Category Archives: Sports

Bench-Warmers Without a Bench: N.C. Should Fund All K-12 Sports

By Harrison Taylor, Staff Writer

Every day between the hours of seven and nine, my 16-year-old brother practices his extra craft: playing varsity football for his school. He plays because he loves the sport. The activity provides him structure, balance, and, most importantly, something to do.

I can remember when he first started playing when he was in fifth grade. A nosy family member asked one day after his practice, “Why do you spend all this time on this? What’s the point?”

Another relative replied, “Well, you must start somewhere.”

While his school, Cuthbertson High School, has dozens of sports and activities, another school in the same county, Monroe High School (A school located in a poorer part of the county), doesn’t even have a baseball field. Students who play must share a field with another school nearby.

While sports at Monroe are bound and plentiful, some may be cancelled due to no adult volunteer to coach the team. Compared with other schools in the area, Monroe has an average of 25 percent less athletic opportunities than the top three schools in Union County.

The lack of funding schools like Monroe receive for athletics and extracurriculars is no secret. According to Union County Public School’s 2017 Individual School Financial Statements, Cuthbertson had a receipt of $212,944 for their athletic programs, while Monroe had a significantly less receipt of $159,286 for their programs.

When a school has less funding for sports, what happens to kids in places like Monroe? Students are left without equipment, volunteers, and without an activity. Activities can be essential in an adolescent or child’s development and can even predict whether that child is going to graduate high school or go to college.

This point is discussed heavily in Robert Putnam’s book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. Putnam’s research points to the impact sports and activities have for developing social skills, a child’s community involvement, and even their future economic success.

Putnam argues that important adult mentors from outside a child’s family come directly from sports, as these ‘have nots’–which Putnam defines as kids who come from lower income areas that struggle with providing extracurriculars–can be excluded from experiences that kids at more wealthy schools are given on an almost daily basis.

My brother gets to play football just by participating in a local fundraiser and paying for his jersey. This may not be the same for the students at Monroe High School. What are the consequences of such experiences for these students? When a kid wants to play lacrosse and is simply told, “We don’t have a coach or the money.”

A few weeks ago, teachers from around the state of North Carolina gathered in Raleigh to demand more funding for education. Last week, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the state budget due to small proposed increases education saw in this budget. Just two days ago, the NC General Assembly voted to override his veto as the new budget passed.

But, there is still time to talk about what goes into a future state budget. Just as teachers have become fed up with being underpaid and underappreciated, perhaps this is an opportunity to look at those who have been underfunded and overlooked.

Our state budget shouldn’t just increase teacher pay and funding for their curriculum. The budget should go beyond the classroom and allow the kids who want to play to do so.

This would increase graduation rates, get kids in poor areas off the streets, and allow talented student athletes to shine regardless of their location. Putnam’s ‘have nots’ can have a lot if we choose to help them.

The kids in Monroe deserve a fighting chance. North Carolina should fund all K-12 sports for the same reason they should buy more textbooks: You must start somewhere.

Edited by: Rachael Robinson

McDonald wins SAC Player of the Year Award, cherishes season

Shane Rich, Staff Writer

For the first time in her time at Wingate as a golfer, Diana McDonald has been awarded the SAC Player of the Year Award for Women’s Golf. McDonald, along with the rest of the women’s golf team, has had much success throughout the course of the year, as they just finished winning the SAC Tournament with a 26 stroke victory over Queens University.

“I have definitely learned a lot this whole year about my golf game and became a more mature player from my freshman year last year. I kicked it off very well last season with our first tournament which I came 2nd and shot 73-68. I think with that starting I was able to take that with my other tournaments” McDonald said.

The SAC Player of the Year also had some comments concerning advice for younger golfers as well as who she has to thank for her success.

McDonald said,“We have two freshman this year and they are very great players. With their ability on the golf course I feel that they can do great things in the future. My best advice for them is to do themselves and just do what they do best!”

“My family has always been there for me from the beginning and always have supported me and sacrificed so much for me. I thank them so much. I would also like to thank my wonderful team for having a great year and for working hard out on the golf course and for always being supportive. Finally, I would like to thank my coach from back home in Canada who has helped me a lot in my golf game.” McDonald said.

