Feb 8, 2012
Middle School Dedicates Basketball Season To Fallen Soldier

Gaston Gazette, Richard Walker

http://www.gastongazette.com/sports/stanley-67137-school-season.html

STANLEY–-As a three-time county championship girls basketball coach, Stanley Middle School’s Chris Black has specific pregame routines.

When that changed last week, Black didn’t know what to think.

After all, his own team told him that HE had to leave the locker room just as final preparations were being made last Thursday before what would become a 45-16 victory over rival Mount Holly.

“Usually, before the game, we take off our warmups right before we head out the last time, said Black, who has guided the Lady Blue Devils to county titles in 2006, 2010 and 2011. And they were still wearing their warmups. When I asked them why they hadn’t taken them off, they said, ‘Coach, you need to go outside and wait for us.'”

That was only part of the intrigue to last Thursday, as Stanley players had also invited Black’s daughter Hayley Black to attend the game.

The reason?

Stanley’s 2012 girls basketball team was about to honor both Blacks, who had shared in suffering since Lance Cpl. Nic O’Brien had been killed by a roadside bomb last June while stationed in Afghanistan.

O’Brien, a 2008 East Gaston graduate and former Warriors’ baseball player, had been Hayley Black’s longtime boyfriend.

And the Stanley girls basketball team used their home opener to unveil armbands inscribed with “Nic” that they plan to wear this entire season. In a pregame ceremony, the team’s captains also presented Chris and Hayley Black with armbands as well as making Hayley Black, a star on Stanley’s 2006 title team, an honorary team captain.

“When Nic was killed over the summer, it kind of hit my daughter and her teammates hard, said Stephanie Webb, mother of Stanley eighth-grader Logan McGuirt. She (Logan) really felt for what coach Black and his daughter were going through and wanted to do something for them.”

Predictably, Chris Black and his daughter were delighted – and emotional.

“It just overwhelmed us, Chris Black said. I really about lost it. She (Hayley) had come down from school and was appreciative and, naturally, quite emotional. It meant a lot that they made her an honorary captain.”

Hayley Black, a 2010 East Gaston graduate, is a sophomore at Appalachian State University.

Now, Hayley Black is an honorary captain with McGuirt, Samauria Shannon and Brooklyn Armstrong.

“She organized all of this, really, starting last fall, Webb said of her daughter’s efforts.

In order to keep the secret, only Stanley girls assistant basketball coach Victor Sheets and players on the team knew about the ceremony before last Thursday’s game.

Now that it’s been done, Chris Black says he can’t think of a better way for his team to approach the rest of its season; Stanley is 3-0 entering Thursday’s home game against Cramerton.

It’s going to be a motivation for us, Chris Black said. I guess you just never know what seventh- and eighth-graders think. But it says a lot about them that they think so much about others. I can’t say enough about them, especially Logan.”

School Dedicates Season To Fallen Soldier

Gaston Gazette, Richard Walker

http://www.gastongazette.com/sports/stanley-67137-school-season.html

STANLEY–-As a three-time county championship girls basketball coach, Stanley Middle School’s Chris Black has specific pregame routines.

When that changed last week, Black didn’t know what to think.

After all, his own team told him that HE had to leave the locker room just as final preparations were being made last Thursday before what would become a 45-16 victory over rival Mount Holly.

“Usually, before the game, we take off our warmups right before we head out the last time, said Black, who has guided the Lady Blue Devils to county titles in 2006, 2010 and 2011. And they were still wearing their warmups. When I asked them why they hadn’t taken them off, they said, ‘Coach, you need to go outside and wait for us.'”

That was only part of the intrigue to last Thursday, as Stanley players had also invited Black’s daughter Hayley Black to attend the game.

The reason?

Stanley’s 2012 girls basketball team was about to honor both Blacks, who had shared in suffering since Lance Cpl. Nic O’Brien had been killed by a roadside bomb last June while stationed in Afghanistan.

O’Brien, a 2008 East Gaston graduate and former Warriors’ baseball player, had been Hayley Black’s longtime boyfriend.

And the Stanley girls basketball team used their home opener to unveil armbands inscribed with “Nic” that they plan to wear this entire season. In a pregame ceremony, the team’s captains also presented Chris and Hayley Black with armbands as well as making Hayley Black, a star on Stanley’s 2006 title team, an honorary team captain.

“When Nic was killed over the summer, it kind of hit my daughter and her teammates hard, said Stephanie Webb, mother of Stanley eighth-grader Logan McGuirt. She (Logan) really felt for what coach Black and his daughter were going through and wanted to do something for them.”

Predictably, Chris Black and his daughter were delighted – and emotional.

“It just overwhelmed us, Chris Black said. I really about lost it. She (Hayley) had come down from school and was appreciative and, naturally, quite emotional. It meant a lot that they made her an honorary captain.”

Hayley Black, a 2010 East Gaston graduate, is a sophomore at Appalachian State University.

Now, Hayley Black is an honorary captain with McGuirt, Samauria Shannon and Brooklyn Armstrong.

“She organized all of this, really, starting last fall, Webb said of her daughter’s efforts.

In order to keep the secret, only Stanley girls assistant basketball coach Victor Sheets and players on the team knew about the ceremony before last Thursday’s game.

Now that it’s been done, Chris Black says he can’t think of a better way for his team to approach the rest of its season; Stanley is 3-0 entering Thursday’s home game against Cramerton.

It’s going to be a motivation for us, Chris Black said. I guess you just never know what seventh- and eighth-graders think. But it says a lot about them that they think so much about others. I can’t say enough about them, especially Logan.”






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