Up & Coming Weekly

April 07, 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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Page 17 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 8-14, 2020 UCW 17 EARL VAUGHAN JR., Sports Editor. COMMENTS? EarlUCWSwports@ gmail.com. 910-364-6638. HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS While many high school coaches and athletes in North Carolina deal with the frust- rating routine of not being able to play their chosen sports during the COVID-19 pande- mic, Vernon Aldridge and other athletic leaders around the state are holding conversations and looking ahead to the time when everyone will be able to return to the fields and courts to resume competition. Aldridge is the Student Activities Director for the Cumberland County Schools, but he also wears important hats at the state level. He is one of the leaders of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association, a role that also landed him a spot on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors. In recent days, Aldridge has been involved in video conferences with other athletic directors and also with high school principals, partly as a wellness check, but also to see how everyone is dealing with the current situation and looking ahead to a time when play will resume. "The biggest thing with the pandemic is things are fluid,'' Aldridge said. "Things are changing hour by hour. It's the hope of everyo- ne that at some point we are able to come back and play in the spring.'' The NCHSAA has suspended all play and practice for its member schools until May 18. Cumberland County's school year is currently scheduled to end on May 22 unless county or state officials decide to extend it. Aldridge said the fate of athletics hinges on whether or not Cumberland County and the rest of the state returns to school first. "It's going to be hard to justify playing athletics if the kids aren't in school,'' he said. Even if they are, students won't be thrown onto the athletic field or court immediately when school reopens. They'll have to be given a few days, maybe more, to practice. Que Tucker, commissioner of the NCHSAA, has already said the NCHSAA will not extend the spring athletic season into the summer months. If athletics resumes on May 18, Aldridge isn't sure how much of a spring season Cumberland County could play, especially schools in the nine-team Patriot Athletic Conference. The dates for state cham- pionships in boys golf, track and field, boys tennis and lacrosse will have already passed. The only championship dates left would be girls' soccer on May 30 and baseball and soft- ball June 5-6. "A conference season would be difficult,'' Aldridge said. "I'd love to see us be able to to play a couple of games so we could have senior nights and acknowledge our seniors the way they should be acknowledged.'' A growing worry is the pandemic could conti- nue and extend to football season. Football gate receipts pay the way for the total athletic pro- gram. Losing all or part of it would be a huge hit to local schools. Aldridge said when sports do resume, it's cri- tical that fans support the program. "Come out and support teams, get involved with booster clubs at the schools, get involved with what we are doing,'' he said. For now he hopes coaches are checking in on their athletes and offering emotional support. "The bigger picture is the health and safety of people,'' he said. "It's more important than what we've got going on on the field.'' Aldridge looks ahead to return of high school sports by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Kendall Macauley E.E. Smith • Basketball/ softball • Senior Macauley has a 3.98 grade point average. She is captain of the varsity girls basketball team and member of the National Honor Society and the Cumberland County Academy of Scholars. She volunteers with Backpack Buddies and works at a youth basketball camp sponsored by the parks and recreation department. Holley Johnson E.E. Smith • Track and field • Sophomore Johnson has a 4.04 grade point average. She is a member of the Math and Science Academy and the National Honor Society. She volunteers in the summer, working with younger members of the Fayetteville track team. She is a member of E.E. Smith's traveling show choir, The Golden Singers. Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop congratulates these amazing scholar athletes of the week and invites them to the Rocket Fizz Store at 1916 Skibo Rd. to receive a FREE FREE gift recognizing their achievement! www.rocketfizz.com Vernon Aldridge Attention Students: Let Your Voice Be Heard Get published in our award-winning community newspaper Up & Coming Weekly Send in your feature articles, editorials, short stories, movie and music reviews or original poetry and artwork to: highschoolhighlights@upandcomingweekly.com Subject line: High School Highlights Please include your photo and school information.

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