Bam the Olympian and thoughts of other summer sports

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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Beaufort County has been around since 1712. The first Olympic Games were held in 1896. You would think we would have produced more than two participants with county ties, but then again, you might not.

There is no list of all-time Olympians with hometowns, so my research is undocumented. Neither are Washington natives, so that wouldn’t have helped anyway.

However, I have talked to multiple local folks, some natives and some who might as well be, independently and in small groups, who have followed Beaufort County sports for a long time.

The list stops at two, with the one name everyone thought of first not included. It’s by no means official, but I’m confident enough to print it.

Dominique Wilkins, who played high school basketball for the Pam Pack after his family moved from Texas, never played in the Olympics.

The “Human Highlight Film” tore his Achilles tendon in January of 1992 and was not part of the original Dream Team that summer.

’92 was the first year pros could compete and Team USA dominated on the way to the gold medal.

Wilkins did play on the ’94 World Championship team, but was not part of the ’96 team that won gold in Atlanta.

Brownie Futrell, the former publisher of this publication, came up with the other name, but it’s a stretch and also undocumented.

One of Futrell’s former Washington High School classmates remembers teaching a young man in the mid 1980’s who moved to town from Greensboro early in his school career. His family stayed two or three years, then moved back to the Triad.

Joey Cheek would go on to win the gold medal in the 500 meter speedskating event in the 2006 Winter Games in Italy.

Which brings us to Bam Adebayo. He was born in New Jersey, but moved to Pinetown with his mother, who wanted to be near relatives, when he was in elementary school.

You are probably familiar with his journey from Northside superstar to his senior year transfer, to one year at Kentucky, to number one draft pick by the Miami Heat, and now to Tokyo.

Bam and the rest of Team USA will battle Australia in Thursday’s semi-finals.

I think we can claim him and maybe his effort will inspire other local athletes to reach the same stage.

Speaking of local athletes, it’s been a good summer around here.

Hats off to the Chocowinity 16U All-Star girls softball team that finished second in the Babe Ruth World Series recently. Seven girls are, or will be, members of Northside’s team in the spring, which bodes well for the future.

The girls represented themselves and our area with class in the face of two horrendous calls that would have been overturned had video replay been used. Had either gone their way, we would probably be talking about a championship team. Life isn’t fair sometimes and they handled it with grace.

I also discovered the sport of barrel racing last month, as Felicity Lynn and McKenzi Horn competed in the Youth and Teen World Championship in Georgia.

Since I’ve spent approximately zero time on top of a horse, I was amazed to watch horse and rider navigate a three barrel figure eight course in 15 seconds or less without the rider flying off and eating dirt. There’s plenty of video out there, so Google it if you are interested.

That brings us to the upcoming high school fall season which looks like a normal one.

Let’s make sure it is by getting vaccinated. I won’t preach, but please get the shot if you haven’t already. It’s safe and effective and could be a life-saver.