Don’t penalize student-athletes

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 9, 2007

Between Saturday’s edition and today’s newspaper, we have released our fourth annual All-Roanoke-Chowan Basketball Teams.

It was one of the first things that I added when I came here. Well, I say added, but I believe former Sports Editor Stephen Dunn did it first. It had been absent for a couple of years when I returned, however, and we started it again.

I was pleased to be part of a group that brought the team back and made it a consistent part of the newspaper.

One of the reasons it is so much fun for me is seeing the group together as they have their picture taken with fellow athletes who they may have only seen in the pages of this newspaper before.

When we got our teams together last week, Joe Mizelle, who is the boy’s Coach of the Year, said he would take on anyone in the state if he could have our seven first team selections. It is a sentiment that has been shared by other coaches in the past.

Both the boy’s and girl’s teams were talented this year. The boy’s team is perhaps the most talented top to bottom in the four years we’ve put it together.

There were a few hiccups in the process this year and while I’ll take the blame for some of them, I had no part in others and I will at least share with you why some things happened.

This is the first year that there are no players from Northampton County High School n East on the squad. This isn’t because of lack of effort on our part, but poor communication which has become typical of the athletic program at East.

I called the school and left multiple messages. I even spoke with administrators who tried to help me. Alas, there were no nominations made from the school and we vote on the nominations that are submitted to us.

I was saddened that Northampton-East did not nominate any players. It is the second time this year as they also did not return phone calls for the All-Roanoke-Chowan Football Team.

Many of you may also have noticed that the girl’s team on the sports front page of Saturday’s edition had none of the players from Bertie High School. That is because the administration n not the athletic administration, but the school administration n refused to allow the students to take part in our photograph.

The parents of the two Bertie boys who made the team chose to bring the students on their own and I am very grateful for that.

Bertie girl’s coach Alice Lyons-Bennett brought her ladies (and there were five of them) that made the team to my office to have their picture taken a day later. She didn’t have to do that and I’m grateful for her effort to get her team members recognized.

I don’t know why Bertie High School decided after four years they wouldn’t allow their kids to be part of the photograph. We’ve taken the picture at the same place at the same time all four years. I was disappointed to say the least.

The school has the opportunity for its student-athletes to be selected to one all-area team and that is this one. They had kids who made the team, but obviously didn’t find the honor to their young people worthy of having them come to a photo session that was only 25 minutes away.

I’ve had a good working relationship with both the athletic and overall administration of Bertie High School for the four years I’ve been in this job. I want that to continue, but I was very disappointed with their lack of concern for the honor paid to their student-athletes. Those athletes deserved better.

On the flip side, I was thankful to Doug Cobbs (Ridgecroft), Charles Simmons (Hertford County), Edith Williford (Bethel), Jay Conn (Ahoskie Christian), Joella Brown (Northeast) and Robert Kravitz (Lawrence) for making sure their student-athletes were able to participate in this honor.

Those athletic directors took seriously having their student-athletes recognized and I appreciate it. I believe the student-athletes and their parents do as well.

Questions? Comments? Snide remarks? All are welcome.

You can reach me at or call me at 332-7211.

Be careful out there and be good sports.