Stingers bring basketball back to Fayetteville

13aIf you’ve been in the Fayetteville community a while, your heart probably smiled when you heard the news about professional basketball coming back to Fayetteville. The city has a unique relationship with basketball. We have legendary players and coaches, active professional players, overseas superstars, you name it. Though the city is filled with talent in every corner, and fans eager to see basketball being played, the hoop city hasn’t had a professional basketball team in over 16 years.

In 2001, the Fayetteville Patriots launched its opening season and were one of eight franchises in the National Basketball Development League. The team held games in the Crown Complex arena, where the games were full of entertainment and great basketball. The Patriots won the semifinals in their 2002-2003 season. The franchise lasted a total of five seasons, bringing the organization to a close in 2006.

Fans have been awaiting a return of professional basketball since then. Sources around the city have been buzzin’ with rumors about another team forming in the city for the past couple of years, and in January of 2022 the Fayetteville Stingers announced that they will be forming a team under The Basketball League.

The Fayetteville Stingers organization is spearheaded by the team marketing owner Ken Bishop and General Manager Ray Phillips who are both Philadelphia natives. Both have coaching and leadership experience in their communities. Since announcing the team, and hiring all-star coaching duo Don Gardner and Robert Brickey, they’ve been on a mission to create opportunities and build a solid foundation here within the community.

In an interview with sports podcaster Tiras Ray, of “Say what Say it again,” Bishop explained why he chose Fayetteville when picking a city. He said “you guys have a lot of history here, to not have a team in one of the most polarizing sports (basketball) was a head scratcher to me, like why is this not happening? I did my research more on the community and something inside of me just said ‘Make this Happen!’”

After reaching out to Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin about bringing the team to Fayetteville, Bishop and Phillips began to set their plans in motion. After the hiring of Brickey and Gardner, the four have been able to be on the same wavelength with similar expectations for the organization.

In the podcast, Bishop and Brickey agreed that a goal is to bring a winning aspect to the game, for the team and entertainment wise for local audiences. “We want everybody to have fun, this is a game that can take you places. We all have the same goals, make it the playoffs, compete at a high level, and keep taking things to the next level for the community.”13b

Also in the podcast, when asked why he chose the name Fayetteville Stingers, Bishop says “it was a play on the basketball teams that are already here in the state of North Carolina. Charlotte has the Hornets, the G-league team is named the Swarm, let’s play off the history.”

Since establishing the Stingers, the managers and coaches have hosted a series of combines, training camps, clinics and try outs to build their staff and roster for the opening season, which has already begun. Most of the staff and players are Fayetteville natives or a part of the community in Cumberland County.

Phillips recognizes that the city is a gold mine of talent from all walks of life. “It’s our job as an organization, as the Stingers and representing the TBL to give people a second chance at something they love to do and that’s not just on the basketball court, that’s off the basketball court as well,” Phillips says.

The Stingers decided to keep the organization as local as possible. They have intern partnerships with Fayetteville State University and Methodist University. Giving students opportunities and work experience in different fields within the basketball world is beneficial to the organization and the community.

The Stingers also kept their combines local and accepted players in the Fayetteville, Hope Mills and surrounding areas. The roster being mostly Fayetteville natives is extremely important for the next generation of basketball players to see, especially on a professional level.

While also playing their games in the historic Crown Complex and staffing their organization with key figures of the community, it’s clear to see the Stingers are dedicated to the city of Fayetteville.
With the community on their side, along with a dynamite coaching staff and roster, the Fayetteville Stingers are underway in their opening season.

Their next home game will be played this Friday, March 17, at the Crown Complex arena, starting at 7:30 p.m. Don’t miss the chance to see and support the newest basketball here in our city.
Single game tickets are available at the box office and on Ticketmaster.com. You can also check out season pass options on the team website https://fayettevillestingers.com/.


13c Up & Coming Weekly sat down with General Manager Ray Phillips to discuss his role with the Stingers and what the organization is bringing to the city of Fayetteville.

“My favorite part of being the General Manager of the Fayetteville Stingers is being able to have an impact of the lives of these young men, and the staff members that come through. It gives me a chance to impart my wisdom and knowledge, but most importantly a listening ear.”

Phillips notices that a lot of times in the Black and brown community, guys don’t have a chance to express themselves to other men. He says, “we’re constantly told to man up or that we’re being too soft, nobody cares about what you have to say. But I want to be that ear because I do care and love you, even if I don’t know you. I want to hear what you have to say.”

