GHC Chargers go ‘All In’ at JUCO World Series and bring home sportsmanship award

Wednesday, June 5, 2024–8:11 a.m.

-Georgia Highlands College-

The Georgia Highlands College men’s baseball team will go down in history books as the college’s first team to make it to the JUCO World Series, held last week in Grand Junction, Colo. While the team did not win the series, they went strong with an initial 3-game winning streak in the series followed by two close losses to Northwest Florida and Blinn, earning a spot in the quarterfinals. 

Head Coach Dash O’Neill and GHC received the first-ever Debbie Hamilton “All-In” award in honor of the late Debbie Hamilton, wife of JUCO Chairman Jamie Hamilton.   

“To be the recipient of this award in honor of this incredible woman and in its inaugural year is the highlight of my career,” O’Neill said. “Debbie was an amazing example of not only being ‘all in’ in her support of the JUCO World Series and her community, but also of how crucial it is to have the loving support of spouses and loved ones behind the scenes. 

The Chargers also brought home the Tillie Bishop Sportsmanship Award. O’Neill said this award helps prove his long-held belief that baseball is a place to learn things that cannot be taught in a classroom. 

“These young men didn’t just show up to Grand Junction to play a game – they made an impact on everyone they encountered,” O’Neill said. “They played catch with local kids on the field even after we’d been eliminated. They adopted (and were adopted by) the Challenger athletes they were blessed enough to work with. They were humble and respectful and acted with great class in everything they did while we were out here, and as a coach, there is nothing that could give me greater pride.”   

He said the trip to Grand Junction represents much more than baseball and accolades and shows how the Charger community can come together to help raise money for student-athletes to compete at the highest level while experiencing a unique travel opportunity,

“Our college leadership and community provided the resources we needed to bring a group of 40 young men who love each other on the trip of a lifetime. Some of them flew on a plane for the first time. Most of them saw the Rocky Mountains and real snow for the first time. They got to go across the Colorado National Monument together, and yes, they got a chance to compete for a national championship,” O’Neill said. “Along the way, they forged friendships with people like little Olive – a Challenger athlete who attended every game and made a scrapbook of her experiences with our team. They were swarmed by hundreds of kids seeking autographs and a few minutes of their time.”  

He continued, “Best of all, they set an example for leadership, humility, and teamwork that inspired the people of Grand Junction and proved to people all over the country that this little team out of north Georgia is truly one of the most special groups in the entire nation.” 

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