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Where the Journey Leads….Featuring Josh Lockhart

“Where the Journey Leads” features individuals who once lived in Coffee County but whose journey in life has led them to new adventures in new places; it’s an opportunity to catch up with old friends.”

Josh Lockhart has been chasing his dreams and has captured hold of many, securing a firm foundation for a successful career in the music video industry. But the Coffee County Central High School Class of 2010 graduate has succeeded greatly in a way that few young people realize is a true measure of success. For he knows that learning how to overcome the obstacles in his path, truly takes him further on his journey than had the road been flat and straight.

William Jennings Bryan said “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.” Josh has chosen to face his challenges straight on, deal with them, learn from them, and now stronger and wiser, continue to chase his dreams wherever they may lead.

Jay with Audra McLaughlin and video crew

Recording artist Audra McLaughlin shot part of her music video “Boomerang” at Peoples Bank & Trust Company in Manchester, Tenn. Pictured from left are Joe Mattis, Derek Oxford, Steve Condon, Jay Nogodula with PB&TC, McLaughlin, David Duzenski, Josh Lockhart and dEtiosa Osayamen. CCN File Photo by Rebekah Hurst

Often times, Josh’s journey has brought him back to Manchester, Tenn. where he has engaged his hometown in his music video projects, including them in the adventure of the filming and the fun seeing the finished product. In February of this year, Josh assisted Steve Condon in directing Audra McLaughlin’s “Boomerang” music video, with many scenes shot at Manchester locations. In May, he invited the community to help him create a football game scene as he directed the Lawson Bates “Past the Past” music video. And once again, Josh included the community that supported his efforts when he returned to Manchester and CCCHS with Lawson Bates for the launch of the “Past the Past” Music Video Release Party held August 3rd.

Josh and Lawson pic

The Lawson Bates “Past the Past” Music Video Release Party was held Aug. 3rd, 2017 at the Coffee County Central High School auditorium. Pictured from left is the video’s director, Josh Lockhart with Lawson Bates. CCN File Photo by Rebekah Hurst

In an interview with Coffee County News, Josh, the son of Kenny and Teresa Lockhart and brother to Michael, shares his vision for his future and how his past has helped propel him further on his journey.

CCN: Who were some of your favorite teachers at CCCHS and why?

Josh: Honestly, there are just so many that I don’t want to get into specifics as to why they were my favorites. But I’ll definitely drop names, and in no particular order: Kelly Smith, Jenny Skipper, Rebecca Koger, Mindy Acklen, Rhonda Winton, Joyce McCullough, Angela Gribble, and likely many more. Half of the time I was doing homework during the five minutes before class started, but I assure you that they were all very special to me.

CCN: Where do you live now?

Josh: I currently reside in Nashville, Tennessee.

CCN: What is your occupation now and who do you work for?

Josh: My occupation is a little different than one most people would have. I sometimes simply say, “I’m in video production,” and there’s a good reason for that. As a full-time freelancer, I wear several hats, so it’s hard to officially pin down my job title.

Most days, I’m directing music videos, as in the case of Lawson Bates. But I’m still young, and I find myself working for others on a consistent basis as a camera operator or a cinematographer. However, if dealing with music industry teams, I’ll almost always introduce myself as a music video director.

Josh Lockhart with crew pic

Recording artist Audra McLaughlin shot part of her music video “Boomerang” at Peoples Bank & Trust Company in Manchester, Tenn. Pictured from left is actor David Duzenski, PB&TC employee Rachael Gray, Josh Lockhart, and Derek Oxford. CCN Photo by Rebekah Hurst

I also frequently work as assistant director with The 10:10 Creative, which produces music videos for country band Old Dominion as well as other artists such as The Voice’s Audra McLaughlin. That team is led by Director Steve Condon, who has taught me virtually everything I know when it comes to directorial roles.

CCN: What does your job entail?

Josh: As a director, I come up with video concepts, deliver a plan to bring that concept to life, and execute it as efficiently as possible. However, you always need a little leeway in order to maintain the creative flow. I’m still small-time right now, so I have to do a lot of things on my own: editing, logistics, sometimes I even have to shoot my own projects… I love it all, but sometimes it’s smart to let go of the reins on certain things and have others make use of their expertise. Andy Burchett was the director of photography who shot Lawson Bates’ project, and without him, it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as it was.

CCN: How did you prepare for this occupation? Did you major in this and if so, what is your degree and where did you go to school?

Josh: I went to Middle Tennessee State University for three years with a goal to major in mass communications. My senior year I began to suffer heavily from a general anxiety disorder and depression, and I opted to leave school to focus on my health. Anxiety was something I had always dealt with, but I allowed it to finally consume me, I suppose.

Fortunately, I had just finished an internship at this time with a camera rental house in Nashville, and they chose to hire me part-time despite my leaving school. It was probably the healthiest option for me at the time since the workplace was a low pressure environment, my coworkers became my friends, and it was industry-related.

That same year, I met Steve (a frequent customer), who recognized I was going through a tough time. He kept hassling me via text message and Facebook to come on set with him, and I finally gave in on the tail end of a music video he was working on with the rental house manager, Derek Oxford, an extremely talented director of photography who has become one of my closer friends.

One of the first projects Steve brought me on full-force  was for an artist on Carnival Records named Mando Saenz, and if I remember correctly, he once sent me to Phil Vassar’s house last minute to do an interview spot to promote Phil’s music video for “Love is Alive” that he directed. I was completely unprepared for that, but he essentially threw me into the fire.

Josh and Jessie Lynn pic

“Past the Past” music video director Josh Lockhart, pictured right, works with production staff member Jessie Lynn during the video shoot held at Carden-Jarrell Field in Manchester, Tennessee. Photo by John St. Clair, stclair-sports.com

CCN: What has best prepared you for what you do?

