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OPINON: Remembering those who played

I’m a nostalgic sort of person.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting around with coaches and former players talking about the games of yesteryear.

I had that opportunity again Thursday when Suzanne Jenkins Cook visited the News-Herald office and we spent a few minutes remembering the state title Ridgecroft won in softball during the early 90s.

It’s not the first time I’ve done that recently as I’ve spent time in Tonya Bowen Pitts’ office in Jackson discussing the same subject several times.

The softball state championship was, I believe, the first ever won by the school in any sport. It was one that everyone around the program knew was possible from day one of that season and one that came true because of the hard work and dedication of coaches and players.

In thinking about that year, I started reminiscing about some of the players and games that I’ve covered over the years. As I’ve said before in this space, we all have our favorites n coaches, fans, teachers and even sports writers. All of us try not to let it affect our jobs, but there are certainly some people who have stood out over the years I’ve done this job.

Probably one of my favorites ever was Jenny Blount, now properly Dr. Jenny Blount, who is one of Lawrence’s all-time leading scorers. If anyone has done more stories about Jenny than I have, I don’t know who it would have been. Over the course of doing those stories we became friends and we remain so to this day.

Another of my favorites was Bertie High School’s Travis Darden. Not only did Travis come from Kelford, where I lived, but he was one of the hardest-nosed players I’ve ever covered. He was a great football player and always is one of my favorites.

Along those same lines is Shawn Ricks, the Most Valuable Player of the 1995 Bertie state championship. I helped coach Shawn on Thursday night’s when he played jayvee and I always knew he would be a good one.

Amy Mizell, who I’ll always consider one of my dearest friends, was also one of those who I loved watching play. She was one of the toughest softball players I’ve ever known and never gave less than her best.

There have been so many more along the way including Chad and Brad Stoops, both of whom played at Pungo Christian Academy, Brad White who played at Lawrence Academy, Wagner Ward who played at both Ridgecroft and Northeast and of course Tonya and Suzanne.

Since my return I’ve again had the pleasure of covering some of the best in the area and some who I am proud of the things they have accomplished.

Kathryn Vick and Caitlin Lowe, both of whom played at Ridgecroft, will go down as one of my favorite duos ever and I still miss seeing them play three years later.

LaMarcus Bond who graduated from Hertford County last season is also a kid that I really like and have a special fondness for.

Jennifer Hoggard, who played at Ahoskie Christian School, was and is one of my favorite people. She has a great sense of humor and was a joy to cover when she played.

I’ve also never made a secret about my athletic affection for Catherine Outten, who was one of the best volleyball players Lawrence has ever produced. We maintain our friendship, despite her being in Tennessee.

Last year I lost three players who I’ve always considered as some of my favorites including Jessica Johnston and Lauren Rea of Lawrence Academy and Sarah Beth Greene at Ridgecroft. Those three had been around since I returned to work for the newspaper and covering their schools doesn’t seem the same without them.

There are many of others of course, who have been very special to me over the years and I’ll talk about them at another time.

It is in remembering players like those that I know how enjoyable this job is. There are another group of players out there now that will be leaving in June and I’ll miss them too.

Life moves on, but the times I’ve spent seeing those young people be successful in athletics will always be something special to me.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks?

You can reach me at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or call me at 332-7211.

Be careful out there and be good sports.