Bryce Holmes is professionally a chemist.  He works now for North Carolina A&T University, but his heart is on a tennis court.  Many small towns have special “tennis angels” who nurture youngsters in the game.  Lexington, N.C. had some angels and the town was one of the best “tennis towns” anywhere.  Bryce Holmes was the first black high school player at an integrated high school in North Carolina, and a good one.  I answered Bryce’s phone call one day at Elon.  He wanted to get into college coaching.  Shortened story finds Bryce helping us at Elon. He and I talked incessantly and about all kinds of things. Bryce not only was a natural coach but was and is a friend.  

But had his trepidations.  A fine college tennis player at Livingston College, he was to be inducted into their Athletics Hall of Fame.  Bryce had heard me speak a few times and wanted some advice.  “What in the world do I talk about?”  The cat was scared!

Not quickly sure what to advise Coach Holmes to speak about, the subject was dropped.  Pretty soon the subject of playing on the high school team came up again.  Bryce remembered during that period  coming home after school and finding a  rumpled paper bag on the porch. Opened he found tennis balls. All varieties of brands, colors, and ages, and wear.  “My dad gathered some old balls,”  Only Mr. Holmes denied the act.  No one could tell where they came from.  Next day, more  similar balls.   Only a neighbor has witnessed the donor this time.  

“Jake left the balls!”

Jake Braddley was the garbage man.  Everyone knew him.  Quiet, limited in some ways.  Certainly no tennis hero.

The neighbor said he asked Jake about his gifts.   Jake said he had heard about that young man wanting to make the team and Jake wanted to help.

I advised Bryce then. “Tell that at the banquet.  There won’t be a dry eye.”

Still coaching my buddy.


“…you are right from your side and I’m right from mine.”   ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS by Dylan.

Both sides are amazing at arguing.  The problem is nothing changes or gets done.  BLACK LIVES MATTER say defund the police.   Really?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book,  TALKING TO STRANGERS,  his chapter 11 (Case Study:  The Kansas City Experiments) describes the City’s  various attempts to lower the murder rate.  Much like many American municipalities.

Several plans,  or experiments, failed.  Two factors   were “coupled” that resulted in an approximate 50% success rate, compared to all others flat failing.  The police found the crimes were almost totally committed  in small, off the main drag streets.  The flaw with other experiments too often was the need for search warrants, to enter abodes.   Traffic stops did not require a search warrant.

Gladwell details the success of these methods in KC,  and  then in 300 other American police departments.

From  a  layman’s perspective:  It seems that the discovery of these police “successes” coincides with the pronounced rise of police/black conflicts.  So often sparked by the frequency of police arresting black drivers.

While the police would contend these techniques were a godsend to successful arrests,  were there police policies that created havoc among black citizens.   Are changes that both sides can make to make this an American “win/win”?




Watching the recent protests was hard to avoid.  And confusing.  Lots of different factions that were diverse.  Mind numb and trying figure out what to make of it all,  a voice struck  about as  clearly as my hope for the final realization.  A  young black woman, fully masked, finished a fiery explanation :  “YO GRANDPAPPY  WAS WRONG!”

Opposing the sitting president of your own party means putting policy priorities at risk, in this case appointing conservative judges, sustaining business-friendly regulations and cutting taxes — as well as incurring the volcanic wrath of Mr. Trump.

But, far sooner than they expected, growing numbers of prominent Republicans are debating how far to go in revealing that they won’t back his re-election — or might even vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee. They’re feeling a fresh urgency because of Mr. Trump’s incendiary response to the protests of police brutality, atop his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose private discussions.

Former President George W. Bush won’t support the re-election of Mr. Trump, and Jeb Bush isn’t sure how he’ll vote, say people familiar with their thinking. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah won’t back Mr. Trump and is deliberating whether to again write in his wife, Ann, or cast another ballot this November. Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, is almost certain to support Mr. Biden but is unsure how public to be about it because one of her sons is eying a run for office.

