Piedmont Online 2022–1–10

Welcome to Piedmont Online, a free weekly e-paper and blog focusing on the positive stories and images of our community.

Please visit our website piedmontonline.net, updated daily.

Included in today’s edition are the latest story from the “Little Girls Dream Too” series, and two photo galleries of snow pictures contributed by readers.

Snow Adds To Holiday

photo by Gill Clopton

Most students and some employees got an extra day added to winter break when snow blanketed the area on Monday. The snow was not unexpected but the accumulation was since the snow followed warm days and heavy rains.
The high in Henderson was 75 on Saturday but within hours, a storm brought heavy winds and more than 3 inches of rain. But even with the wet, warm ground, the snow was heavy enough to cover yards and streets for several hours.
After a very pleasant week, winter has returned over the past few days and seasonal temperatures should hold for the next couple of weeks, according to forecasts.

Dallas Horne finds enough snow in his yard to begin a snowman (photo by Missy Faucette)
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Expect Traffic Detour

CSX Railroad has planned much needed railroad crossing repairs over the next two weekends. The crossings at Andews Avenue and at St. Matthews Street will be closed this Friday, Jan 14, and should re-open by noon Saturday.
The following weeek, Jan 21–22, CSX will do repairs at the JP Taylor Road crossing and the Eastern Minerals crossing.
There will be signs guiding traffic onto detour routes, but be prepared for delays if you must use these streets, especially Andrews Ave.

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Colorful Skies Make For Spectacular Photos

Photographer Donna Metz captured the picture on the left of the early morning skies near Norlina last week. Recent sunrises and sunsets have brought brilliant colors to the sky, but Donna was also able to catch another great shot during the day.

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Remember When

Downtown Henderson in 1919 (photo courtesy of Vance County Historical Society)

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Lucas Juntunen scored 30 points Tuesday night as Oxford Prep’s varsity boys defeated Falls Lake Academy 59–41. The Griffin’s raised their record to 3–8 on the season as Falls Lake fell to 3–9. (photo by Madison Primm)

Kadence Woodlief chases down Kennedy Teasley
Emerson Thompson attempts a shot over Sam Huff

Falls Lake broke open a close game with a 22–2 run in the second quarter, highlighted by an Emerson Thompson three pointer from mid court as the half expired. Falls Lake went on to a 59–24 victory.

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Vance Charter Wins Thriller Over GC

Granville Central fought back from a 14 point deficit to tie the game against Vance Charter in the final seconds. Kyiah Simmons’ basket broke the tie and gave VC a 60–58 lead. Granville Central had a chance to send the game into overtime but missed one of two free throws with .02 on the clock.
Allis Bliss scored 15 points in the first half. She nailed a three pointer that gave the Knights a 14 point lead. But GC put the clamps on Bliss in the second half and mounted a furious comeback with a tenacious defensive effort.
The Knights played without Grace Stovall and Kayla Simmons, both who are battling injuries.

Granville Central boys defeated Vance Charter 66–34 (photos by Matt Page/Tar River Preps)

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NC State women defeated UNC 72–45 (photos by Madison Primm)

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300 From Beyond The Arc

North Raleigh Christian’s McKenna Snively sits with her family (right)after she hit her 100th three pointer this week during a 50–36 victory at Charlotte Country Day. McKenna scored 14, including three 3’s in the win. The following day, McKenna scored 25 and Imani Lester added 19 in NRCA’s 84–30 win over Charlotte Christian. (photo with family by Elisa Harris)

(game photo on left by Morris Moye)

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photo by Gill Clopton

I wasn’t planning on there being an e-paper this week. With the holidays behind us and me being under the weather, it just didn’t seem possible. But over 100 people found that an inch of snow was easily enough fluff to submit pictures. I couldn’t use but a small handful, but a big thanks to every one of you. (The gallery is at the end of this edition)
This project is dependant on contributions, and some very talented photographers have played a big role. My gratitude to Chip Snively for rounding up pictures from North Raleigh Christian, and to Matt Page of Tar River Preps for allowing us to share his talent and dedication.
I’m also grateful to the students who have helped over the past few weeks: Kezia Iqbal, Allie Bliss, Haley Gilleland, Katherine Suther and others…. especially the lovely young lady in the picture above. Piedmont Online is a starting point for what I’m sure will be a great career in photography for the very talented Madison Primm of Madi Primm Media. Thanks for your help, Madison.

