The Transylvania Times -

No Time Like The Present For Brevard Track, Tennis Teams - Brevard, NC

 

May 18, 2017



Between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, roughly a 36-hour window of time, a group of well-known yet slightly shrouded student-athletes from Brevard High School have the opportunity to make athletic history for the Blue Devils.

For that group of 18 – 12 from the track and field squad and six from the boys’ tennis team – success seems to be lingering before them as if they simply have to reach out and take it.

I use the term slightly shrouded not to diminish any accomplishments of the collective group, but to point out that oftentimes those achievements aren’t truly recognized and appreciated by the community at-large.

Let’s start with track and field. Sadly, there haven’t been many meets held in Transylvania County over the past few years for spectators to get out and enjoy.

Before the meet at Brevard College in April, it had been two years since a track meet was held locally.

It’s unfortunate that athletes from both Brevard and Rosman haven’t had more chances to compete in front of their friends and family.

It’s also worth pointing out that athletes from both schools have been vastly successful and the root of that success comes from work they put in outside of practices, on their own time.

Last Friday, as I was leaving Brevard High after a signing ceremony, I pulled onto Country Club Road and saw Ava Findlay – decked out in full running attire – jogging briskly as a light drizzle of rain steadily fell.

Mind you, this was approximately seven hours before Brevard’s prom.

Earlier, they announced over the loudspeaker that students attending the prom had to stay in school until 11:30 a.m. before leaving, which precipitated nothing short of Mad Max style mash-up in the parking lot at the bottom of the hour.

Yet there was Findlay, running in the rain as fellow students drove past on various routes to prepare for the evening ceremony.

Maybe I’ve got it wrong and she was running uptown to get her hair and nails done, but even then, the greater point remains.

And it’s something I’ve seen countless times before while driving around downtown – groups of athletes, sometimes from Brevard, sometimes from Rosman, running through the streets just because they wanted to.

That’s the type of selfless dedication that such a sport demands, yet it’s the type of act that rarely goes acknowledged.

It’s the reason Brevard’s girls’ cross country team has won back-to-back state championships.

It’s the reason runners like Noah Graham and Andrew Robinson and Rosman’s Jonathan Ray – who I saw running near Brevard College recently – have achieved what they have in their prep careers.

To casual observers, shedding a half-second off a personal best time in an event might just mean the person had a good day.

But when you see what these athletes do day-after-day, after practice is over, when nobody is watching, there’s a greater appreciation that they’re doing any and everything to get just a microsecond faster than their last event.

Many competitions at Friday’s state championship meet will be over in flash, but those flashes are the culmination of countless hours of work all in the hope of getting just a little bit better.

Then there is the tennis state championship match Saturday in Burlington.

And I must preface this segment of the column by saying that at the time it was written, I have no guarantee the Blue Devils will make it to their fourth straight state championship appearance, as they faced Shelby Wednesday afternoon for the right to move on.

That being said, and in light of what I witnessed from the team Monday against Newton-Conover, there is no chance that I would bet against them.

Brevard entered the season after losing top singles player Joseph Schrader as he decided to pursue his dreams of playing professional tennis after winning the 2A individual championship last spring.

You might think that would have caused a drop-off in productivity, but Brevard hasn’t missed a beat and they were undefeated entering Wednesday’s match.

Over the past four full seasons they’ve lost just a few matches and have always found their way to the state finals.

They’ve come up short – painfully so in some instances – of capturing that elusive state title, but they remain one of the most dominant teams in the state.

I’ll be frank, and say that several local teams in their conference are outmatched and defeated before they even get off the bus. Yes, Brevard is that good.

However, the results never waver. The Blue Devils never get sloppy and lose games they shouldn’t. They don’t make foolish errors. They don’t look past opponents.

They step on the court time and time again and simply outclass the opposition.

While the talent discrepancy exists, constantly winning matches that you’re expected to win is sometimes easier said than done. Some may argue that winning so many games with ease and regularity is a by-product of facing teams with inferior skill-sets.

While there might be a bit of truth in that position, the greater truth is Brevard wins those games because they practice hard, show up ready to play regardless of their opponent, and hold themselves to a high standard.

I’ve watched the Blue Devils in matches where one player who is far-and-away better than their opponent gets frustrated when they double-fault, hit an unforced error, or just don’t play particularly well that day.

They aren’t mad because they fear losing to inferior opposition, they’re mad because they know they can and should do better.

They aren’t matching the standard of play they expect from themselves and expect from one another.

That sense of accountability and not simply wanting to play better, but demanding it, is why Brevard has achieved what they have.

Should they advance to Saturday’s state final match a championship will be four years in the making and it’s hard to find a team more deserving of a state title than the Blue Devils.

I say all this to commend two teams who, again, remain slightly shrouded.

With home meets every blue moon, only coaches and die-hard parents have seen what Brevard’s track team can do. And even though the Blue Devil tennis team plays at Brevard College, it’s always the same dozen or so folks in attendance for every match.

Neither team truly “needs” to prove themselves, but both are in position to go out with a bang and reap the dividends of all the work they’ve put in over the past months and years.

Given their past successes and proclivity for seizing the moment, Friday and Saturday could prove to be some of Brevard’s finest hours in recent memory.

 
 

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