Gallagher column: Wonder Day a hit

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

KANNAPOLIS — Thanks to new A.L. Brown coach Mike Newsome, last Saturday was the day to celebrate the Green Machine.
It was Wonder Day at Memorial Stadium, a time for the players who have sweated in 90-plus temperatures for almost a month to bask in the glory of being part of one of North Carolina’s top high school football traditions.
No one could remember a celebration of green happening before but the fans who showed hope it continues.
You can bet as long as the effervescent Newsome is in charge, it will.
“It was something we did at Butler,” said Newsome, who came over from the Charlotte juggernaut to Brown. “We did it in place of a scrimmage. Instead, we thought of an intrasquad scrimmage. Let everybody come and use it as a community building thing, too.
Little kids like Luke Wallace were suddenly on the field, having shirts and pieces of paper signed, trying on oversized helmets. Wonder player Kalif Phillips was more than happy to let the kids try on his helmet.
You could almost see it in little Luke’s eyes.
“Look, I’m a Wonder!”
Everyone wanted to be a Wonder on Saturday and Newsome understood that.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in the community about me being here,” he said.
This was his way of thanking the fans. He wanted them to get as close to the players and the action as possible. Bring those cameras, he told them.
“Unless you’ve got a big lens, you wouldn’t be able to get a good shot of your kid playing football,” Newsome reasoned. “We want the parents to come down to the track and get up close and personal. Get some candid shots.”
Todd Hagler, a long-time A.L. Brown assistant, wasn’t surprised by Wonder Day.
“Mike has done a tremendous job coming in and transitioning,” Hagler said. “He’s a very excited coach. He’s getting out in the community.”
Having a new coach at A.L. Brown didn’t change how the players responded on the field, according to Hagler.
“The work ethic is still there,” he said. “The kids have always worked hard. He’s just trying to continue that.”
What Newsome is starting is a more visible Wonder program.
“Football in a place like this means a lot,” he said.
Just ask little Luke Wallace. It won’t be long before he’ll be signing a few autographs and wearing a helmet of his own.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or