Time to build something of our own around the lake

by Chris Hunt

You’ll have to forgive the smug look in my picture, but I just got a promotion.

My company, Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group, has given me the fancy title of Sports Editor of the Northern Division. As you all probably know from your past working experiences, it’s a really nice feeling when your company thinks highly enough of you to add more responsibility to your plate.

But the real reason behind my radiant glow is that I’m excited about the future of my company and its sports department. In a time when most companies are downsizing and playing it conservative, my company is growing as fast as the NFL and NFL Players Associations’ legal bills.

Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group will soon have seven weekly papers from up north in Mooresville all the way down to Union County. For my amusement, let’s count them: the Herald Weekly, Mooresville Weekly, Mountain Island Monitor, South Charlotte Weekly,  Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly, Union County Weekly, and on April 1 – no this isn’t an April Fool’s joke – we publish our first edition of Denver Weekly.

Four of those – the Herald, Monitor, Mooresville and Denver will fall into the Northern Division under my watch.

Just think, in just a matter of weeks, we’ll have Lake Norman surrounded.

Now that my boss, C. Jemal Horton, the Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s Managing Editor for Sports, decided to split the seven Sports sections into a Northern and Southern division, we have a great opportunity here. In the past, our season-ending awards and rankings – the Super Teams and Super 10 rankings – honored athletes and teams in Mecklenburg County and excluded schools from Mooresville and Union County. Our Super Teams touted the top individual performances, while the Super 10 rankings recognized the top-10 teams in each sport.

That will all soon change.

No longer will you read about your favorite local athletes and teams all season long, and then wonder at the end of the season who those athletes or schools are from south  Charlotte sharing the postseason accolades. Now, we – the lake-dwelling high school sports fans – have an opportunity to make something of our own. We don’t have to share with the “big city” anymore.

If you ask me, this has long been overdue.

So moving forward, our Super Teams and Super 10 Rankings will now only draw candidates from towns that touch Lake Norman and Mountain Island Lake. If your town doesn’t have a dock on one of those two bodies of water, you won’t be considered.  To reflect change of territory, we will call our postseason all-star teams, the Lake Norman-Area Super Teams. To account for the smaller pool of candidates, our Super 10 rankings will now be called the Lake Norman-Area Super 7.

When you see our new Super 7 boys and girls basketball teams on pages 44 and 45 of this month’s edition of the Monitor, I bet you’ll have no trouble recognizing every team listed. Most likely, you’ve seen all of them play at your local high school on more than one occasion. I hope that familiarity will make our Super Teams and Super 7 rankings more enjoyable. Since you know the teams and players well, you’ll have a more fervent reaction toward how we rank them.

The way I see it, the goal is to generate conversation about our local teams. I don’t care if you disagree with our opinion or not. I hope this new format not only increases conversation about Lake Norman-area high school sports but also generates praise, as well as disgruntled opinions that encourage you to share with me or your neighbors. If our rankings or Super Teams are used during locker-room speeches or serve as motivation for those teams and players left off the list, even better.

As you all probably know, I don’t mind stirring things up. If my opinion gets somebody’s blood pressure boiling, I think that’s in the best interest of our local athletes. It means our community is paying attention and we really care.

We want to push the meter here, folks.

But our new approach to the Super Teams and Super 7 rankings doesn’t mean our coverage of your favorite local athletes will change. We’ll continue to write compelling feature stories and provide in-depth coverage about Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson high school athletes for the Herald Weekly. The eight public and privates schools – Hopewell, North Meck, Hough, SouthLake Christian, Davidson Day, Lake Norman Charter, Lake Norman Christian and a Catholic school coming soon – in those three towns will still get their just due.

The majority of the Mountain Island Sports section will still focus on Hopewell and West Meck High Schools, while Mooresville Weekly will include unparalleled stories about Mooresville and Lake Norman high schools, and Pine Lake Prep sports. The Denver Weekly will cover Lincoln Charter, East Lincoln and North Lincoln. Of course, we’ll also save space for middle-school and other hyper-local sports stories in each of the separate coverage areas.

We’ll always enjoy telling the stories that no one else can write. We allow for more space in our sections so we can go deep into our subjects’ backgrounds, spending more time on what matters most to you, which is the athletes and teams that make up your community. Instead of reporting scores, think of us as the Sports Illustrated of the Lake Norman-area high school sports scene. We won’t tell you how many points “Johnny” or “Jennifer” scored in last Friday’s game but rather who Johnny or Jennifer are, how they became some of our area’s top athletes and what makes them tick. There are 15 high schools in our coverage area, not to mention countless youth athletic associations and local competitors of all ages. Each area will receive the attention it deserves.

So as one might guess, I have a lot of work ahead of me. If you don’t mind, I’m going to need everyone’s help. Please send championship team pictures, team scores and statistics and even story ideas to my e-mail address: chris@­huntersvilleherald.com. I’ll take them all, even if it crashes my company’s server.

As they say, it takes a village to raise a child – or, in this case, my newborn vision for the Lake Norman-area sports scene.

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