Two weddings and a baseball trophy

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Jacob, Crystal and Brandon each walked down the aisle in their own fashion this past weekend.

Nope….they didn’t marry each other (that would be unique; well, perhaps not in this day and age of “progressive” America).

Two of them did get hitched, but not to each other, and the third finally erased the stigma of “always a bridesmaid; never a bride.”

Let’s get to the important things first….weddings.

On Saturday, May 21, my great nephew, Jacob Swink, married the love of his life, Elizabeth Collins. The majority of the regular readers of this column probably don’t have a clue to the identity of Jacob and Elizabeth. Perhaps it might help if I told you that Jacob is the grandson of my sister-in-law: Ramona Vann Swink, formerly of Ahoskie, now living in Roanoke Rapids.

Anyway, I’ve known Jacob since the day he was born, roughly 22 years ago for those of you keeping score at home. I watched him mature into a fun-loving and Christ-centered young man. He was a natural at baseball and water skiing, and somewhere mixed into those activities was his long-time involvement with Boy Scouts. It was within that character-building organization where he worked to earn their highest honor – Eagle Scout.

To my knowledge, Jacob didn’t have a lot of girlfriends as a teen. That wasn’t due to anything unusual as he was a tall and handsome young man. I just think Jacob was waiting for “Miss Right.” She arrived just a few years ago as Elizabeth Collins. It didn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure out they were made for each other.

They tied the knot on Saturday in Roanoke Rapids, just two weeks after Jacob graduated, with honors, from ECU. He’s already landed a job – the same one he’s had for the past year-plus with a firm that honored him with an academic scholarship.

Elizabeth, meanwhile, just graduated as well from Halifax Community College.

Best wishes to this new couple as they launch their new life together.

Ditto for Crystal Sumner and Matt Mann. They were hitched on Saturday as well in the big city of Lasker. While I’m unaware of Crystal’s life as a child / teen, she is a part of the family…as in the work family. Crystal is an attorney, working for Charles Slade in Rich Square. My wife, Deborah, is a legal administrative assistant for Mr. Slade and she and Crystal immediately took a liking to each other as co-workers and friends.

OK…time for another family lesson. The majority of Northampton County readers of this weekly space are very familiar with the Sumner clan, those elsewhere may not know them. Crystal hails from great “stock.” Her grandfather, Ted Sumner, is a legend in local law enforcement circles. He is retired from the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office….the same organization (and man) that kept yours truly in line back in my wild days.

And last, but certainly not least, is the weekend success story of Brandon Hodges. Anyone with knowledge of the game of baseball will know Brandon. He was a standout baseball player for Hertford County High School who later served as the head coach at his alma mater.

I remember Brandon as an astute student of baseball, as well as a player/coach who, win or lose, never lost respect for the game.

Nowadays, Brandon is the head baseball coach and Athletic Director at Oakwood School in Greenville. On Friday, his team swept a two-game series from Lawrence Academy to win the 2016 NCISAA State Baseball Championship.

As a player and later as a coach, his baseball teams have walked that aisle before, but didn’t reach the altar until Friday.

Congratulations, my friend, on reaching for that ring and finally holding on tight. I have a feeling this will not be the only time we’ll see a Brandon Hodges coached team win a state title.


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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