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THE STUDENT SECTION: Union Grove’s Ronald Blain opines on the recent changes atop the school’s football, basketball programs

Union Grove senior Ronald Blain.

Union Grove senior Ronald Blain.

At least once a month, will feature an aspiring sports journalist from a Southern Crescent high school to contribute a story, a column, a photo or some other sports piece in an effort to include the student or student-athlete’s voice and perspective in our publication, in addition to tales of their athletic prowess. Union Grove’s Ronald Blain is our first such contributing student.

If you know of aspiring sports journalists in any high school in Henry, Fayette, Clayton or Spalding counties, please contact to learn more about how they can have their work featured in our publication.


By Ronald Blain
Student Correspondent to

McDONOUGH, Ga. — When walking into the Union Grove gym on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at around 6:30 a.m. you will now get a chance to see the new look and motivated Union Grove Wolverine football team.

Under new leadership of Coach Craig Melton, the 3-7 Wolverines from the 2014 season have high expectations for the upcoming season. As I sat in on Coach Melton’s lecture to the team this morning I could literally feel the inspiration from the words of advice he was giving to the team.

“This is not an overnight process, and we can not expect to see change right away,” stated coach Melton in his speech to the team one day before workouts began.

All around I saw every football player in the gym glued to every word that was being said from their new coach’s mouth. With the focus being on change and improvement for this upcoming season, Coach Melton has also issued a new policy where the players will be recognized for outstanding excellence in the classroom throughout each week.

His reasoning behind this is to create leaders inside the classroom so that it can translate to the field.

Crazy, but it’s already working.

When rising senior Joshua Thomas was asked to stand up on a recent Monday morning, Coach Melton proceeded to tell the team that in the classroom.

“Josh challenges all of his classmates to achieve the highest grade on each vocabulary test,” Melton said. “This type of “leadership and competitiveness is exactly what is going to help us move forward in turning this program around.”

With the challenges of the past season in mind, it’s obvious that the objective with the entire football program is getting better and doing the little things in order to be successful come next fall. This is very evident with the intensity of the entire team and staff through every drill and workout given by the coaches.

Moving on, football is not the only program under change and reconstruction at Union Grove for the upcoming school year.

The school recently announced that long time assistant coach Jarvis Tarplin will become the new head coach of Union Grove’s varsity basketball team. Tarplin has been under the wing of Russ Atkins for a while and now gets his chance to take over.

This change of leadership came after long-time coach Atkins decided to retire after 15-plus years of coaching high school basketball. As a player at Union Grove for the past three years, I was able to play for both of these coaches. In my sophomore campaign, coach Tarplin was my head coach on junior varsity, and he taught many valuable defensive techniques that I continue to use today in my game.

Once my junior and senior years came I then was under the leadership of coach Atkins with coach Tarplin right by his side as the assistant.

Playing for these two was no easy puzzle to solve, but I am grateful, as I become a college player now, to have had these two coaches in my high school career. I also feel as though Union Grove’s Athletic Director Nick Ellis made a great choice in hiring Tarplin to take over.

Great things will definitely be coming to both of these programs next fall and winter.

Ronald Blain is a senior at Union Grove and a three-year standout for the Wolverines’ boys basketball program. He recently signed a scholarship to play basketball at San Diego Christian College, and is an aspiring sports journalist. Follow him on Twitter @RonaldBlain12.