SportsTalk: Henderson’s Lance Stewart Talks About His Work As A Sports Cameraman

As unlikely as it may seem, there are two people named Lance Stewart based in the Charlotte area who operate cameras in sports arenas and venues across the country for outfits like Raycom, FOX and ESPN.

But only one of the two is from Henderson. And “our” Lance Stewart chatted with George Hoyle, John C. Rose and Bill Harris Thursday on Sports Talk as he made his way to his next assignment.

Stewart is a 1988 graduate of Vance Senior High, where he snapped photos for the school yearbook and newspaper. His interest in both sports and photography continued in his college years at Elon, and it’s there that he developed (pun intended!) an interest in video production.

He hung around Elon for awhile after he graduated in 1992, making his way as a free-lancer until he took a buddy up on his suggestion of moving to Charlotte.

He has a vivid memory of that time: “The day I went down to look for an apartment, they announced the franchise,” Stewart recalled, referring to the Carolina Panthers.

He’d been a Houston Oilers fan, but they’d moved to Tennessee, so he hitched his wagon to this new North Carolina team. And just a couple of years later, he found himself working the games.

“I’ve been fortunate to work their preseason team since they’ve been a team,” Stewart said.

Whether it’s the Panthers or the Hornets in Charlotte, the ‘Canes at PNC in Raleigh or the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, chances are Stewart is there, working his magic with the cameras to capture all the action.

He does this as a freelancer, which means he depends on others to pick up the phone and call him about jobs.

That’s exactly how he got to check off one of his “bucket list” gigs: working the Little League World Series.

“Growing up, watching it,” Stewart said of the international competition, he said he remembers thinking, “that is really cool, I would really love to do that someday.” That someday came a couple of years ago when he got a message from a business contact asking him what he had going on in August. When he learned that it was doing camera work for the Little League World Series, he had just two words: “I’m in.”

“It’s something that I really look forward to every year. The Little League (World Series) is amazing because you’ve got all these kids from different countries…and the excitement they have” is something to see.

Stewart gets to see a lot of the action through the cameras he uses.

It’s work, to be sure, but he said he feels so fortunate to be one of those people who gets to do what they love and love what they do.

“Even if it’s back-to-back Hornets games,” he said, “no two days are the same.

He puts in a lot of miles traveling by car during basketball season, and he’s flying just about every weekend to work during football season, but you’ll not hear Stewart complain one bit.

“I get to cover the teams that I love – the Panthers, Hornets, and occasionally the Hurricanes – I’m getting paid to see my favorite teams play,” he said. “I’m very blessed and very fortunate.” And although it was a radio interview, odds are he had a great big smile on his face.





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Vance County High School

SportsTalk: Hoops, Swimming And Wrestling Keeps Noel Busy At Vance Co. High

“Busy, busy, busy,” is how Vance Co. High School Athletic Director Ray Noel sums up the last couple of months.  “We have two to three games a week,” Noel said and that’s just for basketball.  When you add to that wrestling and swimming it’s easy to understand just how busy Noel must be.

Swimming has just finished it’s season and wrestling is getting close to being over with regionals next week.  Noel describes both as being successful this year but injuries have been a problem for the wrestling team.

Basketball is also nearing tournament time with the men’s team in the middle of the pack but the women’s team is making great improvements. “They’ve won four of the last five,” Noel said on Thursday’s SportsTalk. The women’s team, with a win over Carrboro this week, could capture the number two seed in the tournament.  Even so, both the men’s and women’s team will have to contend with Southern Durham which is undefeated in both divisions.

Once all of this ends Noel says it will be time for baseball, softball, track and soccer but his focus now is on basketball.  The Vipers will begin conference play on February 13.


Crossroads Christian School

SportsTalk: Crossroads Christian Preparing for Conference Tournament

According to Crossroads Christian Athletic Director and Head Men’s Basketball Coach Scottie Richardson, his team has entered the part of the season known as “The Grind.”  This occurs near the end of the regular season but before tournament time as teams try to grind their way through schedules.

For Crossroads the grind will include a lengthy road trip to Erwin to play Cape Fear next Tuesday night before finishing of the schedule later next week with two non-conference games including one against Kerr Vance Academy.

The season has been a good one for the team as they are currently ranked third in the state behind two teams from the Charlotte area.  “We are peaking at the right time,” Richardson said, adding “you don’t win championships in December and January.”

Conference tourney play for Crossroads begins Thursday of next week.



SportsTalk: Wilkerson Joins UNC Baseball Coaching Staff

You may have heard the saying of going around your thumb to get to your elbow and that might be the best way to describe former Kerr Vance Academy baseball standout Daniel Wilkerson’s journey to get to UNC as an Assistant to the Head Coach and Clubhouse/Equipment Manager.  He’s been to Massachusetts, East Carolina in Greenville and Appalachian State in Boone before finally making it to UNC.

Wilkerson was at App State for only two months when he got the offer of the job at UNC. “My heart has always been at UNC,” Wilkerson said on Thursday’s SportsTalk.  His first season in his new role kicks off on February 17th when the Tar Heels open the season.  Wilkerson says baseball can be challenging in cold weather. “You’ve gotta get used to it and be prepared to play no matter the circumstances,” Wilkerson said.

One of the extra perks of the job is that his brother, Colby, is UNC’s second baseman, who is a senior. UNC is loaded with older players and Wilkerson expects the Tar Heels will have a great season but also adds the ACC is loaded with excellent teams from NC State, Wake Forest, Duke, Miami, Notre Dame, Boston College and Virginia Tech. “We’ve got to be ready to go no matter who we are playing,” according to Wilkerson when sizing up the ACC.

