High School Athletic Programs Keep An Eye On UNC Probe - WNCN: News, Weather

High School Athletic Programs Keep An Eye On UNC Probe

By Steve Sbraccia

The impact of the NCAA’s investigations into UNC’S football program has not been lost on the scores of high school coaches and athletes in the area.

As the story unfolds, those involved in high school athletics are reacting to what is happening in Chapel Hill.

Friday night, the kickoff occurred in one of the oldest rivalries in the state; the Fuquay-Clayton football game.

The event has a college feel for its athletes in more ways than one.

"The money business that is college football today is one where they have to produce winners and that’s filtered down into the high schools more than people realize," said legendary Clayton High School football coach Gary Fowler.

He's referring to the pressure on student athletes in high school to put the game before the studying.

“The biggest thing I tell kids is this; what happens if you get injured? Can you still attend that school if you don’t have football?, " said Fowler.

These days he says, for many the high school athletes “It’s no longer about education, It’s about how can I get to the Pro’s.”

As a coach Fowler says, he has to work hard to combat that attitude among his players.

For student-athletes there is  a delicate balance between sport and education.

“Taking honors classes like I do it gets hard,” explained Addison Braswawell who plays both baseball and basketball for Fuquay-Varina High.

“I might have two hours of homework and a two and a half hour practice. By the time I eat dinner its 9 o’clock or 9:30,” Addison said.

Because playing sports takes up so much time he said the pressure is always on student athletes to cheat; and some take that route.

“It basically says the student is lazy and doesn’t want to do the work and be an athlete at the same time,” said Addison. “Student and athletics; student comes first.”

Parents of student athletes also have to be vigilant as the father of one junior varsity football player told NBC-17.
“My son started school this week and I told him everything that you’re doing outside on the field, you have to carry that over inside,” said parent Tim Phillips.

Because what happens in high school sets up what kids will do in college, high schools like Fuquay-Varina try to recreate a college environment for their student athletes.

“Our standards are a little different from colleges, but our goals are the same, said Fuquay’s athletic director Bruce Hemphill. “We not only want to keep our players eligible, but graduate them so they can prepare for the next step in life.”

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