Northside community stands by Proctor

Published 1:41 am Saturday, January 20, 2018

PINETOWN — Northside High School head basketball coach Mike Proctor said he thought it strange that senior Johnathan Clark asked for him to come out last during the pregame entrance for Friday’s game against Riverside.

Other than that, Proctor had no suspicions as to what he was walking into. Proctor has been battling brain cancer for just over a year. Since his diagnosis in December 2016, the Panther coach has frequently been spotted wearing an Appalachian State cap during games.

Northside fans, in a sign of solidarity, joined him in sporting a hat for the game. Signs were posted around the gymnasium late in the preceding Lady Panthers game. Cheerleaders and students brought out signs they made that they had been hiding from Proctor throughout the night.

“After it was all over, I felt like coach (Jared) Adams was trying to keep me in the hall for some reason,” Proctor said. “That was pretty special. We have a great community here. I’ve had a lot of prayers and a lot of support during all this stuff.

“I just sort of put my head down. That’s not me. I’d rather be over in the back. I knew it when I was walking out and all the girls and cheerleaders had their hats on. Then I saw the sign at the end and said, ‘Oh my gosh.’”

Assistant coach Jared Adams (left) is beaming as the Northside faithful show their support for head coach Mike Proctor (right).

It just started as an idea; a way to stand by Proctor through his battle. It took on a life of its own from there.

“It got shared with the community and we started talking it up with the kids and the girl basketball players and the cheerleaders,” said Claudia Alligood. “The principal (Charles Clark). We couldn’t believe that (Proctor) didn’t know anything about it. We told the assistant coaches to keep him out there.”

It’s another example of how those in Beaufort County never hesitate to support their neighbors. Last year, the basketball team gave senior team manager Jason Pastore a lifelong memory by not only dressing him for senior night, but also giving him the chance to tally three points.

Games are so often centered around wins and losses. Northside never loses sight of the meaning beyond what takes place on the court.

“The community backs us. The whole school is so good,” Proctor said. “I hope that I do things the right way. I’m not saying I do, but I hope I do. … I take pride in trying to do that. I wasn’t expecting it. It was just great.”

On top of being honored prior to the game, Proctor and the Panthers got to celebrate a victory that moved them into a first-place tie in the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference.