Confessions from a Sidelines Spectator
I love Howard Ward's articles. He is apparently a gentleman, has a great sense of humor and doesn't hesitate to own up to any shortcomings that might reflect on his reputation as a golf writer.
Although I don't follow any particular sport, I have found that during the last year or so I have been reading the sports section of this newspaper with more frequency. Part of it is due to Ward's entertaining accounts of his personal misfortunes on the golf course. At other times, it is his thoughtful and serious reflections on a troubling issue.
But, a lot of it also has to do with the many successes our Moore County students are having in all sports. Area teams are racking up victories. And more and more of the team members are receiving and accepting scholarship offers. It's not only a testament to their accomplishments; it's a testament to the interest and integrity of their coaches and the support of their parents.
While I was certainly not a neglected child and had more than my share of attention from my parents and teachers, I never possessed an aptitude for anything more physically demanding than hopscotch or jump-rope. Participating in contact sports was simply out of the question.
Southside Elementary School wasn't too bad. Most of the students were children of parents who worked at Erwin Mill. We went outside for "exercise," which meant playing a little kickball or taking turns on the seesaw. But Cocky Bennett, sports director for Erwin Auditorium, knew that in those "Mill Hill" boys, he had the makings of fiercely competitive players.
That accelerated when we transferred to junior high school. H.D. Maynard was fresh out of Carolina and intent on teaching more than "health." He wanted to send some graduating ninth-graders to Durham High School ready to qualify for one of its AAA teams.
With the support of our principal, Thaddeus B. Hall, he organized a football and basketball team. Uniforms and equipment were bought with a fistful of money he got by walking door-to-door and asking for help from struggling merchants on 9th Street in West Durham.
Since girls were required to take a semester of physical education, I took the advice of my home economics teacher and tried out for E. K. Powe's first cheerleading squad. Before long, I was jumping up and down in a monogrammed sweater, a homemade ankle-length pleated skirt, bobby-socks and saddle oxfords and waving pom-poms.
I missed out on sports altogether at Durham High School (DHS). I was in the "co-op" class, a program for students (mostly boys) who needed to work. Nancy Suitt, Mary Pendergraph and I left at noon every day and walked to the only store in town offering us employment - Belk-Leggett on Main Street.
At the time, we had four or five classmates who were following in different footsteps. Their fathers played golf, and they wanted to form a team. It was the first I had heard of the game.
It wasn't until I was working for a bank in Raleigh that the matter came up again. Nancy Lopez was coming to play at the old Raleigh Country Club. She had already gained popularity with her winning ways, both on the course and off.
It was an event that changed my whole idea about the world of golf. The reason was quite simple. She was a lady and true professional and, as I believe is Howard Ward, a credit to her chosen career.
I never made a free throw or successfully put a bat or club to a ball. But, I washed uniforms, cooked spaghetti dinners, sold raffle tickets and served up hot dogs, while my sons raced from goal to goal. And, through the years, I shouted from the sidelines and cheered from the bleachers when they reached every finish line.
Do I have any regrets? None whatsoever. Because what they gave to me was more than a winner's trophy.
Contact Southern Pines writer Lois Holt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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