Josh: To sum it up: hitting brick walls. Being told no, being told I wasn’t good enough, even being told I’m not going to get paid… It’s ridiculous how subjective this industry is. I constantly have to remind myself that I am good at what I do even with limitations – the biggest one being budget, most often. I’ve done some crazy things with just a few thousand dollars. Meanwhile, the labels are churning out videos worth at least $50K.

CCN: What have been some of your most rewarding experiences?

Josh: I’d say one of my favorite experiences was filming Dolly Parton in Canada last year. It was brief, but it’s definitely something I can say, “Hey, I did it.” It was a small crew: myself, Derek Oxford, and director Justine Feldt. It was very cool to be able to say I was a part of that.

My favorite all-time experience might be filming Old Dominion’s video for “Snapback” in Los Angeles at the beginning of last year, though. The energy was just so high, and it turned out to be a video unlike any other.

CCN: What challenges have you faced and have overcome to see the success you have?

Josh: Without wanting to change the direction of this piece too much, mental health is the most severe challenge I face on a continual basis. Many days, I struggle with it. It’s common in creative individuals, and you can see that more often today than ever.

I don’t like to use it as a crutch, but it’s been my biggest hurdle in this journey. I’m also fortunate to say that. There are far worse things I could be facing – I’m happy to say this is the biggest one.

CCN: What are your goals for your future?

Josh: I’d like to be working with higher profile artists more often with their music video productions. There’s room now for newer talent. We need to embrace that.

Josh, Derek and Audra pic

Recording artist Audra McLaughlin shot part of her music video “Boomerang” at Peoples Bank & Trust Company in Manchester, Tenn. Assisting and pictured from left is Josh Lockhart and Derek Oxford with McLaughlin. CCN Photo by Rebekah Hurst

CCN: Many people have been blessed with you using several locations in your hometown of Manchester for video shoots. What inspired you to bring your work back home?

Josh: No one in my industry has access to a town an hour away full of people who have known them their whole lives. It’s a lot easier for me to call up a location there and they know I have good intentions than intrude on someone in Nashville. While I do intend to keep the majority of my work in Nashville, it’s nice to come home and work with people who are all in.

CCN: You work with amazing artists who have had great success. What are your thoughts on being able to contribute to the success of others?

Josh: It’s just nice being part of something bigger than myself. I like to see people go on to do great things. It’s nice when I’m remembered for my contributions.

Josh Lockhart filming Bates

May 4th, 2017, music video director Josh Lockhart returned to his hometown of Manchester, Tenn. with his production crew for the filming of the Lawson Bates ‘Past the Past’ music video, staring Bates and Sadie Robertson. Pictured from left looking at photo footage is Nathan Bates, Lockhart and Lawson Bates. Photo by John St. Clair, stclair-sports.com

CCN: What advice would you give young people today on how best to achieve their dreams?

Josh: Never get caught up in “The Plan.” The Plan is something that we’re told to have during our last four years of school, and it’s just not feasible. The Plan says that you need to major at a certain school, have a certain job, get married at a certain time, and do all these specific things that are on a timeline. Honestly, that’s ridiculous.

Too often we place value on competition in order to get by. There’s a lot of noise surrounding this concept of surpassing others in order to get to the top. I’d use a more casual term for how I would describe that concept, but I don’t believe it’s suitable for print.

The only competition you really need is yourself. Be better than who you were yesterday. Help others when you get a chance. Keep moving, but only keep moving so you can achieve your goals – not rob someone else of their own.

How terrible is it to look back on your life and say, “If only I had done this, I would have lived the life I wanted?”

You’re given one life. Embrace it for what it is. If living alone is the dream – just make sure you’re taking advantage of what you can while you’re doing that. Say yes to everything (within reason), and never think you’re unable to do something due to limitations or “The Plan.”

For some, the dream is a wife and kids. Others, it’s financial stability. I’d say have goals. Never be afraid of changing those goals, and don’t feel guilty if you do. Failing is getting hit and not getting back up. When you get back up, that’s success.

For more information on Josh’s career or to contact him, visit his site at http://www.jlockhartmedia.com.

2017 CCN Article by Rebekah Hurst, CCN Photos by Rebekah Hurst and John St. Clair, stclair-sports.com, Reposted with permission.

‘We Were Pat’s Boys’

In the early 1980’s,  University of Tennessee head basketball coach Pat Summitt realized that the harder her Lady Vols practiced against each other, the more their injuries increased before the game clock even began. So she came up with a plan that would allow her team to practice at a high level of intensity without beating up on one another. Instead, they would practice against the best UT’s Men’s Intramural Basketball League had to offer, the Tuppers, featuring Manchester’s own Tony Clayborne, Keith Duke, and Robbie Swain, Billy Heath of Fayetteville and Ricky Smith of Shelbyville. Little did they know, their hard work and excellent play would lead to an opportunity to help the Lady Vols reach the NCAA National Championship game and to share in the making of history. For before all the National Championships, there were “Pat’s boys.”

Clayborne, Duke and Swain played together at Coffee County Central High School during the 1978-79 season. After graduating high school, Clayborne and Swain joined Heath and Smith and played basketball the next two years for Motlow State Community College. After graduating from Motlow, the four enrolled at UT and wanting to continue the sports they loved, they picked up fellow Raider Keith Duke and formed the Tuppers. As it turned out, the Tuppers were a force to be reckoned with throughout the different I-M sport leagues on campus and they had the wins prove it.

In a recent interview with CCN – Coffee County News, Clayborne, Duke, Swain and UT Lady Vol stand out player Pat Hatmaker recall those early days on the court during the 1983-84 season, playing together under legendary coach Pat Summitt.

After the Tuppers won the pre-season intramural basketball tournament, Deane Edlemen who worked with the UT Women’s Athletic program, met with them and asked if they would like to practice against the Lady Vols, saying they had the right temperament for what was needed.

