High School Highlights

Girls club lacrosse program helps sport grow locally

21 lacrosse Wes Davis is on a mission to get young women to put down their smartphones and trade them in on a lacrosse stick.

“Girls lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport for high schools around the United States for four years in a row,’’ he said.

His love for the sport led him to approach the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department eight years ago to ask them to start a lacrosse program.
“They said they were starting but only had four or five girls sign up,’’ Davis said.

So he went on a recruiting mission to elementary and church league basketball teams.

Davis feels girls’ lacrosse shares common ground with the sport of basketball, calling it more of a finesse game and less physical than boys’ lacrosse.
“We use the same skill set as basketball and soccer,’’ Davis said. “We run set plays. We run zone defense. We do the pick and roll.’’

Davis wound up with 19 girls that first year who agreed to give lacrosse a try. Two years later he began the Fayetteville Flames club lacrosse team for girls.

“It was a way for girls playing in the spring to play in the summer and the fall,’’ he said.

Through his work with the Flames, offseason opportunities for girls have continued to grow.

Last spring he had about 135 girls involved in his program.

The spinoff is visible in the local high schools as Cape Fear, Terry Sanford and Jack Britt have girls’ teams. Davis said Fayetteville Academy is planning to field a girls’ team this year.

Meanwhile, Davis is continuing plans to offer offseason opportunities for lacrosse players. His Flames program will conduct a short season in the summer, from around May 7 to June 7. That will be followed by a more extensive program during the fall, which will run from around August 24th until Nov. 1st.

In the meantime, both high school and recreational lacrosse are getting set to start up for the spring, with the program at the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department and the local high schools fielding teams scheduled to kickoff this week on Thursday, Feb. 13. “They provide the equipment for you, which is pretty awesome,’’ Davis said of the recreation program.

Interested athletes at the high schools with teams should contact the school athletic director or lacrosse coach. Anyone interested in the parks and recreation program should call the lacrosse director, Robert Corzette, at 910-433-1393.

Davis said one of the biggest challenges in growing the sport locally is finding good coaches, but they’ve been helped in that effort by Fort Bragg, where a number of people with experience playing and coaching the sport are stationed.

He also said the lacrosse program at Methodist University has been supportive of the local club program.

Davis said the recreation department program is especially important because it exposes the girls to competition from established lacrosse areas in the state like Pinehurst, Raleigh, Apex and Holly Springs.

He hopes more girls will take part in the sport and see it as a possible avenue to a free college education. “We’ve had a lot of girls get college scholarships,’’ Davis said, noting that seven girls from the Flames program are competing at either the Division I, II or III level.

One of them is Davis’ daughter, Mattie Davis, who signed with Jacksonville University, a traditional women’s lacrosse power. Jacksonville was 17-4 last year, won the Atlantic Sun Conference and qualified for the NCAA tournament.
Davis has scored 104 goals in her career at Terry Sanford with one season left.

Friday college football extends its reach this season

20 Football genericTwitter can be a wonderful thing, especially when you heed the advice of Coach Herman Edwards, one of my heroes, and don’t press send before you transmit something ignorant into cyberspace.

One of the best ways Twitter is helpful is as an archive to record statements and promises people have made in the past to see if they’ve lived up to them.

It was just five years ago in late January when the Atlantic Coast Conference released its 2015 football schedule. I happened to save a portion of the press release from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association on Twitter, when that schedule included Friday night college games going head to head with high school football.

Here is what the statement said:

“At the NCHSAA we believe Friday nights should be reserved for high school football as the tradition has been for a long time. The ACC has indicated this should not be a regular occurrence, but there are contractual obligations out of our influence and control. We will maintain our focus and hope fans, parents and supporters of high school football will continue to attend local games on Friday nights in the fall.’’

Fast forward to late January this year, when the ACC released the 2020 football schedule.

Let’s quickly examine that second sentence. “The ACC has indicated this should not be a regular occurrence, but there are contractual obligations out of our influence and control.’’

Why am I immediately getting an image of Pinocchio with the growing nose from the insurance commercials?

On the 2020 ACC schedule, from Friday, Sept 4. until Friday, Nov. 27, there are eight Friday night football games. That includes a doubleheader on Friday, Sept. 4, and six games that will take place during the thick of the regular season.

