High School Highlights

NCHSAA adopts policy on transgender and home-schooled students

20schoolTwo complex issues, the athletic status of transgender students and allowing home-schooled students to play for public school teams, were addressed at the May 1 spring meeting of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors in Chapel Hill.

On the subject of transgender athletes, the NCHSAA ruled that when the gender an athlete identifies with differs from the one listed on his or her birth certificate, the student must submit a Gender Identity Request Form to the NCHSAA.

The form lists a variety of supporting information the student must provide to the NCHSAA, which will refer the matter to the Gender Identity Committee for consideration. That committee will include a member of the current NCHSAA Board of Directors, a school administrator, and a physician and a psychiatrist or psychologist with credentials in the area of gender identity health.

Home-schooled students will be allowed to participate in athletics with the school located in the district where they live. They must provide notice to the school principal 10 days before the first practice of the sport in which they wish to participate. They must also provide documentation on such things as attendance, immunization and transcripts before being allowed to play for a high school team.

East Bladen High School’s Patty Evers attended her final NCHSAA board meeting May 1. Evers has represented Region 4 for the last four years. The region includes Fayetteville and surrounding counties.

“I think we moved in a positive direction,’’ Evers said of the announcements on both transgender athletes and home-schooled athletes.

Evers thinks the new language added to the NCHSAA Handbook for the 2019-20 school year is a good starting point. “Like everything else, there will be tweaks along the way,’’ she said.

Speaking specifically about the transgender issue, Evers said she knows there are transgender athletes in some parts of the state and that their parents have questions.

“It’s something we needed to do,’’ she said. Other action taken by the board at last Wednesday’s meeting included the following:

• Wilson, the official ball of the NCHSAA, will be used in all playoff competition for volleyball, soccer, football, basketball, softball, baseball and tennis. Schools that don’t use the Wilson ball will be penalized for illegal equipment.

• An increase in fees for officials for five percent will be established every four years starting with the 2020-21 school year.

• Baseball and softball teams can play doubleheaders with both games lasting five innings, subject to mutual agreement.

• Wrestlers can take part in two tournaments per day. But there are limits. They can’t exceed any weekly limitations. The two tournaments must be on the same day. Only varsity wrestlers can do this, and only a maximum of three times per season.

• An annual girls wrestling state tournament was approved. The NCHSAA held its first-ever all-girls wrestling tournament this past season on a trial basis. It drew more than 80 female wrestlers from across the state.

Cape Fear, Pine Forest’s Hopkins, prevail in golf

19Josiah HopkinsA year ago, Pine Forest’s Josiah Hopkins had his worst round of the regular season in the final match and fell short of winning the Patriot Athletic Conference individual golf championship. Cape Fear boys golf coach Todd Edge entered this season with a young team that included no seniors as he tried to rebound from a second-place finish to Pine Forest last year.

Both Hopkins and the Cape Fear team found the answers last week during the final regular season conference match at Baywood Golf Club.

Hopkins shot a final round 74 at Baywood to win both the weekly tournament and the regular season title. It was his lowest round of the season.

The Cape Fear team completed a sweep of the seven regular-season matches, shooting a 326 on its home course at Baywood.

“I think one of the main reasons I blew up last year was my mindset wasn’t in the right place,’’ Hopkins said. “I guess you could say my chances were pretty good, but when push comes to shove, I just wanted to have fun this year and give all the glory to God.”

Hopkins didn’t feel any one part of his physical game made a big difference for him this year. “I don’t hit the ball that far,’’ he said. “I don’t hit the ball that straight. I’m not the best chipper, and I don’t make the most putts.

“Frankly, there are better golfers in our conference than me. The only thing that separates me from the rest is keeping a good attitude when I hit the bad shots.’’

Hopkins feels last Monday’s win gives him some momentum entering postseason competition in the regionals and possibly the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state tournament if he or the Pine Forest team manages to qualify.

“I hope I qualify for the states,’’ he said. “That’s been my goal for this season.’’

Edge said his team entered this year leaning on the play of junior Colton Danks. “He was the most experienced player coming back,’’ Edge said. “He didn’t have a good sophomore season.’’

Freshmen Austin White and Mason Starling contributed to the Colt effort in some tournaments this year. Edge also got some good rounds from Luke McCorquodale and Alex Benbenek.

