CAK boys take state golf title with some different strokes
John, Shearer, Shopper News
Christian Academy of Knoxville junior Kaleb Wilson has an unusual summer regimen for a serious junior golfer — he takes part in the regular morning swim team practice at Cherokee Country Club.
“My mom wants me to do it. It’s good conditioning,” he said with a laugh.
On the golf course, though, the son of Bryan and Stacy Wilson has avoided the water and its hazards enough to become a top local junior golfer. And this fall, he won the state individual golf title at the Division II-A level and also helped the Warriors win the team title.
“This is the fourth year in a row winning it as a team. And winning as an individual was a goal of mine at the start of the season,” he said with satisfaction over the two interconnected accomplishments that took place Oct. 12-13.
He added, though, that in contrast to some recent years, when the Warriors could almost coast to victory, the team this year knew it had to play well to win. He and his teammates did start well on the first day at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester, where rain before the tournament and windy conditions during it created an extra opponent of sorts.
“The first day of the state, everybody started to play like I thought we could,” said Wilson. “We did and held on for dear life.”
With the team’s top four individual scores resulting in a 293 combined score on the first day and a 311 on the second, the Warriors finished at 28 over par overall and outlasted runner-up Evangelical Christian School of Memphis by 23 strokes. Webb School finished third, three strokes behind ECS.
Individually, medalist Wilson’s 2-under-par 70 and 72 score was followed by CAK teammates Jackson Hughey, who tied for fourth, and John Meadows (tied for 11th) and Ben Johnston (tied for 18th).
Webb’s Reece Britt was also a top local finisher at third overall.
In the girls, the CAK Lady Warriors finished fourth in its state tournament held at the same time and were aided by a 12th-place finish by Malerie Taylor and a 14th-place result by Allie Cooper.
CAK Coach Donnie Cooper, who is in his first year coaching the boys and girls combined after previously serving as only the girls coach, also admitted that a repeat boys team championship was going to be tough and that he felt satisfied afterward.
“I was ecstatic, especially for our seniors,” he said of Meadows, whom he calls the team leader, and Wes Rodriguez, Cade Nichols and Bay Griffin.
Rodriguez and Nichols were not eligible for the individual title, but Rodriguez saw his score counted among the top four in the team competition on the first day, and Nichols on the second. Griffin did not compete but aided Cooper and the team with moral support and strategy advice during the tournament, the coach added.
Juniors Hughey, Johnston and, of course, Wilson were also key, he said.
For Cooper, the boys state championship comes after plenty of strategy planning of his own and a career somewhat atypical of a golf coach, despite his background in the sport. A former Halls High state team champion in 1986 and individual champion in 1987, he played golf at the University of Tennessee under coach Mike Malarkey 1990-92.
In contrast to many SEC golfers, though, he did not try to turn pro. Today, he works with his father, A.C. Cooper, at the Cooper Container Corporation corrugated paper products firm in Maynardville. But he did later compete in three prestigious U.S. Mid-Amateur tournaments for those 25 and older.
A few years ago, he was putting on a tournament and realized CAK did not have a girls team, so he applied to be the coach and began serving as a non-faculty coach.
One of his coaching strategies these days is to have his golfers practice and play at a lot of different courses, and that helped at the state, he thinks.
“WillowBrook is a golf course where you have to control your golf ball,” the coach said. “It is very tight, especially on the back side” (where CAK started both days).
That course and the tough conditions were a perfect challenge for Wilson, who prides himself on hitting it straight and putting well.
For him, the mental challenge of the overall game of golf suits him perfectly, too.
“It’s a different kind of challenge from other sports,” said Wilson, who took up the game at age 3 and tried to emulate his uncle, Bill Wilson, who is also a good golfer. “It’s mentally draining, but I consider myself a mentally tough person, so it suits me.”
WORDS OF FAITH
A lopsided Christmas tree reminds us: God makes things right
John Tirro, Shopper News
We put up our Christmas tree at the first opportunity this year. Day after Thanksgiving, we’re at Mayo’s, walking the asphalt path of the evenly spaced forest of pines, finding the one that says, “Me!”
The young college men working the lot hand us the tag, and while we go to pay they carry the tree to the red-and-green net rack, hammer it into its stand, and tie it on top of our car with binding twine.
