Johnson City Press: Unaka's Ramsey has been a leader on the field, court and diamond
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Unaka's Ramsey has been a leader on the field, court and diamond

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 20, 2019 at 5:07 PM

John Ramsey is Unaka’s man of all seasons, starring on the football field, basketball court and especially the baseball diamond.

The 6-foot-3 senior originally committed to Erskine College to play football before deciding he will play baseball at King University. Ramsey said the change came about with baseball offering more opportunities for the future.

It’s hard to dispute his line of thinking, looking at the area high school statistics turned in April 17. The senior right hander led Northeast Tennessee with 84 strikeouts and ranked second with a 0.950 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched). He’s also one of the Unaka’s best infielders as a sure-handed shortstop.

“I like pitching and slinging it as hard as I can, but I also like being out in the field, diving and making plays,” he said. “For me, it’s more about helping the team in whatever way I can. I love football, but I feel like I can have a longer career in baseball and going to King, I will be closer to home with my family and friends. With King, it felt like a small school like Unaka, except it’s a college.”

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

It was easy to see why Ramsey considered football as his first option.

He set school records for both single-second (2,182) and career (5,182) passing yards. He accounted for 57 touchdowns overall and was named to the Johnson City Press All-Tough Guy team. Remarkably, there was a time he cared very little about football.

“I fell in love with the game again. After my freshman year, I lost interest in it and didn’t play my sophomore year,” he said. “I came back and Coach (O’Brien) Bennett pulled me in his office during the summer workouts and told me how I was going to be fully involved on Friday nights. I’m glad he did because there’s no experience like playing football on Friday nights on Stoney Creek.”

HOOPING IT UP

Ramsey was also amongst the team leaders on Unaka’s basketball team with averages of 12.7 points and five rebounds per game. There is both passion and tradition in the Stoney Creek community when it comes to basketball, with Snavely Gym often filled to capacity for its rivalry games.

“Snavely is crazy sometimes, especially this year when we had a great year and made a run in the playoffs,” Ramsey said. “When everybody was there supporting us, it was a great sight to see. Sometimes, little communities and schools like that are looked down upon because you don’t have the big facilities. But we have hard-working people who come support us and are proud of where they’re from.”

LESSONS FROM THE COACHES

With all three of his varsity coaches — O’Brien Bennett (football), Aaron Dugger (basketball) and Tee Blevins (baseball) — there have been lessons which Ramsey has learned. They’ve further fueled his love for sports. His future plans are to go into some kind of sports-related field, whether it’s coaching, management or sports therapy.

“Coach Bennett always told me how hard I worked would determine how well I played. You reap what you sow,” Ramsey said. “I love Coach Dugger and he always told me not to let the fans get into your head and to play like you’re capable of. Tee tells me the same thing and to go out there and just do what I do. He’s wants you to enjoy the sport, to enjoy the last bit of high school baseball.”

ALL-AROUND ATHLETE

For Ramsey, it doesn’t matter as much the sport or the season. He most loves getting out there and competing with his teammates, including his younger brother Devin. He also has the motivation to represent his parents and community in the best way possible.

“I fell in love with the different sports as a kid,” he said. “Mom and Dad always enjoyed seeing me play ball, although they also stayed on me about the academics. It’s really been a lifestyle and I’ve made some friends through sports that I will have the rest of my life.

“The way the people in this community have supported me, I wanted to give them something back through my high school career. For the most part, I feel I’ve accomplished that.”

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