Most people have given up on fighting the Friday college football trend, saying it’s a lost cause and that the colleges will never walk away from all that money and exposure.
I’m not among them. Neither, fortunately, are some of the college football coaches.

One who has spoken out frequently against the Friday night games is the University of North Carolina’s Mack Brown. As soon as it was announced his Tar Heels will host North Carolina State on Friday, Nov. 27, Brown issued a statement saying he disagreed with playing college football on Friday nights and is lobbying for that game to be scheduled for an afternoon kickoff so it won’t interfere with the state playoff games that will be held that evening.

Other people who’ve given up, including many in the media, tell me I’m complaining for no reason. I heard some talking heads on a regional radio show say they didn’t see college games on Friday having much impact on high school football. They noted with the advance of technology you can easily watch a college game on a mobile device while you sit in the stands at a high school game.

That may be true in some locations, but not everywhere. I’ve been to a few high school stadiums in my day, and most of them didn’t have the benefit of free Wi-Fi for everyone to plug in and use their smartphones without draining the data they’ve purchased.

I bet that’s especially true in the rural areas of the state where small, unsuccessful football schools count heavily on every dime they get from gate receipts when people come to the game to watch.

Yes, diehard fans are going to show up for high school games. I won’t argue that. But high school football pays the way for the entire athletic program at a lot of schools, and it needs every walkup ticket from casual fans it can get.

Throw in an inviting college game on TV on Friday nights, add some inclement weather, and it’s likely going to hurt everybody’s gate.

College football coaches have some clout, and I beg them to make use of it. Band together. Don’t let voices like Mack Brown and a few others be the only ones out there in the wilderness with me complaining this is wrong.

Reach out to your boosters, your alumni, your average fan, and preach to them that this dog does not hunt and it’s time for the NCAA to stop desecrating the rich tradition of Friday night high school football with the college brand.

Let’s give Friday nights back to the high school coaches and players.

Whenever the Fayetteville Sports Club announces its newest Hall of Fame Class, after the congratulations are handed out, one of the first things I hear is, “Why is so and so not in the Hall of Fame?’’

The best answer I can give is they likely haven’t been nominated. The committee that picks the Hall of Fame members is not omniscient and doesn’t have a crystal ball that shows every viable candidate when it sits down to vote.

If anyone has a candidate in mind that should be considered, nominations are welcome, but it should be much more than an email saying this person deserves to be chosen. Anyone who’d like to nominate someone for the Hall of Fame can send the information to me at earlucwsports@gmail.com and I’ll forward it to the committee.

Please include as much background information on the candidate as you can, including major athletic accomplishments, providing documentation for why the individual should be chosen.

This year’s class will be honored on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m. at Highland Country Club. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by contacting Ashley Petroski at Nobles and Pound Financial at 1315 Fort Bragg Road. The number is 910-323-9195.

Members of the class are Melanie Grooms-Garrett, Neil Buie, Brent Sexton, Roy McNeill, Jimmy Edwards Jr. and Bob Spicer Sr.

Woolford, Harvey honored with Hall of Fame induction

Two former Douglas Byrd High School football standouts have been honored with induction into major sports halls of fame.

Former Eagle Donnell Woolford has been selected for induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in Raleigh while Earl “Air” Harvey has been picked to be inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia. The two were high school teammates at Byrd in the early 1980s and helped form the foundation of an Eagle program that would play for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4-A football championship five times during the 1980s and 1990s.
Here is some background information on both inductees.

17 01 donnell woolfordDonnell Woolford
Woolford called his selection to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame a humbling experience and a great honor.

A native of Dunn, Woolford toured the world with his military family before returning to Fayetteville to play high school football at Douglas Byrd under Bob Paroli.
Byrd was the final stop in a long coaching career for Paroli that started at Benson in 1958. At one point, Paroli was the winningest high school football coach in North Carolina history. During his career, he coached in three North Carolina All-Star games, the East-West coaches game, the Shrine Bowl and the former North-South game sponsored by the North Carolina Jaycees.

 “I was proud to be an Eagle and under the mentorship of Coach Bob Paroli,’’ Woolford said. “He was a great coach. He stayed on you and made sure you did the right thing.’’