We’ve been doing this since our kids were little. Our youngest is home from college now, and it’s a wonderful return to simple times, driving the tree home, pulling into the drive, being reminded by my now-grown kid, just in time, once again, not to drive into the carport with the tree on top.
Once we get it inside and upright, we discover, as we do every year, that it’s a little lopsided, that like all natural things it’s grown more toward the light and less on the other side, that it’s had its little recoveries from being bumped or brushed against, but we adjust the base, lean it hard to the left and back a bit, and though its actual weight is unbalanced, it stands well enough, and its outer balance looks lovely.
While still untrimmed, its off-center trunk shows through an open space, but then the decoration begins. Multi-colored lights and red-and-gold beads, crosses and angels and a handmade Santa cut and glued from felt by my Mom in my childhood, hand-painted hearts made by our kids long ago, a plastic house with a fireplace that used to light up, printed with the words, “Our first Christmas”: one-by-one the reminders of love go up, and soon the tree is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
Next morning by the tree, I’m praying and reading St. Augustine, “Let us sing alleluia here on earth, while we still live in anxiety, so that we may sing it one day in heaven in full security. Why do we live now in anxiety? Can you expect me not to feel anxious when I read: Is not man’s life on earth a time of trial? Can you expect me not to feel anxious when the words still ring in my ears: Watch and pray that you will not be put to the test? Can you expect me not to feel anxious when there are so many temptations here below that prayer itself reminds us of them, when we say: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us?”
It’s a real kind of lopsided, Christmas tree life we lead, singing alleluia while we live in anxiety. But Augustine reminds us — as does my tree — God holds us, adjusts our balance, and covers our lives in compassion and love.
A lot has been revealed to be unbalanced this year. Let’s love and hold one another with grace, and see what beauty comes to be.
John Tirro is pastor of music and campus ministry at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Info: sjlcknox.org.
Olivera Dessieux and family continue holiday tradition of spreading hope to those in need
Gabi Szymanowska, Shopper News
Thanksgiving has marked the beginning of the holiday season, and many will follow family traditions to celebrate.
For Olivera Dessieux and her family, the tradition of helping local nonprofit organizations that help children has kept them busy since before Thanksgiving.
Each year, the mother of two and a nurse practitioner at Gastrointestinal Associates partners with a different local nonprofit to pass on the kindness she once received. Last year, the Dessieux family helped collect duffle bags to help children who are in the foster system.
This year, they helped Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a volunteer-based nonprofit “dedicated to building, assembling and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need,” according to their website.
The organization started off in a garage during Christmas time and has steadily grown to have chapters in different states.
Dessieux explained that the organization not only builds the beds for the children, but it also provides a new mattress, pillows and bedding so children won’t have to sleep on the floor anymore.
“I decided, if I can collect bedding, that’s less money that they have to spend,” Dessieux said. “So that’s what I have been doing this year, and they’re actually coming Saturday after Thanksgiving to pick up all the supplies.”
The money that she helped them save could go to building more beds, especially since the price of lumber has increased so much over the course of the year. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the price for lumber has increased by 130% since mid-April.
In addition to helping an organization each year, Dessieux, her husband, Luc, and her kids, Neven and Mateya, spend Christmas Eve volunteering at KARM.
“I think it’s really important to teach kids … to see other people, to notice other people, and to learn early on, you know, that there’s always something I can do,” Dessieux said. “It doesn’t have to be big, but there is always something I can do, and how to give.”
The Dessieuxs started by taking cookies to KARM as a family, and pretty soon their friends started joining them in the Christmas Eve tradition. Despite COVID this year, Dessieux still plans on going to KARM to deliver the goody bags while following the necessary precautions.
And while Dessieux might be exhausted from staying so busy, she plans to continue the tradition to give hope to others, just like she received hope when she was in need of it.
“What keeps me going, and I have seen this over and over and over, how my small, little ripple leads to big waves,” Dessieux said.
A former refugee who at 17 fled her home in Bosnia with her parents, Dessieux remembered what it was like to receive a box filled with goods from Germany. Inside was an encouraging letter.
“I do what I do because I really hope that it will give someone else hope to keep going and keep chugging and to feel visible and to feel loved and to feel that God sees them and that they’re not forgotten,” Dessieux added.
