Up & Coming Weekly

March 24, 2020

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 20 UCW MARCH 25-31, 2020 HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS Facing some of the most challen- ging decisions the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has ever had to cope with, Commissioner Que Tucker stressed a positive attitude moving forward as she spoke to statewide media recently about her organization's reaction to the pandemic caused by COVID-19. Despite that upbeat mood, the initial announcements from the NCHSAA office in Chapel Hill were grim for coaches, athletes and high school sports fans. Tucker was forced to announce that the state high school basket- ball championships, which saw Fayetteville's Westover boys and E.E. Smith girls advance to the state 3-A finals, were postponed indefinitely. The entire spring sports season was also put on hold, as were all practices and off-season skill develop- ment sessions until at least Monday, April 6. However, Tucker stressed the April 6 date was fle- xible and that her staff and members of the NCHSAA Board of Directors would continue to assess the situa- tion in hopes it might be possi- ble to play both the basketball championships and as much of the spring sports season as possible. Tucker said the NCHSAA will study the calendar in hopes the situation with COVID-19 improves and see how much of a spring season with champion- ships can be played. She said that the spring sea- son will not be extended into the summer months if play can resume in time because playing that late would conflict with gra- duation exercises and commit- ments some students may have with college camps. If the spring season can be played, Tucker said the NCHSAA would have to work with conferences on coming up with some kind of formula to determine conference champions since all of the games likely could not be played in the time available. She suggested they might use a percentage of confe- rence games won, which is how conference standings are determined. She added the MaxPreps national and state rankings, which are used to seed NCHSAA playoff sports, may not be used in this situation. As for the basketball championship games, if they are played there are many variables to deal with. One would be allowing the teams that qualified for the finals sufficient time to practice and get into shape before playing the games if they can be scheduled. Another problem could be finding venues to play them. Reynolds Coliseum at N.C. State and the Smith Center at the University of North Carolina were suppo- sed to host the championships. If those arenas aren't available, Tucker said the NCHSAA would first turn to other college venues then look at civic arenas. It is possible if the games aren't played that the NCHSAA could declare cochampions or do somet- hing it did in football years ago and have Eastern and Western champs with no outright state winner. "I always like to lean toward the positive,'' Tucker said. "I'm going to be hopeful and prayerful that by the time we get to April 6, as we get closer and closer, this situation will be different and maybe we will have some opportunity to look at resuming spring sports.'' NCHSAA's Tucker stays positive as state battles COVID-19 by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Fellow coaches praise former assistant Pittman by EARL VAUGHAN JR. EARL VAUGHAN JR., Sports Editor. COMMENTS? EarlUCWSports@gmail. com. 910-364-6638. Men who coached with him called the late Nathan Pittman one of the smartest people they ever knew, and an assistant football coach who was impossible to fool. Pittman, who was part of four championship football teams in Fayetteville, died recently and was recognized during a celebration of life service on March 15 at Rogers and Breece Funeral Home. A native of Florida, Pittman came to Fayetteville as a young man and held assistant coaching jobs at a variety of local high schools. But it was at Seventy-First and South View high schools where he saw his greatest success in his role as defensive coordinator. He helped lead the 1970 Seventy-First team to the Eastern 3-A title, which was as far as schools could go in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs at the time. He was a part of three state championship teams under head coach Bobby Poss, two at Seventy-First in the 1980s and a third at South View High School in the 1990s. After Poss left South View, Pittman ended his coaching career with stops at Terry Sanford and Gray's Creek high schools. Greg Killingsworth played for Pittman his first year at Seventy-First and later hired him to coach at Terry Sanford when Killingsworth was athletic director there. "If you were playing Trivial Pursuit, you wan- ted him on your team,'' Killingsworth said. "He was the smartest man I ever met.'' As for his skills as a football coach, Killingsworth said Pittman was way ahead of the game as a defensive coordinator. "He studied what people did and predicted exactly what they were going to do,'' Killingsworth said. "You could move the football from the 20 to the 20, but when the field got smaller, his defense always rose to the occasion.'' Bernie Poole, who became head basketball coach at Seventy-First, came to the school in 1984 and worked with Pittman as an assistant football coach. "He made great adjustments when he wat- ched films,'' Poole said. "He never wanted to be a head coach. He liked who he worked for and that's what kept him going.'' Poss, who has won more NCHSAA football championships at different schools than any coach in state history, called Pittman a big part of any success he had while coaching at Seventy-First and South View. "He was intelligent and he wasn't one to get snookered,'' Poss said. "You weren't going to pull the wool over his eyes, whether you were the backup linebacker or the head coach.'' Former Terry Sanford and Gray's Creek head coach Bill Yeager took Pittman with him when he started the football program at Gray's Creek. "He was as knowledgeable as any football coach I've been around, I don't care what level,'' Yeager said. "I didn't have to worry about the defense at all. He ran the defense, from top to bottom.'' But Yeager said there was more than Xs and Os with Pittman. "He cared about the young men as far as being good people,'' Yeager said. "The kids knew he cared about them. That was why they played so hard for him.'' Nathan Pittman Que Tucker

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