Class of 2011
Former Elkmont High School Basketball and Softball coach Lester Smith knew when his star player Jessica Christ didn't play up to her standards what the ramifications were going to be. His and Christ's workload was about to be increased.
"Jess strove for perfection," said Smith. "If she missed a groundball in a game, the next practice I was picking up the fungo bat and hitting extra groundballs. If she missed a layup in a basketball game, the next practice she was shooting layups full speed and doing the drill full court. Jess was just a hard worker and one of the very best athletes to ever play sports at Elkmont High School." Christ, a 2011 Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame inductee, earned an amazing 22 letters while participating in sports at Elkmont. She earned six letters in basketball, softball and volleyball. During her spare time, she was able to earn four more letters playing the flute and piccolo in the Red Devils Marching band.
Sports were something that you could say was in Christ's blood. "As far back as I can remember, I was outside playing ball with my brother Ronald and my cousin Chris," said Christ. "We would throw football, shoot basketball, play softball, etc. All of us just loved sports." Christ played all the recreational sports at Elkmont as a youth and by the time she reached the seventh grade, her athletic skills were so advanced that there would be no junior varsity or B team participation. She was go- ing straight to varsity competition to play with some amazing ladies. The Senior Class of '87, in particular, had many outstanding athletes and was in the process of benchmarking Elkmont Girls' Athletics in all the sports. Her two years of playing with them brought much growth.
As a seventh grader, Christ recalls being told by Coach Smith that "on this side (the out of bounds line) I'll make the calls, but by the time you are a senior, I expect you to make the calls on that side of the line." Her first two years of varsity competition coupled with this credo set the standard for her high school years. Christ twice led the Lady Red Devils to the county and area basketball championships and would help the Elkmont Volleyball team win three sub state titles. For her efforts, Christ was named All County & All Area four times in basketball and twice named honorable mention All-State. She earned All-County & All Area honors in softball and volleyball as well. She was the recipient of the Limestone County Spirit Award in 1991.
One of Christ's former high school basketball teammates Margaret Pollitz Mangino says Christ is an amazing per- son. "Jessica was the driving force behind our success in basketball. She elevated her teammates play. She pushed us all and kept us on the straight and narrow. Whether it was helping us with our homework after practice or just offering words of encouragement, Jessica was always there for her teammates. She thought of all of us as her sisters. She is truly an amazing person," said Mangino.
Christ would earn a softball scholarship to the University of North Alabama where she played catcher for Coach Ande Jones and the Lady Lions. She also earned two letters in basketball and one in volleyball while at UNA. However, it would be softball that Christ would make her mark at UNA and the Gulf South Conference. "Jessica was a top notch person and one of the best folks I have ever had the opportunity to be around," said Jones. "It was a true blessing to coach Jessica and she was a very good player for us. Jessica caught for us and was our quarterback. She embodied everything you would want out of your catcher. She called a good game, studied hitters, threw well and most importantly worked well with our pitchers. Jessica was very good offensive player as well. She could hit and was a threat on the bases." Christ was a four-year starter in softball for UNA and was named to the First Team All-Gulf South Conference Team her senior season. She hit .349 during her final season with UNA while setting the school record for career stolen bases (43).
One of her teammates at UNA Kristy Hunter Holdbrooks says it was an honor to be Christ's teammate. "Jessica is probably the most competitive person I know. She always had her head in the game and gave 110% effort. She was a great player, an excellent student and remains a wonderful friend," said Holdbrooks. The classroom was another area that Christ excelled. While at Elkmont, she graduated first in her class and was named a Bryant-Jordan Scholar Athlete. She graduated with honors from UNA while majoring in Mathematics and Physics. Christ was a positive influence on so many folks during her playing days, but she says the lessons she learned from her coaches and teammates will last forever with her. "So much of who I am now is directly from life lessons that I learned from playing ball. My teammates and coaches were tremendous teachers. I learned things like how much stron- ger we can be as a team than we can ever be as an individual and the importance of commitment and never quitting. The defining moments of my sports career weren't the games but the relationships. They are the privilege of it all, the gifts that God just gave. This honor humbles me because I was impacted so and I am grateful for each of them and for how they push and inspire me to this very day," said Christ.