Dessieux has already picked out which nonprofit organization she will be helping next year: Isaiah 117 House, started in 2014, provides a transition home for foster children, where they can go after being picked up by the Department of Children’s Services before they are placed with a foster family.
Dessieux plans on collecting pajamas, underwear and socks for the kids who might pass through the house on their way to a foster home.
“I will keep on doing it, I mean this is honestly me living my best life ever — giving back and helping out,” Dessieux said. “I know it blesses those that receive it, but I tell you, it also really blesses those that give it.”
Fountain City Jewelers finds new home in former bank
Ali James, Shopper News
To say that the past year has been challenging for Fountain City Jewelers would be more than an understatement. After enduring months of construction around his former location on Broadway, the jewelry store owner, Mark Enix, said his rent was increased and a new building obscured much of his shopfront.
Fountain City Jewelers has moved three times within the same shopping center since opening in 1999.
“We tried to do sales, but it was hard for my elderly customers to get to us. The shopping center looked great after the construction, but I couldn’t get street signage,” he said. “My rent rose 58% and then COVID hit and I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Despite the pandemic, Enix said his business has not missed a beat. “I’m blessed to be in East Tennessee,” he said. “I’ll never forget when Tom Hensley came in for a watch battery and I asked him what he wanted to do with the old bank building he owned? It had been empty for two years, so he made me a good offer on the rent.”
Enix’s new store is on the corner of Broadway at 2802 Essary Drive, opposite Litton’s and the Fountain City Lake. “You can’t beat anything across from the duck pond,” he said.
“The other important thing is that it already had a walk-in vault. It is not any bigger than my other store; it is laid out differently and is a better facility.”
More than 600 bridal designs
Before the Fountain City Jewelers soft opening in October, Enix said they opened up the retail space, removed some office walls, installed new flooring and painted. “It wasn’t a massive remodel,” he said. “We made sure that we had a separate bridal room with over 600 designs for people to pick out the ring they will have forever, in privacy.”
Gift ideas at all price points
Fountain City Jewelers has a line of sterling silver jewelry starting under $50 and a new selection of rose gold jewelry.
Martini-style diamond earrings trending
“Diamond jewelry is always a great gift,” said Enix. “I always sharpen my pencil to get to where I need to be on price.”
Pinterest-inspired custom work
“We do a lot of custom work because people often walk in now and show us their Pinterest page,” he said. “We often make things or have a big event to have people pick out the diamond they want before our annual diamond buying trip in Antwerp. We travel over 10,000 miles for that special ring.”
Niche vintage jewelry
“We buy a lot of estate jewelry; not a lot of people carry it,” he said. “Some of it is from the 1800s and is Victorian or Edwardian. I hate to see people scrap gold jewelry, it is a waste when I can give it a little bit of love and make it new again.”
Next year’s big estate sale will be held a month early in March 2021.
Making the tiniest of repairs
It is handy to know that Fountain City Jewelers uses laser technology to make jewelry and eyeglass frame repairs that are too difficult for traditional repair techniques.
Knox seniors stay active one Zoom session at a time
Ali James, Shopper News
Outside, it might have been a cold and frosty Wednesday morning, but thanks to technology, 17 seniors were able to take an exercise class from the comfort of their own homes.
Terri Geiser is one of the Knox County Senior Center instructors leveraging the Zoom meeting app to keep class participants engaged since the area centers closed down back in March.
Geiser, a SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life) certified instructor with the Silver Sneakers program, holds four classes a week on Mondays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
“It is a fall prevention program for seniors,” said Geiser. “It has several components, including education around home modifications (lighting, trip hazards, handrails), medical review (talking to your doctor about medications and side effects), and making sure your eyesight has been checked. Then there is an exercise component: strength building, cardio and balance.”
Some insurance providers give their Silver Sneakers program members credit for attending the classes and pay the instructor a small fee, just as they get credit for getting their flu vaccination or for a well visit.
“A lot of the class members are from the senior centers, but it is open to all seniors,” said Geiser. “It is keeping them mobile and it helps with their mental health as well. It’s important, especially right now.”
Geiser was upset when the coronavirus hit and wondered how she would keep her classes going, when she discovered Zoom as a technological solution.