With the responsibility of a team and the lives of the staff and players, communication is key and an important foundation in Phillip’s role in the organization. As General Manager, he is the right-hand man to every staff member and oversees everyone from the Dance and Media teams to the players.

His role also consists of handling team partnerships and representing the organization during media interactions and promotion. Though he wears many hats, Phillips said he feels that his most important role is to build a great relationship with the community.

Back in January, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Stingers were able to adopt B Street in downtown Fayetteville. Phillips took 12 young men, walked down B Street and voluntarily did a trash pickup.
He says, “It’s important for the people in the community to see us out there, because without those people, we’re nothing.”

New size-inclusive shop to open in Fayetteville

online post boutiqueFayetteville’s first and only size-inclusive boutique, 2313 Glitter Ave., will have its grand opening on Saturday, March 25, at 1009 Marlborough Road in Fayetteville from 11 am to 4 pm.

Carrying sizes ranging from small to 3X in nearly every clothing item, the boutique encourages women of all shapes and sizes to “Wear the Whatever.”

Customers can look forward to gift-with-purchase swag bags, a personalized claw clip station, doorbusters, and giveaways on opening day. Spacious dressing rooms, inclusive swimwear, jewelry, shoes, and more await.

Originally an online boutique, customers can still shop 24/7 on the app and arrange local pick-up at 310 Blount St. in Downtown Fayetteville.

For more information visit join the VIP Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/2313GlitterAveVIP

Harvest season announced for striped bass

19 The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Executive Director, Cameron Ingram, has signed a proclamation outlining the 2023 striped bass harvest season in the Roanoke River Management Area.

The entire Roanoke River Management Area will be open for harvest of striped bass April 14 to 17 and April 22 to 23. The daily creel limit is one striped bass per day. The minimum length limit is 18 inches, and no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches may be possessed at any time.

The Roanoke River Management Area includes the Roanoke River and tributaries from the Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam downstream to the Albemarle Sound, including the Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers.

In 2020, a stock assessment of striped bass in the Roanoke River/Albemarle Sound indicated that the stock was overfished, and overfishing was occurring. To conserve and rebuild the striped bass population in the Roanoke River, this year’s harvest quota is 12,804 pounds. The six harvest days outlined in the proclamation were selected using past angler creel data with the goal of anglers having an opportunity to harvest fish throughout the river.

“Since 2006, we’ve seen declines in the abundance of Striped Bass, specifically, dramatic declines in the abundance of fish larger than 30 inches. These larger, older fish can produce over 1 million eggs per spawn. River flow is also important to having a successful spawns and high egg survival rates. NCWRC staff work weekly with staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide the best possible flow for spawning fish on the Roanoke River. Larger fish and river flow during critical spawning periods are keys to rebuilding the Roanoke River-Albemarle Sound Striped Bass population,” said Chris Smith, District 1 Fisheries Biologist with the Wildlife Commission. “However, appropriate flows alone will not help. The current management actions are intended to increase striped bass survival on the spawning grounds. Over time we anticipate the population will rebuild including larger older females which are very valuable to the population.”

Anglers can continue to catch and release striped bass throughout the spring. To reduce handling stress on fish that are released, the Wildlife Commission recommends anglers use a single barbless hook or a lure with a single barbless hook, which is a requirement when fishing in the upper Roanoke River above the U.S. Highway 258 bridge near Scotland Neck from April 1 through June 30.
Signage will be posted at boating access areas along the Roanoke River to notify anglers of the changes to the open harvest dates. More information can be found using the agency’s online BAA locator.

N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission     

Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities.     

To purchase or renew a fishing, trapping and hunting license and renew a vessel registration visit www.ncwildlife.org.     

Expo aims to renew spiritual, physical and mental health

Good VibrationsNeed a place to reassess your physical, mental and spiritual health? The 3rd Annual Good Vibrationz: Metaphysical & Holistic Wellness Expo is back in Fayetteville and is the place to be if you are interested in connecting with open-minded people. The expo will take place at the Crown Expo from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on March 18.

 Ayreka Plowden, the owner of Aje Noire Creations and creator of the wellness expo, says this is one of her favorite events to put together. This will be the first year Plowden has organized this event by herself. Her husband, who was her partner in this event, passed away last year. She tells Up & Coming Weekly she is doing this event in honor of her late husband.

“I'm not doing this primarily for myself. I'm doing it for those that are participating and for those that are coming. Because there's a reason why those people that chose to participate, not just to earn money and to bring awareness to their business, but because somebody needs what they have,” Plowden said.

“I tell people that I have not actually made any money off of my events and I've eaten a lot of cost hosting these events. But to me, they are worth it because I've heard nothing but great things from people that have participated as well as people that have a tent.”

This year, there will be over 20 metaphysical and holistic vendors. Each vendor will have a chance to present what they offer to everyone on the main stage. For those who are interested in a particular vendor after their presentation, they can check out their tent.

There will also be a sound bath session, a collective guided meditation, nutrition specialists, and more. Plowden says this will be a family-friendly event and all are welcome.

“I'm trying to have something specifically towards children there. So that way the kids can have a space of their own to learn about ways to maintain healthier food options, things of that nature, kind of trying to incorporate the same thing for the adults. They understand a lot more than we give them credit for. That's why they say little kids are sponges because they absorb information. Why not give them good information to absorb?”

Plowden says that anyone coming to the event for the first time should have an open mind.

“Be open to not know everything. Not expecting everything to be what you're expecting it to be, but to come with an open mind and know that you're coming here because there's something here that you need or something that you need to hear. And these people are going to be able to either point you in the right direction of where you need to go or offer you a service that may be able to get you to the point that you are trying to get to. Just know that everything and everyone is connected somehow,” Plowden said.

Tickets are $12 for General Admission and $6 for children ages five to 12. Anyone below the age of 5 can enter for free. Tickets can be bought at https://bit.ly/3JqV3xe.

BlackLIT Book Fair aims to close reading gap

17 As part of its ongoing Black Culture Experience, The Arts Council of Fayetteville and its subsidiary, We Are The Arts, will host this year’s BlackLIT Book Fair on March 18 at the Volta Space in downtown Fayetteville.
Now in its second year, the BlackLIT Book Fair “continues to be an intentional effort to motivate, highlight, reaffirm, and empower cultures and the younger generation by making literacy relatable and relevant in communities of color.”

Working to close the significant reading gap present within the black community, the BlackLIT Book Fair works to showcase and uplift the lived experiences of African Americans as expressed through fiction, self-help, romance, empowerment, poetry, children’s books, and a variety of other genres.

Data pulled from the National Assessment of Educational Progress suggests an initiative like this couldn’t be more timely. In 2019, the Nation’s Report Card showed that only around 15% of Black 8th graders were at or above a proficient reading level.

The numbers don’t look much better after high school, as around 23% of Black adults are considered to be low literacy according to a 2019 report from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Boosting literary engagement is of crucial importance within the Black community and critical to its long-term success.

Literacy improves mental health, builds life-long learning and critical thinking skills, creates jobs, and is a powerful tool against poverty. The BlackLit Book Fair will host a number of activities, reading, panels and presentations for readers and writers of all ages throughout the day.

The Children’s Read-Aloud “inspires children and their parents to learn, grow and explore the world through the pages of a book,” shared Christy McNeil, Director of Marketing for the Arts Council of Fayetteville.
Six African American storytellers are slated to appear during this time and offer dynamic readings designed to grow the imaginations of their audience while fostering a love of reading and an expanded view of the world.

As an added incentive, all children in attendance will receive a BlackLit Voucher which can be redeemed for one free children’s book of their choosing at participating vendors as long as supplies last.
For poetry enthusiasts, The Literary Cafe: Poetry By The Hour will create an opportunity for authors and aficionados to engage in conversation over refreshments as “poetic expressionists read excerpts from their books.”

And for those writers of color, both emerging and established, the BlackLIT Book Fair will offer a Professional Writers Panel to offer advice and guidance around the ins and outs of the publishing world. Topics include “distribution, access to funding and small business loans, and other aspects of artist development,” according to the event’s website.

The BlackLIt Book Fair is an opportunity to support Black authors, discover new perspectives, and bolster the audacious notion that stories of color are stories worth reading and the world is better served by sharing them.

The BlackLit Book Fair is free to attend and open to the public. The Volta Space is located behind 116 Person St. in downtown Fayetteville.

For more information about the BlackLit Book Fair, visit https://www.wearethearts.com/blackculture.

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