After years of crisscrossing North Carolina to host meetings each fall in the eight regions of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, the NCHSAA staff has been forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to go virtual with this year’s schedule.
Educators and athletic officials from Cumberland County and other Cape Fear region schools logged in on Zoom Monday to hear the latest announcements from NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker and members of the staff in Chapel Hill.
One of the biggest topics addressed was the delayed realignment of the state’s 421 schools into new conferences, a task that normally takes place every four years.
The current plan is to finalize the next realignment in late February or early March of 2021, then it will take effect in the 2021-22 school year.
Tucker said a change is being considered in the realignment process that will take into consideration more than just the enrollment, or average daily membership, of each of the association’s schools.
For one thing, a clear dividing line would be established between Eastern and Western schools.
Two new formulas would also be added to the mix. One called state cup points would look at a three-year average of how each school had fared in the Wells Fargo Cup statewide points competition. Points from the 2019-20 athletic year, which was cut short by the pandemic, will not be included in the total.
The other formula, called the Identified Student Percentage, would be tied to each school’s free and reduced lunch program.
“This is not in cement,’’ Tucker said of the proposed formulas for determining realignment. “The whole idea of this process is to get some feedback.’’
Region Four, which includes the Cumberland County schools, has one county representative on the realignment committee, Seventy-First High School principal Myron Williams. Others from the region are Lee County basketball coach Reggie Peace and former Scotland County superintendent Ron Hargrave.
Tucker said there are no plans to start practice or competition earlier than has already been announced by the NCHSAA. Off-season conditioning sessions for football and other out-of-season sports are scheduled to begin on Oct. 19.
Volleyball and cross-country competition will start in mid-November, with basketball and swimming beginning in December.
In other news, the following Cumberland County schools were declared ejection free for the 2019-20 school year, meaning they had no athletes or coaches ejected from any game or match for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The schools were Douglas Byrd, Gray’s Creek, Seventy-First, South View and Westover.
Westover High School’s D’Marco Dunn, one of the top college basketball prospects in the country, announced in a brief ceremony broadcast live on The Fayetteville Observer’s 910Preps Facebook page Wednesday that he will attend the University of North Carolina.
Westover was declared the state 3-A co-champion earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the NCHSAA from holding its state championship games.
Dunn was named Player of the Year in the Patriot Athletic Conference as the Wolverines concluded the truncated season with a 30-0 record. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard led the Cumberland County Schools in scoring with 20.8 points per game.
He pulled down 7.3 rebounds per game and led county schools with 70 3-point baskets.
Gray’s Creek High School softball standout Kylie Aldridge made an oral commitment to attend Virginia Tech earlier this week. Aldridge made the announcement via social media.
The 2020 high school softball season was cut short by the pandemic, but Aldridge was already hitting .727 with eight hits in 11 at bats. She had two triples, a double and drove in five runs.
Aldridge is also a volleyball star for the Bears. In the 2019 season she was the Patriot Athletic Conference Player of the Year. She had 187 service points and led the Cumberland County Schools with 77 aces. She also led in kills with 351.