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Zopf: Jefferson has the ultimate 10th man
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High school baseball

Second round playoffs

Class AA

Blessed Trinity at Jefferson

Buford at Pike County

Class AAA

Dunwoody at Gainesville

Tickets: The cost is $7 per GHSA rules.

I’ve always been told that there’s no cheering in the press box, but apparently no one told Lawanna Laird, the official scorekeeper for Jefferson High’s baseball, softball and basketball teams.

No one probably told her because they knew there was no way she would listen.

There’s no way that Miss Lawanna – as those closest to her call her – could ever be quiet while watching her Dragons (24-3).
Sitting in her seat inside the press box at Horace J. Jackson Field on Friday night, Miss Lawanna was just as ready for the Dragons’ first-round baseball playoff series against Crawford County as the players were.

To her left, sat a pile of mints that has become a staple inside the press box at Jefferson. Just in front of that was a laptop, wirelessly hooked to the Internet and logged on to The Vent so she could keep up with all the other baseball games around the state as well as inform those not at Horace Jackson how the Dragons were doing.

Directly in front of her was her scorebook, a tablet she’s been responsible for almost a decade.

“Lawanna’s been here longer than I have,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. “I really don’t know how to describe her.”
Let me help.

She’s probably the sweetest lady you’ve ever met; asking at all times if you need anything and will gladly send you the stats and scorebook from each game Jefferson plays.

She’s also one of the most loyal fans I’ve ever met. The official baseball scorekeeper for the last nine years, she also keeps the book for the softball team and basketball teams, and she doesn’t even have any children playing sports at the school. She does those things because she’s dedicated to the Dragons.

“She calls the kids her own,” Knight said. “If we had team moms in high school, she’d definitely be ours.”

And she’s the loudest ”mom” in the stands.

Perched atop the back of the home stands, Miss Lawanna can constantly be heard. Whether it’s a “High Five” yell directed at Jefferson junior Jason Demos or leading the “Dragons” cheer during the middle of an inning, Miss Lawanna is always the loudest among the legion of Jefferson faithful.

And when Miss Lawanna speaks, people listen.

The rest of the crowd – who all seem to know her and feel obligated to stop by and say hello – display an overwhelming amount of respect and gratitude toward Miss Lawanna. When she says clap, they clap. When she tells them to get on their feet, they get on their feet. And when she says Jefferson, they say Dragons.

“She’s probably the most avid Dragon fan there is,” Knight said. “It doesn’t matter what sport, she’s always here cheering us on.”
And when Knight says always, he means always.

In recent years, Miss Lawanna has dealt with some health problems. A bout with vertigo made keeping score difficult, but she powered through it.  Sure, it occasionally prevented her from making some trips to playoff games, but it couldn’t stop her from sitting in her usual spot to cheer on her favorite team.

She’s that loyal. She’s that dedicated. She’s that special.

This year, the fruits of her labor are being rewarded with Jefferson playing at home throughout the duration of its playoff run.
So for the next few weeks, Miss Lawanna won’t have to worry about traveling to south Georgia – although she would – nor will she have to worry about making arrangements for a weekday game four hours away – she’d do that too.

Instead, Miss Lawanna will be sitting comfortably in the same spot she’s been in for almost a decade, so stop by, say hello, grab a mint and relish the opportunity to meet this wonderful woman.

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

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