McDonald had much to say about what made the SAC Player of the Year award so special, and she also capped everything off by telling what her favorite moment was this year.

“My favorite moment of the year is going to tournaments with the team. But we held our home tournament in South Carolina and everybody on the team went and I had fun with them. Also, some of our supporters came to watch us during the tournament and we got to have dinner at our coach’s parents’ condo one night, and we walked on the beach and played with the younger kids. It was just a great time.” McDonald said.

As they look forward after McDonald’s year for the record books, the women’s golf team hopes to continue their success throughout next season.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Photo Credits to Wingate University Sports Information

Football to host seven home games this fall

Crystal Fuller, Staff Writer

Wingate University Athletics Director Steve Poston and Head Football Coach Joe Reich announced the 2018 Wingate Football schedule in March. For the first time since 2002, Wingate University’s football team will have the upperhand of playing seven home games.

Coach Reich explained how the Bulldogs got lucky, “When we look for games sometimes we take what we can get. Last year we had a bye week but we also played the first two games on the road so we only had four home games in the regular season. When the scheduled flipped we immediately had six home games,” said Reich.

Coach Reich also said that,“Florida Tech really needed a game and was willing to come up here and play us at home so that’s how we got to seven. Florida Tech is a top quality out-of-conference opponent who will be a great new challenge. We know UNC Pembroke will be tough as well.”

The Bulldogs have played six home games on eight occasions, the most recent being in 2016. The Bulldogs will play a senior college school-record seven home games, beginning with a Thursday, August 30 contest versus local rival Johnson C. Smith at Irwin Belk Stadium and John R. Martin Field (7 p.m. start time).

“We are looking forward to opening on a Thursday night,” said Reich. “This will be a nice change up…having seven home games will be a good thing for us as well.”

Wingate will see many benefits from the seven home games and has many plans in store. The Bulldogs will host their annual special events throughout the 2018 home schedule including Church Youth Day, Patriots’ Day and Tailgating for the Troops. These events will influence larger crowds just as last year when the Bulldogs sold-out the first night game to ever be hosted by Wingate.

“The best thing about having seven home games would be that we wouldn’t have to travel as much plus it will be more fun for the school,” said Domineke McNeill, a sophomore running back. “Hearing the crowd pushes us more to be more physical and make more plays but for the other team they tend to get scared and fold.”

General admission season tickets range from $40 for adults and $20 for non-Wingate students. Single game tickets are $12 for adult and $8 for non-Wingate students. For more ticket or schedule information go to www.wingatebulldogs.com. We hope you join us this year as we continue to make history!

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Wingate Men’s Golf finish season 3rd in SAC Tournament; Women win conference, moving on to NCAA’s

Kyle Brodt, Staff Writer

Both Wingate Golf teams had strong showings this year at the SAC Tournament with the women taking the title and the men finishing third in the competition. The women’s championships, hosted by Newberry at Member’s Club at Woodcreek, was a runaway with the Bulldogs winning by a whopping 26 strokes. They were led by sophomore Mind Puangcharoen, who won the individual title with her 54-hole total of 232, edging out Queens junior Cameryn Smith by just one stroke.

Coach Erin Thorne said the team, “Couldn’t be happier,” for Puangcharoen, who also grabbed her first career collegiate win at the championships. Laura Nunez Rodriguez and Diana McDonald also had strong performances, finishing tied for fourth with each other and giving Wingate three golfers on the All-Tournament first team. The women will travel to Germantown, TN for the NCAA Division II Championships hosted by Christian Brothers University at Germantown Country Club.

The men improved on a disappointing tenth place finish last season, finishing in third and putting three golfers in the Top 15 of the individual rankings. The Bulldogs finished with a total of 891 at Cobb’s Glen Country Club in Anderson, SC, 13 strokes short of champion Carson-Newman, and were unable to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Coach John Hackney, in his first year at the helm, expressed the disappointment that the team felt after the finish, “We were disappointed not to win, obviously, because we knew that’s what we needed to get to the tournament.”

The team was led by fifth place finisher Charles Joubert, who tallied an even-par 216 for the three days and made the All-Tournament First Team. The Bulldogs had a one-shot lead heading into the back nine on Tuesday, but played holes 11-14 at eight over par and could not recover. Coach Hackney believes the team will use this experience and improve coming next season. “We will be even better next year and be ready to make a postseason appearance.”

