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‘BUCKLE YOUR CHINSTRAP’: Away from the plate, senior Panther steps up

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STEM — Granville Central’s baseball team was off to a good start (4-1), which outspoken senior leader Brady Smith said makes the sudden end of the season all the more bitter.

“It is just sad,” Smith said. “It’s just one of those things we can’t do anything about, but it is sad,” he said.

The season ground to a halt March 13 because of COVID-19, and officials decided last week that sports won’t resume.  

Smith felt like Granville Central was poised to make a run for the Northern Carolina Conference title this season.

“We had a really good brotherhood, really good team and for the few games we had this season. It was fun,” Smith said. “I was looking ahead to the state playoffs and Granville Central going out on top.

Smith said this team had a special bond.

“The players are my brothers and we go hunting and fishing on the weekends, but there was something different about our bond with the coaching staff,” Smith said. “We were finally getting to where we needed to be with the coaches. We understood what we needed to do, just like those teams that win year after year.”

Smith will be the first to admit that football is his game. He will continue his athletic career at Methodist University where he plans on playing football and baseball for the Monarchs.

“It’s something about being the coach on the field and leading your boys on Friday night, now I’m excited about playing on Saturday,” he said.

Missing senior year

Smith joked about other things he is going to miss in his senior year, like going to the prom.

“When you look like I do, it is kind of hard to get a date,” he said.

Smith said he had a plan to take one or maybe more of his classmates to the prom.

“I was ready to make a poster to ask one of the girls to prom, but school closed. She will never know that I was going to ask her to prom,” he said.

Smith said he had grown close with several exceptional children in the classroom.

“I would have taken them all if they wanted to go,” Smith said. “It would have been cool for me and cool for them too.”

Smith said he’s hopeful graduation will still happen in some setting or another — perhaps an online or drive-in ceremony, or a delayed ceremony later in the summer.

A drive-in graduation would be the most fun, Smith said.

“It will still be safe and you will still get to interact with people,” said the senior. “Of course it could just be walk to the mailbox and get your diploma.”

Smith’s parents have been supportive during this time.

“Mom really loves to see me play sports,” Smith said. “She knew we had a special team this year and it does hurt to see the season get cut short.”

‘Buckle your chinstrap’

Smith laughed when he said his dad liked this downtime because he got a free worker on the farm.

“We put up a mile of four strand barbed wire around the fence to keep the cows in the pasture,” he said. “We sold about 60 cows earlier and in May we are going to sell the big herd, about 900 of them. That will be a pretty big workload.”

Smith is the modern day cowboy, using the four wheeler to keep the cattle moving, he says.

That get-it-done attitude is helping him through the pandemic. His advice for others is to think the same way.

“This is a tough time and we are not going to get through it by pouting and sitting on your behind, so you might as well get up, put on your helmet, buckle your chinstrap and hit he hole hard to get through these times,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be over soon; you just have to pray, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”