The Transylvania Times -

The Top 10 Sports Stories That Shaped 2018 - Brevard NC

 

Last updated 12/26/2018 at 4:30pm

Brevard defensive coordinator John Stokes celebrates after Brevard's win over Randleman in the second round of the playoffs.

Blue Devil Football Goes On A Run For The Ages

It's been talked about a lot, but it's impossible to overstate the ride the Brevard Blue Devils took their fans on this season.

After finishing the season 8-3, Brevard won its first-round playoff game against Eastern Randolph and proceeded to pull off two road upsets in the following weeks – including taking down previously undefeated top seed Randleman before scoring a late touchdown against Wheatmore to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2005.

The season took on even greater meaning considering this year's slate of seniors went 0-9 during their freshman jayvee season.

The dream season didn't end the way everybody hoped, but it doesn't detract from the special season the Blue Devils put together.

It resurrected pride in the Brevard program. It rallied an entire community.

The Blue Devils' 2018 season is one that will be talked about for a long time, and one that every member of the team can be proud of.

Madison Fisher Sets New Bar For Female Wrestlers

One of the fastest growing sports in the nation is women's wrestling, and Rosman's Madison Fisher is on the cutting edge of a new crop of female athletes.

Fisher, currently a senior, has wrestled alongside the boys on the Tiger wrestling team for the past several seasons.

And while she's held her own against her male counterparts, Fisher has truly excelled in the women's division.

This past May, Fisher took third place in the Nuway National Folkstyle Wrestling Tournament in Lansing, Mich.

Wrestling against some of the top competition in the country, as well as a few from across the border, Fisher put together a great performance in the 139-pound class.

She later said the tournament was a great experience, as she's used to going up against the boys but was suddenly faced with some of the best female wrestlers around.

"The girls I was up against were all a lot better than any of the girls I've ever faced," she said.

By July, Fisher had cracked the top 15 in the national rankings of the 138 pound class.

So far this season, Fisher is 2-3 on the mat.

Her hopes are to continue excelling at the sport and possibly continue to wrestle down the road, either at a higher level or with a club team.

In a time where women's sports are making great leaps across the board, Fisher is a prime example to girls everywhere that they can compete and be successful against anybody, so long as they put in the hard work.

New Sports Trainers Feature Pair Of Twin Sisters

Aside from the color of the shirts that represent their respective school, there aren't many ways to tell Amber and Brittany Williams apart.

The identical twins joined the Transylvania County sports community this year as the newest set of athletic trainers.

Amber works for Rosman, while Brittany spends her time on the sidelines for Brevard.

Both are local to the mountains, having grown up in Waynesville.

They also followed similar academic paths, graduating from AB-Tech before attending Western Carolina University and majoring in athletic training.

And while the sisters do have different personalities, they provide the same service for student-athletes and both have a very busy workload.

"We do prevention. We do evaluation and treatment. We do emergency care and rehabilitation. We're always here after school and we see all the athletes," Brittany said.

With an added emphasis on safety in today's sports world, the job of athletic trainer has become more intense than ever.

That being the case, both sisters agreed that it was nice to have each other so close, not just for familial support, but also as trusted colleagues they can turn to for advice.

"It's helpful to have another person to bounce ideas off of when you're trying to think of a rehab plan," Amber said.

Indeed, athletes at Brevard and Rosman are in good hands with the Williams sisters.

Now, if you could only tell which one was which.

Moby Sorrells Attends 1,000th Consecutive Game

There are fans. There are superfans. And there is Moby Sorrells.

On Aug. 31, Sorrells made the 100-mile commute to attend what would be his 1,000th consecutive Friday game to watch the Brevard Blue Devils take on the Draughn Wildcats.

Brevard delivered with a 39-8 victory to help Sorrell's celebrate his big night.

The following week, fans, coaches, players and members of the BHS administration formally recognized Sorrells for his accomplishment at Brevard's first home game since breaking the threshold.

Once again, the Blue Devils made sure to send Sorrells home with a win, rolling past Madison 63-6.

Sorrells has been a fixture on the Brevard sidelines since 1944, when he attended his very first game.

During the early '50s, Sorrells did more than attend games – he played on the field.

After graduation, he joined the chain gang.

It was a position he would hold for the next six decades.

Keeping such a long streak going seems nearly impossible and there were some close calls along the way, including a game he nearly missed after having surgery.

But come Friday night in the fall, Sorrells can be found at the only place in the world he would want to be, watching Brevard High School football.

In an age where loyalty is almost a four-letter word in sports, Sorrells' accomplishment stands the test of time – not just for the sheer numbers, but for the undying passion and support he has shown the program.

Bubba Craven Rewrites Tornados' Receiving Records

It might be a long time before Brevard College Tornado fans see anything like Bubba Craven.

As a four-year player, Craven began his Tornado career as a quarterback during his freshman and sophomore seasons.

However, it was only after he shifted to a wide receiver in his junior year that he began rewriting history.

Last year, he led the team in receiving yards, catches, yards per game, yards per reception and receiving touchdowns.

This year, Craven was back at it, leading the team in receptions (51), receiving yards (662) and touchdowns (8).

In his final game, Craven went out with a bang – finishing with four touchdowns and 95 yards receiving.

That performance set the new school mark for most touchdowns in a single game.

He also broke his own record, finishing with 51 catches on the year, one more than he had in 2017.

When all was said and done, Craven held school records for all-time receptions (101), career receiving yards (1,530), career touchdowns (19) and average receiving yards per game (54.6).

Brevard College has finished 4-6 each of the past two years. And while that might not be the best win percentage, it's leaps and bounds ahead of the 2-31 stretch the Tornados suffered from 2014-2016.

