The real heroes in high school athletics

Published 7:06 pm Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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During this pandemic, we are currently seeing many professionals who have become our heroes. This is rightfully so! Many have sacrificed their lives to ensure the safety and welfare of others.

There is one couple I will mention that has been working behind the scenes and on the front lines for 20-plus years to make sure our youth has what it needs to compete, all the while working overtime with full time jobs. Fred Watkins and his wife, Lynda, have been working to better the athletic program at Washington High School since their two boys competed more than 20 years ago! This is not heard of much in many communities.

Fred played on the offensive line for the Pam Pack in 1967 and helped open holes for runners like Thomas Earl Waters, Bobby Hardy and Bubba Gerard on the 1967 Northeastern Championship team. On that line were such names as Seth Talley, Bill Gravely, Cambo Rodman, Terry Smithwick and Bill Nolley. This was a gritty bunch, and they out-worked their opponents at every practice. Fred, not being the biggest, was a tough and gritty offensive guard. This grit carried over to his professional work after college.

Standing behind Fred is his hardworking and supportive wife, Lynda. Lynda supports the athletic program and booster club by being the treasurer and making sure all the logistics are correct on game nights in the concession stands. Lynda plays a vital role in the success of the booster club and its money-raising efforts. Fred met Lynda during their college days, and they have been married for 40-plus years, and, together, they have worked tirelessly to see that coaches/players have what is needed to be successful. While Lynda is taking care of logistics, Fred is putting up signs, selling signage space and booster club memberships. They never miss a beat! They are a vital link to the success of Pam Pack athletics.

Many families will do what Fred and Lynda do while their sons or daughters are in school, but once they graduate, will never be seen again. This is not true for the Watkins. They have continued for many years and have seen the building of the new fieldhouse at Washington High School and many other projects. There is an old saying in the educational circle, “There is a difference between involvement and interference,” and the Watkins have proved that they do not ever plan to interfere. Instead, they are involved!

I am proud to say that both are good friends of mine. If you were to see this couple, please give them a big “Thank you” for all that they have done behind the scenes. Fred’s grit and Lynda’s brain have helped many young student athletes over the years, and your child might have been one of them. We all need to support our young athletes like the Watkins family has done over the years — because someone once supported us.

They were the best of times with the best of friends in the best of places, Washington, N.C.! The original Washington!

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.