High School Highlights

Austin Warren’s baseball career put on hold by COVID-19

20 Astin WarrenAustin Warren arrived in Tempe, Arizona, at the Los Angeles Angels minor league baseball spring training camp in February anxious to continue working on his dream of making it to the major leagues.

But after a few weeks working out with the other early arrivals, and almost the same time as his mother Alana Hix and other relatives arrived to watch him play spring training games, minor league baseball joined the rest of the sports world in shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now back in Fayetteville, the Terry Sanford High School and UNC-Wilmington product is working out three days a week and waiting like everyone else in minor league baseball to find out what the future holds, both for the sport in general and his career.

Warren started 2019 with the Inland Empire advanced Class A team in San Bernardino, California, then he was briefly assigned to the Mobile Bay Class AA team in Alabama. He was in Mobile long enough to compile a 1-2 record with a 2.57 earned run average, walking nine batters and striking out 14.

Team assignments for the aborted 2020 minor league season weren’t to be made until near the end of spring training, but Warren said he expected he would have been sent to Los Angeles’ new Class AA near Huntsville, Alabama, the Rocket City Trash Pandas.

Even after the season was canceled, Warren hoped to stay in Tempe and get in some more workouts, but while hiking there with family a couple of days after the season was halted, Warren got the word from team officials that nobody could stay behind and everyone had to return to their homes.

Since coming back to Fayetteville, Warren has divided his time between here and his old college haunts in Wilmington, while working out locally to stay in shape and keep his pitching as honed as much as possible.

During his brief time in Arizona this year, he did get to do some bullpen work as well as throw live batting practice against some of the Angels’ major league players.

He said coaches from the Angels have been in regular contact with him since he came home, checking on his health and conditioning.

As for what will happen next with minor league baseball, Warren said he’s just as much in the dark as everyone else.

“I’m hoping they will start some kind of fall league like I was in last year,’’ Warren said. “I’m sure winter ball teams will reach out to people. You never know what’s going on with this virus. You’ve got to play it by ear.’’

Warren said the formula for advancing further in the sport is simple. “You’ve got to throw strikes, pound the zone and like everyone says trust your defense,’’ he said. Warren feels he’s improved all of his pitches and has the confidence to throw any pitch in any situation.

“I just can’t wait to get back with the guys and get things rolling again,’’ he said.

Pictured: Austin Warren

Trey Edge, Terry Sanford radio voice, talks about concerns for return to football this fall

19 Trey EdgeLike everyone else who considers themselves a fan of high school football, Trey Edge is trying to stay optimistic that the powers that be making decisions about whether the sport will be played this fall in North Carolina are looking into all the options possible for safely returning coaches and athletes to the practice and playing fields.

But at the same time, the radio voice of Terry Sanford High School football broadcasts is realistic enough to know the COVID-19 pandemic presents an array of challenges to everyone involved that is difficult to sort through.

“The kids’ health comes first,’’ said Edge, who was a quarterback himself during his high school days at his alma mater Terry Sanford. “It’s also an issue of how do you test everybody. It’s a money thing.’’

He added that’s the big difference between football at the professional, college and high school levels. Both the NFL and college football have deeper pockets to afford the expensive testing that COVID-19 requires. High schools don’t have that luxury, without considerable outside assistance that’s not readily available.

That’s ironic because high school football is the major source of revenue for schools to support the entire athletic program. “The fear is we don’t get to play this fall,’’ Edge said. “The bigger fear is that these kids are okay. It’s a lot of responsibility for the county and the coaches.’’

As a former player, Edge has memories of what a high school locker room is like. He agrees with Pine Forest football coach Bill Sochovka, who recently compared working with a football team like the environment of a petri dish where bacteria is grown and studied for experiments.

“It sounds barbaric to talk about it but it’s sweat and it’s dirt,’’ Edge said of the atmosphere in a locker room after both a practice and
a game.

“Preventing that spread from even starting is a big problem. I think you have to go into it with wide eyes and know someone, somewhere is going to test positive. Then what happens when they do?’’

Edge said a bubble like the NBA, WNBA and NHL are using is out of the question for high school sports, adding that coaches and athletic directors will have to be especially creative in finding a solution to the problem.
As a starting point, he said it’s critical everyone continues what’s being done: masks, social distancing and washing of hands.

While some coaches have pushed for a return to practice, saying we need to accept the disease for what it is and just be as safe as we can in spite of it, Edge said the safety of the athletes has to remain the top concern.

“I can understand the desperation,’’ Edge said. “It’s a moving target. We miss football, but can you find a way to do it?’’

Pictured: Trey Edge

Track star Davis shares motivational advice in book

14 demetriabookDemetria Washington Davis will be forever remembered as one of the most decorated track and field athletes in Cumberland County history.
At the 1998 North Carolina High School Athletic Association state indoor track meet, Davis won the 55, 300 and 500 meter dashes, scoring enough points by herself to earn the Terry Sanford team second place in the meet.

Unfortunately, because she was the only Bulldog entry in the event, she wasn’t allowed to take home the prize for second since she didn’t officially constitute a team.

Washington also won the NCHSAA outdoor 400 meter title twice, along with single titles in the 100 and 200 meters.

She continued her brilliance in college at the University of South Carolina, where she made school history by earning NCAA All-American honors 21 times and capturing six NCAA national titles.

She was the 2002 National Indoor Athlete of the Year, and in 2003 won a gold medal running in the 4x400 meter relay in the World Championships.

Now Davis has decided to share some of her motivational tips and advice to people of all levels of fitness who want to improve themselves both physically and emotionally.

