Fall Sports Preview

2017

Goldsboro News Argus - Fall Sports Preview

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16 — Goldsboro News-Argus Thursday, August 17, 2017 NORTHDUPLINHIGHSCHOOL• GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL FOOTBALL • It's option football times a stop light times a country song penned about option football and a stop light — only,if you told someone,they wouldn't believe you. But it's very real in Calypso. There,kids start dreaming of varsity in the second grade,mind their parents and return to the program as adults — perhaps in deference to head coach Hugh Martin, who has force-fed the Rebels into the post- season each year since 2000. And,no — don't expect the streak to end this season. BOYS' SOCCER • Balance. The term could very well define matters this season for North Duplin's varsity soccer troupe,who allowed the same amount of punches it landed last fall — 70 goals. Thus,a 5-11-1 overall mark. And although the Rebels lost talented scorers to graduation,expect the void to be filled by senior Wilber Velasquez. Over 17 starts last fall,the midfielder netted 10 one-timers and accumulated 24 points — both marks that should increase with more room to roam this season. CROSS COUNTRY • North Duplin claimed the 2016 Carolina 1-A Conference girls' championship. Haley Thurston,one of the program's most-decorated athletes who also played on the state softball title team in 2015, graduated after a stellar career. The Rebels should continue to field solid teams. The numbers have increased in a sport that not only requires endurance,but a mental drive to do your best each time you tackle the 5k course. GIRLS' TENNIS • After a one-year hiatus,the Rebels will hit the courts again this season and play all of their home matches at the University of Mount Olive. North Duplin's schedule consists of just six matches — three each with Princeton and Rosewood. The season opener is Sept. 7 FALLSPORTSOUTLOOKS By JUSTIN HAYES jhayes@newsargus.com CALYPSO — The stats and such, or anything resembling the stark- raving internet hoo-rah around sports analytics terms — things like spread,predictive modeling or win shares — don't mean very much by the whistle of Laura Thornton. It's likely they never will. Her design,and that of the North Duplin volleyball program she has helmed for the past five seasons,is markedly different. But if you've ever seen the Ode- de-Rebel mural pasted on the south wall of Pro-Med,Inc.— which cap- tures perfectly the town's dedication to its athletes — you probably already figured as much. To begin,the program is fun-dif- ferent — as in,summer workouts draw 19 different children.And when you're choosing from a school- house of 320,a six percent turnout just-so-happens to be outstanding. "We've got all levels of kids here," the coach said of her roster."We've got kids who are brand new to the game, and some who have played club." But hey,everyone — regardless of ability or position or status as a jayvee or varsity Rebel — wears a smile,so it must be fun. But there's more. It's also find-your-role different, because Thornton makes that promise to you as a freshman.Give me your time,she tells them.Wipe the floor with it,and I'll find a rota- tion for you. In her gym,promises aren't con- fused with innuendo. Above all else,however,it's play- four-years-without-a-doubt different — uncommon for many athletes, who nowadays have their persis- tence muted by the cool hymn of air conditioning,video-game consoles and re-start buttons. The proof? Well,it's her senior class. For the past four seasons,through thick and thin and just 18 wins, Abbey Pate,Kenzie Taylor and her daughter,Anna,have been been there for all parts of the show. That means every team camp. Every practice.Both five-setters ver- sus Spring Creek in October 2016 and every lopsided decision against a larger school with more tradition. Suffice to say,the trio gave all it could — and still is. "Everybody has a job to do," Thornton said."So coaching up the team,being a role model — that's what I really expect." That's a true win share — one like no other. NOTE:The Rebels will launch their 2017 campaign with four straight non-conference matches before their league opener Aug.29 at Neuse Charter. Thornton,now in her fifth year, hasn't changed philosophy ■If players give effort on the court with knee burns to prove it,they'll find a spot in the Rebels' volleyball rotation. News-Argus file photo North Duplin didn't have rousing success in 2016, but key returners Abbey Pate, Kenzie Taylor and Anna Thornton should provide leader- ship in what appears to be a more balanced and competitive league this fall. Several teams played four- and five-set affairs that could dras- tically changed the league standings in 2016. 'We've got all levels of kids here. We've got kids who are brand new to the game,and some who have played club.' — Laura Thornton, Fifth-year head volleyball coach at North Duplin HS

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