Woolford called Paroli the support and foundation of his career.

Woolford was a standout running back during his playing days at Byrd, but when he arrived at Clemson University in 1985, he decided to switch to defensive back. Woolford was personally recruited to come to Clemson by former Tiger head coach Danny Ford, who led Clemson to the school’s first national championship in college football in 1981.

Woolford was twice chosen to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team, helping Clemson win three ACC championships.

In addition, he was a second team All-American and a consensus All-American in his final two years with the Tigers. He finished his career with 10 interceptions. Also a punt returner, he averaged 15.5 yards per return and scored two touchdowns in 1987.

In Woolford’s final three seasons at Clemson, the Tigers compiled a record of 28-6-2. They finished in the top 10 in the national college football rankings in 1987 and 1988.
Upon graduation, he was the No. 11 overall selection in the 1989 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears. Woolford was attending a family cookout when he got the call confirming he was drafted from Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Mike Ditka.

Woolford spent 10 years in the NFL, nine with the Bears and one with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Woolford was chosen to the Pro Bowl in 1993 and named All-Pro in 1994.

He once owned the Bears’ record for interceptions by a cornerback with 36. He also was credited with 603 tackles.

As part of the NFL’s observance of the league’s 100th anniversary, the Bears selected their top 100 players of all time. Woolford made the list
at No. 78.

Woolford and the rest of this year’s North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame selections will be officially inducted on Friday, May 1, at the Raleigh Convention Center.

17 02 Earl HarveyEarl Harvey

This is the second hall of fame that Harvey, another former Douglas Byrd standout, has been chosen to. He was previously picked for the CIAA Hall of Fame in 2016.
Harvey played his college football at North Carolina Central University. It was while he was there he earned the nickname “Air” for his prowess as a passer.

He was a four-time first-team All-CIAA pick at quarterback from 1985-88.

In 1985, he was the first rookie quarterback in the history of the CIAA to throw for more than 3,000 yards.

For his performance he was chosen to the Black College Sports All-American second team. He was also named the Black College Sports Freshman of the year, completing 188 of 392 passes. He threw for 22 touchdowns and ran for seven more.

Harvey set records for NCCU, the CIAA and NCAA Division II. His marks included 690 career completions, 10,621 passing yards, 10,667 career total offensive yards and 86 career touchdown passes.

In all, Harvey broke 15 NCAA Division II career records and held eight NCAA Division II single-season records.

Twice during his college career at North Carolina Central, Harvey was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Award, which recognizes the NCAA Division II football player of the year. He finished third in the voting for the award in 1988 and fifth in 1986.

In 1988, he was chosen as an American Football Coaches Association All-American. He led North Carolina Central to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Harvey and the rest of the 2020 Black College Football Hall of Fame class will be inducted on Feb. 22 at the College Football Hall of Fame in
Atlanta, Georgia.

Scholar athletes of the week: 2/05/20

18 01 abby carson Abby Carson
Terry Sanford • Bowling/Track• Senior

Carson has a grade point average of 4.21. She is a starter on the Terry Sanford bowling team. She plans to attend Fayetteville State to study nursing and participate in track and field. 

 

 

18 02 joannaJoana Ferreira
Terry Sanford • Swimming• Senior
Ferreira has a grade point average of 4.4. She ranks 19th in the senior class and was a marshal in 2019. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Academy of Scholars and Global Studies. She has more than 300 hours of community service and is active at her church. She took part in the AP Capstone Program at Terry Sanford. She plans to attend East Carolina University and pursue a degree in nursing.

Female wrestling participation on rise in county high schools

16 01 pine forest wrestlersParticipation by females in the sport of high school wrestling is on the rise nationally as well as in Cumberland County.

A check with Cumberland County Schools athletic directors revealed there are 15 female wrestlers competing on varsity teams in the county this year with only E.E. Smith and South View reporting no females on their wrestling teams.

The schools with the biggest turnout of females this season are Pine Forest with four and Jack Britt with three.

Coaches Byron Sigmon of Jack Britt and Charles Daniels of Pine Forest both encourage females to take part in 16 02 britt wrestlers copythe sport at their schools.

“I’m recruiting everybody, especially now that women’s wrestling has taken off in North Carolina,’’ Daniels said.

