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COMMUNITY VOICE: High school athletics in Halifax

By Mark Cole

 

I am a concerned parent and citizen of Halifax County. I have been a past student athlete and parent of an athlete at Halifax County High School.

There has been an alarming downward trend in the competitiveness of Comet teams in the three major sports – football, basketball and baseball.

I think what is at the root of this problem starts from the top. 

I’ll start first with the football program that seems to be in total disarray for quite a while now. The number one source of revenue for all the sports programs at the school I would think comes from the varsity football program. 

The way I see it, the problem comes from a constant turnover in teaching philosophy and scheme. The leadership of the athletic department is under current Athletic Director Allen Lawter whom I assume is charged with running the sports program at the high school.

Mr. Lawter and the current administration seem to be either having problems finding an adequate head coach or having problems choosing from coaching candidates that are right for the job.

Just last season the Comets football team had a very difficult time competing because players could or would not play for the head coach.

A number of times, from being there and from listening to the broadcast on WHLF, the team was suffering so badly that the radio announcers seemed to be in disbelief as to what was happening on the field.

This should never happen at Halifax County. 

In my opinion, the Athletic Director Mr. Allen Lawter should shoulder the blame for this fiasco. The simple fact of the mass departure of players to quit in such numbers is alarming, and as far as I know has never happened before.

If the head coach cannot at least hold the team together, no matter whether they win or lose, they should show improvement, not decline in their level of play.

Again I feel the people who put the coaches on the field should do a much more thorough job in finding an adequate coach. Again in my opinion, the majority of the blame should go to Athletic Director Mr. Allen Lawter.

The state of the boys basketball programs seems also to be in steady decline. The past season was an exception as the Comets fielded a quality team, so in this area I think we must be in a wait and see mode.

However, for a long while the Comets have been mediocre to say the least, and the coaching carousel has been in constant motion. Coaches have been hired and either fired or have left in an alarming fashion.

Again, I think this problem lies at the top with Athletic Director Allen Lawter or Principal Albert Randolph, who constantly says he wants to field competitive teams yet fails to do so.

The baseball program is another particular area of concern. While fielding competitive teams, this program has been mostly underachieving according to the level of talent that comes through the program.

Year after year, the middle school sends top-notch talent to the high school, yet this talent is not achieving at the same degree. The only difference that I see is in the quality of coaching. Coach Nelson’s record speaks for itself, yet this does not continue at the varsity level at the high school.

I have attended many of the baseball games of the Comets baseball team and also know most of these young men from my years in the local Dixie programs. A great many of these players are advanced enough to have been on the most elite travel teams in an area that is quite large. They have been coached by college coaches and ex-professional baseball players. But that has not turned into the stellar level of play at the high school.

Basic baseball coaching philosophy and managing principles that have been time tested are often ignored, and in its place seems to be a fly-by-the-pants method of coaching.

Just getting to the regional level is simply not good enough. A record of just above .500 is not good enough. 

The talent fed to Coach Davis and his staff is state playoff worthy, yet every year fails to achieve these goals. 

In case you’ve looked, Frosty Owen and Scooter Dunn have not been here for a while. 

Again this problem I think starts at the top with Athletic Director Allen Lawter and Principal Randolph who are charged with overseeing this. It’s just not good enough.

The football program is now under Head Coach Kenneth Day, and Coach Davis is retiring from the baseball program. Now Athletic Director Lawter and Principal Randolph are charged with a tough choice.

In my opinion, neither one has a track record that is above par. I think the school board must get involved in these decisions and make wise choices.

I think any recommendations by Athletic Director Lawter and Principal Randolph, including naming Kenneth Day head baseball coach, should be carefully examined. 

In my opinion, this choice of Day would be more of the same which is just not good enough.

 

Mark Cole resides in South Boston.