Junious Smith III: An open letter To APA's girls' soccer team
Dear Arendell Parrott Academy girls’ soccer team:
It saddens me to know I’ve been able to watch the team’s great climb to the state championship game, but can’t reach the final step. I’ve explained the reasoning to everyone on the team, and while I won’t reiterate the point to the masses, family is essential. Story-wise, there will be no dropoff — in fact, with former APA graduate and grizzled veteran Keith Spence covering the game, the chances of a better product is extremely high.
It does hurt to not be able to finish what I started.
The past four years have been a magical time at Parrott, as your team has won 59 games with three straight trips to the NCISAA state semifinals. After falling in 2017 and 2018, you defeated Forsyth Country Day School 3-0 Tuesday in order to get this special matchup with Carolina Day School. The opportunity to win your first soccer championship is one game away.
This is where I need you to finish what you started.
Although this is an extremely young team, four players won’t have another opportunity. This will be the last games for Gabby Carriere, Karmen Heath, Brooke Holmes and Lindsey Thomas, and it would wrap up a storybook season for them and the program.
On Oct. 27, 2018, your volleyball colleagues won their first state championship and did it at home, just as the chance presents itself Saturday. In fact, Carriere and Gisell Cervantes played vital roles on that team, the former ending the game with a pair of service aces.
This team has experienced heartbreak from previous playoff runs and you know the system. Most of you have been in it for the better part of three years and it’s paid off with the most goals scored in one season in school history. I could go down the list and talk about the individual abilities of everyone, but the biggest goal is team-oriented. Sitting in on practice Wednesday solidified the claim.
As the chance for history takes place, my hope is that the community shows out in droves. Outside of the NCHSAA state championships in track and field in Greensboro, this is the only high school game with local athletes involved. As Kinston’s sign on N.C. 11 reads, this is a “City of Champions” and the chance for another one is certainly attainable.
All I can ask is that you play hard for every second of the contest. Don’t slack or get overconfident. If you’re up, continue the pressure. If you’re down, find a way to establish control as a team. You’ve made it this far — plant that flag at the summit in your hometown.
Junious Smith III