“The senior centers get the information out to people in their newsletters,” she said. “It is a fabulous tool and opened up so many opportunities. A challenge for the senior population is that some do not have computers and only have flip phones. The fear of technology is probably another downfall. But it is cute when they say they will figure it out when their grandchildren come over.”
If participants do not know how to log in, Geiser offers to have a practice session. “It’s a lot of work and time, but it’s fun and worth it,” she said.
On Tuesday mornings at 10, Geiser is running an online miniseries called “As Life Happens.” The goal is to keep people connected during the winter months through 15-20 minutes of chat time: sharing tips, talents and ideas. The second goal is to eliminate stress through relaxation and meditation techniques. To find out more or register, email Geiser at [email protected].
More online activities
In addition to canceling in-person games, arts and crafts, the computer room and the only Knox County Senior Center indoor swimming pool are currently closed at the South Knoxville Senior Center.
“All six centers are doing virtual programs to keep seniors engaged,” said Janet Word, South Knoxville Senior Center Coordinator. “We have offered to teach them how to get on Zoom and we had several who have learned how to do that.”
Virtual classes include line dancing, trivia, cooking, Jaunts with Janet, Crafts with Susanne, Guitar Jam with Lindsey, and happy hour bingo. All activities and contact email addresses for instructors are available through the monthly email newsletter https://knoxcounty.org/seniors/pdfs/newsletters/2020/south/South_Newsletter_12-2020.pdf.
Drive-thru Reverse Christmas Parade
On Wednesday, Dec. 16, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. there will be a Jingle Bell Drive Thru Reverse Christmas parade at the South Knoxville Senior Center presented by Mac’s Pharmacy.
There will be physically distanced floats around the parking lot, and seniors will drive slowly around the lot. “We will have decorated brown bags and filled them with candy canes and fruit, just like an old-fashioned Christmas,” said Word.
Knox County Senior Center activities, including gingerbread house-decorating contests, scavenger hunts and the Seniors’ Angel Tree, are available to all seniors and are promoted at www.knoxcounty.org/seniors and at https://www.facebook.com/Knox-County-Senior-Services-118513268181423.
Make the holidays brighter for seniors — here’s how
Gabi Szymanowska, Shopper News
The holidays are usually a time for families to gather with relatives they haven’t seen in a while.
This year, because of the pandemic, many seniors who live in nursing homes, senior care facilities or even just on their own may not have that opportunity.
However, many of those who work with the elder generation are still trying to make the holidays a special time and help add some cheer to those isolated for their own health.
‘Playing it week by week’
Karla Lane, administrator at NHC Place Farragut, said NHC Healthcare is working on plans to make the holidays special, just as they did for Thanksgiving. Lane said staff decorated residents’ doors, handed out Thanksgiving bags with special cards inside from the staff and spent time with the seniors.
“They’re trying to spend a whole lot of time with them to talk to them about, you know, let’s remember your good Thanksgivings in the past,” Lane said.
Unlike previous years when families could come visit and reserve tables at the private dining in the facility, this year along with turkey lunch and a ham dinner were handwritten notes from the staff for residents to read.
“We can all pray that in the month of December, Knox County’s positivity rate will calm down and that will allow us to do more for everybody and open up for some visitations,” Lane said. “Honestly, we’re just playing it week by week out here. … but we will be doing more special things all through December for them so they can have a good Christmas.”
Send greeting cards to residents
Lane added that if Farragut residents would like to help make the holidays special, cards are always appreciated. She said that during the beginning of the pandemic, NHC Farragut residents received cards from children, many of which residents still have.
In leading up to Christmas, there are also plenty of other options to help make the holidays just a little more special for some seniors.
Give to a Senior Angel Tree
The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee is continuing its usual holiday tradition with the Senior Angel Tree. Each year, seniors are nominated by case workers across Knoxville based on their dire needs, many having fallen into certain life circumstances like homelessness, been a victim of a crime, or transitioning into stable housing.
“Most of our folks have either no community support, no family support, and really what it comes down to is that they would not have a holiday or would not receive a gift for the holiday without the Senior Angel Tree,” Pohlot said Sam Pohlot, Senior Volunteer Program Coordinator with CAC.
