by BRITTANY HALL
Do you know the phrase, “X walked so Y could run?” The meaning of it is often used to describe a situation in which someone has made sacrifices or taken actions that have cleared the way for others to succeed. It typically refers to paved the way for future generations by fighting for justice, equality, or progress.
Well, for one Swainsboro High alumni, this phrase literally embodies the person that she was and the legacy she and her friends left behind on Tiger trail, so that every future female athlete and student could leave their legacies there as well.
This is the story of MSG Sarah Sabrina Rosario Diaz, and the important part she played in Swainsboro High School’s first integrated, female track and field team that went on to receive the first state championship title for Swainsboro High School’s Track and Field.
Sarah Sabrina Greene was born on April 17, 1956, to Ella Redolia Green and L.C. Scott. She and her sister Sonya grew up on their grandparents’ farm in the small community of Modoc, located just on the outskirts of Swainsboro. Their grandparents, the late Barney and Willie Mae Williams, raised them to be strong, independent women:
“Oh, we grew up in the country, off highway 56 in Modoc.” Sabrina’s sister, Sonya said with a soft laugh, reminiscing on those days, “Our grandparents raised Brina and myself and we took to the country well. Back then we weren’t around a lot of people who grew up in the city so when we did get to go into town, it was a treat for us. During the summers we worked on the farm, bringing in the crops, shelling peas… it was just a nice southern way of living.”
The oldest of seven children, Brina soon became the matriarch of her family, as she helped to raise and care for her siblings and eventually their children too. While serving as an integral part of her family and their care at home, Brina was also becoming an important part of another team - the SHS Tigers. During her time as a student at SHS from 1971 to 1975, Brina found herself as part of the Tigers first integrated female, track and field team.
“Brina played basketball, but her passion was track,” explained Sonya.
In 1973, Brina along with her teammates, brought home the championship title as the first all-female, integrated track team, Swainsboro had at the time. What made this victory even more momentous for Emanuel County, is that this win came during the same year as the historical Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. Teammates Elease Turner and Elaine Jones Connor remember Sabrina for the athlete she was, who had the heart and drive of a Lady Tiger.
“She was a relay runner, but an even better long-distance runner.” They explained through smiles, remembering their sweet friend, “Sabrina always displayed good sportsmanship, supported her teammates, and always gave her best to the sport. We salute and remember our Champion Lady Tiger Teammate for representing her family, her community, and beloved Swainsboro High School.”
After graduating from high-school, Brina joined the United States Army on September 24, 1975. During her time in the military, she met and married the love of her life, Rafael Basilo Rosario Diaz, and obtained the title of Army Master Sergent. This was a position that she proudly served for 29 years until her retirement.
“I’m not sure why she chose to go down that path, but I guess I followed in her footsteps because after graduating I went into the military as well.” Sonya explained. “She went into the military, and while she was in the military, I went to college, and she put me through school. Because of her support, I was able to walk across the stage without having any student loans. Although we had five other siblings, she and I grew up in the same household, so we shared this very special bond. It was just me and her against the world!” She said with a smile.
After Brina’s military career ended, she became a substitute teacher at Carver Elementary School in Wadley, Ga, and later was hired full-time as a 21st Century Paraprofessional. Throughout the duration of her time with Carver Elementary, Brina also volunteered for numerous community activities including, Comfort Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Wadley, St. Paul AME Church and its missions, Ronnie Shuemake’s annual book bag drive in Swainsboro and Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia Troop 20769. It was while Brina was working at Carver Elementary School and attending Girl Scout meetings that she met fellow teacher, Shirlinda Logan, who soon became a lifelong friend.
“She was my friend, but my sister for life,” Logan said of Brina, whom she refers to as Sarah. Describing her as a “fun, loving and caring person,” who liked to joke with her coworkers and always kept them laughing.
“Sarah was a person if you ever met her, you would never forget her because she never met a stranger,” Logan explained. “She was a kind-hearted, loving soul and always gave from the heart, never wanting or expecting anything in return.”
Sarah was known throughout her community for always helping those in need and her unyielding devotion for volunteering at church, Girl Scouts, back to school giveaways and Food and Clothing drives.
“She was the type of friend you could always rely on. She said what was on her mind whether you liked it or not, because she knew you needed to hear it. She was honest and held tight to her faithfulness and dedication in the Lord and those she loved.” Logan said through tears, “She is truly missed.”
Nearly one year ago, on March 5, 2022, Sarah Sabrina Rosario Diaz was called to her heavenly home and reunited with her late husband Rafael Basilo Rosario Diaz.
On June 17, 2017, a commemorative sign was unveiled in Swainsboro honoring the 1973 GHSA Region AA State Girls Track & Field Champions. On December 28, 2022, the 1973 track and field team reunited once more on SHS’s track and field, to present a plaque and photo of the 1973 Track and Field team, to the Emanuel County Museum and Historical Society. In their touching tribute to their late coach and teammates, they collectively wrote:
“The names, footprints and legacy of our Coach and team members that are no longer with us will forever be engraved and never forgotten as Champions forever.”
Perfectly honoring the Lady Tiger who ran, so other future Lady Tigers could run too.
By ELEASE TURNER
In honor and memory of Sabrina, a memorial plaque was presented to the Green Family on behalf of the 1973 GHSA Region AA Girls State Track & Field Champions-Emanuel County and Swainsboro High School 1st Integrated Athletic Championship Team.
The memorial plaque was accepted by Sabrina sister, Lt. Col. Sonya Greene. She said, “On behalf of the Green Family, we want to thank her teammates for honoring her with this prestigious memorial plaque. I know she is so proud watching us continue to honor and praise the many achievements of her life.”
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