“We were just so excited,” said Clayborne. “I asked if we were to go straight to the court and we were told no, first you’ve got to meet the coach. I don’t think she was going to bring us to the court until we passed the Pat Summitt test. In 1983, Pat Summitt was not yet ‘Pat’ but she was still very direct and looked you in the eye. She was intimidating in a nice way.”

When they arrived at Coach Summitt’s office, Tony remembers her saying to them, “There are three things I will demand of you or you won’t be out there. I know y’all are a little bigger, (but we weren’t that much bigger, but we were a little bigger),” he said with a laugh.

Tony Clayborne as a CHS Raider. CHS Yearbook Photo

“One, I don’t want you blocking any shots. Two, I don’t want you taking any charges and three, most of all, don’t hurt my girls,” Tony said quoting Summitt.

“To be candid, we sort of took the Lady Vols for granted going in,” said Swain, “but quickly learned to respect their physicality, effort and talent, which exceeded many of the male players we had competed against.”

The Tuppers were put to work their first day on the Stokely basketball court. At this time, the Lady Vols were playing exhibition games because the season had not yet begun and they played at Stokely because the new arena had yet to be built.

“We didn’t play games against them,” said Clayborne. “We would get with the assistant coaches when we got there and they would go over the opponent offense and then we would run that and then we would run that half-court against them, over and over and over and over. Then, we would run their defense and the Lady Vols would be on the offense.”

“Because most of us had played together in good high school and college programs, Coach Summitt appreciated that we could run any number of concise offensive and defensive schemes to help her team prepare for the game plans of upcoming opponents,” added Swain.

Robbie Swain as a CHS Raider. CHS Yearbook Photo.

“They had two teams, their starting team and their subs. And there were times they would wear us down. That is true,” said Clayborne. “But, we were in the best shape of our lives.”

“The biggest thing I noticed about Pat was she was so meticulous about every detail,” added Clayborne. They (the team) could run everything perfect for 45 seconds or a minute but one little mistake would ruin it all. Remember in those days, they didn’t have a 3 point line or a 30 second shot clock, but in one minute, one little thing could ruin it all,” he echoed.

“She (Summitt) was as demanding of hard-nosed play and perfecting of the fine details as any coach I’ve demonstrated on the court in crunch time. Many talk a good game about coaching, but the true indicator of superior coaching is displayed by the performance and teamwork of their players executing their coach’s instructions on the floor. No teams did that better than UT under Coach Summitt.”

“We got to see her wrath at the ladies almost every day,” said Duke. “And when she yelled ‘everybody on the line’ it meant that we could get a drink of water and take a break.”

Clayborne remembers a day when the team experienced the consequences of breaking team rules.

Keith Duke as a CHS Raider. CHS Yearbook Photo

“Pat said, ‘Boys, I’m not going to need you today, but you’re welcome to stay.’ So, we were curious and we stayed. She put garbage cans at the four corners of the gym and they ran until they all threw up.”

Pat Hatmaker played for the Lady Vols from 1980-1984 and she remembers when the team started practicing against the Tuppers.

“The guys really helped us tremendously with helping us to become stronger and helping us to play at a faster pace. Playing against different people each day instead of ourselves made a big improvement also,” said Hatmaker.

Coach Summitt expected the Tuppers to give their best effort for them to truly help her team.

“Trust me, Pat treated the practice guys just like she did her players and held them to the same standards so we always had really good practice guys on the floor who were really dedicated to helping us get better,” added Hatmaker. “And, we really appreciated the effort and hard work they put in to helping us succeed.”

Pat Hatmaker was a team leader and stand out player for the Lady Vols. She helped lead the team to the NCAA National Championship Finals. UT Athletics Photo

Duke remembers playing against Hatmaker and what a talented player and asset she was to the team.

“She worked alongside Lea Henry at guard in 1982-83 (her junior year) and then she basically ran the team in 83-84 when the Lady Vols went all the way to the championship game,” said Duke. “I remember how confident she was at directing and setting the offense. She was great at getting the ball to the scorers like Mary O’ (Ostrowski) and Tanya Haave. She was a steady leader for a great team her senior year.”

The Tuppers matched up by size when deciding who guarded whom. Tony was matched with Mary Ostrowski, one of the best players on the team.

“Why I was guarding her I don’t know. I was the worst defense player on our intramural team,” said Clayborne.

The practices were demanding and although injuries were avoided at all cost, at that level of intense play, unexpected things happen.

“I remember one practice where the team star, Mary Ostrowski, was knocked down hard by one of us practice guys on a rebound and the place got quiet while she laid there in pain,” said Duke. “I remember thinking, ‘what are we going to do if we broke her hip?’. Thankfully, Mary was fine.”

Asking Hatmaker if she remembered that tense time she replied, “I saw it myself. But that’s part of it and it made us tougher. So, when we played against women, we were ready for anything. We all got knocked down pretty hard,” she replied laughingly. “Even the guys at times.”

“When you play against stronger, bigger guys, you feel like you can play better against anybody. Because, you’re so much better prepared.”

Mary Ostrowski was instrumental in helping to lead the Lady Vols to the NCAA National Championship Finals. UT Athletics Photo

Coach Summitt treated the Tuppers as though they were part of her team. When the Lady Vols played in the Stokely Center, the Tuppers were seated right behind the bench where they could hear what was being said in the huddle and share in the excitement of the games.

“You know what, going over there to practices, I guess was some of the most memorable times I had at UT. I enjoyed heading over there, knowing that we were going to get beat up knowing that we couldn’t block shots, we couldn’t take charges, and we couldn’t hurt her girls, but obviously she didn’t give that same speech to them,” said Clayborne with a smile. “We worked them hard. We would steal balls from them if we could, and we did anything that we could that didn’t go against Pat’s rules. It was some of the best times, knowing that we were going to practice with the Lady Vols.”