Some of the most common requests from seniors in the 10 years that the program has been running, said, are blankets, slippers, a set of pajamas, and for many of the seniors who don’t cook for themselves, a microwave.
Donate gifts or volunteer to hand them out
While the presents for the Senior Angel Tree were collected until Dec. 4 and then distributed Dec. 7, Pohlot said there are other Senior Angel Trees in Knoxville, including one done by Senior Citizen Home Assistance Service, which asks community members to donate gift cards to Food City, Kroger, or Wal-Mart in the range of $15 – $25.
And there are plenty of other opportunities to help out the senior community, including the group Grandparents as Parents’ holiday toy and gift drive.
Community members can also help Mobile Meals with their holiday gifts program by donating gift bags to Mobile Meals until Dec. 10. These gifts will then be distributed along with hot meals on Christmas Day. Residents can also volunteer their time to help deliver the meals through December.
Pohlot said that since the “stay at home” orders were given in about March, many of the seniors the CAC has contact with feel even more isolated and lonely, something the CAC has spent decades trying to alleviate. Pohlot said that this holiday season, it would really help for the community to take time to help the seniors in their community in any way possible.
“Really any way that we can brighten someone’s day and provide even just a little something to make their lives better — I feel like these really are items that will help a little bit,” Pohlot said. “But if you have the time, if you have the space, if you have the resources to help someone out just a little bit, it makes us feel good as well as helps someone in just a small way.”
Life by the numbers
Leslie Snow, Shopper News columnist
There are numbers dancing around my head. Normally I’m a word person, but this week, the numbers have it. I’m counting the days until I can see my children and grandchildren again. I’m counting all the gifts I need to buy for Christmas and Chanukah. I’m counting on a vaccine that will protect my family from COVID-19.
The numbers in my mind point to a strange time in a strange year. And they reflect all the ways my life has changed over the last 10 months.
Here’s a look at my life in numbers.
5: That’s the number of remote controls Buttercup, my Great Dane puppy, has eaten in the last six weeks. Luckily, she spits out the batteries or we would have five matching trips to the veterinarian’s office as well.
3: She also chewed three drip hoses from the flower beds, three socks from the dirty clothes, and three documents in my office.
2: When she was done, she chewed two holes in my two area rugs.
0: The number of times I’ve regretted having Buttercup in my life. Despite the chaos and destruction, she makes me smile every day. Puppies are the opposite of COVID-19.
3: The number of craft projects I started while I’ve been “safer at home.”
0: The number of craft projects I completed while I’ve been “safer at home.”
30: The number of days last month I watched too much “breaking news.”
30: The number of days last month I promised myself I’d end my news addiction.
9: The number of days this month that prove old dogs can’t stop watching the news.
36: For 36 months I patted myself on the back for eating a low-carb diet, proudly shunning the most comforting bites in the food pyramid. Then the pandemic hit, and medicinal macaroni and cheese became a real thing.
11: When I’m not eating carbs, I’m baking them. In the last four weeks I’ve baked three loaves of bread, one buttermilk pie, one pumpkin pie, chocolate flan, one cheesecake, a chocolate pound cake, an apple cake, banana bread, and a pan of brownies. Sugar is the opposite of COVID-19.
17: The number of bubble baths I’ve taken in the last three weeks. Eating, baking, and bathing is my new three-part stress management system; suitable for all pandemics and presidential elections.
2: The number of times a clogged drain flooded my basement with bath water.
27: In the last 30 days, I’ve been able to see my parents 27 times.
27: The number of times I’ve been happy to see my parents over the last 30 days. I’m grateful they finally moved to Knoxville.
12: The number of Cleveland Browns games I’ve watched with my folks since they moved to Tennessee.
7: The number of times my dad yelled “hot-diggety” after a Browns touchdown.
2020: A bad year to try to make my parents Vol fans.
1: We had one perfect day of celebration when Ethan and Amanda got engaged. A surprise brunch on a beautiful day and something to look forward to next year. Love is the opposite of COVID-19.
No matter how you do the math, 2020 is shaping up to be the worst year ever. But in just over 20 days, we’ll have a fresh start in a new year. I’m counting on it.
Leslie Snow may be reached at snow [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Shopper News blog: CAK boys take state golf title with some different strokes