And former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced on Sunday that he will vote for Mr. Biden, telling CNN that Mr. Trump “lies about things”


Maybe it is time  to ” SCREW UP YOUR COURAGE”

My sister,   Gerry Ritter, just joined  “the protest”.  In her mid-eighties, just over hip surgery,  there she was.  I was proud of her.  Always have been.  Is it time for me to be willing to brag that my whole family agrees with Aunt Gerry.  Why does the fog of fear  even now cause hesitation?

Another passing comment (I can’t remember the source, sorry) struck home, no pun intended:  “white America will never get serious about our racism problem until affluent America becomes afraid.’

Lots of sincere white people want change.   I have revered certain coaches and their street sense.  One, my friend Coach Henry Trevathan is in his 90’s.   His take:  “…it will never work until there are two parents in the home, working hard at it.”  I mentioned this to another wise old coach/friend, David Odom.   “You have got a chance if there are two strong ones in the home, a parent and a strong grandmother.”

Again, someone said, “…it will never work unless there is one loving family member who will willingly read to pre-school children”


A statement by author Hal Crowther seems too accurate.  His contention being that if one  read CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY  they would not remain a racist.  Sadly he adds the corollary: “But most people who would save their souls with such a book will never read one.  Racism is a strict religion, and ignorance is its first commandment.”


“In order to get rid of infection, you must cut the boil out.”  Coach Henry Trevathan.

In an earlier blog I used a controversial term, thugs.  (See “THUGS, blog 161 ).

I haven’t seen much to change my mind about higher education in America.  (Payment for admission,  basketball cheating,  “AAU agents”, etc.)   Put the term “spot” into academic language and it turns out ” giving admission  to an unqualified student”.  Guilty everyone.  Admit it.

Somebody turned college admission into a commodity.  See blog 352 Payment Due.

True confessions #2.   The government was the second driving factor in turning college basketball, then football, black.  The first factor was the ability of the black players.

Basketball in North Carolina is king.  Dean Smith is credited with bringing Charlie Scott to Carolina as the first black player in NC (1967).   In truth that happened earlier in the small colleges (NAIA and mostly  North State Conference members.  The first was Henry Logan of Western Carolina (1964).

Then Gene Littles at High Point, and Dwight Durante at Catawba college.  Those who witnessed those guys can tell you a new day dawned in basketball.

Among those also affected were the historically black colleges and universities  (“You guys are taking all of my players.” Clarence “Bighouse”Gaines of Winston Salem State.)

Among the many reactions to this change was the question of admissions.   When

the first hard S.A.T. restriction (700) caused us to study transcripts, I was amazed at the fact that almost all of the black kids scored from 530 to 630.  Uncanny to the point of making me wonder.

Years later the next major change required 800 SAT , core courses and class rank.

Another series of  angry howls, many from  the black community.  One exception was Arthur Ashe, who contended it was legal only if all standards were equal.  Ashe also believed if the standard was equal the black kids would achieve whatever reasonable standard was set.

Basketball coaches figured the system out quickly.  Our league members , again among the first  to integrate teams, were limited to 7 and 1/2 grants.  When the government

gave aid, some loan and some grant,  the coaches figured they could combine monies and triple their players, and enhance the team’s quality.   (Example:  Rather than giving a full grant to a non-qualified player,  they could have financial aid or the basic equal opportunity grant of about 2/3 of costs and top that off with pure scholarship aid.   Properly juggled this might yield fifteen players on full ride, rather than 7 or 8.

Watching this evolve was fascinating.  Most high schools divvied up sports with king football retaining white coaches, while admitting they had to give #2 basketball to the black folks.  Yet it did not take long for football coaches who knew they had to win to keep their jobs, to insert the youngsters so well suited for football.  Consequently, over a period of time, college football coaches employed similar formulas that added more and better players.

Is our world of higher education infected?  Is the boil athletics?   Should we not uphold the law of equality for admission. Would we not fill some slots with good kids rather than so many questionable ones.

