High school sports can take you places.
In my case, they’ve taken me a lot of places.
I added it up last week, and I’ve now covered a high school sports event – or played in one – at 81 different North Carolina high schools.
I look forward to adding to that number.
It took embracing some long distances, and it resulted in me learning more about my state with each trip.
Believe it or not, just sitting in the stands of a high school game for a little bit can tell you a lot about the surrounding area.
A high school crowd is always reflective of the surrounding community.
Want to know the difference between old Cary and the rest of it?
Go to a few games.
Cary High still brings in gray-haired fans, who long ago graduated and have no relatives on the field. Few schools in the state can claim they’ve got that kind of history. Cary’s history lives on in those people.
Holly Springs’ rapid growth shows after hearing a few new accents in the bleachers. Was that upstate New York I heard, or Long Island?
The folks near the coast in Swansboro had a different twang as well.
Some schools have the same families in the stands year after year. At my school, any athletic team was likely to have one Harrington, one Cameron or two people related to those families.
At Broughton, you’ll see hairstyles and fashion statements that exist only in old Raleigh’s eclectic southern style.
Whether in Roxboro or Rockingham, going to a county with only one high school – and no pro, college or minor league team nearby – can be an experience in itself. It takes you back to a time when this was the norm and each town had its own school.
Sometimes the crowd reflects a lack of community.
I’ve been to a game where there seemed to be more football coaches on the field than fans in the home stands. The dysfunction was pervasive. You could hear parents and coaches yell back and forth at each other.
Not every place in the state will have a student section for a Friday night game because there lacks a certain amount of hometown pride.
The definition of what is and is not a long distance seems to have changed greatly.
Just last week, I saw a school refer to a 25-minute in-county trip as a “long drive.”
I guess rising gas prices are partly to blame.
But don’t dread a long drive if you’re faced with one this year.
You’ll see a different side of this great state.
No matter where you land, it’ll be a side you’ll enjoy getting in touch with.