An interview with Austin-East’s defensive line coach Alyson Pointer, the first woman to coach football in Knox County.

Knoxville News Sentinel

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Food truck sales benefit Alzheimer’s care

Al Lesar, Shopper News

Eating for a good cause is the best kind of eating.

Kay Lorick, community relations director at Morning Pointe Assisted Living and Memory Care in Powell for the past 2½ years, has found a way to feed the masses and at the same time give support to those families touched by dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Joan Inklebarger gives her lunch a “two thumbs up.” (Photo: Submitted)

For the second summer, Lorick has partnered with food trucks to set up at Morning Pointe (7700 Dannaher Drive), adjacent to Tennova North Knoxville Medical Center. A portion – somewhere between 10 and 20 percent – of each sale is donated.

Recipients of the funds are Alzheimer’s Tennessee and the Morning Pointe Foundation. The money provides caregiver support and clinical scholarships for nurses.

“One area that this helps is with research with dementia,” Lorick said. “There are support groups for the families of Alzheimer’s patients, as well as resources for them.

“The important thing is for the caregivers to know they’re not in this alone. We’re there to answer any questions they might have and to understand what they’re going through.”

Unique eats   

Waffley Good, Knox Vittles, Cruisin’ Cuisine and Captain Muchacho’s set up shop in the Morning Pointe parking lot on individual Fridays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. this summer. With advertising and unique options on the menu, Lorick estimated 100 people from the hospital or other medical practices in the immediate area participated in the experience.

She’s hoping to extend the visits into the fall.

“Last year we tried it three times,” Lorick said. “We had the trucks open in the morning, for lunch and late afternoon. We found right around lunch brought the biggest crowd.

“When I looked for trucks to participate, I was looking for some that didn’t have just the normal food. I loved whatever any of them offered.”

‘It’s a calling’   

Morning Pointe has 20 residents in the memory care portion of its facility. Lorick said it takes a special person to be a caregiver on that unit.

“Anyone who has lived with someone who has gone through dementia knows that it’s important to understand the residents are doing the best they can,” she said. “It’s a calling. There are times it can be exhausting, but they live for those moments when that ‘light’ comes on. You can tell that you’re enriching their life.

“Being able to bring a smile to the face of the resident and the family makes everything worthwhile.”

Lorick can relate to the “calling.” She dealt with a parent with Parkinson’s disease, navigating the frustration and (sometimes) guilt that is part of the process.

“You can’t help how you feel,” Lorick said. “It’s important to know you can share this with others; you’re not in this alone.”

Lorick said that during the spring and early summer the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic put a halt on the visits before they started. Once logistics were worked out, their appearance has been a success.

Besides spreading the word to the office workers in the medical-heavy area, Lorick said the Morning Pointe staff were available to help residents, who weren’t allowed to venture outside, secure their food. 

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What’s going on with our ‘frontier narrative’?

John Tirro, Shopper News columnist

When I was a kid in the ’70s, the best Christmas present I got was a pair of books, one called “Space” and the other called “Ocean.” They were oversize, colorful, and filled with pictures and information about these two frontiers, one up to the outer reaches, one down to the depths, with space suits, scuba suits, and vacuum-sealed houses for everyone in both.

My sense at the time was that we’d run out of other frontiers, which was a big deal for an American kid growing as I did, child of immigrants and pioneers, with cowboy movies on the TV at all times and an unquestioned sense of constant progress. We were the nation rising from mistakes of the past, democracy from monarchy, freedom from slavery, knowledge from ignorance, science from superstition, with better and better cars driving faster and faster. 

Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” was on the radio — “Rockets… moonshots… spend it on… the have nots… money… we make it… before we see it… you take it… woah, make me wanna holler, the way they do my life” — but I was still listening to my “Wild Bill Hickok, King of the Wild Frontier” LP.  It hadn’t even occurred to me that there was another point of view, which is appropriate for 5-year-olds.

My image of First Nations people was limited to a weather-worn Indian shedding a long tear for a river destroyed by litter. Didn’t even occur to me, at the time, that the tear may not primarily have been about litter, but about the city in the background and the conquest and ruin that put it there in the first place.

