Ricks gets national honor

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2006

CONWAY – Ashley Ricks is used to competing.

The Northeast Academy rising sophomore has played on the basketball court and softball field for the Eagles enough to understand competition.

This summer, however, her competitiveness and knowledge of the Bible helped her place second in the United States.

Ricks was number two in the National Invitational Bible Drill after winning the North Carolina drill and the West Chowan Baptist Association drill.

&uot;I was really nervous,&uot; Ricks admitted. &uot;I always get nervous. When I get up there, the butterflies start to go away.&uot;

Ricks competed in the national drill at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama after becoming the third Northampton County person to win the state Bible Drill.

Upon arrival in Birmingham June 8, Ricks spent an entire day working through the rounds of the drill before making the final round.

&uot;My dad told me if I made the final round, he would buy me a car,&uot; Ricks laughed. &uot;So I had extra incentive. I tried hard anyway, but maybe a little harder.&uot;

After competing, Ricks and her family were part of the awards banquet that night. They didn’t know how well she had done until the banquet.

&uot;I was really fast, but I missed one,&uot; she said.

Cindy Ricks, Ashley’s mother, and the person who has been her Bible Drill instructor the entire time she’s competed, said scoring was sometimes subjective.

&uot;You just don’t know how they are going to score,&uot; Cindy Rick said.

&uot;I didn’t know until they called my name,&uot; Ashley added.

When the scoring was done, she finished a single point out of the top spot.

Ricks began training to reach her national prominence when she was in just the second grade, though Bible Drill was not offered for students until they reached the fourth grade.

She was able to participate in church and associational drills in her first two years, but wasn’t eligible for the state drill. In all, Ricks participated in Children’s Bible Drill for five years and spent the last three in Youth Bible Drill.

The road to the nationals was a long one, starting with a church drill at Conway Baptist Church, and then participating in the West Chowan Baptist Association Drill before making the state competition.

One of Ricks’ biggest influences during Bible Drill was Myra Barrett, the caller at the associational drill and the leader at Galatia Baptist Church.

&uot;She has always been my favorite caller because she knows how to keep you calm and always wears her ‘big bunny’ to look at,&uot; Ricks said.

The Bible Drill has three parts: identifying verses, doctrinal drill and the Bible answers drill. Ricks would work on them each Sunday afternoon with her mother, who has been the Bible Drill leader at Conway Baptist for 15 years.

This past year was hard for Ricks, she admitted, because she was the only youth participant in Bible Drill at Conway. Still, she continued to work hard and that paid off.

Ricks’ hard work was recognized by her church recently when they presented a plaque of appreciation for her efforts.

Conway Pastor Willie McLawhorn said, &uot;Needless to say, we’re very proud of Ashley and her accomplishments. She’s a shy person who doesn’t like a lot of accolades, but is able to get in front of people like that and respond very well. She has a spirit of humility.&uot;

The pastor also said he appreciated the hard work of Cindy Ricks as she has now helped bring two state winners from the church and helped train the first national winner.

&uot;Cindy has been instrumental in this work,&uot; McLawhorn said. &uot;I’m very proud of her and what she’s accomplished as well.&uot;

Ashley Ricks is a rising sophomore at Northeast Academy where she is an A student and a member of the National Honor Roll, the National Honor Society and the Beta Club. She is also part of the school’s Bible study and annual staff.

She is the daughter of Phillip and Cindy Ricks of Conway and the granddaughter of Elliott Lee and Lizzie Ricks of Conway and H.D. &uot;Sonny&uot; and Connie Hall of Gates County. Her great-grandmother is Myrtle Harrison of Grandy.