Davis recently published her first book, "Parallel Fitness: A Champion’s Mindset." It can be purchased on amazon.com or at Washington’s website, getparallelfit.com. Davis will autograph any book purchased directly from her website.

“I’ve known for a few years I wanted to write a book,’’ Davis said. Ironically, this wasn’t the book she had in mind.

Davis leads a busy life and has many interests, from her involvement with fitness to cooking to being a mother and to being a pastor.
She was looking to the future to put together a work that would deal with some of those areas, but instead she found herself straying from consistent workouts and not staying in the kind of shape she enjoyed when she was in competition.

Although friends told her she was in great shape, it wasn’t where Davis wanted to be. So she went on Facebook and began posting regular motivational themes to inspire her to do better.

Those same friends told her she could put together a book using the assorted themes she had shared on Facebook. After looking back from last November until the present, she realized they had a point.

Davis stressed the book is a good motivational tool for anyone, and it doesn’t deal strictly with physical activity. “It’s motivation for so many different areas of your life,’’ she said.

The book is laid out for a 21-day period, and Davis uses a play on words for each day to get her point across about what the motivational focus for that day is.

She recently held a signing for the book that was largely attended by friends and family. She compared the emotions she felt the day of the event to how she used to feel preparing to run a race.

“The most enjoyable part was seeing my family and friends there,’’ Davis said. “They really came out and were so excited.’’
Davis is hopeful her second book will be coming out in August or September of this year. She said it will deal with specific workout strategies, nutrition and some of her recipes.

County athletes hopeful of return to practice

15 CumberlandCountySchoolsNEWlogoBarring any late changes due to the status of COVID-19 cases in Fayetteville and Cumberland County, coaches and athletes from Cumberland County Schools are scheduled to begin off-season workouts on Monday, July 20.

Originally the date to resume practice was July 6, but that was pushed because of concern over COVID-19 locally.

The county and the state are waiting for word from both Gov. Roy Cooper and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association on the status of returning to school this fall and the chance of seeing high school sports resume on either a full or limited basis come August and September.
“Our district is continuing to evaluate when to resume athletic activities,’’ said Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for Cumberland County, in a prepared statement. “Any resumption will be conducted with the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff in mind and in compliance with the NCHSAA’s Reopening of Sports/Activities Summer Guidelines.’’

The county will also be guided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Cumberland County Department of Public Health.

SAAC members react to COVID-19 situation

12 SAACE.J. McArthur and Colin Baumgartner are both students and athletes at Jack Britt High School who have been directly impacted by the statewide shutdown of sports for all athletes at member schools of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

But McArthur, who plays basketball, and Baumgartner, a cross country, track and field and swimming competitor, have a little different perspective on the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having on their peers. McArthur and Baumgartner are the Region IV representatives to the NCHSAA’s Student Advisory Athletic Committee.

The SAAC is made up of 16 athletes representing each of the eight geographical regions of the NCHSAA. In normal times, they travel to the NCHSAA office in Chapel Hill one Sunday each month to discuss topics of importance to the state’s high school athletes.

Though the pandemic has forced McArthur and Baumgartner and their fellow committee members to hold their meetings virtually over the last couple of months, they are still doing the business of the committee while also discussing the challenges of trying to reopen the state to practice and competitive sports by the time the fall season begins.
Barring a late change by the NCHSAA, many of the state’s school systems were scheduled to begin off-season summer workouts on July 6.

As a basketball player, McArthur was among the athletes who was able to complete play for the 2019-20 season, but he empathizes with those who weren’t as fortunate as he was.

“Most people were really devastated when their season ended,’’ he said.

Baumgartner said one of the biggest challenges of not being able to hold structured practices with teammates is developing the discipline to work out alone. “You’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got,’’ he said.

McArthur said many athletes he knows are speaking together daily to encourage each other. Some are holding small group workout sessions, either together or in some cases virtually.

His biggest concern remains that his peers make sure any workouts they are holding are being done with precautions against spreading the virus. “Some kids are just being kids while others are taking precautions,’’ McArthur said.

While no one is happy with not being able to practice or play, Baumgartner thinks most of the people he’s been in contact with are doing the best they can to observe the COVID-19 restrictions in hopes of returning to a more normal order of things as quickly as possible.

"I'm very understanding of what's going on," he said. 

Looking to the fall and hoping for a return to normal competition, McArthur said he agrees with what most people in education have said about a return to athletics. If the students aren’t able to be in the school building on a daily basis, the consensus is that athletic competition shouldn’t be allowed either.

“If we aren’t safe enough to be around each other, what makes sports different?’’ McArthur said. “It’s risk and reward. If we risk it now and things happen, then everything is shut back down. Right now it’s the safety of the kids, coaches and officials.’’

McArthur noted the complicated nature of COVID-19 as a concern, adding
that even people who survive the disease are being diagnosed with various complications. “Kids should take precautions,’’ he said, “if not for themselves,
for their loved ones, the people in their house and everybody else.’’

There has been some discussion of moving some or all fall sports to the spring season, if needed, to allow the COVID-19 curve more time to flatten. Baumgartner sees some benefit in doing that, but added it could also create problems, especially for those athletes who play multiple sports and might have to choose between sports if their favorites were played at the same time.

Baumgartner doesn’t think it would be a good idea to allow some sports where it is easier to practice social distancing to resume while preventing other athletes in sports with greater contact from resuming practice and play.

“I feel that would create a lot of friction between contact and noncontact sports,’’ he said. “We could catch a lot of flak for promoting something like that.’’


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