Archives for March 2014

DPD makes arrest in connection with vehicle break-ins

NoredThe Demopolis Police Department has made an arrest in connection with a string of vehicle break-ins that occurred over the weekend.

The DPD arrested Jacob Nored, 19, of Demopolis for 21 counts of unlawful breaking and entering a vehicle, one count of fraudulent use of a credit card and one count of possession of marijuana first degree.

Nored is currently being held in the Marengo County Detention Center while the cases continue to be investigated. Demopolis Police Department Tommie Reese also indicated further charges may be filed.

Reese commended his Criminal Investigation Division and Patrol Division for bringing closure to the victims.

Reese also encouraged citizens to call the DPD at 289-3072 should they witness any suspicious activity at any time.

Former UWA linebackers ascend to WWE Tag Team Champions

Jey Uso (left) and Jimmy Uso played are the currenty WWE Tag Team Champions and each played linebacker at the University of West Alabama.

Jey Uso (left) and Jimmy Uso played are the currenty WWE Tag Team Champions and each played linebacker at the University of West Alabama.

Wrestlemania XXX, the largest single event in the history of WWE, is less than a week away and the New Orleans-based spectacle will feature a pair of former University of West Alabama linebackers.

Jonathan and Joshua Fatu, better known by their ring names Jimmy and Jey Uso, will perform on the Sunday’s Super Dome card as part of a tag team championship match that will also include Los Matadores, the team of Ryback and Curtis Axel, as well as the collective of The Real Americans, Jack Swagger and Cesaro.

“Wrestlemania is a big thing. It’s the grandest stage of them all. It’s like our Super Bowl. For those of us who can be a part of that, it’s a real big thing. It’s a big accolade. It’s a big accomplishment to put under our belt,” Jimmy Uso said of what will be a major milestone for he and his twin brother. “We’re excited. In New Orleans, there’s going to be fireworks, pyro, everything. We’re excited to go in there as the reigning tag team champions. It is awesome for me to say that this year.”

The brothers work for the largest professional wrestling organization in the world and ascended to the top of the industry’s tag team ranks March 3 when they captured the WWE Tag Team Titles on Monday Night Raw in Chicago.

And while that moment would have been special for anyone in their position, it was the culmination of years of effort and heartbreak for the Pensacola, Fla. Natives.

The sons of former WWE superstar Rikishi, the brothers are the latest branches off a Samoan family professional wrestling tree that has included names such as The Rock, Yokozuna, The Tonga Kid and Umaga.

Yet, while the bloodlines run deep in the Usos, professional wrestling as a career was far from a foregone conclusion as they readied to begin their collegiate lives.

Jimmy Uso connects with his signature top rope splash on WWE Superstar Seth Rollins at the company's Money in the Bank pay-per-view last year.

Jimmy Uso connects with his signature top rope splash on WWE Superstar Seth Rollins at the company’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view last year.

The brothers played football at Escambia High School in Pensacola, Fla. and had their sights set on a future that included an ACC playing career.

“I was 185 (pounds) in high school, 5-11, 185. My senior year, me and my brother played football with Roman Reigns,” Jimmy said, referencing the WWE ring name of Joe Anoa’i, his cousin and teammate at Escambia. “At the time, Roman Reigns was 225 and like 6-1, which looks a lot better on paper than a 5-11, 185-pound linebacker. All three of us were supposed to get recruited together to DI Georgia Tech, but they didn’t take me and my brother because of our size. My coach was trying to get them to take all three of us together as a package. He would say, ‘I’m telling you, these kids haven’t even hit their growth spurt yet.’”

That growth spurt would take Jimmy to 6-2, 251 pounds and Jey to 6-1, 228 pounds. But the physical development did not come quickly enough for Georgia Tech, re-routing the football careers for the brothers.

“Georgia Tech didn’t go our way and our head coach at the time at our high school in Pensacola graduated from West Alabama. He took us down there to the school for a week. We got to hang out with the head coach because they played together in the same graduating class. That’s how me and my brother found out about West Alabama. I didn’t even know where Livingston, Ala. actually was until our head coach took us down there for a week and we got to hang out at UWA,” Jimmy said. “There weren’t any schools actually paying attention to us or looking at us. It was hard at the time.”

Jimmy Uso played football at UWA in 2003.

Jimmy Uso played football at UWA in 2003.

Jimmy would go on to play the 2003 season for UWA while Jey played from 2003 through 2005.

“It was interesting. We hadn’t been out of the state of Florida growing up. When we went to Alabama, they had a huge bull ranch there, which I thought was crazy. They had a bull riding team,” Jimmy recalled. “It was a big change moving from Florida, let alone this was the first time we had been away from home. I was 17. It was a big difference.”

With professional wrestling still in the background, the brothers focused on football and physical education as they looked to beat their own paths.

