North Carolina High School Athletic Association

#SportsmanshipTogether: First at bat a memorable one for Northwood manager

The #SportsmanshipTogether series follows examples of good sportsmanship and programs doing things the right way in an effort to highlight the positive things seen across the NCHSAA during the Association’s “Sportsmanship … Together we make the right call” campaign. If you see an example of excellent sportsmanship at an NCHSAA member school or event, please contact James Alverson of the NCHSAA with the details (

PITTSBORO, N.C. – Northwood and Southern Durham played each other twice in baseball last week, the Chargers winning handily in both games they played. While the games themselves might not have been memorable for the players involved, there was at least one memorable moment that most people involved in Friday's game will never forget.

The Chargers have a manager named Blake who is a beloved student at the school with special needs. In fact, back in October, Blake was named the school's Homecoming King and has been an integral part of many athletic programs at the school as a manager. On Friday, after the game, Blake got to bat against Southern Durham, slapping a ball into the outfield and rounding the bases, sliding in safely at home as his teammates joyously dog-piled him.

There are moments that are bigger than the game, and this was certainly one of those for both teams. Cameron Vernon, a Co-Athletic Director at Northwood wrote a thank you email to Southern Durham High School that was shared with the NCHSAA saying, "I wanted to reach out to both of you to express my gratitude and appreciation for your baseball team working with us to make it a very speical night." He continued saying, "The members of your basebal team were very understanding of the situation. Blake was able to make contact and rounded the bases to score. The Southern Durham players were cheering him on as he was running the bases and it was just a very special moment that Blake will never forget."

Both schools and team coaches are due a hat tip for understanding the importance of inclusion and encouraging their players to celebrate the victories of others. It is just another small example of how when teams and coaches work together, lessons that are bigger than the game can be learned.