“We didn’t have the best player every match, but we had four consistent players every match,’’ Edge said. He said he could count on two or three players shooting in the 80 to 85 range every match. Danks turned in a 76 at Baywood last week, his lowest round of the regular season.

“We played well off each other,’’ Danks said of the Cape Fear team. “We had each other’s backs, and we knew what we were capable of.’’

Playing the final match of the regular season at Baywood, Cape Fear’s home course, was also a boost, Danks said. “That’s something we looked forward to, that we could finish up at home, having all our parents there to see us win,’’ he said.

If Cape Fear survives the regional tournament, Danks thinks the Colts could challenge for a top five finish in the NCHSAA championship match.

“There is going to be a bunch of higher level competition, but I believe we could give it a run,’’ he said. “We are going to have to play with a more defined strategy than we’ve had all year. We’re going to have to be confident and believe in our abilities for us to do well in the postseason.’’

Here is the Patriot Athletic All-Conference golf team, which is based on order of finish in the regular season. Coach of the year was based on a vote of the head coaches.

Player of the year: Josiah Hopkins, Pine Forest

Coach of the year: Todd Edge, Cape Fear

First team: Josiah Hopkins, Pine Forest; Max Canada, Terry Sanford; Colton Danks, Cape Fear; Spencer Barbour, Terry Sanford; Luke McCorquodale, Cape Fear; Austin White, Cape Fear.

Second team: Hunter Cole, Gray’s Creek; Walker Shearin, Pine Forest; Mason Starling, Cape Fear; Alex Benbenek, Cape Fear; Chandler Parker, South View.

Dampier scores double win at Carver track meet

15Tiffany DampierWhen transfer student Tiffany Dampier first came out for track at Seventy-First High School, coach Jay Jackson wanted to make her into a runner.

“Just looking at her, she looked like a runner,’’ said Jackson, a 2001 Seventy- First graduate. “I didn’t know she did field events.’’ He soon learned she did them exceptionally well.

Dampier, a sophomore who came to Seventy-First from El Paso, Texas, was the only winner of two individual events, male or female, in the 20th annual William Carver Invitational Track Meet held recently at Reid Ross Classical High School’s John Daskal Stadium.

Dampier, who has been competing in the shot put and the discus since she was in eighth grade, won the shot with a throw of 35 feet, 1.5 inches, a personal best. 

Her winning throw in the discus was 113-2.5.

Jackson said his strength in coaching track and field is in the running events, so with the field events like shot and discus, he tries to focus on making sure his athletes have the right form and that they have fun.

“She needs to have fun,’’ Jackson said. “She’s real hard on herself. Once she started having fun, she started increasing her throws every week.’’

Dampier said a coach in El Paso first introduced her to both the shot and the discus. She finds the shot more of a relaxing event, although adding it requires her to focus.

Dampier thinks she can have fun and be serious about the sport at the same time. “My seriousness comes from my dedication and leadership in the sport,’’ she said. “Not only can we have fun, we can put in the work too.’’

Her favorite event is the discus, which she describes as being more free-flowing. She feels there’s more pressure in the shot because you throw it a shorter distance and there’s more weight involved.

She doesn’t think athletes who compete in shot and discus can be placed in any particular body type. “Not all throwers have a particular size or appearance,’’ she said. “I’ve been with girls who were taller and skinnier. I don’t take it personally.’’

Jackson said Dampier’s performance in the shot at the Carver meet was a surprise because it was her personal best. He thinks she has a shot to be competitive at the state and regional levels in both events, but he feels her best chance of winning will be in the discus.

“If she has fun, she’s going to win,’’ he said.

Dampier thinks she’s got a fair chance, but she’s not trying to get her expectations up too high. “There are different divisions and competition I haven’t seen,’’ she said. “I’m going to keep pushing myself and continue to enjoy the sport.’’

Photo: Tiffany Dampier

Scholar Athletes of the Week

16Nyielah NickNyielah Nick

Seventy-First • Basketball • Junior

Nick has a 3.9 grade point average. In addition to playing basketball for the Falcons, she participates in Find-A-Friend with Fayetteville Urban Ministry and the Student 2 Student organization, which welcomes incoming military students to their new school.


17Trenton Finley copyTrenton Finley

Jack Britt • Soccer, lacrosse • Senior

Finley has a weighted grade point average of 4.36. During soccer season, he recorded three assists for the Buccaneer soccer team.

