What a difference a year makes.
This time last year, N.C. Central football coach Jerry Mack was five months into his new job and looking to get the program back on the winning track.
Fast forward to now. Sponsorships and fundraising are at an all-time high, says Athletics Director Ingrid Wicker-McCree. And 61 student-athletes graduated on May 8.
“We are exceeding our expectations,” Wicker-McCree said.
Never miss a local story.
But success always comes with a price tag. NCCU administrators and coaching staff tried to get that message across to potential suitors last Friday night at a meet-and-greet at the Tobacco Road Sports Café in Raleigh.
The event gave alumni, fans and potential sponsors a chance to hear about Eagles athletics and meet some of the coaches.
For Mack, the recruiting season has been an eye-opener.
There’s nothing like a conference championship to open doors that might otherwise be closed.
Boxtorow.com ranked NCCU with the No. 1 recruiting class among all HBCU schools.
“Anytime you’ve got some hardware to show off, it gives you an advantage,” Mack said. “Our coaches did an excellent job of recruiting, and we feel good about what we have.”
The Eagle finished in a five-way tie for the MEAC championship. The icing on the cake was defeating archrival N.C. A&T in the final game of the regular season to do it.
“When I took this job, people told me, ‘Coach, we just want two games: win homecoming and beat A&T,’” Mack said. “I hope I pleased everybody.”
Now, NCCU is trying to parlay that good will into increasing its athletic budget.
“Most of our track kids are not going to make the Olympics, so we give them life skills lessons and other things,” Lawson said. “But we need funds to run a program. The MEAC is very strong in track and field, and they are not playing around. Don’t overlook the nonrevenue sports.”
Voyager Academy held its Athletic Signing Day Celebration Monday in the school’s gymnasium for six student-athletes:
• Kiki Kornegay: N.C. Central (baseball)
• Chris Sause: N.C. Wesleyan (basketball)
• Harrison Stone: Hampden-Sydney (tennis)
• Gary Ford: TBA (basketball, cross country)
• Diante Parker: Belmont Abbey (basketball)
• Jack Corkins: Louisburg College (soccer)
They may be winless but they’re still champions
Southern girls softball team went 0-14 this season, but for assistant coach T.C. Marshall, the team gets an A for effort.
“Nine girls started the season and nine finished,” Marshall said. “They did not miss one practice or game; no disagreements or arguments.”
Candy Massey was the only senior, while the rest had little to no softball experience.
The team raised money for cancer awareness, and even made their game jerseys for senior night (see photo).
“These girls are truly special,” Marshall said.