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People say that when times are dark, when the menacing stare of the unknown looks you directly in the face, one’s true self is shown.
Usually this is through kindness and charity in giving to others — or on the other side of the spectrum, through greed and selfishness. Whatever end one falls on when times look the most bleak, it is to that end that they will no doubt go.
While the charity side of things is most important, especially in the uncertainty that we find ourselves facing, sometimes kindness is actually what matters most.
On Thursday, schools across North Carolina were informed that those associated with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association would have their athletic events suspended until April 6. Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools went a step further and suspended all school activities until April 20. For student-athletes barely getting their spring seasons started, it was over as quickly as it began.
No doubt it was the correct call to make, but equally no doubt, there were kids who were incredibly disappointed, some who work out year-round to stay on top of their game and better their chances at elusive championships or college offers.
The teams at Southern Nash were no exception to that, but at least they had one last game they could play on Friday before everything was schedules to shut down — but they would not be at home, which means no “Senior Night” for senior athletes.
That’s where kindness takes over. The varsity Ladybird soccer and softball teams, as well as the junior varsity and varsity Firebird baseball team, were all scheduled to play at nonconference rival Nash Central.
The folks at Nash Central could have enjoyed what is likely their final home game of the year and celebrated their seniors on their own and nobody would have faulted them for it — let’s face it, what a great opportunity for a psychological advantage to add to the home field one.
The folks at Nash Central however, did not see it that way.
In an act of incredible kindness and a showing of what true sportsmanship looks like, the athletic department at Nash Central High School offered to let Southern Nash’s seniors be honored alongside their own. Something they certainly did not have to do.
When I was told about the “Dual Senior Night” I quickly asked for and obtained last-minute permission to broadcast their varsity baseball game. As I climbed to the top of the Nash Central press box that the baseball field shares with the football field, I looked out at the football field and saw the maroon “C” logo still showing lightly through the grass on the 50-yard line. I thought, “Too bad our seniors will miss walking out on that “SN,” but man, it’s great they get to be honored.
The very first thing I saw when I stepped out onto the roof of the press box almost brought tears to my eyes. There on the left side of home plate was a freshly painted bright red and white “SN.” To the right of the plate was a maroon “C.”
For one of the few times in my life, I was left speechless.
How many coaches would not only let the opposing team have its players honored with the home team players, but then on top of that, paint the visitors’ logo on their field? The answer is not many. I don’t know if the logo was on the softball field or soccer field — but it was on the baseball field.
The teams rotated, one from Nash Central and one from Southern Nash, with their families escorting them as their names were announced over the loudspeaker.
Nash Central varsity baseball coach Willie Langley — you are a real class act. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of Firebird Nation, thank you. That meant a lot to our seniors. Probably more than we will ever know.
Southern Nash won the baseball game, but afterwards, both teams gathered together in a circle around home plate, knelt and prayed for each other and for everyone else to come through this pandemic safely.
So in the end, we all won. May we all be so kind.
Mark Cone is owner and operator of SouthernNashNews.com.