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Watching Maci Grow

I prayed that my breathing would hold up as I made the trip to Wake Forest to see Maci Taylor. I was probably in the school parking lot by the time I got to the “amen”. I joked with the Cougar volleyball star after the game that I really wanted to come so I could get some donuts, but it was late and I’d better hurry home before my breathing fails me.
About 30 minutes after arriving back at my Henderson home, I was editing the pictures I took when I got a phone call from Maci. “Come to the door; I’m in the driveway”. I opened the door and there she stood; still in Wake Forest High sweats and carrying a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts.
That’s the real Maci Taylor…. the other side of the athlete.

As the season begins in any year, I’m always faced with the question “why the girls?”. My immediate response is “why not?… little girls dream too”. That became the sub-title of all my blogs and Maci remains the nucleus of each story, if only by inspiration. She is, literally, the reason I do this. That’s the story I want to share.

I actually started writing blogs about girls sports before blog was even a word. My first story was about Broughton basketball player Jill Goldberg. Thankfully, no one ever saw it, nor did they see the dozens of stories I later wrote. Only one story survived; a piece I did about the Vance Sr High cheerleaders of 1989. Thirty years later, it became one of my most popular stories.
But when it was published, I had accepted that my name would never be in a newspaper, and neither would my stories. So I stopped. But with the exposure of the cheer story, I decided to write one final story: a story about a 12 year old girl whose mom was my friend long before she was born; a child whom I’d never met. Her name was Maci Taylor and her sport was volleyball.
Writing again was kinda cool, but unlike the Jill Goldberg story, this one would be published and people would actually read it. It couldn’t be filled with what Jimmy Buffett called “fictional facts”. That wasn’t going to be easy since Maci played in Wake Forest and I was practically home bound due to disability.
Or so I thought.
I finally met Maci in person a few days before Thanksgiving in 2018. She was in Henderson to help deliver Thanksgiving dinners to needy citizens for Grace Ministries. It was one of many charities Maci was active in. The story had already been published and she designed her own Facebook site to promote her journey through sports. I was anxious to see her, but I did not want her to see me. I was a complete train wreck and had pretty much accepted that I was confined to the place where my life would end.
I don’t know what looked worse, me or my house. But Maci wasn’t phased. She put her arm around me for a picture and she looked up and said “I start volleyball at Wake Forest High next year. I want you to come.”
Are you serious? I can’t make it to Food Lion without having panic attacks and you want me to come to Wake Forest?
And she didn’t ask… she told me to come. I thought to myself “girl, if you only knew..”: But I didn’t have the heart to say no.

The confidence Maci had in me was comparable to her self imposed goals. She had failed to make the middle school team but balked at switching schools. She had complete confidence in her abilities as an athlete, and confidence that I could help her reach her goals. I knew it was impossible but I didn’t dare tell her. I just went to work and slowly but surely, I was able to get to some games at Vance High. Wake Forest was becoming a legitimate goal.
Maci was the only freshman to make Wake Forest’s varsity squad the following year. One of her first games was at Vance Charter, and that’s the first time I saw her play. She had a horrible game and was devastated. It wasn’t so much that I was there; Henderson was her hometown and her family was there.
Maybe she felt like she had disappointed us, but we certainly didn’t feel that way. In fact, I was on top of the world: I finally got to see my little hero play the game she loves. I decided that night that I was somehow going to make the trip to Wake Forest before the season ended. It’s only a 30 minute drive, but it may as well be a million miles when you can’t breathe well enough to leave home.
A few weeks later, I made it to Wake Forest, praying all the way. Since then, I’ve made several trips, and a few to Sinjin Park, to see Maci and othes play.

One thing you have to keep is mind about Maci is that she’s only 16. As adults, we tend to forget the things that went through our minds when we were her age, the confusion and the foolishness that molded us into who we are. Maci doesn’t have the room for error that most of us had; athletic prospects are expected to begin laying out college plans before they even get to high school. In these days of travel teams and web sites, it’s almost impossible for parents or students to know the difference between money scams and coaches who can actually help, and mistakes can cost more than some parents make a year. With Maci, there’s also the drive to be involved in charities that are dear to her, requirements of being an honor student in school, and the internal mass confusion of simply being a teenage girl.
Maci has taken being the centerpiece of my stories with a grain of salt. She’s a fan of the high school game and she supports her friends at other schools. Her best friend Emma Hammond plays for that “H” school on the other side of town, but it never touched their friendship. She pulls for all the volleyball players and is always happy when one succeeds, never comparing herself to them.
“Little girls dream too” is more than a series of stories. It’s a movement that began long before I used the name. It’s a mindset and a conviction to pay tribute to the girls who work twice as hard but receive a fraction of the attention. For almost all, the dream is a fantasy that will soon end.