Allen bids Buie farewell in Buie’s final game as umpire

14Brad AllenNeil BuieBrad Allen will begin his fifth year as a referee in the National Football League this fall. He’s one of a select group of full-time officials working for the NFL. But when he learned his old friend and mentor Neil Buie was pondering retirement as the regional supervisor of baseball and softball officials for the Southeastern Athletic Officials Association, Allen wanted to honor Buie by joining him on the field to call a final game together.

It happened April 22, on the second day of the annual Bulldog Invitational Baseball Tournament at Terry Sanford High School.

The Bulldogs faced South Caldwell in the day’s final game. Allen registered as a baseball official with the SAOA so he could call the game behind the plate while Buie worked as the field umpire.

Buie said the final hurrah with him and Allen calling together just kind of happened. “I was talking to Brad about this being my last year, and he told me, ‘if you’re going to retire, I’m going to register. Because when you go out, I want to be on your staff.’’’

Allen and Buie have been working together since 1989, calling some 150 games at the high school, college and American Legion level. They’ve called multiple state championship events.

Allen described his relationship with Buie as being like family. “I got started in high school baseball at 19 with Neil and Leon Maynor, my mentor in Robeson County who is no longer with us,’’ Allen said. “This is very, very special to me to work with someone who taught me so much.’’

Allen recalled some of the great baseball umpires he’d worked with in addition to Buie, men like Angus Watson, Jimmy Ratley, Charlie Council and Mike Parnell.

He recalled Buie taught him about the six things you’re there to do in a baseball game: Fair, foul, safe, out, ball, strike. There were also things like character, mechanics, philosophy and hustle.

“All of those things epitomize what Neil Buie has meant to me,’’ Allen said. “But away from the field, it’s also a lot of life lessons about how to be a man, how to be a good father.’’

Buie said he was encouraged to get into officiating by a college classmate, when he realized his days as a player were ending.

“My first game ever was with Greenville Parks and Recreation,’’ Buie said. That was in 1967. He’s been hooked on it ever since.

One of Buie’s most memorable nights of officiating took place at a game where he wasn’t even scheduled to work. It was in the late 1980s, and the Fayetteville Generals minor league baseball team had just started operation.

J.P. Riddle Stadium, the team’s eventual home, wasn’t finished when the regular season began, so the Generals played their first few games at what is now Arnette Park on old Highway 87. The game had to be played in the afternoon because the lights at the baseball field didn’t meet South Atlantic League standards.

Buie was a spectator in the stands when the late Calvin Koonce, general manager of the Generals, called him down to the field.

The umpires hadn’t been told about the switch in game time and weren’t there. Could Buie call the game behind the plate?

They scrounged up umpiring gear for him, found someone else in the stands to call bases, and off they went.

During the game, the base umpire and the manager of the Asheville Tourists got into a heated argument about a call, and the base umpired ejected the Asheville manager.

He initially refused to leave the field. Then, Buie walked up and said he’d give him 60 seconds to leave or he’d forfeit the game. The manager told Buie he couldn’t do that. Buie replied, “You’re down to 45 seconds. It’s up to you.’’

He left. Buie said Fayetteville won 10-9 in 10 innings. His pay for the day was some tickets to future Generals games.

When the current baseball and softball season ends, Buie will step down as regional supervisor but will continue in a similar role in football. He said he may return to umpire again, if his health will allow it, but that’s a decision he’s yet to make.

Buie said he’d been pondering giving up the regional supervisor role because the weather has been so bad the last few years, especially this one. He estimates that leading up to the Easter break this season, he’s had to reschedule officials some 400 times because of the weather.

“When the weather’s 75 degrees and the sun’s shining, it’s pretty easy to do what I do,’’ Buie said. “But when it rains three days out of five, it makes it very difficult and makes for long hours.’’

Buie said his biggest thrill over the years is seeing young officials like Allen come out of high school and college and develop into good officials. “The training part is what I’ll miss the most,’’ he said.

He’s especially proud of an official like Allen who has risen to the highest level of officiating as a fulltime NFL referee. “I’m so proud of Brad and what he’s done,’’ Buie said. “If I had some very small part in it, even better.

“It’s my belief that whether Brad had chosen baseball, basketball or football, he could have reached the highest of professional levels in any sport.’’

Photo: Brad Allen (left) and Neil Buie (right) called their last baseball game together April 23. Photo credit: Ken Kassens

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