BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT) — Learning to move forward. That’s what East Carteret High School students, staff and others were doing on Friday.
Part of that process was through sports as they gathered for their first home basketball game following last Sunday’s deadly plane crash that killed eight people, including four of the school’s students.
ECHS Athletic Director Daniel Griffee, who also coaches basketball, held back tears as he described how the resilience of his athletes is what got him through the past week. He said Friday’s game is not about basketball, it’s about supporting one another as the entire school and community mourns losing those four boys.
“These kids are resilient, so resilient, where they adjust and overcome, and for me…I couldn’t have done it, they kind of carried me through,” said Griffee.
The team played an away game on Wednesday, which Griffee said he was astounded to see them play, let alone win. Now, they were expecting a huge turnout for Friday’s game against Pamlico County on their home court.
“It’s going to be a fun night. It’s gonna be a good night. It’s gonna be a tough night, emotionally, physically, mentally is going to be tough, but that’s the part of the healing process. We need those things to be able to let go and move forward carrying on their honor,” said Griffee.
He said East Carteret High School has the best of fans that come to every single game, but this one would be a bit different.
“Students from West Carteret, Croatan, probably New Bern, Havelock, probably those areas are going to be coming to our gym to support our kids that they play against year in and year out, and that is just amazing to me,” he said.
Griffee said he expected a lot of emotion before, during and after the game. Fans during the week have been encouraged to wear their school colors along with camo, signifying the four boys’ love of hunting.
“I wouldn’t say that their fans are going to be pulling for ECHS to win. Their fans are going to be pulling for East Carteret to have high spirits and get back on track and start moving forward,” Griffee said.
This game also comes just after the funeral announcement of one of the four boys, Noah Stryon. Griffee said the community support following this tragedy opened his eyes to just how good people can be.
Griffee also emphasized how people at home can help. He said you can write a check to the high school and designate it to the overall memorial fund. It will then be given directly to the families of the victims.