Friday, June 13, 2014

Major coaching shakeup at Ardrey Kell High

There has been a major coaching shuffle at Ardrey Kell High School:

-- After helping open the school eight years ago, athletics director Cheryl Feeney is resigning. Under Feeney’s leadership, Ardrey Kell won five straight Wachovia Cups for athletic excellence and quickly developed one of the area’s top overall sports program. The school is currently accepting applications for her replacement, via principal David Switzer.

-- After a year at Charlotte Latin, volleyball coach Zoe Bell is returning to Ardrey Kell, which she led to a N.C. 4A state championship in 2012.

-- Brian Thompson, a member of the Winston-Salem Parkland powerhouse teams, is the school’s new wrestling coach. He was a four-year starter and captain at UNC-Pembroke.

-- Junior varsity girls basketball coach Jeff Buseick is the new varsity girls coach. Rachel Isenhour is the new cheerleading coach. She was junior varsity coach last year.

Friday, June 6, 2014

All-Meck football star, Clemson recruit Van Smith transfers from West Meck to Hough

All-Mecklenburg football player and Clemson recruit Van Smith has transferred from West Mecklenburg to Hough, his father told the Observer Friday.

Van Smith Sr., who was defensive coordinator at West Meck for three seasons, said his family has moved into the Hough district. He said the family wanted to live near the lake. Smith Sr. said his son was looking forward to the challenge of joining a team that was 10-2 last season and is expected to challenge Mallard Creek for a MECKA 4A conference championship this fall.

"Van is a competitor," Smith Sr. said. "I know he has to go there and compete. The plan is to graduate early (in December), so he has to go through one semester there and start his collegiate career at Clemson if all goes well."

ESPN ranks Smith as the No. 16 player in the class of 2015 in North Carolina. Smith is a 5-foot-11, 172-pound junior who plays multiple positions. He's being recruited as an athlete. He had scholarship offers from Duke, Kansas State, N.C. State, Penn State and Vanderbilt, among others.

Van Smith Sr. said he would continue to work at West Mecklenburg, but would not return as a coach.

"I've coached for 25 years," he said. "It's time for me to be a dad."

West Mecklenburg coach Jeff Caldwell said losing Smith would hurt.

"It's a big loss," said Caldwell. "It's a big change to lose a kid like Van. That's the kind of kid that doesn't come along but every so often. He's always positive, never a problem. He's a got a great personality. He's a role model. He gets along great with kids here, there's no tension (about the move). He still loves his teammates. It was a family decision."

Caldwell said his team would return five offensive starters and three on defense from last year's 9-3 team. He graduated two major college recruits in QB Jalan McLendon (N.C. State) and Shaun Wilson (Duke). Eight other West Mecklenburg seniors have signed with colleges.

Caldwell has hired former Providence Day assistant Ben McGarrity to be his new defensive coordinator. Another former Providence Day assistant, Andy Kiker, will join the staff to coach the defensive line. Former Olympic assistant Zach Griffin will coach offensive and defensive lines.

"We've got some positive momentum here and we want to keep it going," Caldwell said. "We've got a lot of good athletes and some of them played varsity last year but didn't have to start because of the guys we had, but they played good minutes and now they get to show what they can do. I feel really good about the winter and spring we had as far as lifting and putting things together. We're moving forward."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Alexander Central's Vada Sherrill named NC softball player of the year

CHICAGO (June 5, 2014) — In its 29th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Vada Sherrill of Alexander Central High School as its 2013-14 Gatorade North Carolina Softball Player of the Year.  Sherrill is the second Gatorade North Carolina Softball Player of the Year to be chosen from Alexander Central High School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Sherrill as North Carolina’s best high school softball player.  Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award announced in June, Sherrill joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Alicia Hollowell (2000-01, Fairfield HS, Calif.), Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.), Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.), Angela Tincher (2002-03, James River HS, Va.) and Kenzie Fowler (2006-07, Canyon del Oro HS, Ariz.).

The 5-foot-8 junior second baseman has led the Cougars to a 33-0 record, a No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 and a berth in the Class 4A state finals against Cape Fear, scheduled for June 6. Entering the state championship series, Sherrill was hitting .555 with three home runs, 40 RBI and a state-record 59 runs scored. The North Piedmont Conference Player of the Year and an All-State selection, she has also contributed 17 doubles, three triples and 48 stolen bases in 50 attempts.
Sherrill has maintained a 3.94 GPA in the classroom. A talented singer and a devoted member of her church youth group, she has volunteered locally on behalf of a nursing home and a food pantry.

“Sherrill is a phenomenal leadoff hitter,” said Carlee Carpenter, head coach at North Lincoln High. “She not only does a great job of getting on base, but nine times out of 10, when she gets on, she will score. She also drives in runs as well or better than most clean-up hitters. She’s the total package.”

Sherrill will begin her senior year of high school this fall.

Sherrill joins recent Gatorade North Carolina Softball Players of the Year Lexi Shubert (2012-13, Fred T. Foard High School), Lexi Davis (2011-12, Porter Ridge High School), Chelsea Wilkinson (2010-11 & 2009-10, Alexander Central High School), Tisha Mahon (2008-09, North Davidson), Chelsea Leonard (2007-08, Central Davidson), and Ashton Ward (2006–07, Butler) among the state’s list of former award winners.