The Lady Vols made it to the National Championship game that season but were defeated by University of Southern California 72-61 as USC had Cheryl Miller leading the Lady Trojans to their second straight championship.

“It was great to play a part in one of Pat’s first Final 4 teams,” said Duke.

“Pat tried to get us to go with them to the Final 4, but the school wouldn’t allow it due to liability, and I couldn’t afford to go to Southern California,” said Clayborne.

The 1983-84 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball Team. Pictured from front left are Amy Gamble, Shelia Collins, Lisa Webb, Pat Hatmaker, Sonya Cannon, Shelly Sexton, Kristie Snyder and Pam Marr. Pictured from back left are Linda Ray, Paula Towns, Cheryl Littlejohn, Tanya Haave, Mary Ostrowski, Lynne Collins and Valerie Freeman. UT Athletics Photo

Not only did the Tuppers enjoy the Lady Vols winning season, all their hard work also contributed to them winning the UT overall I-M title and Clayborne being named the men’s Most Valuable Player of the Year in I-M athletics.

With a winning season behind her, Summitt spent the summer coaching the USA Women’s Basketball Team in the 1984 Summer Olympics including Lady Vol 1983 graduates Lea Henry and Cindy Noble. Henry and Noble had spent time on the practice squad trying to keep their skills fresh and stay in shape in preparation for the Olympic Games. Coach Summitt and her team did not disappoint as they won the gold medal that summer.

Though Duke’s Tupper days were over when he graduated in the spring of 1984, he still had occasion to see Summitt.

“I was blessed to be in Los Angeles in the summer of 1984 on a Campus Crusade for Christ summer project and I attended a couple of the Team USA women’s games and was able to reconnect with both Cindy and Lea after one of their easy victories early in the tournament,” said Duke. “I saw Pat Summitt several times over the years and would remind her of those early practice squads. She was always so gracious and nice to me.”

Clayborne and the rest of the Tuppers were asked to stay on for the upcoming 1984-85 season.

“She kept us the second year so we must have done pretty good,” said Clayborne. “She didn’t go out and find another team while we were there,” he said with a smile. “It was fun. We had a blast!”

Clayborne graduated in 1985 and stopped by Coach Summitt’s office to say good-bye before leaving.

“She was so kind and she said if there was ever anything she could do for me to let her know and if there was anything she could ever do or influence, to let her know.”

CHS Lady Raider Basketball Team pictured with UT Coach Pat Summitt. Photo by Gail Clayborne

Clayborne echoes Duke’s sentiment on the graciousness of Summitt. He especially remembers the day he was able to introduce his wife, daughter and the rest of the CHS Lady Raider Basketball Team to Summitt when they attended the UT vs Stanford game in December of 2010.

“Ginny’s basketball team at the high school was going to watch UT play Stanford. Over the Christmas holidays, I called up (UT) and tried to get a hold of Pat. Of course, 30 years later, she’s not going to remember me. I finally got to talk with somebody and she was really nice. I told her I was one of Pat’s boys back then. She said for me to bring the girls to the court and the Lady Vols will be having a shoot around before the game and they can watch. The girls were happy with that, so we did. While we were there, the lady came up and took the girls and gave them a tour of the locker room. All the team pictures were on the walls from when they first started. The National Championship team picture there stays up until another team wins the championship. Then we went back to our seats. We didn’t see Pat anywhere. Later, my wife Gail and I were heading to the restrooms and there comes Pat walking toward us. I smiled and told her ‘I was one of your boys way back then’. I don’t know if she remembered me but she was nice. I told her we had our basketball team and they would love to meet her. She said after the game if I would get the team together, she would take a picture with them if she had time, and she did.”

‘Pat’s boys’ have many fond memories of the time she made them part of her Lady Vol family; lasting memories they will never forget of the team, practices, games, coaching staff and of everything that made Coach Summitt “Pat”.

“Anybody that Pat Summitt touched, she had an impact on you,” said Clayborne. “We spent a lot of time with her in practice, but I think you could have gotten the same feeling even if you had just been with her one day. You would have had the same love and respect for her, even after just being with her one day.”

University of Tennessee head basketball coach Pat Summitt often said her players were her family. UT Athletics Photo

“It wasn’t just a job; it was my life, my home, and my family, and the players were the second-deepest love of my life.” Pat Summitt, Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses and a Life in Perspective.

April 1, 2017 CCN Article by Rebekah Hurst, Special thanks to Eric Trainer, Associate Director of UT Athletics Media Relations for his assistance with the article. Photos courtesy UT Athletics, CHS Yearbook and Gail Clayborne – Reposted with permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling 48 States in 3 Weeks on a Budget: Jared Chandler’s Cross County Adventure

Jared Chandler found some unexpected time on his hands this summer so he set out to accomplish an amazing task, driving to every capital in the lower 48 states in just three weeks, on a limited budget and alone. Thomas Jefferson had said, “One travels more usefully alone, because he reflects more.” Perhaps that can be said for this cross country journey as well. Read more…

Danielle and Whitney Conquer More than Trail Miles on their Roadtrip Out West

Danielle Hall and her friend, Whitney Yeldell, had for themselves quite the adventure this past summer when after months of planning, they headed west on a three-week roadtrip to see the incredible sights of six of our National Parks as well as other National Landmarks and beautiful landscapes found along their itinerary.  The Coffee County Central High School Class of 2006 graduate and daughter of DJ and Teresa Hall of Manchester had taken a break from her public relations career in Nashville to realize a dream that many only fantasize about.

