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Howard's signing with Auburn makes history

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POSTED: November 27, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Tiffany Howard has had a lot of first-place finishes in four years as a varsity athlete at Bryan County High School.

On Tuesday, she added another first to the list - reportedly becoming the first student-athlete from the school to sign a letter of intent to play a sport at a Southeastern Conference school. The four-sport standout inked a letter of intent to play softball at Auburn University.

"I've been waiting a long time for it," said Howard, who verbally committed last year. "It's what I wanted in a college. It's very family-based and I liked the atmosphere there."

The signing drew a crowd to the media center at BCHS. Before the event, BCHS softball coach Al Butler asked Howard to take a look around the room and realize the impact she had on the school and her fellow students.

"You're really an outstanding individual in every sense of the word," he told her.
Earlier, Butler said the one thing about Howard that stood out was her "never-quit" attitude.

"It's her ability to make any situation a bright spot of the day. It's the way she approaches life in general. She's a really good person and, a lot of times you'll find with athletes who are given all this God-given ability, they'll find themselves in the limelight and they're making the wrong decisions. Not Tiffany.

"Tiffany is as perfect example of what you would want your child to grow up to be,' Butler said. "She's a perfect example of what a role model should be. As for her athletic ability, that's evident."

Howard was a dominant force not only in softball - she was the Georgia Class A Player of the Year last season and over her career has earned several player of the year awards from area media - but also excelled in cross country, track and basketball.

She has three Region 3-A cross country titles, a number of individual 3-A track titles and plays point guard on the Lady Redskins' Region 3-A winning basketball team.

But she also is an "academic superstar," assistant principal Rod Bachman said.
Howard, an honor roll student who hopes to become a veterinarian, attributed her success to hard work.
"I practice a lot every day," she said. "Hard work and no slacking off."
But Howard also gave credit to others, including her parents, Steve and Christie Howard - she's a former athletic standout at BCHS - uncle Doug Foxworth and Effingham Angels coach Ty Reitkovich. And she said it was her older sister,

Samantha, who helped her become the player she is today.
"We were always competitive and she always pushed me to do better," Howard said of her older sister, who is bound for Morehead State to play softball after two years at Waycross College. "I don't think she understands how much she's helped me."

Steve Howard said he's proud of both his daughters - "they're not just good athletes, they're also real good kids," he said. "Or I should say, young ladies, now."

He said competitiveness is at the heart of Tiffany Howard's drive to win.
"She's more competitive than anybody I've ever coached or been around," Steve Howard said. "She just competes hard in everything she does."

Reitkovich compares Howard to former Country Day and Effingham Angels star Kat Dotson, who became the Co-SEC Freshman of the Year in 2010 for Tennessee. And he said Howard has plenty of intangibles, but her speed on the base paths is eye-opening.

"Tiffany speeds up between the bases when other players normally slow down," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see her set some records over there at Auburn."
Auburn coach Tina Deese said Howard's speed was what first caught her eye.

"I stumbled on Tiffany at a tournament in Georgia," Deese said. "I had my stopwatch out because I was looking for a speedster, some kid who could run and provide us with a short game.
"I got Tiffany at a 2.9 (seconds). I kept watching and she was consistently there at 2.8, 2.9. I really didn't know at the time she could pitch and do so many other things."

Deese said she was at another clinic in Georgia the following week and Howard was the hardest throwing pitcher there. Still, Deese expects Howard to play primarily in the outfield at Auburn.
"She's got some really good tools," Deese said. "She can play."

Howard's classroom work ethic also rated highly with the Auburn coach.
"That's a huge bonus, especially here at Auburn, where, educationally and academically, you're going to have to put the work in," Deese said. "I recruit women dedicated to academics, too. You've got to have both. And it's definitely a bonus to see she's a 4.0 student and getting to know her family and what incredible people they are."

Howard is one of seven in the 2011 signing class for Deese, who said she doesn't project when kids will play.
"But this whole freshman class I fully expect to take the field right away," she said.

Reitkovich believes Howard is one of the best fast-pitch softball players ever to come from South Georgia and may trail only Dotson at the moment.

"I'd say she's in the top five that have ever played in fast-pitch as far as this area," he said. "In our business, she's at least a five-star player."

 

 

 

 

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