Changing Lives Through Play


By Meredith Deal & Kelly Hunter  
Photography by Mike Force Photography

We are proud to introduce this trio of strong local women working, and now “playing,” as well, at the game of life here in Coastal Georgia. Yes, we have the stats on three high school athletic coaches from McIntosh County Academy, Glynn Academy and Brunswick High School. We thank their school guidance counselors for connecting us with leaders who excel in encouraging, energizing and engaging their teams. These lady coaches provide guidance, accountability, and discipline—and of course, always give of themselves 110 percent!

PYCoaches0421 Palmer
Coach Shanelle Palmer
McIntosh County Academy (MCA), Darien, Ga.
Head Varsity Girls Basketball Coach
& Head Volleyball Coach

What is your background and which sports did you excel in? What school subject do you teach now?
My background consists of both volleyball and basketball. However, basketball has become my favorite sport. Due to some life challenges, I did not give it my all like I should have. Having this opportunity to revisit a true passion that I didn’t embrace when I was younger excites me. It gives me the opportunity to empower and lead other players to give it their all. I currently facilitate in-school suspension and coordinate courses for our virtual alternative school students.  

Our theme is #GoPlay.
What does the word “Play” mean to you?

#Goplay means several different things to me such as: Teamwork, family, support, achievement, motivation, execution, growth, fun, workout, observation, learning, discipline, patience, love, encouragement, laughter and tears.

Tell us your favorite quotes about teamwork:

“I can do all things through Christ
who strengthens me.” —Philippians 4:13  
“Get out of your feelings, and get in the game!”

Top 3 must-haves in your coach’s gym bag:

Emergency contacts and health documentations, external battery pack and scorebook.

Two of my favorite conflict resolution strategies are:

Accountability so that one takes ownership for self-acts.  
Acceptability so that players accept the things they can or can not change.

What’s your secret to work/life balance?

My prayer life keeps me grounded and balanced! Plus, a few Krispy Kreme honey buns!

Who are your role models/inspirations and why?

My mother is my biggest inspiration because she has taught me so much about life, character, relationship, spirituality, womanhood, self-care, self-love and how to be a productive classy woman. My mentor, Dr. Melissa Williams, has taught me how to keep pushing through no matter what obstacles are ahead of me.

How do you keep your cool when the game gets too hot?

I pause, take a deep breath, take a seat, observe my opposition, power up with a quick internal prayer and get back at it!  

PYCoaches0421 SmithCoach Sharnesha Smith
Glynn Academy, Brunswick, Ga.
Head Girls Varsity Basketball Coach & Head Girls Track & Field Coach

What is your background and which sports did you excel in?

I am from St. Marys where I was a starting varsity basketball player at Camden County High School. I went on to play Division I basketball at Stetson University, where I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in sports management with a minor in general business. I played professional basketball in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, for one year.

I was an assistant coach at Augusta State University, where I received my Master of Science degree in kinesiology and health science. Then I went on to be an assistant coach at Flagler College. In 2017, I started at Glynn Academy, where my staff and I have had much success. The sport I excelled in was Basketball. It is my life; I love this game.

School subjects I currently teach are:

Physical education, body sculpting, team sports, weight control and fitness/weight training.

Our theme is #GoPlay. What does the word “Play” mean to you?

The word “PLAY” to me means having fun, an opportunity to compete, and giving 110 percent at what you are doing.
What are a few of your favorite quotes on teamwork:
“HARD WORK beats TALENT, when TALENT doesn’t WORK HARD!”
“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.”

Top 3 must-haves in your coach’s gym bag:

Board with markers and eraser, whistle and my pad/binder, which includes my notes and playbook.

Two of my favorite conflict resolution strategies are:

We never talk behind each other’s backs, we handle each situation as an adult and approach the situation head on!
Hold each other accountable, take corrective criticism and take the coaching.

What’s your secret to work/life balance?

I always try to make time for my family, no matter how busy work gets. I am intentional in finding that time for other things in my life outside of work.

Who are your role model/inspirations?

My parents: They have sacrificed so much for me and my sisters, and we are blessed to have both our parents. We have a great relationship with them, and they have been extremely supportive in all we do. They are my inspiration.
All my coaches in the past, including: Coach Shelia Seymore-Pennick, Bridgette Gordon, Samba Johnson and Lynn Bria, who provided me with an opportunity to accomplish my goals in life. All of these coaches pushed and challenged me to be the best player I could be, and also made me a better person. They made different impacts in my life, and I cannot thank them enough.

How do you keep your cool when the game gets too hot?

Everything I preach to my kids, I practice as well. I am disciplined as a coach, I trust the process, and I know that I am prepared. I never quit. I stay composed. At times, taking deep breaths and speaking to myself in my head has been a great tool, which I have mastered.

PYCoaches0421 HubbardCoach Jasmine Hubbard
Brunswick High School, Brunswick, Ga.
Girls’ Volleyball, Basketball and Track & Field Coach

What is your background and which sports did you excel in?
What school subjects do you teach now?
I was born and raised in Brunswick, and Brunswick High School is my alma mater. While in high school I played softball, basketball and ran track. My senior year I earned a softball scholarship to play on the collegiate level. I teach science.

Our theme is #GoPlay. What does the word “Play” mean to you?
Play represents engagement in activities that we find joy and fun in taking part, whether physical or mental.  

What are a few of your favorite quotes on teamwork:
“Bad attitudes and vibes have no place on a team when we all are trying to accomplish the same common goal.”
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”

Top 3 must-haves in your coach’s gym bag:
First, my cell phone definitely has to be in the bag if it’s not in my hand. Second, probably my players’ favorite: The almighty whistle. Lastly, my bag has to have snacks, as coaches log some long hours.

My favorite conflict resolution strategy is:

Put everything on the table, and chip away piece by piece.  

What’s your secret to work/life balance?

At times it all seems to run together. I love the thrill of what I do, but you have to set aside time to do what you want to do. For me, a lot of the time it’s to do absolutely nothing and have zero plans, because otherwise I am constantly on the go.

Who are your role model/inspirations and why?

My list could go on forever. There’s so much I admire in several people, yet my parents are who I am a walking image of. I am very appreciative of them for raising me with the privilege of sports, as the world of sports unveils so many life lessons and situations: To be able to see the beauty of discipline, boundaries, hard work and passion. My parents lived by this. They instilled these values in me to allow me to hopefully be a substantial role model for the young men and women I cross paths with daily.

How do you keep your cool when the game gets too hot?

Any sport can have you on a rollercoaster ride, as often times there are momentum swings. I think as a coach, your players thrive off the energy you give. I say if the game is too hot, let the emotion show, as sometimes the players need to see and feel how intense the moment really is.

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