Bryce 2

Whitney and Danielle Hall hike through Bryce Canyon National Park located in southwestern Utah while on their three-week western adventure. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

President Theodore Roosevelt, who is well known of his passion of the great outdoors, once said, “The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel.” Danielle and Whitney certainly found this to be true as they traveled over 5,200 road miles and hiked more than 118 trail miles through magnificent mountains and colorful terrain to see and experience firsthand the wonders and beauty of our country’s western wilderness. Their trip turned out to be so much more than expected as their journey allowed them to see not only parts of the country unknown to them, but to discover from within their strengths that allowed them to reach new heights, and endure and overcome challenges to achieve all they had set out to accomplish.

The two began their trek in Nashville, stopping in the Badlands and Mount Rushmore on their way west before visiting Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon.

Mt. Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, a batholith in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota, United States. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

In a recent interview with Coffee County News, Danielle speaks in depth about her trip, from the planning stages to the experiences and then reflection about life lessons learned through her travels.

CCN: What inspired you to do this trip and how did you plan for your journey?

Danielle: We actually saw an article last fall about how there were several national parks all along the same highway. We talked about it some, but I never dreamed it would become a reality so quickly. Thankfully, I’ve backpacked a good bit with my brother and sister-in-law (Brandan and Kate Hall), so I had most of the gear already and felt I at least sort-of knew what we were signing up for. But the trip really exceeded all expectations!

We started planning in early 2017, and I’m a huge planner by nature, so it took a good bit of time to plan every detail. We started by mapping out our route, and then got together five or so weekends to research and plan what we wanted to do in each park. We mostly camped in the parks, but also wanted a shower and real bed every three to four days, so we needed to book both the campsites and airBNBs/hotels in advance. We asked friends who had visited the parks before for their advice because we didn’t just want to do the most well-known trails in each park.

Tetons 2

The peaks of the Teton Range stand nearly 7,000 feet above the valley floor and make one of the boldest geologic statements in the Rockies. Pictured hiking is Danielle Hall. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

Once we had our hikes, camping and other accommodations booked, we knew we also needed at least one backpacking trip before our three-week journey to be sure we had all the gear we needed. Whitney had never been backpacking before, so we spent a weekend in Joyce Kilmer National Park backpacking and camping about a month before our trip. We were so thankful we did – we were able to make gear adjustments that were necessary for our trip.

Zion_The Narrow

The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. This gorge, with walls a thousand feet tall and the river sometimes twenty to thirty feet wide, is one of the most popular areas in Zion National Park, Utah’s first National Park. Danielle Hall is pictured in the midst of The Narrows. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

CCN: What were some of your most rewarding experiences?

Danielle: This is a tough one to answer because there were SO MANY rewarding things about this trip. Just figuring out each day as we went was a cool reality – it was awesome to wake up to a new adventure each day.

My favorite experience from the trip was hiking The Narrows in Zion. It’s a huge canyon with a river running through it, and you can hike 5 miles in from the bottom up without a permit. We got up early and had the canyon mostly to ourselves – it was so quiet and peaceful.

Grand Canyon_North Rim

The North Rim offers a serene and enthralling Grand Canyon experience. It is more remote and less developed than the South Rim, and so it attracts far fewer tourists. Many people think its viewpoints are the most spectacular, since they are located at a higher elevation. Pictured is Danielle, amazed at the view. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

Obviously, the Grand Canyon was rewarding – it was also our last stop, and we completely changed our plans once we got down in the canyon. We had planned to only hike trails on the North Rim but ended up hiking rim-to-rim. Our last day we had to wake up at 1:30 a.m. to pack up and hit the trail by 2 a.m. so we could catch an 8 a.m. shuttle back to our car. Hiking out of the canyon just as the sun was rising was an unforgettable feeling. We were both crying – just overwhelmed with so many emotions and a sense of accomplishment.

Grand Canyon_South Rim

The South Rim is the most visited rim at the Grand Canyon. Danielle and Whitney are pictured at a scenic view site at the end of their rim-to-rim hike. Of the Grand Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt once said “In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” Photo provided by Danielle Hall

We also met some really cool people along the way, from other hikers to rock climbers to rangers in several of the parks who took the time to really chat with us.

This trip made me so, so incredibly thankful for my health and the ability to hit the trails day after day to see breathtaking views. It was rewarding to keep getting up and pushing your body to put in more miles.

CCN: What were some of the challenges you had to overcome?

Danielle: While we had a very detailed plan of what our trip would look like, we definitely had to be flexible. Some of the trails we’d planned to hike were closed because of snow (in Glacier) or other reasons (problems with no trail maintenance in Bryce Canyon’s backcountry), so we had to adjust some of that as we went. Campsites can be pretty difficult to secure if you don’t already have reservations, so we had a lot of early mornings (4:30 a.m. a few times!) to get in line to book a campsite for the following night.

We were fortunate that we had mostly fantastic weather, but honestly the heat and elevation changes were a bit of a challenge. In several of the parks, it was 100+ degrees during the day. Thankfully, it was dry heat, but we still had to be sure we were listening to our bodies and not only drinking enough water, but also enough electrolytes. Once we got to the parks where the heat was so high, we hiked early in the morning or early evening and took a break mid-day. The mid-day naps were really nice! We both had a constant minor headache every day for the last week or so of the trip, and we were told it was likely from the elevation. We also got caught on a mountain ridge in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm in Bryce Canyon National Park and we were less than halfway in to an 8-mile hike. We hiked fast and even ran part of the trail, and ended up hiking the eight miles in three hours to get out of the weather.

Bryce 5

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

Starting fires was a challenge. Even with fire starters and matches, there were a few nights we ate only semi-warm hotdogs. But anything tastes good after a long day of hiking!

Not showering for a few days after hiking and sweating was more of an inconvenience than a challenge, but we jumped in almost every body of water we saw! Some of the lakes we jumped in took your breath away because they were so cold, but it was refreshing.

One of Whitney’s knees also started really hurting her about halfway through our trip. She bought a knee brace, but this meant slower hiking in the last few parks, particularly if we were hiking downhill. Some mornings this meant we had to start our hikes even earlier to beat the mid-day heat.

