cairo
  • Mariah Williams, sr., Sturgeon
  • Jasmine Himmelberg, jr., New Franklin
  • Grace Hundley, soph., New Franklin
  • Tara Fuemmeler, sr., Glasgow
  • Cynthia Brumback, sr., Pilot Grove
Posted in Glasgow sports, New Franklin sports | Leave a comment