As part of his job as Equipment Manager, Wilkerson has to make sure players have what they need in practice and during games.  That can mean hats, bats, balls, gloves or even the right uniform, and he is excited about the newly updated weight room. It’s all part of a journey that started here in Henderson with Kerr Vance Academy.



SportsTalk: Mike Joyner on KVA Athletics

As an athletic director Mike Joyner of Kerr Vance Academy stays busy overseeing all of the sports his school provides to students. In addition to that there are tournaments that also are part of the school’s athletics.  Over the recent holiday period KVA hosted a basketball tournament with Oak Forest winning the men’s’ championship and Brunswick Academy in Virginia taking the girls’ title. “We hoped we could have done a little better,” Joyner says of KVA. “We are very young. We start a lot of 9th and 10th graders,” Joyner added.  The boys’ team did win this week over Wake Prep while the girls lost.

Joyner says it’s great to have a team like Wake Prep to play since they are close by in Youngsville.  The KVA conference schedule requires longer trips to Rocky Mount and to Greenville, and Kerr Vance is just about to start the bulk of its conference play. The travel means kids miss some classes which can be difficult on students and teachers.

In addition to basketball, Joyner says the school’s swim team has an upcoming meet next week and will soon be hosting travel volleyball tournaments bringing in some extra cash for the school and exciting games.

Additionally, KVA is gearing up to celebrate the 2003 State Baseball Championship team.  “We are looking to hold an alumni game between the 2003 team and the current team,” Joyner said. No details for that have been set but should be forthcoming soon.



Oxford Prep School

SportsTalk: Oxford Prep Athletics With John Hammett

John Hammett patrolled the football sidelines as a head coach for many years but the former JF Webb coach now finds being athletic director at a small school such as Oxford Prep to be quite satisfying.  Even though there are aspects of being a football coach that he misses, one of the reasons he made the change was it began to become more like work.

Being a football coach meant Hammett had to deal with injuries, something he says Oxford Prep takes very seriously. “You have to teach players differently about how to deal with injuries.  The more education the better,” Hammett says. “Athletes have to be honest,” according to Hammett. That’s hard he says because the kids are competitive and don’t want to miss any time on the field or the court.

According to Hammett, Oxford Prep is becoming more competitive on the basketball court.  After a slow start, the school won a big rivalry game last week over Eno River.

So while Hammett may not be patrolling the sidelines of a football field, Oxford Prep’s AD position seems to be working out for him. “It’s nice, because it’s small,” Hammett summed up.



SportsTalk: Richardson And Downey Talk Local Basketball

Scottie Richardson, head men’s basketball coach and athletic director at Crossroads Christian, and Taron Downey, head men’s basketball coach at Vance Charter School, have both seen injuries to players throughout their careers.

Both men briefly discussed their thoughts on the tragic injury to Damar Hamlin in Monday night’s NFL game. “I thought the NFL made the right decision,” Richardson said and added that Crossroads has an on site defibrillator in case there is ever a need for one.  “It was a very unfortunate and tragic situation. It’s part of the game and coaches have to deal with it as best as we can,” Downey added.

Both coaches are coming off holiday breaks at their respective schools.  According to Richardson, Crossroads men’s basketball is ranked at third in the state but will meet a big challenge Friday as they hit the road to take on the top-ranked team in state, United Faith of Charlotte. “We are not getting on the road for three hours to lose,” Richardson said. It’s the longest road trip of the year for Crossroads.  The school won on Tuesday defeating Thales Academy, but Richardson said they were sluggish during the win after the holiday break.

“We are trying to get back in the swing of things,” Downey said of Vance Charter.  They are coming off a win this week against Eno River but travel to face rival Oxford Prep Friday, who Downey says has quick guards and tenacious defense. Downey also said the game will have a great environment.  Downey feels that’s important to home teams.



Duke’s Dominant Defense Thrived in Military Bowl Win

— text and picture by Patrick Magoon freelance writer for WIZS

In their first Bowl game since 2018, the Duke Blue Devils’ stout defense prevailed, tallying a Military Bowl-record six sacks and eight tackles for a loss. The unit also deflected four passes and forced three fumbles.

Duke wasted no time putting points on the board. In the first quarter, Duke’s offense, led by Military Bowl MVP Riley Leonard, executed a nine-play, 87-yard scoring drive to take an early lead. Through four quarters, Leonard scored twice with his legs and threw for 173 yards.

Leonard, once again, was the star of the show. When the Blue Devils needed him to scramble to pick up extra yards, he did it. If his coaches needed him to execute a precision pass in tight coverage, it was done.

Despite quickly responding with a one-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game at seven in the first quarter, The Knights failed to compile a consistent rhythm on offense, and they struggled to convert on fourth down in crucial situations.

“It was inconsistent,” said head coach Gus Malzahn. “There is no doubt. We didn’t play good enough offensively to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Duke took advantage of The Knights’ miscues, capitalizing on a fumble and outscoring The Knights 13-0 in the second half. Facing a 16-point deficit at the start of the second half, The Knights had an opportunity to flip the script after a favorable exchange of punts gave them good field position, including the Duke 32. However, the offensive series stalled out after insufficient, minimal gains.

Once Duke orchestrated a comfortable lead, its versatile offensive unit won the possession battle with a run-heavy game plan. Four running backs and Leonard ran 40 times for a combined 177 yards.

“I felt we controlled the game pretty well,” said Leonard. “We executed pretty well on offense, did have a couple of three and outs here and there but throughout the game, we consistently ran the ball, and we were able to find the holes in the defense.”