If you’re in the privileged place in society, it takes a while to realize not everyone is having the same experience. That’s kind of the definition of what privilege is. Your experience is placed at the center of the story. Whether it’s going well for you or poorly, whether your parents’ business ventures succeeded or failed, whether people helped your grandparents or robbed them, you’re still part of the story of American success, as long as you fit the description of the main character of the story.

In my case, that looked pretty much like a white kid wearing chaps and a vest, carrying a metal bowl from Mom’s kitchen, to pick blackberries in the not-yet-developed property next door. Or making a rocket or a submarine out of a refrigerator box, or exploring the nearby forest with friends.

The frontier narrative is strong. It tells a story of curiosity, ingenuity, innovation and perseverance. What would it be like to apply those qualities to a new story that places everyone at the center, “with liberty and justice for all”?

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11). The new frontier is relationship.

John Tirro is pastor of music and campus ministry at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Info:


Sutherland shop powers through pain to fully equip runners

John Shearer, Shopper News 

A long-distance runner is used to pushing on through obstacles and a Sutherland Avenue store devoted to the sport has been doing that as well after opening only a few months before the pandemic struck.

Through the business equivalent of pacing itself and trying to stay safe, The Long Run at 2452 Sutherland Avenue across from John Tarleton Park has been able to survive so far.

“Everything seems to be going as well as expected in our second year during a pandemic,” said co-owner Julia Conner with optimism and a slight laugh.

Conner, who calls herself a middle-of-the-pack runner, left her job as a veterinarian in Pigeon Forge to start the new-concept business in April 2019 with Ethan Coffey, a top local long-distance runner.

While such local businesses as the Runners Market in Western Plaza in Bearden have drawn customers primarily through the sale of shoes, The Long Run has tried to specialize in helping a serious or casual runner look and feel stylish and comfortable above the feet.

“We’re not a traditional running store,” she said. “They are usually more focused on shoes.”

Like many businesses, The Long Run’s germination came after the owners saw a need that they did not feel was being met locally.

“We were wearing running apparel you couldn’t find anywhere in Knoxville,” said Conner, who grew up in Jamestown, Tenn., and did not start running seriously until she reached age 30. “We tried to bring in brands other stores aren’t carrying.”

She said they initially started selling such apparel for men as Vuori exercise and leisure wear, known for being comfortable and soft. But they eventually branched off into carrying clothing and accessories for women, including products from rabbit and Oiselle, both of which are women-owned startup companies.

They also sell hats and a few shoes from the On company. Other brands they offer are Janji, goodr and Rhone.

Conner said that while the clothing can benefit the serious runner, the apparel is also ideal for the casual runner or exerciser wanting to be stylish and comfortable while  fitted properly.

So far, the concept seems to have worked and — like the popular tables full of water bottles, bananas and bagels sitting at the finish line of races — the business has been able to draw people.

“We’ve had great support from the community, and I feel like we’ve had great feedback from everyone,” Conner said.

Hats, pictured on Sept. 2, 2020, are also among the offerings found at The Long Run apparel store on Sutherland Avenue. (Photo: John Shearer/Shopper News)

They had also used the former hair-styling building for gatherings like viewing the Olympic Marathon trials, fitness and yoga classes, meeting up before group runs, a podcast by former West High cross-country coach Patrick Gildea and Coffey, and enjoying beer on tap. But much of that has been curtailed since the pandemic began.

However, Conner said they are still pleased with the traffic that has come into the store, and also like the overall business flow on Sutherland Avenue, which is becoming a trendier shopping and dining place.       

The store is open Tuesday through Sunday. Conner usually mans it during the week, while Coffey, who also works full time in ORNL-related work, is often there on Fridays and weekends.

Coffey is a past winner and runner-up finisher in the Knoxville Marathon who once gained local attention for running the Boston Marathon course backward as a fundraiser a short time before successfully completing the regular race.

People have often had trouble keeping up with him, but when not racing he wants to keep up with fellow enthusiasts, and the business allows this.

“Ethan is already involved with the running community, and this is another way to be even more involved,” Conner said.


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