The famous rally cry from Monday Night Football could also be viewed as a local anthem. Talk to most folks around the state and when they hear, “Laurinburg” or “Scotland County” the response you often get is “that’s football country.”
In fact while attending a recent meeting in Raleigh, the leadership of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (the public/private partnership that runs NC Commerce) joked about how poor their high school football was up there compared to the Scots. We suggested they come to Scotland County for a Friday night experience – they thought it was a great idea – and just might be joining us for a game this fall – who knew the power of the Fighting Scots OFF the field!!
Indeed Scotland is football country. During this past offseason the state (and in fact the country), followed our local football scene to see where Zamir White, the nation’s number one running back, would announce he would play college ball (Georgia Bulldogs). Now the conversation is switching to the fall and the Fighting Scots’ drive to a state championship.
But there is a second football story brewing on the fall horizon. St. Andrews University will be adding football to their athletic program starting this fall.
To support the football program, the school will join the new-look Mid-South Football Conference, which is a result of the merger of the Mid-South Conference and the Sun Conference. The expanded league includes 20 teams that are assigned to three divisions, allowing three teams to earn automatic bids to the NAIA Football Championship Series — St. Andrews will compete in the Appalachian Division. Turf is being laid for the on-campus field and the practice field is fully stocked with blocking sleds and goalposts. All we have to do now is wait for the new school year to begin.
The first home game will be on Saturday, September 9th when the Knights take on Cincinnati Christian. Home games continue in September on the 23rd and 30th. The Knights then return home on October 28th and close out their home schedule on November 11th against Reinhardt University – a growing rivalry. The inaugural season should be an exciting one – especially with a number of local stars such as Dashaun Ferguson being integral to the roster.
From a tourism and economic standpoint, Knight’s football should be good for business. NAIA football games draw over 1,200 fans per game. There is already considerable buzz among alumni – excited to welcome the Knights onto the field. While there may not be a formal “homecoming” weekend this year, with the alumni interest, every weekend should bring folks in from out-of-town. Additionally, opposing teams generally travel with approximately 60 players dressing for each game (plus coaches and trainers). From a tourism standpoint, this means five
weekends of full hotels and busy restaurants. In fact, hotels are already seeing rooms getting booked for the fall weekends.
While the fall brings athletics and tourism together, we are also excited to confirm that Scotland County Parks and Recreation has been awarded the 2018 Dixie Softball State Tournament.
This event will be the first time ALL age groups compete in the same community. Therefore, over 60 teams will be traveling in for the competition. Dixie Softball saw the value we can bring to the tournament and selected Scotland County over a number of communities including Cherryville – the other finalist. The tournament will run from July 13 through July 18 of next year.
This event is a coup for the Scotland County and Parks and Recreation. Bryan Graham (Parks and Recreation Director) and his tournament team (championed by Edmund Locklear) deserve a great deal of credit and congratulations.
So sit back and enjoy the remaining weeks of summer (including Laurinburg After Five on Thursday, August 24) – the fall and football are just around the corner. Go Scots and good luck Knights!
Cory Huges, executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.