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Kirkland brings international experience to Wingate men’s hoops

Emarius Logan, Staff Writer

There’s a big difference between love and hate when it comes to being an athlete. The path every athlete takes isn’t the same and the reasoning for the things they do aren’t always the same either. I talked with Wingate assistant basketball coach Marcus Kirkland to get to know more about him and his journey to becoming a basketball coach.

Coach Kirkland was born in Genoa, Italy, where his dad was a professional basketball player as well as in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers.  Guess it’s not too hard to see where his basketball genes came from. Coach Kirkland said that, “Being around my dad as a younger child always just inspired me to want to be just like him, but better” is what pushed him to be as good as he could be in the game.

Coach Kirkland played his college ball at Hampton University in Virginia. Standing at 6-foot-4 l with a 40-inch standing vertical, his career didn’t just stop once he graduated from Hampton. Coach Kirkland had the nasty go to move where he faked the middle, drove the baseline and punched it down on the other side of the rim that made fans go crazy.

What he dreamed about doing as a little kid was finally becoming a reality when he got the opportunity to play professional basketball overseas. Coach Kirkland played 6 years of professional basketball in two different cities. His first stop was Rome where he made more of a name for himself before making that transition to Milan where they paid the big bucks.

Being an athlete people always tell you to have a back up plan because you never know what could happen on any given day. Well, that was the case with Coach Kirkland and he had his back up plan in place. After 6 years of ball, a gruesome injury to his leg cut his career short to the point where he couldn’t play basketball anymore.

He then began coaching at Reading College in Reading, PA before coming to Wingate University in 2010. It takes a lot to coach and mentor young men and that’s something Kirkland cherishes when it comes to his job. Coach Kirkland said, “I love to shape, mold and mentor, watching young men become men.”

Growing up in life you have to learn how to make tough decisions and sometimes those tough decisions could hurt the people you care about. Coaching isn’t easy and when you are teaching men to become men, you have to also treat them that way. Coach Kirkland said, “The hard conversations about life, grades, performances, the things young adults might not want to here about but they are important. Maybe the parents aren’t happy about something and you have to handle that.” Talking to Coach Kirkland really helped me and motivated me to strive and also helped me understand how to handle certain situations.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Photo Credits to Wingate University Sports Information

Wingate Baseball continues great season with doubleheader split at Anderson

JT Stokes, Staff Writer

The 22nd nationally ranked Bulldogs rolled over the Anderson Trojans in a 13-2 victory in game one of Sunday afternoon’s South Atlantic Conference baseball doubleheader at Anderson University, but the Trojans took game two in a 5-4 victory to claim the three-game SAC series. The Bulldogs are now 30-11 overall and 14-7 in the SAC.

Game One: Wingate 13, Anderson 2

Ty Andrus led off the game with a double, then scored on Mellett’s RBI double. Brown’s RBI single gave the ‘Dogs a 2-0 lead. A walk and Andrus single put two on for Mellett in the second, which gave Wingate a four-run lead with a two-run single backside.

 

Sophomore McCann Mellett had a huge game, going four-for-five with three doubles, five RBIs and two runs scored to push the Wingate offense. Juniors Tyler Schneider and Zach Little both added an RBI and scored two runs, while seniors Brett Branton and Ty Andrus combined for five hits and five runs scored. Senior Bradley Brown went a perfect three-for-three with a homer and three RBIs, while freshman Jed Bryant added a homer and two RBIs.

 

Bradley Brown connected on his 10th home run of the season on a two-run shot to give the Bulldogs a six-run lead in the sixth.

 

Wingate scored seven times in the seventh inning to go up by 13. A lead-off double from Branton and a Zach Little RBI single started the scoring for the Bulldogs. A Mellett two-run double and Schneider RBI double made it 11-0. Bryant hit a two-run homer to end the scoring giving Wingate a 13-run advantage.

 

Right-handed pitcher Austin Turgeon goes to 5-2 on the year with another win. He allowed only three hits and allowed only one run in seven innings, striking out three and walking three.

 

Game 2: Wingate 4, Anderson 5

William Thomas had a big day for the Anderson offense with a double and two RBIs in game two. Dillon Carpenter drove in a run for the Trojans, and Chandler Castleberry and Brandon Odachowski each added a hit and an RBI.

