Hiatt’s triumph over cancer is the top sports story of ‘08

Published 7:07 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
From the little kids running around with professional athletes to a young lady who conquered cancer to return to the hardwood, it was another exciting year in sports.
In a vote by the WDN sports staff, here’s a look at the top 10 sporting events from the past year.
No. 10
Trent Whitehead, a former star at Washington High School, had a solid first season with the East Carolina baseball team. The freshman outfielder played in 51 games and started 22 of them. Whitehead hit .273 with three homers, five stolen bases and 15 RBIs for the Pirates.
No. 9
Charity Watson had another sensational season on the mound for the Washington Pam Pack softball team. She earned her third straight Washington Daily News’ Pitcher of the Year honor after racking up 15 wins and finishing with a spectacular 0.202 ERA. Watson fanned 271 batters and allowed just 27 hits in 138 1-3 innings. Watson, named to the All-District 1, Class 3-A Team by the North Carolina Softball Coaches Association, recorded nine shutouts and two no-hitters. In her three-year prep career, Watson has recorded 52 wins, four perfect games, 14 no-hitters (fourth best on NCHSAA Record Sheet), 39 shutouts (fourth best on NCHSAA Record Sheet) and 886 strikeouts (sixth best on NCHSAA Record Sheet).
No. 8
It was a year of giving back by former area stars who found success in professional sports. Former Washington High School and East Carolina star Terrance Copper, a member of the Baltimore Ravens, held his first Terrance Copper Football Camp, which taught several kids the game of football. Copper was joined by a handful of New Orleans Saints standouts, including David Patten, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Robert Meacham and Houston Texans fullback Vonta Leach.
Washington native Damien Wilkins, a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, held his Fourth Annual Fun Day event for the community, along with a basketball camp. Wilkins continues to give back to the community, and makes is bigger and better every year.
Plymouth was abuzz with NFL celebrities this summer, including former Miami Dolphins players and current Dolphins cheerleaders. Charles Bowser, who played for the Miami Dolphins from 1982-85, returned to his hometown of Plymouth for the Second Charles Bowser NFL Youth Football Camp. Miami receiving legend Mark Duper was among a handful of stars to help out Bowser. Meanwhile, Lilly Robbins and Kayla Patterson, a pair of Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, appeared at Plymouth to help with a cheerleading camp. The cheerleaders met the campers, signed autographs and took photos with all the girls. The campers came from Washington, Beaufort, Martin and Chowan counties.
7. Southside High School snapped its 21-game losing streak with a 34-33 win over rival Northside in the annual Anchor Bowl. The Seahawks, storming back from a 20-point deficit in the final 17 minutes, were led by Dash Spruell, who finished with an Anchor Bowl rushing record of 271 yards and four touchdowns on just 11 carries. His 2-point conversion run, following Kevin Sparks’ six-yard touchdown pass to Willie Ruffin, capped the comeback.
6. Former Northside High School star C.J. Wilson, a standout defensive end with the East Carolina Pirates, helped ECU sack Tulsa to win the school’s first Conference USA championship. Wilson was named to the C-USA First Team at defensive end, and was named the C-USA Defensive Most Valuable Player by The Sporting News Magazine. The Pirates, who beat West Virginia and Virginia Tech during a solid season, overcame injuries and suspensions to win the C-USA title. Wilson and the Pirates play Kentucky in Friday’s Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
5. Washington finally put an end to its football playoff drought. The Pam Pack football team, directed by head coach Sport Sawyer, posted a 34-25 victory over the Havelock Rams in the first round of a NCHSAA Class 3A playoff game at J.G. “Choppy” Wagner Stadium. The playoff win was Washington’s first since the 1999 season and Sawyer’s first as head coach with the Pam Pack.
4. Katie Paschal had a phenomenal season for the Williamston Tigers basketball team, showing she’s one of the top players in the state, if not the nation. Paschal averaged 25 points (third in the state), six boards and five assists per game. She led her Tigers to an Atlantic Conference regular season and tournament championship, an East Region sectional title, a 27-game winning streak and, at one point, a No. 1 ranking amongst 1-A schools in the state. (Paschal was also voted the WDN Volleyball Player of the Year).
3. Former Roanoke High School star Trimane Goddard wins all kinds of awards for his stellar play at safety with the North Carolina Tar Heels. Goddard is named to the 2008 Associated Press All-America Second Team, 2008 Walter Camp All-America Second Team, 2008 Rivals.com All-America Third Team and SI.com All-America team honorable mention. Goddard, also named as the All-ACC First Team safety, helped his Tar Heels reach the Dec. 27 Meineke Car Care Bowl against West Virginia. North Carolina fell 31-30.
2. Williamston’s football team finished as state runners-up in Class 1A. The Tigers, directed by head coach Asim McGill and led by star quarterback Emery Griggs, put together a solid winning streak to reach the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 1A state championship game. There, the Tigers fell 37-14 to Mount Airy.
1. Washington High School sophomore Haley Hiatt demonstrated courage, determination and even humor to beat cancer and return to athletics.
Hiatt played in a handful of varsity volleyball games while overcoming Hodgkin‘s Disease. In her first basketball game since being given a clean bill of health, Hiatt scored 10 points in a Washington win over D.H. Conley in junior varsity action.