“We wanted to do something with the body because we played sports and we were into working out,” Jimmy said. “We were sports fans. We played basketball, baseball, football, everything. We tried swimming. I always knew I could do (wrestling). I always wanted to try something else because I always knew this would be here, that wrestling would here. We just knew that we wanted to do something physical. We wanted to do something physical and we wanted to entertain somehow. Wrestling just fell into place for me.”

For Jimmy and Jey, the real world kicked in shortly after college. The brothers found themselves working and still far removed from the professional wrestling lives so many of their relatives.

“I was at home after I came back from college. College didn’t work out for me. I ended up coming back home. I ended up just working four or five years. It got to a point where I was just doing 9 to 5,” Jimmy said. “My late uncle, Umaga, is the one that actually got me and my brother into wrestling. It wasn’t my dad. People think that my dad brought us into (the WWE), but my dad actually had nothing to do with us getting into wrestling because he wanted us to find our way.”

For the Usos, it was their late uncle Eddie Fatu, known in WWE circles as Umaga, who opened the door to a life as professional wrestlers.

“My uncle Umaga came and told us, ‘You guys are twins. You guys are athletes. You shouldn’t be sitting behind a desk, working 9 to 5. You should be doing something else.’ He gave us that opportunity. He gave us the chance. He moved us down to Houston. We lived with him for like two years,” Jimmy said before noting that Houston provided the brothers the opportunity to train with a WWE Hall of Famer. “We got in touch with Booker T. Booker T had a ring. He had a school in Houston. He put us in his ring and actually showed us the techniques and the proper way to start wrestling and then we were hooked. We were addicts after that.”

Jimmy Uso, who played football at the University of West Alabama under his real name Jonathan Fatu, is one half of the current WWE Tag Team Champions and married WWE Diva Naomi (Trinity McCray) earlier this year.

Jimmy Uso, who played football at the University of West Alabama under his real name Jonathan Fatu, is one half of the current WWE Tag Team Champions and married WWE Diva Naomi (Trinity McCray) earlier this year.

The brothers made their professional wrestling debut in June 2007 for the World Xtreme Wrestling promotion, performing under their real names. After signing with WWE, the brothers began wrestling under the Uso ring name, a moniker that pays homage to their Samoan heritage.

They made their debut on national television on the May 24, 2010 episode of Monday Night Raw.

In the nearly four years since, they have toiled in the tag team division, spending time as both heels (the professional wrestling term for antagonist characters) and faces (the term for protagonist characters).

And life in the WWE has even led them to other opportunities. Jimmy began dating WWE Diva Naomi – the former Trinity McCray) and subsequently married her earlier this year. The couple appears together frequently on the E! reality television series Total Divas.

“It’s really different for me. It was really different. For the first time WWE allowed cameras to actually come behind the scenes to see what we actually do and for the fans, the WWE Universe to see the other side of the cameras, the other side of the lights, glamor and what we do in the ring,” Jimmy said. “Me, personally, it’s way different. It’s cool at the same time. It’s funny when people come up to me and they’re automatically like, ‘Hey Jon. Hey what’s up man? How’re you doing?’ As opposed to the guy who watches wrestling who is like, ‘Uso, can I have your autograph?’ They approach you way different. There are those who just watch Total Divas and have no clue about wrestling and they call me on a first name basis, which is weird. It’s cool to that people know you from two shows and how different they approach you, which is funny to me.”

But for all the moments the Usos have had together from their high school football days to their time at UWA to the years that spent working their way up the professional wrestling tag team ladder, likely no moment can ever touch what they felt March 3 in Chicago.

“During the match it was a different group,” Jimmy said of the crowd in attendance that night. “It was a heel crowd. They love the heels. We were out there and we were like, ‘OK, we’ve got to turn them. We’ve got to get them.’ There’s all that nervousness and emotion.”

By the end of their match with the New Age Outlaws, a veteran tag team and the reigning champions entering the show. But by the end of the match, the Usos had won over one of the more raucous crowds in recent professional wrestling history. And they did it while capturing the top team prize in their industry.

“That moment right there, it’s a real epic moment for me and my brother because my uncle isn’t here anymore. We grew up with him. He didn’t treat me like a nephew. If it wasn’t my dad I could talk to, he was the one. We had that kind of relationship,” Jimmy said. “When we finally won the titles – if you watch that footage back, it’s me and my brother holding each other. It’s funny because we didn’t grab the titles. As soon as there was the 1-2-3, it wasn’t even the titles. It was just me and him. The ref was like, ‘Grab the titles. Here’s the titles. Grab them.’ But we were just so far into telling each other, ‘We did it. This is for our uncle. This is for Umaga.’ We had that moment between us. Having that, it’s something that just me and my brother will only ever know about how it really felt and all the hard work that it took to get here.”

