Don’t let the lights go out on local athletes, coaches

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, November 12, 2022

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Thursday night marked the end of the high school football season for Beaufort County teams as Northside and Southside were defeated in the second round of the NCHSAA state playoffs.

Washington and Pungo Christian both wrapped up their seasons in the weeks prior.

It was a sad night for the seniors on these teams, many of whom struggled to hold back tears as the realization set in they would soon be hanging up their cleats and pads for the final time.

It’s an inevitable scene, one I experienced first-hand as a high school football player, then witnessed every year since as a career in community journalism placed me close to our local programs.

It never gets any easier observing these final moments each year. And it’s been particularly difficult recently.
My oldest son played in his final high school football game during Northside’s finish as runners-up in the 2020-2021 1A state championship game. His two younger brothers just completed their sophomore and junior seasons on the Panthers team that fell to Northampton County Thursday night.

I’ve watched many of the players on all four county teams from their first days of flag football in our community youth leagues to their final games as seniors.

I’ve seen them grow both on and off the field thanks to many volunteers and coaches who put time and energy into their development along the way.

Beaufort County is blessed to have high school and middle school coaches that care about our young people, not just in football, but all sports.

Our community is quick to rally in support of local programs that are fortunate enough to advance to championship levels. Let’s not forget the day-to-day efforts of the coaches and athletes.

They won’t all advance to the state title game like the 2014 Pam Pack.

Very few will go on to compete collegiately like Washington’s Terry Moore.

Fewer still will reach the professional level like Northside’s Bam Adebayo.

But they all deserve our support.

Next time you see one of our athletes, offer a word of encouragement. Take an additional moment or two to offer a word of thanks to their coaches.

The Friday night lights may be turned off until next year, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop shining a light on our local student-athletes and those who support them.

Ashley Vansant is publisher of the Washington Daily News. He can be reached at