Glacier_Iceburg Lake

Whitney and Danielle are pictured at Glacier Iceburg Lake, known as being one of the most rewarding hikes in all of Glacier. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

CCN: What advice would you give others who would like to do a similar trip?

Danielle: Plan ahead for the experiences you don’t want to miss and book your campsites as early as you can! We knew in Glacier we REALLY wanted to camp overnight at Cracker Lake, but there are only three campsites there, and only two of those are reservable (the other is first-come, first-served). We sent in our application for the backcountry site the very first day you could (more than 3 months before our trip) and were lucky enough to get a spot!

Glacier_cracker lake campsite

Pictured is Danielle and Whitney’s Glacier Cracker Lake campsite. They were fortunate to get a campsite at Cracker Lake by planning ahead and sending in their application for the backcountry site more than three months before their trip. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

Be flexible. Things will change, especially when you’re dealing with Mother Nature every day.

Just pack your things and go do it! Get outside and enjoy nature…the rest will work itself out. If I’m being honest, when we finally got right outside of Glacier (after three days of driving), I was incredibly nervous. I thought maybe what we were about to do was a little outrageous – it made me particularly nervous to have bear spray that I’d never used before and to think about flash floods and the other weather we may face. But it all ended up being so easy and so worth it! It’s smart to prepare for your trip, but there’s really no way to really plan for every detail.

Glacier Danielle Hall

Danielle is pictured hiking in the beauty of Glacier National Park, located in Montana. The park was established on May 11, 1910, to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources for future generations. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

One final piece of advice: we should all make an effort to take care of our earth in every way possible so that those who come after us can enjoy it in the same way get to:

“If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than with sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracle of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as God really made it, not just as it looked when we got through with it.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson

Yellowstone 2, Danielle Hall pic

Yellowstone National Park is a national park located in the U.S. states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

July 21, 2017 CCN article by Rebekah Hurst, Photos provided by Danielle Hall, reposted with permission

 

Our Heroes, Our Patriots

The masses try and flee the terror that besieges them as flood waters rise in Texas while others escape the mighty flames burning out of control throughout the west. In Florida, many evacuate so as to be removed from the rage of the massive Irma threatening to destroy all who lay in her path of destruction, and yet, the patriots rush in. Read more…

Living Through a Traumatic Brain Injury: Macie Norrod’s Story

It was a Wednesday like many others when Macie Norrod was at her high school talking with friends when she passed out while walking down a flight of stairs, falling headfirst over 15 steps. April 8, 2015 was the beginning of a journey into discovery as to what can happen to a person when they experience a concussion and/or a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and find themselves for a time with more questions than answers, more frustration than hope.

According to the Center for Disease Control, concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells. Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious. In 2012, an estimated 329,290 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in United States emergency departments for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI.

In 2013, falls were the leading cause of TBI and accounted for 47 percent of all TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States. Macie has become a statistic and her road to recovery has been long, discouraging, frustrating and emotionally exhausting for her and her family. But through it all, she preserves exclaiming, “I like to say that I didn’t choose to be a patient, but I did choose to be a survivor.”

Gina Norrod, left, and her daughter Macie have been on a medical journey for over two years searching for the correct diagnosis and treatment for Macie’s injury after a fall down her high school stairs April 8, 2015. Photo provided

The daughter of Kevin and Gina Norrod of Knoxville, Tenn., Macie was an incredibly outgoing young lady before her fall. She was a cheerleader and very active in her school, church and community. In a recent interview with Coffee County News – CCN, Macie and Gina describe the incredible process they went through for Macie to receive the correct diagnosis and the treatment that followed and continues still. They share their story in the hopes that it may someday help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

CCN: What caused Macie to pass out?

Macie: Doctors are still very unsure. At times, they have wondered if it could have been my heart rate and blood pressure, but no definite diagnosis has been given.

CCN: What happened afterward?

Macie: Immediately after I fell, I thought I was fine besides the scuffed up knees and embarrassment, of course. I texted my mom and told her, and she came to pick me up from school, and we proceeded to have a normal night. I went to my brother’s baseball game, and sat through two games without a problem. My mom made me a doctor’s appointment for that Friday.

Gina: Macie DID NOT have any bruising or pain on her head. Her legs and feet were bruised. I wasn’t really concerned the day it happened. I called the doctor the following day. On Friday, with Macie fasting, she had a lot of blood work completed, and had her first, of many, doctor appointments. During this appointment, Macie had an EKG and weighed 104 pounds. The doctor was concerned with Macie passing out more than anything. She had to wear a 48 hour heart monitor. We had to go buy a cordless home phone in order for her to be able to call in through the heart monitor for results every day. Macie`s doctor thought that her blood sugar may have been low, but she had drank a water bottle, ate cheese cubes, a cutie, and goldfish throughout the morning. So the low blood sugar was not the case.

All tests performed that day came back with normal results.

By Saturday, Symptoms Manifested Throughout Macie’s Body

The following Saturday morning Macie began having undeniable symptoms that something was wrong.

Macie: I was unable to get out of bed on my own, I could hardly walk, and I had to be carried up the stairs because my body was too weak to hardly move. I became both mentally and physically fatigue. I felt brain dead. I was constantly confused, tired, and unable to finish my sentences, or think for the most part. My mom got me back into the doctor first thing on Monday, and the doctor ordered a CAT scan for the following day.

Gina: Before Macie was diagnosed with the concussion, we had warnings (that I am able to see now). Macie and I got in a fight at Kroger over her miscounting bananas. It took her three times to get it correct. That same day she read a banner wrong. When we asked her to count fingers it took her two times to get it correctly. Macie also would not be able to get her sentences completed. It was like she was tonged tied. It happened when ordering food, answering questions at the doctor, and at home in general.

