With 2021-22 school year now over, area high school sports fans have the summer off before the Richmond Raider sports teams are in action again.
For those that do not follow middle school sports, the Richmond Observer will take a look at some future Raiders that you may or may not know about. Today’s featured female and male middle school athletes are Parker Rhyne of Ellerbe Middle School and Jordan Hamilton of Cordova Middle School.
During the Richmond Senior High School girls’ basketball jamboree in June, rising freshman Parker Rhyne was among those representing the Lady Raiders. Richmond Senior girls’ basketball coach Teddy Moseley said that the rising freshmen would have to adjust to the speed at this level, but unlike some of her peers, Rhyne had limited experience at the middle school level on the hardwood. However, her middle school coach believes that she has the work ethic needed to catch up.
“As a sixth grader, I tried to get her to play basketball because of her height,” shared Ellerbe Middle girls’ basketball coach Derek Anderson. “She didn’t really want to, but I was able to talk her into keeping our book for the games and that at least got her around the team more. I was able to get her to play as an eighth grader with a lot of help from her parents. She had never played before, and it showed at first, but she was one of our top players for the season because of her hard work and dedication.”
Rhyne’s contributions were not limited to just basketball. As an Ellerbe Middle eighth-grader, she also played volleyball and soccer. During this year’s Ellerbe Middle athletic awards ceremony, Rhyne received the most improved award for her efforts in the Lady Wildcats’ 9-2 campaign that came just one win shy of a conference title.
Anderson, who also coaches Ellerbe Middle’s girls’ soccer team, had to share Rhyne during her seventh-grade year at the school. Due to eligibility reasons, the Ellerbe Middle boys’ team was short two players, so Rhyne and teammate Yulissa Avalos stepped up and represented their school in the boys and girls soccer games. Rhyne was one of the lead defenders for the Lady Wildcats as a seventh grader, but that changed during her final year in the maroon and gold.
“Parker was one of our leaders, and a big reason we were able to play in the (soccer) championship,” Anderson continued. “She was a captain and would lead warm-ups each day. While she easily would have been a top defender again, we needed her to play midfielder, and she was willing to do it without any complaints. She was one of our main players to do throw-ins, and only came out of games when we were up big. She even scored a couple of goals this year, and when she scored the first, it was great to see how excited her teammates were for her.”
Rhyne hopes to play soccer and basketball at Richmond Senior High School.
“Parker Rhyne is awesome,” Anderson concluded. “I’ve taught and coached at Ellerbe since 2006, and she is one of the best teammates I’ve seen. She is always positive and supportive of the other girls and is willing to do whatever to help the team.”
The Richmond County middle school wrestling team is comprised of students from all four of the county’s middle schools. Since its inception in 2018, Cordova Middle School athletes have been the primary contributor to the program’s success. In 2021-22, Cordova Middle contributed 12 grapplers to the county’s middle school roster. Among those was rising freshman Jordan Hamilton.
Hamilton finished first in the conference in his weight class. Richmond County middle school wrestling coach Richard Kerekes cited Hamilton’s commitment and work ethic as the reasons for his success on the mat.
“Jordan is a great student and a dedicated athlete,” share Kerekes. “He is a great football player and an even better wrestler. He took first in the conference in wrestling and he was a football starter in both seventh and eighth grade. He never misses practice and he always looks for ways to improve.”
In addition to football and wrestling, Hamilton also played soccer for the Cavaliers, but plans to stick to football and wrestling at Richmond Senior High School. He attributes his interest in wrestling to Kerekes.
“Thanks to Coach Kerekes for inspiring me to wrestle,” said Hamilton. “To all of my coaches, thank you for helping me better myself as a person, physically and mentally. I would not be as successful of a student-athlete as I am now if it was not for you.”
In addition to Cordova sports, Hamilton has been participating in the Richmond football program at the S.A.V.E Club (Students Against Violence Everywhere). Some sports, like wrestling, get lost in the shuffle of the more glamorized, heavy spectator sports, but Hamilton encourages everyone to commit to the sport you love.
“If you are really good at a sport then stick to it,” Hamilton said. “Be successful and be a leader. Don’t try to do a different sport just because everyone else is going to play that sport.”
Richmond Senior High School wrestling coach Andre’ Ellerbe has had some time to work with Hamilton throughout his middle school years. “Jordan is an amazing student-athlete,” said Ellerbe. “I have had the honor of coaching him in middle school and I’ll get another chance to coach him in high school. I look forward to seeing where his hard work and dedication takes him.”
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