Could Valdosta be named Title Town USA? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Could Valdosta be named Title Town USA?

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

July 8, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA - Valdosta has been known as Winnersville for years.  And now the community is hoping for a new nickname, Title Town USA.

It's a title that will be awarded by ESPN as they visit 20 cities in search of the greatest sports community in the country.

Valdosta made the short list and Wednesday, ESPN is in town to see if the city has what it takes.

Valdosta isn't the largest town around. It certainly isn't the most well known. But despite it's size, it'd be hard to find a community with a bigger passion for local sports!

"I went to my first football game in 46 and fell in love with the wildcats," says fan and former Wildcat David Waller.  "I they loose I love them. If they win I love them. I'd like them to win but I love them if they win or loose.

"I always wanted to play with Valdosta High School. I just love the Friday night atmosphere and being on the field," says VHS Senior and Wildcat Linebacker James Stokes.

For good reason. Valdosta breeds champions.

"In my eyes, this area and this region is the SEC of high school football and that's what helped me have success in college and in the pros," says former NFL Player and Valdosta native Randall Godfrey. 

"Football is football and you play here at a very high level so when I left Valdosta, Valdosta State to go to the Atlanta Falcons and play all the years I played, I was well prepared," adds former Falcon legend Jesse Tuggle.

Valdosta is a town of champions. 

"Our team has done very well recently. We've got great kids, great coaching staff. We were able to win three out of the last four state titles. Here at Lowndes we've won five total I believe and we are very proud of that," says Lowndes High School Coach Randy McPherson.

"Our football team won the 2004 National Championship. Tennis won in 2006. Football obviously won in 2007," says Sean Reed, the Sports Information Director at Valdosta State University.

And has the history of being one.

"Valdosta High School is the winningest high school football program in the country," says Wildcats football Coach Rick Tomberlin. "And also, Valdosta has won six national championships, 23 state championships, and 40 plus region championships."

In fact, the area has been dubbed Winnersville thanks to their long list of champion athletes and championship titles.

Wednesday night, under the lights at Bazemore-Hyder stadium where so many of these games have been won, ESPN will highlight the athletic achievements.

"You have great passion, great pride and great performance and those were the three things we were looking for. Passion, pride and performance and you stack up just as well as anyone," says ESPN Producer Adam Hertzog.

Of the small town, the title town, that's been winning games and winning hearts for nearly a century.

SportsCenter will be taping Wednesday night at 6:00.

Valdosta's show will air on ESPN on July 16th.

The Title Town winner will be announced Sunday July 27th.

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