With summer just around the corner – although it doesn’t feel like it right now – N.C. Central coaches are hitting the highway in their inaugural Eagle Athletics Express. The tour is to inform and enlighten Eagles fans about the goings on of the NCCU athletic departments.
“We want to make sure our fans and supporters have the opportunity to engage with our coaches up close and personal,” Athletics Director Ingrid Wicker-McCree said. “This is a great time for our coaches to share their vision and what’s in store for 2016-17. Whenever we can reach out and share all of the great things happening in athletics and on our campus, it is a unique experience for all.”
The first stop was Durham’s Satisfaction restaurant last Thursday night, hosted by the Durham alumni chapter.
Women’s basketball coach Vanessa Taylor, who is seeking her first winning season in five years, will have five new faces to go along with eight returnees.
“There should be more scoring with the new additions,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing all of you out at the game.”
Men’s basketball coach LeVelle Moton got the jokes started. “I left the championship trophy from last year at home,” he said, alluding to the high expectations of the program.
The Eagles had their back-to-back conference title streak broken by Hampton this past season, and their home court and conference win streak snapped by Howard. They finished 13-19 and were left out of the postseason for the first time in three seasons.
“I knew one of the toughest things last season was going to be able to maintain our success,” he said. “We’re not a team that points fingers. We had a great run. I didn’t realize all we had done until people started throwing it up in our faces. My problem was I didn’t enjoy the ride while it was going on.”
One of the newest members to Eagleland is women’s tennis coach Tom Schrecengost, who took the job last September. He coached the Eagles to a 6-13 record, including 2-3 conference. NCCU advanced to the semifinals of the MEAC tennis tournament for the second straight year.
“There is a great spirit here,” said Schrecengost, who is the program’s first full-time coach. “We will be holding our first-ever tennis camp in June for ages 5-17.”
Football coach Jerry Mack didn’t speak last, but attendees will probably remember his final words more than any other’s.
Mack’s 30-month tenure has produced “two championship trophies, putting guys in the NFL, graduating players and having two coaches leave: one for a head-coaching job and another into the NFL.”
That “NFL guy” is Ryan Smith, who recently signed a four-year, $2.5 million contact with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being picked in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.
“He has a college degree and two rings on his hand,” Mack said.
Nope, those aren’t the words everybody will remember.
“We have a chance to do something that’s never been done – win three championships in a row,” he continued. …”I really believe deep down that we are going to three-peat and beat (rival) A&T for a third time.”
Now, that’s what folks are going to remember.
Upcoming stops are Greensboro (June 10); Washington, D.C. (June 11); Fayetteville (June 16); and Charlotte (July 22).
News & notes
Golfer Josh Bryan of Trinity School of Durham & Chapel Hill recently was named an all-state performer for the second consecutive season.
DA’s Cha-Mia Rothwell ended her stellar high school track career for Durham Academy with three meet records at the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference track championships. The Dartmouth recruit set records in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter hurdles. She also won the long jump with the longest leap of all high-schoolers this season of 19 feet, 5 inches.
The girls lacrosse at Durham Academy fell to top seed and host Charlotte Country Day 18-2 in Saturday’s N.C. Independent Schools Athletics Association’s state 3A girls lacrosse championship, played in Charlotte. The Cavaliers ended their year at 11-5.