Red Devils succeed in many sports

With a victory Saturday against Northeastern on the volleyball court, Newton-Conover won its eighth state championship.

The volleyball crown, the school’s first in history, continued an amazing run of state titles at N-C since the year 2000.

During that span, the Red Devils are the state’s best in five different sports.

“I just think the excitement surrounding a state championship and kids wanting to be a part of it is infectious,” said N-C athletic director Ericia Turner. “The community just surrounds the kids. It’s a pride thing for them.”

Angelo Palozzi, who guided N-C to a 2007 boys soccer championship, said it all starts at the lower levels of competition.

“I think we have good coaches down at the middle school, which gets the kids ready,” he said. “I think we have a good group at the middle school working with them a little bit so when they get here, they know what to expect.”

Football coach Nick Bazzle, a state title winner in 2008, said good high school coaching plays a big part in the success.

“There are a lot of committed coaching staffs here,” he said. “I think that is one big thing. We have a good group of coaches here who work year-round. That is a major factor.”

Support is another facet in continuing the winning tradition.

“We had a good group out on Saturday night,” Palozzi said of his team’s playoff game against Lincolnton. “When the football team played the state title game in Chapel Hill in 2008 and when the soccer team played in 2007, bus loads of kids came out. Year after year, they wonder what
team is going to be next to win one.”

Not only is it fan support, but volleyball coach Linda Richards said the athletic director plays a big part overall.

“Ericia (Turner) has been an ‘every sport’ athletic director and has shown support for every sport here,” Richards said. “That’s been great. She makes you feel as important as anyone else.”

Turner said athletics are a bright spot for the school, but it comes down to more than that.

“We’re not only winners academically, but we are athletically, too,” she said. “That’s a plus, when you can do both. People want their children to be a part of that.”

As for what the next state title could be for the school, it’s unknown at this point.

With the current pace that N-C is on right now with championships, it’s safe to say it could happen within the next year or so.