Local school fills stands with fans for Carroll Academy Lady Jaguars

JACKSON, Tenn. — A group of girls who may have been presented with circumstances that often make them feel alone have been inspired to work as a team for one common goal — basketball.

The Carroll Academy Lady Jaguars are known for their 312-game losing steak and lack of fans, but once a year another local school lets them know they have support.

“How many fans do you guys usually have?” asked WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Amanda Gerry.

“Well, last night we had zero,” said Randy Hatch, head coach of the Lady Jaguars.

Carroll Academy is an intensive treatment program operated by Carroll County Juvenile Court and the Department of Children’s Services.

“Sometimes they come from broken families, and this is their family,” Coach Hatch said.

The Lady Jags are a team known for their 300-game losing streak over the past twelve years — that is, until this past December.

“We were all really happy, and we were crying and hugging each other,” Lady Jag Katilyn Evans said.

The team is also known for their lack of fans in the stands. So once a year, Trinity Christian Academy hosts a special game for them.

“We have half our school cheer for Carroll Academy, and the other half cheers for us, kind of. They’ll eventually wind up cheering for Carroll Academy,” said Matthew Coble, head coach of the Lady Lions.

“It feels really good,” Evans said. “I remember last year I shot a three pointer, and the crowd went wild. It was amazing.”

Coach Hatch says basketball is the only sport offered at Carroll Academy but is better than therapy for most of the players.

“Most of the girls have never really played basketball before,” Evans said. “It’s their first time being on the court.”

“I love it. I feel free. I love it,” Lady Jag Hallie Birdsong said. “I love running, and I just love it.”

Players say being on the team keeps them out of trouble and inspires them to do better, knowing even the underdog has their day.

“It’s great when this happens because it shows that somebody else cares,” Coach Hatch said. “And that’s what’s most important.”

Coach Hatch says anyone is welcome to come out and support the Lady Jags for their last two games of the season. Their next one will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at home at Carroll Academy in Huntingdon.