The Usos’ next big milestone is set for Sunday in New Orleans at Wrestlemania XXX. They are also likely to appear on the card April 14 in Birmingham when Monday Night Raw visits the BJCC Arena.

All photos courtesy WWE. Jey Uso was unavailable for an interview at the time of this story.

UWA women’s golf opens strong in Lady Argonaut Invitational

rp_primary_IMG_0129-1PENSACOLA, Fla. – West Alabama freshman women’s golfer Savannah Payne matched her season high through two rounds of 159 to land eighth place in the opening day of the Lady Argonaut Invitational at the Stonebrook Golf Club on Monday.

West Alabama finished the first two rounds of the tournament in sixth place with a combined 665. Host school West Florida led the seven team field with 612.

“We were striking the ball great,” said UWA assistant golf coach Natalie Buch.

“Putting is what shut down our scoring. This course has tough fast greens, but our ladies didn’t give up. Savannah had finished third after the first round, and Christine and Jessica each improved in the second 18. It was great to finally play in the warm sunny weather.”

Payne bested her season average in both rounds shooting 77 in the first and 82 in the second.

Tori Smith recorded her best two round score of the spring of 167 to land in 22nd place. She matched her best individual round score of the spring, carding 80 in round one.

Jessica Smyth improved from 87 in the first round to 84 in the second to finish in 26th. Christine Stryken followed in 29th place with 171.

Heather Gillenwaters finished 37th overall with a combined 183 in her first tournament since February.

The Tigers will wrap up the tournament in the third round set for Tuesday.

Place Golfer Round 1 Round 2 Total

t-8 Savannah Payne 77 82 159

t-22 Tori Smith 80 87 167

t-26 Jessica Smyth 87 81 168

29 Christine Stryken 87 84 171

37 Heather Gillenwaters 92 91 183

DPD reports a dozen car break-ins

By 9:30 a.m. on Monday, the Demopolis Police Department had responded to a dozen car break-ins within the city. Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese said that all the vehicles that were broken into were unlocked.

Reese said that the last rash of car break-ins came in 2011 and his message is the same now as it was at that time.

“Lock your vehicle doors whether at home, parked on the streets or in a shopping center,” Reese said. “Most of the time, the best theft deterrent is just locking the door. If a criminal has to break the glass, chances are they will make noise and attract attention.”

He said criminals look for easy prey and when they find an unlocked vehicle it makes things easy for them.

Reese said that, although theft activity has picked up, in each case the auto owner has left target vehicles unlocked. Reese also observed that the location of the parked vehicles did not seem to matter.

Reese asked that citizens seeing any suspicious activity call the police department at 289-3072.

Wright sends Tigers home with series sweep

rp_primary_SB_14-02-20_IMG_0169aMEMPHIS, Tenn. –In a game that featured five lead changes, junior catcher Scarlett Wright lifted a two run single in the top of the seventh inning to give West Alabama softball an 8-6 victory over Christian Brothers in Gulf South Conference action at Bland Field on Monday. The win completes the series sweep for the Tigers.

West Alabama improved to 21-16 and 8-9 in the GSC, winning four straight. Christian Brothers fell to 5-26 and 1-17.

“I thought the bats came out hot, we just gave up a few runs early,” said UWA head softball coach Will Atkinson. “Our bullpen did excellent today, giving up only one run after we gave up five through the first three frames. We get out of here with the series sweep and we will go home after a pretty successful spring break.”

UWA totaled 12 hits with three Tiger batters claiming home runs. CBU tallied nine hits with one home run.

Junior second baseman Jordyn Whiddon gave the Tigers the first lead in the top of the first with a solo homerun, marking her third of the series.

Senior’s Rebecca Shick and Whitney Brown each added two run homers. Schick’s came in the top of the second to put UWA ahead 3-2, while Brown’s happened in the third to push the lead to 6-5.

Kylie Steagle hit her second homer of the series in the bottom of the first to give CBU a 2-1 lead. Steagle then doubled with the bases loaded to add three more runs in and gave the Bucs a 5-3 lead in the second inning.

Taylor Rosa-Ramon hit a sacrifice fly that brought in one run and tied the game at 6-6 in the fourth.

Junior pitcher Alli Hall (3-1) replaced the senior Skylar Davis in the third inning and pitched through four to get the win. Hall allowed only three hits and struck out two batters. Taylor Tucker replaced Hall in the seventh not allowing a hit to take the save. Kim Adams (1-11) entered in the third to take the loss. Adams struck out four while giving up two runs.

The Tigers will return home to host Miles College on Wednesday in a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m.

