Change sweeps through Middle Georgia sports landscape

Telegraph StaffMay 4, 2014 

Change is a big part of the sports landscape in Middle Georgia this year.

Bobby Lamb’s Mercer University football team played its first season in 2013 as the program returned from a more than 70-year hiatus. The Bears played their first season in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League. But this summer, the Bears, and all of Mercer’s athletics teams, will move to the Southern Conference. Mercer was a charter member of A-Sun (originally the Trans America Athletic Conference), but it will move to the Southern Conference in July.

Mercer will take quality programs with it in its move to the Southern Conference. The baseball team has become an NCAA tournament challenger every year in recent seasons, while the men’s basketball team reached the tournament for just the third time this season. And Bob Hoffman’s Bears earned the program’s first NCAA basketball tournament win with a victory over Duke.

The Bears have 18 intercollegiate athletics teams, eight on the men’s side and 10 on the women’s side.

The eight men’s teams are baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer and tennis. The 10 women’s teams are basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, sand volleyball, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field and volleyball.

Mercer’s facilities are: men’s and women’s basketball (Hawkins Arena), football/lacrosse (Mercer University Stadium), baseball (Claude Smith Field), softball (Sikes Field), men’s and women’s soccer (Bear Field), sand volleyball (Mercer Sand Volleyball Complex), men’s and women’s tennis (LeRoy Peddy Tennis Center), men’s golf (Brickyard at Riverside), women’s golf (Idle Hour Club) and cross country (Georgia Industrial Children’s Home).

Change is also coming for many of the area’s high school teams. Twenty-two high schools have athletics teams in the five-county area.

Mount de Sales Academy, Stratford Academy and Tattnall Square Academy are leaving the Georgia Independent Schools Association for the Georgia High School Association. Covenant Academy and Central Fellowship Christian Academy are also leaving the GISA, but they will join the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association.

In Bibb County, the other GHSA teams are Central High, First Presbyterian Day School, Howard High, Northeast High, Rutland High, Southwest High and Westside High. Windsor will be the lone GISA member in the county starting this fall.

In Houston County, the GHSA teams are Houston County High, Northside High, Perry High, Veterans High and Warner Robins High, while the Westfield School competes in the GISA.

Jones County, Peach County and Mary Persons (Monroe County) high schools also compete in the GHSA.

Warner Robins and Northside have built powerhouse football programs in the GHSA throughout the years, and Peach County has joined them recently. Mary Persons is a traditional power, as well.

Also, in Baldwin County, Baldwin and Georgia Military College Prep School compete in the GHSA, while John Milledge competes in the GISA.

Golf

Bibb County

Barrington Hall Golf Club: 478-757-8358

Bowden Golf Course: 478-742-1610

The Brickyard at Riverside: 478-477-6765

Healy Point Country Club: 478-746-2411

Idle Hour Club: 478-477-1724

Oakview Golf & Country Club: 478-785-1833

Houston County

Houston Lake Country Club: 478-218-5253

Houston Springs Golf Club: 478-988-8200

International City Golf Club: 478-322-0276

Perry Country Club: 478-987-1033

Pine Oaks Golf Course: 478-923-7334

Landings Golf Club: 478-932-5222

Waterford Golf Club: 478-328-7533

Peach County

Pine Needles Country Club: 478-825-3816

Baldwin County

Little Fishing Creek Golf Course: 478-445-0796

Milledgeville Country Club: 478-452-3525

Jones County

Lake Jonesco Golf Course: 478-986-3206

Monroe County

The Club at River Forest: 478-974-0974

Forsyth Golf Club: 478-994-5328

Tennis

Bibb County

John Drew Smith Tennis Center: 478-474-5075

Tattnall Tennis Center: 478-751-9196

Houston County

Tanner Park: 478-929-1916

Ted Wright Park: 478-929-1916

Peach County

North Peach Park: 478-956-1891

South Peach Park: 478-825-5197

Jones County

South Complex: 478-742-3535

Bowling

Bibb County

Gold Cup Bowling Center: 478-781-2096

Houston County

Gold Cup Bowling Center: 478-922-3054

Robins Bowling Center: 478-926-2112

Baldwin County

Baldwin Bowling Center: 478-453-7545

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