Earl’s Pearls 12/4

In 2001, she got a kick out of making the football team

 

By Earl Vaughan Jr.

 

Vanderbilt women’s soccer star Sarah Fuller recently found herself in the national spotlight when she was asked to become the placekicker for the school’s football team.

She became the first woman ever to play for a Power 5 football team when she kicked off once in Vanderbilt’s 41-0 loss to Missouri last week.

Fuller’s experience brought back a lot of memories for former Seventy-First High School multi-sport athlete Ashley Aber, who blazed the same trails as Fuller 19 years ago while playing at the school.

The late Haney Catchings was the head football coach at Seventy-First then. Entering the 2001 season, he found himself in need of a placekicker. He turned to Aber, who was not only a star on the Falcon soccer team but also played volleyball and basketball.

Aber didn’t hesitate when Catchings approached her about being the kicker as her junior year was ending. 

“He had the guys go out and shag balls for me one day to see how I did,’’ Aber said. “It came natural.’’

Aber said she never considered herself a barrier breaker or crusader for women’s rights. “I loved the game of football,’’ she said. “I looked at it as a really incredible opportunity. I thought it would be something fun to do.’’

She wound up the season as the fifth-best kick scorer in Cumberland County, making eight of nine extra points and three field goals, the longest a 42-yarder, as the Falcons compiled a 3-8 record with wins over Hoke County, Pinecrest and Westover.

Aber made honorable mention All-Mid-Southeastern Conference and was chosen as Seventy-First’s player of the year.

She earned a scholarship to Concord University in West Virginia where she not only played soccer but threw the hammer and discus for the track team.

Now a department supervisor for the Hope Mills store in a home improvement chain, Aber said she ended up working with a former Douglas Byrd player who turned out to be the only opponent to actually hit her during a game.

“We ended up becoming really good friends,’’ she said.

Aber is glad to see all the doors that have been opened to women in the football world in recent years.

“Look at all the women coaching in the NFL,’’ she said. “They’ve got referees that are women. It’s amazing.’’

Looking back at what she calls her incredible experience 19 years ago, she said she wouldn’t hesitate to sign up for it again.

“It was a good time,’’ she said. 

***

Congratulations to the following Fayetteville athletes who earned recognition on the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association All-State football team.

Chosen first team in 11-man football was defensive lineman Victor Loftin of Trinity Christian. All-purpose player Xavier Tubbs-Matthews made second team. Linebacker Gabriel Galloway-Velazquez earned honorable mention.

In 8-man football, Fayetteville Christian’s Jonathan Soriano and David Herden made the Division I first team, while Brian Thompson was second team.

LAST WEEK’S RESULTS

 

Any missing scores were not available on each school’s MaxPreps page.

 

Volleyball

Dec. 1

E.E. Smith 3, Westover 0

Gray’s Creek 3, Terry Sanford 0

South VIew 3, Pine Forest 1

Cape Fear 3, Douglas Byrd 0

Jack Britt 3, Hoke County 0

Seventy-First 3, Purnell Swett 0

Dec. 3

Cape Fear 3, Westover 0

Gray’s Creek 3, Overhills 0

South View 3, E.E. Smith 1

Terry Sanford 3, Douglas Byrd 0

Pinecrest 3, Jack Britt 0

Richmond Senior 3, Seventy-First 2

 

Basketball

Boys

Nov. 27

Freedom Christian 88, New Life Christian 82

Nov. 28

Freedom Christian 72, Grace Christian 70

Nov. 30

Freedom Christian 73, South Wake 59

 

Nov. 30

Northwood Temple 69, Berean Baptist 68

Dec. 1

High Point Christian 81, Northwood Temple 72

Trinity Christian 68, Mount Zion 53

Grace Christian 65, Fayetteville Christian 63

Dec. 3

Fayetteville Christian 78, Scotland Christian 51

 

Girls

Nov. 30

Northwood Temple 56, Berean Baptist 15

Dec. 1

High Point Christian 68, Northwood Temple 32

Mount Zion 67, Trinity Christian 63

 

 

 

THIS WEEK’S GAMES

Basketball

Boys

Dec. 4

Berean Baptist at Trinity Christian

Davidson Day at Freedom Christian

Dec. 5

Fayetteville Christian at High Point Christian

North Raleigh Christian at Freedom Christian

Dec. 7

O’Neal at Village Christian

Dec. 8

Wayne Country Day at Northwood Temple

Dec. 10

Freedom Christian at New Life Christian

 

Girls

Dec. 3

Fayetteville Christian 52, Scotland Christian 40

Dec. 4

Trinity Christian at Victory Christian

Dec. 7

O’Neal at Village Christian

Dec. 8

Wayne Country Day at Northwood Temple

Dec. 10

Freedom Christian at New Life Christian

 

Volleyball

Dec. 8

Westover at Terry Sanford

South View at Cape Fear

Pine Forest at E.E. Smith

Douglas Byrd at Overhills

Seventy-First at Jack Britt

Dec. 10

Terry Sanford at South View

Gray’s Creek at Douglas Byrd

Cape Fear at Pine Forest

Overhills at Westover

Scotland at Jack Britt

Seventy-First at Pinecrest

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

A push is underway to name the Seventy-First High School gymnasium in memory of Dallas Garza. Garza, a native of San Antonio, Texas, who adopted Fayetteville as his home, was killed in a helicopter crash in November in Egypt where he was serving as part of a peacekeeping force from the U.S. Army. Vanessa Iacovone, a family friend who grew up with Garza, is leading the effort to name the gym in his memory.

“A big part of Dallas’ life was in Fayetteville,’’ Iacovone said of Garza, who attended Seventy-First and graduated in 2005. “He is a true American hero and there should be something in his honor.’’

The Cumberland County Schools have a procedure for naming any school property after someone. The School Improvement Team at Seventy-First must be contacted first, then the proposal must be supported by two other committees before going to the full Board of Education for a final vote. Iacovone began taking the first steps after traveling to San Antonio this week to attend Garza’s funeral. “I’m sure a lot of soldiers in the (Fayetteville) area will have children attending that school and know that this is in his honor,’’ Iacovone said.