 

For the Bulldogs, junior catcher Micah Goodwin went two-for-three with a homer and two runs scored and Mellett was two-for-four with a double to lead the Bulldogs. Branton and senior outfielder Trent Wynn each added an RBI in game two.

 

Anderson scored five runs in the bottom of the second inning to push them past the Bulldogs. Three straight singles loaded the bases, with an Odachowski RBI single getting the Trojans on the board. Thomas tied it with a two-run double, while a Carpenter sacrifice fly and a Castleberry RBI single gave Anderson a 5-3 lead.

 

Christian Hendrix got the win, allowing two runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings, moving to 2-1. Matthew Stanley worked 1 1/3 innings for his fourth save of the year, allowing a hit and striking out three. Junior right-hander Lane Wildman took the loss, falling to 2-2. He allowed two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

 

Leading the NCAA DII in wins, the Bulldog offense has looked very sharp this season, averaging 7.5 runs per game. The team has an on base percentage of .400 and a fielding percentage of .950.

 

With his 45th career home run, slugger Bradley Brown moved into 2nd place all-time in Wingate Baseball career home runs. He is the first Bulldog in school history with 10 or more homeruns in 4 straight seasons. He is also top 10 in SAC history in home runs, RBIs and walks.

 

The offense has also had a huge spark from junior outfielder Tanner Forry with 14 home runs on the season leading the SAC. Senior outfielder Ty Andrus leads the SAC in stolen bases with 19.

 

Wingate is back in action Wednesday, traveling to USC Aiken for a 6 p.m. start.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Another March Madness has come and gone

Brendan Shriver, Staff Writer

That’s all she wrote, folks! After a couple weeks of incredible basketball featuring shocking upsets, thrilling finishes and several humiliating blowouts, the 2018 version of the NCAA Tournament has come to a close with the Villanova Wildcats emerging as the national champion for the second time in three years with their dominating victory over the Michigan Wolverines by a final score of 79-52 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. I’ve watched the NCAA Tournament for most of my life and I don’t think I’ve seen a tournament like this.

The most dominating storyline of the tournament was a No. 16 seed, UMBC, upsetting a No. 1 seed, Virginia, for the first time. This is something that none of us thought we would ever see in our lifetime and Lord knows when it will happen again. What made UMBC’s victory even more impressive was just how dominating they really were, as their performance made the final score look worse than it indicated.

The next thing to talk about is Loyola-Chicago’s incredible run to the Final Four. The little school from the Windy City had not made it to the Final Four since the 1960s and hadn’t even made the tournament since the 1980s. But what made them possibly America’s college basketball sweethearts for this tournament was the air time of a 98-year old chaplain for the team, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt.

It was a sight to watch her reactions as her beloved Ramblers continued to find ways to pull it out. She was ever so faithful to her team and the Rambler’s opponents. It was something we will never forget.

Another thing to talk about is whether Villanova is a dynasty. I would not say so just yet. They are obviously a great team with experienced, well-coached players that just dominated a tournament in an era of one-and-dones, when they were supposed to get to the title game.

If they repeat next year, which would make it three titles in four years, then yes they would probably be a dynasty. I would agree with the fact that their coach, Jay Wright, is outstanding. He is on the way to becoming one of the best coaches ever and if he can capture a third national title, he would hit legendary status, joining such people on the Mount Rushmore of college basketball head coaches like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, UK’s Adolph Rupp, UNC’s Roy Williams, UCLA’s John Wooden, to name a few.

It was a tournament of regional instability. For the first time ever, none of the top four seeds in a single region (South) reached the Sweet 16, with bluebloods such as Kentucky and Arizona losing. The West Region was also ravaged, with Xavier, Gonzaga suffering shockers and defending national champion North Carolina got blown out on practically their home turf in Charlotte.

Only the East and Midwest had the most stability and consistency, with Villanova romping through their region (East) to the Final Four while in the Midwest, a hot-shooting Kansas team won an overtime thriller over Duke in the Elite Eight.

In the end, it was a great tournament to watch and I’m sure next year will be just as fun. Who knows what it’ll bring us next year. The tournament is part of American life and one that the people look forward to each year.

Edited by Brendan Shriver