“You have nine girls. My job, and Tonya’s job, [the basketball coach], and everyone’s job, is to go 9-0 with them. If you go 8-1, you’ve had a losing season,” said Randy Hatch, school administrator for Carroll Academy in Huntingdon, Tenn. Hatch was not referring to a winning record, but he was referring to his nine basketball players, The Lady Jaguars.
In a five-part series, The New York Times conducted interviews with The Lady Jaguars to portray the lives of students who attend Carroll Academy, a school run by the Carroll County Juvenile Court. Many of the 80 students enrolled at Carroll Academy were sentenced to attend the school under court order. According to the Times, many of Carroll Academy’s students struggle with drug addictions, drug prescription misuse, violence and depression, but the majority of students came to the school because of their neglective parents.
Given the extensive interviews, background knowledge and use of interactive stories, I think the Times did an excellent job covering this inspiring story, but I think the school should have reached the radar of other major newspapers around the country because it could have a significant influence on other students and children going through similar life struggles.
After reading the series, it is clear why the Times chose to focus on The Lady Jaguars. Each girl on the basketball team, ages 13-17, has dealt with major obstacles in their young lives, but they do not give up. The team loses every game by a significant number, and the girls continue to play.
I think that the personal lives of these girls is an extremely sensitive subject, but ethically the Times reported in a way that uncovered the meat and emotion of the story while respecting the families.
These families and athletes did their community a favor as well. By sharing their story with the Times, these people have the power to influence children and adults all over the U.S. They show how something simple like a basketball team gives the students hope. Being part of an organized team also teaches structure, the value of teamwork, dedication, trust and many other important values.
The teachers and coaches at Carroll Academy, and The Lady Jaguars, are giving boys and girls a second chance at life. I think this story is so important because a second chance is getting harder and harder to come by in this day and age.
Carroll Academy, Hatch and Tonya are important models for educational facilities across the U.S.