Family: the past meets the present

Published 12:38 pm Thursday, March 5, 2020

Senior Night for Fuqua School’s varsity boys and girls basketball teams this year included exhibition games featuring Falcons past and present, and this time it was by design.

Fuqua Athletic Director Mike Edwards was forced to throw together an all-Fuqua event last year for Senior Night when the scheduled opponent did not end up being able to make it.

“I just wanted to do it again this year,” he said of the all-Fuqua aspect.

Director of Alumni Affairs Tammy Frank and Edwards made plans well in advance this time.

The result was varsity girls and boys basketball games pitting the 2019-20 Lady Falcons and Falcons squads against teams made up largely of alumni.

The games were competitive but with some distinct injections of levity as well.

“It went really well,” Edwards said of the Feb. 21 event moments after it ended. “A lot of people came out. We got a lot of guys to come back that haven’t been back in a while, so it was fun to have all of them. The students had a good time, which that’s all that matters.”

The Lady Falcons alumni team narrowly edged the 2019-20 squad, 33-32.

MacKenzie Pigg, first-year head coach of the 2019-20 Lady Falcons, enjoyed what, for her, was a unique experience of the past meeting the present.

“It was definitely interesting just for me, because I’ve never actually been a part of something like that before,” she said. “Two other girls on our team, their older sisters were on the other team, so it was really interesting just to see that dynamic happen. It was pretty cool.”

She was referring to sophomore Meredith Schmidt taking on her sister, Hannah-Gray Schmidt, and senior Abbie Schmidt taking on her sister, Taylor Angle.

Meredith said it was fun playing against Hannah-Gray, who is a 2019 Fuqua graduate and now a freshman at Virginia Tech.

“We guarded each other,” Meredith said. “Yeah, I feel like I did good.”

The four girls actually were part of a group of six cousins playing in the game, with the other two being Colby Cunningham and Chelsea Dandridge.

Hannah-Gray enjoyed playing alongside Lady Falcons of multiple eras and still finding something familiar about it all.

“It was really cool just to see the different generations all coming together to play against each other, but it’s still a Fuqua family, so it was just really fun to get out there and play a sport again while having fun with it,” she said.

Pigg noted that overall, because it’s such a small, close-knit community, the players essentially all knew who everyone was.

“Everyone wanted to be there so bad, and they were all so excited and so pumped for just the situation,” Pigg said.

For the boys game, the alumni team, featuring multiple tall, athletic players, took a double-digit lead at times, but the 2019-20 Falcons ended up winning 80-77. Helping influence the game were some clear moments of humor, though, with the referees contributing to the fun, handing out good-natured technicals to both teams. Several technicals benefitted the 2019-20 squad down the stretch.

Wade Stimpson graduated in 1992 when Fuqua was known as Prince Edward Academy. He played for the school as a student and was back on the court Feb. 21.

“It was good, but I’m very, very competitive, so I’m a little upset with the outcome, because I watched these guys play all year, and I knew that we could actually beat them, and we kind of blew it,” he said with laugh.

Playing alongside Stimpson was 6-foot-5-inch Kyle Murphy, a 1996 graduate of Fuqua, who described what it was like being back on the hardwood at the school.

“You realize that you’re not in shape like you used to be, and you’re not 16, 17, 18 either,” he said. “But it was fun. It was a good time, and it was just good to run up and down the court in a place I hadn’t played in 25 years.”

Edwards said he was just happy everybody had fun.

“I’m happy a lot of people came out to support, and I’m ready to continue to have more events like this,” he said. “I think it’s great for the school community just to try to get alums back on campus so we can just continue to be engaged with them, get as many back so that they can support us any way they can.”