wingspan • december 11, 2009
Fresh Start F
Realigned conference brings success for fall teams
our sports teams clinched conference titles in the new 2A/3A Appalachian Athletic Conference: men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball and women’s golf. Football and men’s soccer finished the season third in the conference, while women’s tennis finished the season tied for fourth place.
Volleyball coach to retire after 35-year career
ll successful coaching careers must eventually come to a close, and West’s most successful one is no exception. Volleyball Head Coach Jan Stanley publicly announced her impending retirement at the end of the semester on Jan. 21 in a press release on Tuesday. “I felt like it was time. My husband has been retired for three years, and I look forward to spending more time with him,” Stanley said. “It was a very hard decision because I had been here for so long.” Stanley leaves with a legacy of success. Since joining the faculty 35 years ago, West’s first and only volleyball coach has racked up 30 conference championships and five volleyball state titles. Last season, she earned career victory No. 658, a total that made her the winningest volleyball coach in N.C. history. In addition, Stanley was inducted into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2008 and has won two national coach of the year awards. Her legacy goes beyond all of her accomplishments, Stanley’s players said. “She has been here a long time. She has done her job and taught everybody life lessons,” senior Summer Kremer said. “She was like a mother to her players because she cared for them like she cared for her own daughters.” Over the years, Stanley also coached softball, basketball, tennis, track and even cheerleading. In 1989, Stanley brought West its first state championship, a volleyball win that was followed by a volleyball and basketball state championship the following school year. Stanley’s most successful run came from 2003 until her last season when her teams appeared in six out of a possible seven state championship matches, winning three. Stanley’s oldest daughter, Tiffany Lowrance, will replace her mother and will become West’s second volleyball coach ever. Lowrance played volleyball and basketball at Appalachian State University. “My daughter will be taking over as coach and that helped my decision a whole lot,” Stanley said. “I think the program is in good hands. She has helped me so much over the past years and the girls know her really well.” In a press release, Principal Dean Jones spoke about Stanley’s legacy at the school. “No words can adequately describe what Coach Stanley has meant to our school, students, athletes and community during her career here at West,” Jones said. “She is the consummate professional who, on a daily basis, promotes the success of, and creates positive relationships with, anyone fortunate enough to know her. She is a great teacher, a tremendous coach and an even better human being.”
Last year the senior-laden, stateranked men’s soccer team finished at the top of the Western Athletic 2A Conference. This fall the young team finished third in the realigned conference with a 10-10-3 (6-6-2) record. The team advanced to the playoffs, facing top-seeded Asheville High in the first round. “They were a really good team, and we knew that we would have to play the best we had all season to beat them,” senior Spencer Sharrits said. The score was 0-0 with little time left on the clock, but Asheville managed to get a point and came away with a close win. “I was amazed at how well we played,” junior Patrick Miller said. “I think if we played them again we could beat them.” Next season looks promising to Head Coach Brian Brewer. “We have one of the top goalkeepers in WNC, and we should be skilled Record: and deep in every position,” he said.
Women’s Tennis With the swish of a racket, senior Amie Cloer fell in the first round of the 3A singles state tournament at Burlington Tennis Center in Burlington last month. “In the past three years, I just basically breezed right through the first rounds (of the playoffs), and this year I knew that I had to play Tiffany Vanhpraseuth from Ledford,” Cloer
said. “I’d lost to her several times before outside of school, so going into it I knew what the chances were.” Cloer was the 2A singles state runner-up last season and freshman year was a semifinalist. According to Cloer, the move to 3A for her senior year was ill-timed. “I’m a little disappointed this year, not having that state title,” Cloer said. “But if you didn’t look at my family and at their history, it’s still pretty good.”
Cross Country Sophomore Ashley Heywood’s feet pounded the course, creating deep prints in the mud. Rain created huge puddles in the middle of the trail. The weather at regionals was far from ideal. Jackson Park was overtaken with a cold, windy rain. The women’s cross country teams were the last to race, so the course was in even worse condition. Despite the challenges, the Lady Falcons finished third by only one point, despite two uniform violation disqualifications. Junior Kiersten Ellsworth placed fifth individually. “It started off sprinkling, but by the time our race came around, it was the heaviest it had been all day,” Heywood said. “All of Tuscola fell at the start line.” The men’s team placed eighth. Senior Brandon Hawkins placed 16th overall, and sophomore Sean Rapp placed 31st. The young women’s team, which will lose no seniors for next season, placed 10th at the state meet in Tanglewood Park, Clemmons, on Nov. 7. The men’s team will lose seven seniors, five out of the top seven. “Next year’s team will perform really well,” Hawkins said. “We all hope the best for them.”
With a heartbreaking dropped pass, the Falcons fell to the Burns Bulldogs by three points during the first round of the 3A state playoffs. The Fal-
Photo used with permission of Lifetouch
Photo used with permission of Lifetouch
A final hit, and the ball slammed onto the West volleyball team’s side, ending a near-perfect season. For the second time this year, Cardinal Gibbons celebrated a defeat of the Lady Falcons. “It’s not any fun to lose, especially when you’re not used to it, and our girls are not used to losing,” Coach Jan Stanley said. “But I’m proud of the girls and we had a great season.” The Lady Falcons first lost to Cardinal Gibbons at the season-opening Great Eight tournament, then won 29 consecutive games to make it to the state finals and a 0-3 loss to Cardinal Gibbons. The team will lose eight seniors to graduation. “They (the juniors) have a lot of experience and a lot of heart,” senior Patricia Cantrell said. “They can definitely make it to state.” Stanley is confident in her players. “Winning state is our goal every year,” she said. “We have a lot of good girls coming back, along with the sophomores from the junior Record: varsity team, which was undefeated.”
Ryan Duckett Senior Editor
Sweet Seasons Huddling with her players, Coach Jan Stanley (top) gives them instructions before the 3A state championship match in Raleigh, N.C. The Lady Falcons lost the match, 0-3, to rival Cardinal Gibbons. On Tuesday, Stanley announced that she will retire Jan. 21. At the homecoming game against Brevard on Oct. 16, offensive lineman Ben Stanley, a senior, (bottom) snaps the ball to quarterback Dillon Baker, a junior. The Falcons went on to win the game, 28-21, helping the team gain a playoff berth. cons went from last year’s 1-10 season to a playoff bid by working on offensive plays at Wofford College during the summer. “We added the triple option and that helped us move the ball,” junior Kevin Thomas said. “Last season our main problem was moving the ball when we had to, and we didn’t struggle with that much this season.” Not only did the Falcons work on their offensive production and strategy at Wofford, but they also worked on strength conditioning. “The practices were really tough at camp, and sometimes they weren’t too fun,” senior Patrick Maurer said. “but the team was committed and we knew we needed these practices.”
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The Falcons finished third in the new Appalachian Athletic Conference behind Franklin and Tuscola. A turning point in the season was the win against area powerhouse Pisgah. “One of the best moments was our win over Pisgah,” Maurer said. “It had rained the whole week prior, and we were all sick. We practiced in the rain and kept working hard and winning was great for us.” The team felt more prepared for the competition they faced. “We have made great improvements. It’s almost like we were a totally different team,” Thomas said. “The practices Record: were a lot harder and tougher.”
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