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Chowan football has much to do

There are times when I want to comment about situations in the Roanoke-Chowan region and then there are times when I feel I should.

Sometimes when you are the Sports Editor of the area’s only regional newspaper, it is incumbent upon you to address the issues of the day. Such is the case today.

As I sit at my computer, I’m still not sure exactly what to say about the resignation of Chowan University Head Football Coach Lorick Atkinson. If you’re looking for a National Enquirer type column, you’re wasting your time.

Atkinson resigned Friday for personal reasons and I’m going to respect his privacy and that of his family. And, as Forrest Gump might say, that is all I’m going to say about that.

What I will comment on is the current state of the football program at Chowan. I believe the program is better than it was when Atkinson arrived three years ago. I think he did an admirable job of making slow, but steady strides to make the Hawks better.

There is yet a long way to go.

What will the new coach inherit? The answer to that question is debatable. Some will say he will inherit a program in disarray while others will say it is a program on the rise.

My belief is that the new coach will inherit a program that is somewhere in the middle. It isn’t as bad as it was, but it isn’t a program that is on the verge of breaking out either.

The sad, but honest truth is the program is stuck in stalemate.

Chowan University football is a tough sell. It is for the coaches who are trying to make it better and I imagine it will be when Athletic Director Dennis Helsel tries to sell it to prospective candidates.

The facilities need a tremendous upgrade. While James G. Garrison Stadium looks much better than it did a mere three years ago, there is still much to do. The football offices are not conducive to success and, even though there is a plan in place to fix that, it is still in the future.

I believe the strongest selling point for any prospective coach will come in the form of university president Dr. Chris White and Helsel himself. The two men have made great strides in the funding of the program and the support it receives from the administration.

There is still much to do in the funding area. The Hawks have roughly half the scholarship dollars of their rivals in the CIAA and the coaching staff needs more fulltime help.

I want to see Chowan succeed and I believe had Atkinson stayed it was on the right path. The Hawks would have been near .500 this season with their fourth-year coach in place and would have, I believe, broken that barrier in 2009.

Now, the team will have to work diligently to achieve that same type of success. We don’t know who the coach will be, what offense they will run or what defense that will install.

All those things are still a good two months away. Until then the Hawks will continue to stay in stalemate.

I hate the Atkinson era ended the way it did and when it did. I can only hope the next coach brings the same energy and enthusiasm to the job. If he does, the Hawks may not be starting at square one for the first time in 10 years.

Questions? Comments? Snide remarks? All are welcome.

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

Be careful out there and be good sports.