Macie: My scan came back normal (which was a blessing), but we were getting really upset that we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. At that time, it hadn’t even been a week after my accident, and we had no idea what we were fixing to go through.

Gina: Before Macie`s concussion was diagnosed, the doctor thought it could be an inner ear/ vertigo problem. She went to a specialist for this. After this was negative, and the CT scan came back negative, Macie was diagnosed with the concussion.

CCN: How many doctors did you see and what were they telling you?

Macie: Besides my regular health doctor, the first doctor I went to (Dr. Amber Luhn) was a Concussion Specialist at Knoxville Orthopedics (KOC). She referred me to a Cardiologist at Children`s Hospital. He ordered another EKG and an echocardiogram. While for the most part everything seemed normal, we were still very confused as to why I passed out. The next new doctor I saw was a Neurologist at Children`s Hospital. He proceeded to tell us that my problem was nothing due to a neurological problem. He ordered an EEG that once again, came back normal. For the next eight months, I continued to see Dr. Luhn at KOC. She told me for a few months that my injury was not healing because of the “anxiety and depression I had”. I know myself better than anyone, and I knew that I was sick. I was losing hope.

Seeking Help from Vanderbilt

Macie: Finally my mom ask to have me sent to the Children`s Hospital at Vanderbilt. There I saw a Neurologist. The Neurologist at Vanderbilt gave me hope. She told me that she had not seen very many cases similar to mine, but the ones that she had seen, began disappearing at the one-year mark. She sent me to a Sports Neurosurgeon Psychologist. He proceeded to tell me everything that my Concussion Specialist had been telling me. That “everything is due to anxiety and depression, and you are no longer sick with a concussion. You should resume school this Monday.”

Gina: I was so disappointed in him. He said we were blaming every little thing on the concussion (ex. headaches, sleep patterns, dizziness, head fog, fatigue). There was absolutely no way Macie could attend school at that time, but according to the doctor, she should get back to school the following week.

Frustration Grows With Mixed Diagnosis’s

Macie: As my mom, grandma, and I stormed out of his office, I began to start second guessing myself. I started to wonder if everything they have been saying is true. “Am I really making this up? Is all of this my fault?” I wondered. I also saw a Pediatric Cardiologist in Kentucky that proceeded to repeat everything my other doctors were saying. From there, I went to see several therapists whom all seemed to think the doctors are crazy because according to them, I do have “some anxiety from all of this (because who wouldn’t?), but no signs of depression.”

The Set Back

During May and June of 2015 Macie began to get better. Although she wasn’t back to normal cognitively and physically, she was healing. June of 2015, she was able to go with her church youth group to South Dakota on a mission trip and by July, she had been released for light exercise. But what she had hoped was a turn for the better ended up being a turn for the worse.

Macie: July 15, I went for a jog mid-day and I blacked out when I got back home and from then on, it has been a rollercoaster. I began to not be able to sleep at all through the night. I went night after night without being able to close my eyes at all. It wasn’t until October when I developed an ulcer in my tummy that caused me to constantly be nauseous. I lost 7 pounds in 20 days. I became very weak. By December of 2015, I got down to my all-time low, weighing 89 pounds. Starting out weighing 104 pounds, my mom and grandma were really concerned. The majority of the weight that was lost, was muscle.

The Diagnosis

In October, Gina and Macie met with Dr. Luhn again for further examination and consultation.

Gina: Dr. Luhn said that she had helped Macie as much as possible. She got Macie on Patricia Neal`s (Patricial Neal Rehab Center) waiting list for a neuropsych exam with Dr. Klitzke. Macie did not get an appointment until March 2016 because of the long waiting list. I thought Dr. Luhn was crazy because I did not know what a neuropsych exam was, but thank goodness she put us on the waiting list. She also could not get Macie into Dr. Naramore, a psychiatrist, until February 2016. There again, I thought she was crazy. I did not understand exactly what a psychiatrist did. From October of 2015 to March 2016, I really felt like Macie had fallen through the crack until we were finally able to see Dr. Klitzke. If Macie had of been able to see either Dr. Klitzke or Dr. Naramore in October 2015, I think present day would be extremely different.

Gina: In the 9 hour test with Dr. Klitzke, he was able to observe Macie really well. During those nine hours, Dr. Klitzke saw Macie engage in the Q&A, she fell asleep, had panic attacks, and zoned out. As a parent, I was educated greatly in terminology and sleeping information and how it affects the brain. How powerful sleep is to your brain should really be taught in health class at school. Sleep is SO important, and Macie herself will be the first to tell you that you cannot function without sleep. She went almost a full year with sleeping maybe 2-3 hours a night (with no naps). Anytime Dr. Klitzke said a word that I was not clear on, I would interrupt him and ask. I am so glad I did that. Macie and I had not realized she had panic attacks hourly until the visit.

Macie: Dr. Klitske diagnosed me with the following: 1.) post concussive syndrome, 2.) mild neurocognitive disorder, 3.) memory disorder, 4.) insomnia, and 5.) panic disorder. All of these were strictly due from my concussion.

Treatment and Prognosis

CCN: What was the treatment plan and how long were you treated?

Macie: From the day I was diagnosed in March of 2016, our plan was to get my sleep fixed and to see some sleep doctors. The doctor said that as soon as my sleep was fixed, I would start healing cognitively. As of right now, my sleep schedule at night is normal. I am still under medication nightly for that, but with meds, it is normal. As for the treatment ending, that will unfortunately never stop. My doctor just told me a few months ago, that at this point I may not be getting any better cognitively and that I will have to learn to work around my daily struggles.

CCN: What is the doctor’s prognosis?

Macie: I will never be fully recovered. Unfortunately with a brain injury like mine, things are permanent, but compared to how I have been at times, I’ve improved greatly. I like to say that I didn’t choose to be a patient, but I did choose to be a survivor. I have to work so hard to continue to survive each day.