Last year, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association held its first state wrestling championship tournament solely for female wrestlers. The second one is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 8, at Carolina Courts in Concord.

Sigmon, who sometimes tries to recruit female wrestlers from his weightlifting class, said he’s noticed an increase in participation in the sport by females from the upper weight classes.

Last year, a Jack Britt wrestler, Madajah Trapier, won the 152-pound state title in the first NCHSAA women’s wrestling tournament. The school awarded her a state championship ring.

“That kind of opened the eyes of a good many girls on our team and in our school,’’ Sigmon said.

Talking to the various girls from Cumberland County who are involved in wrestling, it’s clear they have a variety of reasons for giving the
sport a try.

Andrea Moore is a 113-pound sophomore in her second year with the Buccaneers. She doesn’t want boys to think the sport is just for males. “It’s for anybody,’’ she said.
Adria Bell, a 138-pound sophomore at Britt, is the sister of former Buccaneer star Erick Martinez.

She said a lot of older women come up to her at matches and tell her they wish they had had the opportunity to try wrestling when they were in high school.
“Whenever I get on the mat, I’m nervous,’’ she said. “It’s teammates supporting and motivating you that helps. We can all relate to it more.’’

Diandra Tejada brings an unusual skill set to the wrestling mat. She’s in the lowest weight class, 106 pounds. The Jack Britt newcomer just moved in from Texas and is a cheerleader, dancer and singer. She also runs track and competes in weightlifting.

One of the things that strikes her most is how small the wrestling community is, probably because the sport is so challenging.

“The physical part has been extremely demanding and a lot different from anything I’ve ever done,’’ she said. “I make sure I’m eating right and taking care of myself mentally and physically.’’

Her goals whenever she gets on the mat are simple. “I just do my best to wrestle as hard as I can, so I can step off the mat and be proud of myself,’’ she said.

At Pine Forest, Anamaria Bailey is the veteran among the female contingent. A senior in the 170 pound class, this is her fourth year on the Trojan wrestling team. She comes from a unique athletic background, participating in rugby before she switched to wrestling.

She admits it was awkward when she started wrestling as a freshman, being the only female on the team.

“There was always a stigma and there’s always going to be one regardless of the changing times,’’ she said. “There were always people asking questions and making weird faces. I never let it bother me.’’

Bailey understands the natural curiosity but she’s glad the sport is becoming more inclusive.

“I’m happy to have my girl teammates, just as much as I am for the boys to be here,’’ she said.

Like Bailey, teammate Jewel Arrowsmith, a 126-pound sophomore, brings an interesting background to the sport. She’s a gymnast, who took up wrestling after her brother became a member of the team.

Like most of the females, Arrowsmith said she has to overcome a lack of strength against most male opponents by emphasizing technique. “Day by day I get better,’’ she said. “I would definitely like to place in the women’s state tournament. I look forward to having a medal.’’

Another Pine Forest wrestler, Kahala Bandmann, a 138-pound junior, also followed her brother into the sport. A soccer player, she’s convinced her work in wrestling will help her to be in excellent shape when soccer season for girls starts in the spring.

She said she tries to overcome any shortcomings with strength by outthinking her opponents, but admits that can be hard. “You get carried away when you’re in the moment,’’ she said. “You have to stay focused.’’

That focus includes not being caught up in the fact she’s facing a male opponent on the mat most of the time. “Your goal is just to beat them,’’ she said. “You’re not thinking about how close you are to a guy or anything else that goes through your head.’’

Hailie Misplay, a 132-pound freshman, plays softball and feels wrestling is helping her get stronger and improve her power at the plate.

She knows most of the males she faces will be stronger than she is, but that’s not something that she worries about. “I have to be smarter, quicker and out-technique them to beat them,’’ she said.

As for the future of the sport, most of the girls feel that participation by females is only going
to increase.

“If they see more girls are going out to wrestle, it’s like a trend,’’ Bell said. “One starts, then more come. It’s a domino effect.’’

Top picture from L-R: Anamaria Bailey, Jewel Arrowsmith, Kahala Bandmann and Hailie Misplay.

Bottom picture from L-R L-R Adria Bell, Diandra Tejada, Andrea Moore.

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