Gallagher column: North coach Fleming promoting his team, new conference
SPENCER ó Tasker Fleming has coached a lot of football since 1983. And he’s learned a few important lessons.
“Sometimes, when you come into a program,” he says, “all you can do is hold on tight.”
That’s exactly what he did last season when he arrived at North Rowan. He was forced to play too many jayvee-aged players on the varsity with predicatable results. Not once, did the Cavaliers leave the field as winners. Oh, they got a forfeit thrown in there, but Fleming will be the first to say that doesn’t really count.
He saw players transferring, good athletes not coming out for football and small crowds following his team.
So he went on the Tasker Fleming P.R. Tour.
First, it was off to the middle school where a cycle of talented athletes are churning out championships and undefeated seasons. He visited in December and went back in March. The coaches there embraced him and some of those players were even seen at North’s first practice on Aug. 1.
“We were very fortunate that the middle school allowed us to have contact early,” Fleming said. “We’ve got a good group of rising ninth, eighth and seventh graders.”
He told his assistants to get out in the community and be seen.
“We made a big effort for all our coaches to be visible,” Fleming said.
These kids should know what kind of influential figures in the North community are coaching the Cavaliers.
Robert Steele? A legend. Rodney Goodine? A former All-American linebacker at Catawba. Mike White? A players’ coach and one of the best athletes to ever come through the area. Bobby Myers? Whether you’re an inexperienced QB on the varsity or eighth-grader Michael Connor, you should thank your lucky stars that you can be tutored by this man.
They’re just a part of the green machine Fleming has assembled as a staff.
Speaking of green, Fleming made sure he went after the second and third graders, too. His youth campers wore green every day. He was pleased that 80 kids showed up.
He also hosted the YFL Jamboree, where hundreds of people showed up in North’s stadium.
“If they’re wearing Cavalier green now, hopefully they’ll want to wear it when they come to our school,” Fleming said.
By the time the youngsters arrive on the North campus, the Cavs might be back in 2A. But for now, it’s in the spread-out 1A Yadkin Valley Conference. Unfamiliar territory. Unfamiliar schools.
“I’ve heard a lot of people complain about it,” he said. “But the thing is, you should just smile and say, ‘This is it for now.’ The way I see it, we’ve been assigned 1A.”
Does he know where Chatham Central is?
“It’s Bear Something Crossroads … and turn left,” Fleming said. “I couldn’t get there today if I had to ó unless I get on Mapquest.”
He does know North Moore has a new stadium, “and a little more pride up there. I like the fact we’ve got Albemarle and West Montgomery, some older rivals for North Rowan.”
What’s really exciting for Fleming is that North will be playing schools with similar numbers. Before, when North was the smallest 2A, the Cavaliers competed against schools with perhaps 250 more students.
“250 is a big difference,” he explained. “Probably 125 of those are boys. You get a third of those out and that’s 30 more kids.
“No one’s going to be happy going to Chatham Central or North Moore because of the distance. But you get to a playoff setting and it’s nice to know we’re matching up with schools our size or smaller for a change.”
Fleming’s P.R. Tour also recognizes what goes on inside the school.
“There were reasons for people to leave,” he said. “Those reasons are no longer valid. There’s a lot of technology in our school and it’s a positive for the county. North Rowan has a lot of good things going on in the high school. A kid that comes here will get a quality education.”
And hopefully cheer on a quality football team.
“Our numbers are up,” Fleming said. “We’ve turned the corner. And the support is here. I’m sure when we win, a lot of people will jump back on board.”
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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