CCN: How are you now?

Macie: Currently my physical strength is back! I am now able to eat without getting nauseous, and I have gained my weight back.

CCN: What life changes have occurred since the accident?

Gina: I had to be careful for Macie to not get depressed. Dr. Luhn said that social media and getting Macie out of the house was a MUST to prevent depression. Not being around friends, social media was very important in keeping Macie connected socially.

Macie: My whole life has changed completely. I have had to get used to my new normal. Not being able to be with my friends at school on a regular basis has probably been my biggest struggle. I`ve struggled with “friends” questioning if I am really sick. Since I look normal on the outside, people assume I’m normal on the inside. People often make fun of me for things that I can`t control due to my disorders. I never thought that going to church would do harm to my body. I can barely sit through a service without having a panic attack, or feeling like my head is going to explode. Going to the doctor weekly, has definitely been different for me. I used to be so scared to go to the doctor, and now it feels like my second home. There have been so many life changes that I could never state them all. My brain injury doesn’t define who I am, it is just a part of me.

Macie’s New Normal

It’s been over two years now since Macie’s fall down the high school stairs. She is still under a doctor’s supervision and continues to take several daily medications as part of her treatment. But on the positive side, she has been released from her Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center counseling sessions. As for school, until recently Macie was able to only attend one class at school and stay about 20 minutes, which she considered a blessing. The rest of the time, she was on homebound. Macie will soon begin her senior year and her schedule at this time is for her to attend school for one regular class and one elective class. She will have a homebound teacher for her other two classes. In the past few weeks, Macie has also started working some at a law firm and she says, “It is going absolutely awesome!”

Moving Forward with a Positive Attitude

CCN: What have you learned from this life changing event?

Macie: I have learned so much over the past two years. I have learned to not take the little things so seriously, to stay positive through anything life throws at you, and to never lose your faith. This might sound weird, but I am thankful for my brain injury. I would not be the person I am today without it. I try to inspire people every day that even in the lowest times of your life, to not give up. In January, when my life had hit an all-time low, I signed with a modeling and acting manager. Since then, I have signed with one state agent, and one national agency. This journey has really showed me that just because God closes off a few parts of your life, that doesn’t mean He doesn’t have something even greater planned for you.

CCN: What role has your faith played through all of this?

Macie: I have talked to God so much through this time. He has literally been the only person that can actually understand what I`m going through. He`s blessed me in so many aspects.

A Parent’s Advice

CCN: Gina, what would you have done differently from when you first got Macie’s text?

Gina: I would have told the school office when I signed her out early that day what had happened. I would have had Macie go straight to sleep in a dark room with no phone, (having learned that when someone sustains a blow to the head, the best way to recover safely and more quickly is to shut your brain off and have no stimulation, such as light, conversation, TV, etc.) I would have thought to ask for definitions for certain medical terminology. I would have also researched more for support groups. I really felt totally alone. I would have also researched more cases similar to Macie’s.

CCN: What advice would you give parents who may find themselves in a similar situation.

Gina: Parents, do not ignore, if in doubt go to the doctor even without soreness and bruising to the head. Concussions are not visible. Listen to the doctor with an open mind. Ask any terminology you are not clear on. If you have doubts with your doctor, keep searching. Also, ask for doctor referrals. After Knoxville, we went to Vanderbilt to a Children’s Neurologist and Sports Neuropsychologist. From there, we went to Kentucky to another cardiologist. Listen to your instinct. Even though we had multiple doctors begin to say that Macie`s continued problem was depression and anxiety, I knew she had something wrong.

Macie Norrod shares her story of life with a traumatic brain injury in the hope that she may be an encouragement to others. Photo provided

Macie Shares Her Story

Though Macie still has a long way to go in her recovery and management of her TBI, she has chosen to share her story in the hope that she may be an encouragement to others. She has recently begun public speaking and was invited to speak at a Knoxville hospital and addressed Knox County teachers during their in-service as well. For anyone who has questions for Macie about her journey with TBI, she welcomes your emails. She can be contacted at macie.norrod@yahoo.com.

At some time during the past two years, Macie has exhibited all of the following signs and symptoms that the Center for Disease Control says are possible indictors of a concussion.

Concussion Signs Observed

Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.
Appears dazed or stunned.
Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
Moves clumsily.
Answers questions slowly.
Loses consciousness (even briefly).
Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

Concussion Symptoms Reported

Headache or “pressure” in head.
Nausea or vomiting.
Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
Bothered by light or noise.
Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.
The CDC also states that, “Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. For example, in the first few minutes your child or teen might be a little confused or a bit dazed, but an hour later your child might not be able to remember how he or she got hurt. You should continue to check for signs of concussion right after the injury and a few days after the injury. If your child or teen’s concussion signs or symptoms get worse, you should take him or her to the emergency department right away.”

For more information on concussions or traumatic brain injury (TBI) visit the Center for Disease Control website, section Heads Up at https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_symptoms.html or visit the Sports Concussion Institute website with resources for athletes, coaches, parents and teachers at http://concussiontreatment.com/

July 21, 2017 CCN Article by Rebekah Hurst, Photos provided by Macie Norrod, reposted with permission

 

Love, Laughter and Tears in the Terminal

I’ve always enjoyed people watching in airports. I often wonder where they’re flying to or from and I try to guess by the clothes they’re wearing or their carry-ons. It’s easy to spot the ones coming from warm climates, their skin aglow and tan. Spending time in the Nashville International Airport (BNA) often affords sightings of musicians and entertainers, some famous and some not, usually the guitars they carry are a sure give away that they will be playing music somewhere while they’re in town. It’s also reassuring to find that though I have notably little fashion sense, it does appear I have a little more than some I’ve seen traversing the terminals, though it’s just my opinion and quite possibly others would disagree. Read more…