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Troup’s Dowden honored by FCA

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – When her name was called, Jodi Dowden did a double take.

Dowden, the volleyball coach at Troup High, was in attendance at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes West Georgia banquet last week in Columbus because of her heavy involvement in the organization.

Dowden ended up playing a much larger role in the banquet than she originally envisioned, though.

A handful of awards were handed out during the banquet, and one of them was for the West Georgia female coach of the year.

When the winner’s name was announced, it was a surprised Dowden making her way to the podium to accept the award.

“I didn’t even know I had been nominated,” Dowden said.

Turns out, it was the individual in charge of the West Georgia district who nominated Dowden.

“But he didn’t tell me, because he knew that I would never allow him to do that,” Dowden said. “So they called my name, and I was like what? I went up and gave him a hug.”

That was part of a big night for Troup.

Football coach Tanner Glisson, who was nominated by Dowden, was named the male coach of the year, and student Jake Fertig was named the huddle leader of the year.

“It was a very special night, very fun,” Dowden said.

The awards for coaches of the year aren’t just about wins and losses, although Dowden has enjoyed tremendous success leading Troup’s volleyball program.

It’s also about the positive impact a coach has made on the students she comes into contact with, both on her team and beyond.

“It’s more about the life lessons they learn,” Dowden said. “Of course they have to do the academic stuff, but as coaches, we’re able to influence them, and really try to guide beyond our sport, and teach them the skills to be better people, and share their faith, and all of those types of things, things that matter.”

Through the FCA program at Troup, Dowden is able to interact with athletes from across the sports spectrum at Troup.

“Being a part of FCA allows me really to be a part of all those kids, football, baseball, all the sports, and learn about all of them,” Dowden said. “(Quarterback) Montez Crowe is on my leadership team. And Jack Schweizer was on our leadership team. I’ve had kids that are in golf, I had a person that was in the band.”

Dowden obviously has a particularly special connection to the players on her team.

This past season, Troup’s volleyball team had a terrific season.

After finishing third in Region 5-AAAA, Troup beat Burke County for the first state-tournament win in the history of the program before falling to Ridgeland in the second round.

Troup was led by a group of eight seniors, including Jayde Dowden, Jodi Dowden’s daughter.

The seniors have been through a lot, including the tragic death of a teammate following a car accident, as well as a battle with cancer coach Dowden went through.

“This group was really special,” Dowden said.

Dowden said she’s appreciative of the support everyone at the school provides for her team, as well as the FCA.

“We have great support,” Dowden said. “It’s really a blessing to have such a great faculty and staff that are supportive of things that we’re doing. The administration and their support, I’m very thankful for all of that.”