Former Indians relive glory days

Published 8:15 am Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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For a moment or two, the three life-long friends felt like they were racing up and down the basketball court in the tiny Chocowinity High School gym, leading the Indians to another victory.

In fact, Tyrone Woolard, class of ’95 and 1996 graduates Rico Jones and Shawn McCullough were part of the first Southside High School alumni game since COVID-19 that brought 35 players from Southside, Chocowinity and Aurora High School inside on a rainy Saturday for fun, fellowship and plenty of trash talking.

“Some of our former players contacted me a few weeks ago to see if we could have a game and I thought it was a great idea,” Seahawks Athletic Director Andrea Quinerly said. “We included the guys from Chocowinity and Aurora because those schools were consolidated into Southside when we opened in the late ‘90’s. It was a terrific day for our school community and we had a lot of fun.”

There were two Teal teams and two Blue teams sporting the Southside colors that played two 30 minutes halves with a running clock, with a three point shooting contest held between games.

Woolard made sure his high school buddies were on his team and that they were on the floor at the same time.

“I did have a few flashbacks when we were coming up the court,” Woolard, a former point guard and standout football running back, said. “We played in a tiny gym at a tiny school, so everything, even the trophy cases, seem a lot bigger.”

The trio shared plenty of stories about growing up in Beaufort County in the 1990’s and playing football and basketball for Hall of Fame coach Dewayne Kellum, who also assisted with the baseball team.

“Sports was pretty much all we had growing up,” Jones said. “We played whatever was in season and Tyrone was probably the best running back to ever play at Chocowinity High. We had so much fun playing together and it means a lot to be out there with these guys again.”

Woolard and McCullough were seniors on the Indians 26-4 squad that made the regional tournament under Kellum.
“He taught us things that I still think about all the time,” McCullough said. “The fun times we had mean more looking back and it was fun to beat the younger guys today. I thought we did well considering that we played with some of their dads.”

The trio’s Blue team prevailed 68-60 in a game that featured most of the scoring in the first half. Jones and Woolard each contributed nine points.

Jones drives for Fed Ex locally, while McCullough is a brick mason and still lives in Beaufort County. Woolard’s job as a supervisor for Carolina Biological Supply Company has taken him to Greensboro, but he jumped at the chance to return to play with his friends.

“People say Choco-where? when I tell them where I’m from, but sometimes they’ve heard of it,” Woolard said. “We didn’t have 10,000 friends (on Facebook) like kids today, so I make sure I see my sandbox friends every time I’m in town. We’re still close after all these years and it was great being back on the court with them. This was my March madness right here.”