Edwin Sheppard

Edwin Spencer Sheppard, 91, of Demopolis, died Sunday, March 23. Services were held Wednesday, March 26 at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Demopolis with the Rev. Carl Williams officiating and Kirk Funeral Homes Demopolis Chapel directing. The family received visitors at the church beginning at 10 a.m. Burial followed in Demopolis Memorial Gardens. He was preceded in death by his parents, Twigg Henry Sheppard and Kate Dennis Sheppard; and his brother, Miles Henry Sheppard. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Alma Sirmans Sheppard; daughter, Holley Sheppard (Karl) LaGrone of Birmingham; son, Kevin Spencer (Carmen) Sheppard of Richmond, Va.; grandchildren, Cameron, Collin and Courtney Sheppard of Richmond, Va.; and a niece and nephews that he loved. He was born in Winter Garden, Fla., on Feb. 26, 1923. He graduated from Bradford High School in Starke, Fla., and served six years service during World War II in the United States Navy. He attended the University of Florida on the GI Bill and earned a double major in electrical and industrial engineering. He met his wife of 63 years, Alma Nell Sirmans, while attending college. He worked at paper mills in Jacksonville, Fla., and Valdosta, Ga., before moving to Demopolis in 1957 to work on the start-up of Gulf States Paper Corporation. He held various jobs at Gulf States and retired after 28 years of service as vice president and mill manager. He loved God, his family, friends, his Florida Gators, golf and bridge. He taught a Sunday School class at First Baptist Church and served as a deacon. Pallbearers will be Cameron Sheppard, Collin Sheppard, Kelly Etheridge, Fred Hansard, Al Giles and Johnny Johnston. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Hugh Lloyd Sunday School Class of First Baptist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the First Baptist Church of Demopolis.

All obituaries taken from the website of the corresponding funeral home unless otherwise noted.

Norma Reid

Norma Autrey Reid age 92 of Thomasville, AL died March 29, 2014 at Grove Hill Memorial Hospital. She was born March 13, 1922 in Bashi, AL. She was a former secretary with Bedsole Dry Goods and a member of the Elam Baptist Church. She is survived by two sons, Larry Reid of Alexandria, LA; Tommy Reid of Thomasville, AL; sister, Jeanette Autrey Cox of Kerrville, TX; five grandchildren, ten great grandchildren, other relatives, Ana, Carmen, Rebekah, and extended family. Visitation will be at held at Elam Baptist Church on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 from 10:00 am until the 11:00 am service time with Dr. Danny Ellis officiating. Burial will be at Elam Baptist Church Cemetery in Thomasville, AL. Arrangements by O’Bryant Chapel Funeral Home in Thomasville, AL.

All obituaries taken from the website of the corresponding funeral home unless otherwise noted.

UWA sweeps doubleheader, series at Christian Brothers

rp_primary_Trey_Williamon-1MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Joel Murphy’s hot shot through a drawn-in Christian Brothers infield in the ninth inning drove in the game-winning run, lifting West Alabama to a 3-2 win in game two and a sweep of a Gulf South Conference doubleheader over CBU Sunday at Nadicksbernd Field. The Tigers won the opener, 9-6.

West Alabama swept the three-game series over CBU, improving to 21-9 overall, 10-7 in GSC play with its fifth straight win. Christian Brothers dropped to 7-24 and 1-17.

“You will always take a series sweep on the road in the Gulf South Conference,” UWA head coach Gary Rundles said. “I am proud of our guys for staying focused on what we need to do.”

Trey Williamon and Jocobby Robinson had three hits apiece in the first game for West Alabama. Mitch Holgate hit his sixth home run of the season in the opener, a three-run shot in a six-run sixth inning.

“Jocobby and Trey did an excellent job at the plate for us in the series, but when you get 39 hits in a series, your whole ball club is doing fairly well,” Rundles said. “I was pleased with the way Tanner Rainey came up big on the mound in the third game as well.”

Robinson extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single in the second game, making him 5-for-8 with three runs batted in in the series. He reached base eight times with a pair of sacrifices over the three games.

Williamon’s two hits in the nightcap gave him five in the doubleheader with a pair of RBI. He reached base 10 times in the series. Daniel Bolte had a pair of hits in the second game.

Taylor Bratton (2-3) allowed two runs on just three hits over seven innings to earn the pitching win in game one. Brock Ward picked up his third save. CBU starter Mac Cooley (0-4) took the loss.

Rainey (2-0) picked up the win the second game in relief of starter Fernando Gonzalez. Rainey worked 2.2 innings, with six of his eight outs coming via strikeout. CBU reliever Peyton Sanderlin (1-4) took the loss.

West Alabama, currently 5-1 on its current seven-game road swing, plays at William Carey Wednesday. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.

Photo of the Day: March 31, 2014

POTD Holifield-7067

Marengo Academy catcher Josh Holifield blocks a low pitch during a Longhorn baseball game.

Photo of the Day: March 30, 2014

potd - swinging with dadJenira Smith enjoys swinging with a little help from Dad, Henry.