Much to my delight, Maci is intelligent enough to separate fantasy from reality in sports. She always wanted volleyball to be a part of her journey through college, but she has definite plans in place for her future. Last summer, she had the unique opportunity to have a choice of several schools. She was accepted at three charter schools and was offered a scholarship to a private school. When I interviewed her, she talked about what each school offered in accordance with her lifetime goals. We met with some guidance counselors who had no viable interest in her decision, and Maci said she’d make her final decision, on high school and on college, in prayer. When rumors of her “new team” hit Facebook, we decided to reveal what we already knew deep inside: Maci was already where she wanted to be and had no real desire to leave. She would graduate at Wake Forest High School with the friends and teammates she loved dearly.

And college? There are several schools she is considering, each offering something to her liking. Her original choices which were based on volleyball are no longer options… her choice.
In fact, she’s not sure she’ll play volleyball in college. It’s still on the table and hopefully it will happen, but it’s not the most important thing. She has cut back drastically on travel ball and mostly resigned from beach ball. She plans to be a veterinarian and she’s already working toward that goal.
As a senior at Wake Forest, Maci will play volleyball for the fun of it. That’s good news for the Cougars because Maci is at her best when she’s only it in for the fun. The work is set aside for her long term goals.

That first game at Vance Charter, I saw Maci laugh and I saw her cry… both in the same night. It’s part of growing up. This past summer, I’ve seen her laugh and I’ve seen her cry again as she faced the hard side of life. This time, I saw the laughs and tears of a young woman, not the child who visited Vance Charter in 2019. I have a hard time handling that. Maybe I want her to be a child for a few more years but I admire the woman she is becoming.
Today, Maci is a junior at Wake Forest High. She works a part time job near her school. She’s still involved in charities when time allows, including an annual trip to Henderson to contribute to The Salvation Army Christmas drive. She also does an internship at Shepherd Youth Ranch. There’s much more, but it’s for a later blog… she still wants to be a quiet young girl who doesn’t tell everything.
And what about the “legacy” (for lack of a better word) as being the backbone of my stories? Well; this year I’ll write a dozen new stories and photograph almost 500 girls at 15 different high schools. Some of these girls like Allie Bliss and Kadence Woodlief have become part of who I am. Their stories are unique and their journey is a story waiting to be told. I’m able to do it because of a challenge issued to me by 12 year old Maci Taylor. She is the backbone of every story because it was her who allowed me to see inside her heart and truly understand the phrase “Little Girls Dream Too”.

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Snow Around The Piedmont

Caswell County; photo by Ashley Ayers
Franklinton; photo by Alexis Donnan
Hicksboro; photo by Kenneth Stegall
Lauren Carroll at Kerr Lake; photo by Holly Carroll
Littleton; photo by Finley Neal
Macon; photo by Kenya Vaughn
Roxboro; Photo by Gracie Casstevens
South Hill; photo by Amy Thompson
Stovall; photo by Jean Collins
Norlina; photo by Donna Metz
South Hill; photo by Judy Martin
Norlina; photos by Donna Metz

A Little Snow, A Lot Of Pictures

photo by Aarika Sandlin
photos by Carol Tant
Ellie Nevaeh Berry catching a snowflake on her tongue (photo by Jimmy Stone)
Hailey, Kadence and Zach Woodlief (photo by Kelly Woodlief)
Harper Todd, 8, has a snowball fight with her grandfather William Burnette (photo by Jessica Todd)
Biscuit; photo by Megan Riley
Austin and Kaylee Vaughn; photos by Stephanie Vaughn
Kezia Iqbal; self timed photos
photos by Michael Clopton
Naomi Simril; photo by Megan Vaughn
Raven’s first snow; photo by Brenda Satterwhite
Photo by Rebecca Iqbal
photo by Stephanie Cole
Sofia Castorela; photo by Charlene Roberson
Stevenson Pond; photo by Allen Harris
photo by Tom Burleson

Piedmont Online is an alternative e-paper and blog, focusing on the positive and staying away from politics and controversy. We operate entirely on donations.

We would appreciate stories, leads, recaps and pictures from Henderson, Creedmoor, Oxford, Clarksville, South Hill, Franklinton, Wake Forest and surrounding communities. Send contributions to gillclopton@outlook.com

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Gill Clopton

Gill Clopton

Freelance photographer

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