The Tornados have found more success since their transition to DIII and Craven has been a big part of that journey.

His play won't soon be forgotten on the field, and his name will likely stay in the Tornados' record book for even longer.

Vandegrift Retires After 22 Years As BHS Tennis Coach

There are few coaches at any level, in any sport, that have enjoyed the kind of prolonged success that Mike Vandegrift had as head coach of the Brevard Blue Devils' tennis program.

For 22 years, Vandegrift has led the boys' and girls' teams at Brevard, racking up countless wins and titles, both as a team and individually, along the way.

This past spring, Vandegrift decided it was finally time to step down from the team he's led for nearly the past quarter-century.

"I've had so many great groups of young men and women, I still have so many great memories," he said.

As the boys' coach, Vandegrift ended his career with a 350-35 record. On the girls' side, he finished 186-19.

Combined, that's an overall record of 536-54 – a career winning percentage of 91 percent.

While there was hardly anything Vandegrift hadn't accomplished as head coach, the thing he was most proud of were all the players he coached during his career and the personal success they went on to have.

"It's amazing to look at the success of a lot of these students. And, hopefully, tennis has taught them a lot about improving any weaknesses they may have and help them in life. That's really a big part of why I did it," he said.

Coaching isn't easy. Winning is even harder.

Yet, Vandegrift found a way to do both at a remarkably high level during his time with the Blue Devils.

His legacy with stay with Brevard tennis for some time, and it is one that is rightly deserved.

Tornados' Women's Soccer Sets New Benchmark

The Brevard College Tornado women's soccer team made history left and right this fall.

The Tornados tied the school record for regular season wins, with 11 victories, and qualified for the Division III Eastern College Athletic Conference championships for the first time.

Like several other BC teams, the women's soccer program continued to see improvements after transitioning to DIII, as they also won 11 games last season in their first year playing Division III competition.

The success was led by a trio of seniors – Ashley Hughes, Caroline David and Megan Shina.

Hughes and David finished their career tied for the school record for most career goals at 25 each.

Hughes set new marks in 2018 for goals in a single season (19) and points in a season (41).

Shina leaves as the program's all-time leader in points, with 56. Hughes was just one point behind at 55.

David was the team's facilitator, finishing with 13 assists on the year – which set a new single season record, as well as established a new career mark.

She also finished her career fourth in all-time points.

The Tornados lost 4-0 in the first round of the ECAC playoffs, but their success has shown that BC is a program on the rise.

For many years, wins were few and far between for the Tornados. But hopefully this season will be a harbinger of even better things to come.

Lady Blue Devils Attain Top Rank, Surpass 20 Wins

For a perenial program like Brevard volleyball, it takes a lot to make an impression.

But the 2018 Lady Blue Devils did just that, winning the most games in program history (21), dating back to 2007, and attaining the No. 1 rank among 2A teams in the state along the way.

Brevard went nearly two months without a loss, racking up 18 straight wins from mid-August through early October.

Unfortunately, disaster struck late in the season as junior hitter Brooklyn Rising suffered a torn ACL in a match against Hendersonville.

As one of Brevard's go-to scorers, Rising proved to be impossible to replace.

The Lady Blue Devils held on to win the regular season Mountain Six Conference title, coming in second to East Henderson in the conference tournament final.

Heading into the playoffs, Brevard earned a No. 2 seed.

They survived a first-round scare against Shelby before hosting Henderonsville in the second round.

And while Brevard rushed out to a 2-0 lead against the Bearcats, Hendersonville rallied for three straight sets to deliver a bitter end to one of the best seasons in recent memory.

However, the Lady Blue Devils return most of their core players for the 2019 season and, with Rising's recovery, should be in a prime spot to put together another great year.

But this season was still successful on its own and will hopefully serve as a foundation for the team next year.

BC Cycling Wins Individual, Team Championships

This is a story that could run every year – the Brevard College cycling team adding more hardware to the trophy case.

2018 was another banner year for the Tornados, as several members of the team picked up individual titles and the team finished atop the podium in multiple events.

After taking fourth place at the USA Cycling Collegiate MTB National Championships in October, the Tornados opened their cyclocross season, with freshman Hannah Dickson earning her first career win.

Dickson followed up that performance with her second career win a month later at the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Cyclocross Championships.

Dickson was one of three Tornados to take first place in the event, as Tyler Clark and Dalton Collins also won championships.

Most recently, the relay team of Clark, along with teammates Hannah Arensman and Tyler Orschel, took first place in the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship race held in Louisville, Ky.

The Tornados are annually one of the most successful teams in the area, in any sport.

The team's success is even more impressive when you consider the individual effort it takes from each member of the team to achieve greater collective feats.

No matter what year it is, the Brevard College cycling team always finds its way to the top.

That stability, combined with success, make them an enviable program for any school.

Brevard Student Athletes Honor Late Classmate

There are no words to capture the tragedy of a life taken far too soon.

That reality hit home for members of the Brevard Blue Devil community this year, following the death of AbbyLea Masters, a Brevard student and cheerleader who passed away over the summer.

However, despite the loss, the athletic community banded together and were determined to find ways to honor their late friend.

The Blue Devil soccer team had special warmup shirts created, that bore Masters' last name on the back in bright pink letters.

Madison Fisher

During one of the Blue Devils' Friday night football games, Masters' friends, teammates and family members gathered at midfield, where they held a brief moment of silence before releasing balloons into the air.

It was an incredibly somber moment highlighted by plenty of tears.

However, the occasion also brought the community together for a chance to express its collective grief.

Compartmentalizing a loss is never easy, particularly at a young age.

Yet, the grace that many Brevard student athletes displayed in remembering their fallen friend was something special to see.

It was also the kind of thing you hope you don't have to see again.

 
 

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