Up & Coming Weekly

September 03, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM 28 UCW SEPTEMBER 4-10, 2019 Tucker shares thoughts as high school year begins by EARL VAUGHAN JR. HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS State title on mind of Cape Fear's Blackwell by EARL VAUGHAN JR. EARL VAUGHAN JR., Sports Editor. COMMENTS? EarlUCWSports@gmail. com. 910-364-6638. Although we're a few weeks into the 2019-20 high school year, it's not too late to hear some words of wisdom shared by Que Tucker, commis- sioner of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. Tucker and several members of her staff visited Fayetteville in August to attend the annual Cumberland County Schools Football Jamboree ban- quet held at Gray's Creek High School. I spoke with her briefly and asked if there were any hot-button issues facing the NCHSAA as the school year opened. She said there weren't, but added there are some topics that never go out of style with the NCHSAA. "It's always just about sportsmanship and behav- ior,'' she said. "We want our young people to recog- nize the importance of good sportsmanship, winning with class, being victorious and excited about win- ning but respecting the fact the other team did lose and practiced and prepared just as hard.'' Health and safety are always big issues for the NCHSAA, especially in the game of football where the concern of how concussions are handled remains paramount. Tucker said the NCHSAA continues to stress to schools the need for preseason meetings that deal with topics like where the automated external defi- brillator is kept, who the game day administrator is or who's in charge if a thunderstorm hits during a game. In the end, it's all about the student-athletes. "It's all about educating our young people to be good citi- zens,'' Tucker said. "If we can do those things, I think we will have accomplished much.'' • Speaking of Que Tucker, she and members of the NCHSAA staff will be back in Fayetteville on Monday, Sept. 23, at 8:30 a.m., for the annual meeting of school officials from the NCHSAA's Region 4, which includes schools from Fayetteville, Cumberland County and surrounding counties. The meeting will be held at the Educational Resource Center. Last year's regional meeting was canceled because of Hurricane Florence. The regional meeting gives the NCHSAA staff a chance to have face time with local school officials and to share news about important topics statewide. Cumberland County will have a larger than normal contingent on the NCHSAA Board of Directors for the next few years. Brian Edkins, who joined the board as princi- pal at Scotland High School, is now at Cape Fear High School and continues to represent Region 4 until 2022. Gray's Creek High School athletic director Troy Lindsey is new to the board from Region 4 and will serve until 2023. Also new to the board is Vernon Aldridge, stu- dent activities director for the Cumberland County Schools. He joins the board as an affiliate member representing the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association for an unspecified term. • Cynthia Miller-Jenkins has been named the varsity girls basketball coach at Riverside Christian Academy in Stedman. The announcement was made by Riverside superintendent Dr. Lin Wheeler. Riverside is a member of the Carolina Athletic Association of Schools of Choice and played for state titles in 2017 and 2018. Jenkins was head coach at Northwood Temple Academy from 2005-15, winning three conference titles and one North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association state title. Her career record there was 106-73. Last year she was an assistant coach at Methodist University. Que Tucker Cape Fear golf coach Todd Edge said it seems like yesterday when senior golfer Toni Blackwell began her career on the Colt team. "Time flies when you're having fun,'' Edge said, and Blackwell's performance has definitely made coaching her and the Cape Fear team plenty of that for Edge. Blackwell has b een a three-time conference player of the year in golf and was the medalist in last year's 3-A regional tournament. Blackwell hasn't rested on her laurels over the last few years, Edge said, using practice to improve her overall game. "She's played a lot of tournaments and is tourna- ment golf ready,'' he said. "She hits the ball further than she did three years ago. She's improved her chipping and putting and her scores have improved because of that.'' Blackwell's improvement hasn't gone unnoticed by people outside Cape Fear. She's committed to play college golf at UNC-Pembroke. Edge said Coach David Synan will be getting a player who will fit in well with the players he's already recruited. But Blackwell has one more high school season to go, and she and teammate Gaby Bynum, who placed third in the final Patriot Athletic Conference individ- ual standings a year ago, return to lead an otherwise young Cape Fear team on the course this season. Edge expects Blackwell and Bynum will again lead Cape Fear in scoring, while the pressure to produce a third competitive score in the weekly matches will fall on one of the untested new players on the team. As for the rest of the conference, Edge isn't sure where the main competition in the Patriot Athletic Conference will come from until Cape Fear plays its first match this season. "We take every team very seriously and we are going to try and play to the best of our abilities every time we go out,'' he said. The Colts got off to a good start in last week's first Patriot Athletic Conference first regular-season match at Stryker Golf Course at Fort Bragg. They fired a 266 as a team to win the match, with Blackwell taking medalist honors with a 75. Blackwell said she's been working on hitting more greens in regulation and trying to stay consistent with her game after winning the Patriot Conference regular-season title with a 79.3 average last season. She was the only player in the conference to break 80 for the season. She hopes to motivate her younger teammates while bracing for the unknown against conference opposition. "I'm just trying to work on staying focused, not getting distracted and making smart plays,'' she said. "I want to win regionals again and I want to win a state championship, keep around an even par aver- age.'' She placed seventh in last year's North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A state meet. She's fully recovered from a broken middle finger on her right hand that forced her to play with a splint over the summer months. "I couldn't grip with it and didn't play my best all summer,'' she said. Edge feels Blackwell has the potential to be among the top two or three golfers in the state this year. The key he said is putting together back-to-back good days at the two-day state tournament. "You can't lose any strokes,'' he said. "The double bogey is the big thing she's got to eliminate. If she plays her par-birdie golf, maybe a bogey once in awhile, I think she'll be there. "That's her goal.'' Toni Blackwell Todd Edge Cynthia Miller-Jenkins

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