Below is a comment from my first book,  PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS:


You never know who you’re influencing when you coach.  The same was true for teaching in college, formal classroom or just talking to kids.

A basketball player named Damian Carter appeared in my doorway one day at Elon.  He said he rode up and down I-85 often and had planned to stop by many times.

He was in his forties, had been a pretty solid player at Atlantic Christian, having transferred from UNC-Wilmington.   At Wilmington he hadn’t played as much as he wanted.   The same was true at ACC later on, and he found his chances of pro ball weren’t going to materialize.  He was about to quit college though his grades were good.

I don’t remember the specific conversation with Damian, but it was one of fifty I’d had with basketball players.

It went like this:

    Are you the first from your family to go to college?  Often the answer was yes.

    You’re not going to make $100,000 playing pro ball, you understand?

    You can get your degree and get a very good job.  People are looking for athletic people with degrees.

    Your job is to elevate your family and its expectations one generation.  Put your money in compound interest, and expect your children to go to college.

I agreed with Damian that was the gist of what I advised the “first kids.”  Damian smiled and added, “Coach, my two daughters have college degrees, and I’ve got a million bucks in the bank!”  Compound interest.  End.  

Integration was major change.  I felt uncomfortable advising these new guys.  Until I realized I may be the only one trying to point them in the right direction.  Even now I know I haven’t walked in their shoes.

If I could gather all these grown men and women, most of who were “first generation” yet now expect their children to go to college, I would risk this advice:   You need to step up.  Granted our country did your people great injustices.  But there is no telling how many people used basketball and sports in general, to combine with federal scholarships, and “advance their families upward a generation!”  Often much more.

This scenario played out in thousands of American colleges and Universities.   Many today need the same support.   Many small schools were the ones who took these kids in.

The American public often doesn’t understand the vast differences among colleges.  Only a few of the major schools break even on athletics.  Also while some elite institutions can cause movie stars to helicopter, figuratively and literally and financially, through highly selective admission barriers, many schools are quite different.  Some admission guidelines allow you to put your suitcase in any dorm.  Many need kids went  to these schools who were and are struggling to have enough students to survive.  Then and now.

And they need your support.  Women too got tons of aid.  International athletes from all over the world got great opportunities over here.   Need me to tell them?  Okay, all you people need to pay back at whatever level you can.

Malcolm Gladwell makes an observation about college choice that I think applies particularly to athletes.  His suggestion is that those who enter whatever school, should not go where they are in the bottom third of the class.  Go to a school where you are academically in the top third and you will avoid pressures that seem to occur altogether too often, and are severely painful.  This applies socially also.


A friend advised me to never  tell my wife of poker winnings or losings .  “They all think that money comes out of their clothing allowance!”

The late Worden Allen told me of his first attempt at fund-raising at our small college in rural eastern North Carolina.  On his maiden trip the retiring minister/fund raiser,  Dr. Ware, suggested he would go along and show the rookie some techniques.  Dr. Ware was old and old school.  Always a black suit and narrow  tie.  Piercing eyes and a firm jaw.

Worden said he hardly noticed  Dr. Ware holding two new lead pencils in his hand on the first stop.  Dr. Ware said he knew the first prospect, a first generation graduate who was doing quite well.   As matter of fact he had provided a room in his own home so the very limited youngster could go to college.  “As we sat down to start our appeal we were told quickly that ‘…you guys might as well know I have no intention of giving the college any of my money!’ ”  Before the sound of this sentence quieted,  a new and louder sound erupted as Dr. Ware quickly reached across the  table and cracked the startled man between the eyes with the new #2 lead pencils.  “Do not tell me you are not giving to the college.  I housed you, lent you money to pay your bill, fed you food from our table!”

Silence and that stare.  And the checkbook came out.

On down highway 264 east to stop two.  “Take a left up there, Worden,  I know a guy over  in Ayden.”










It gets lonely in eastern North Carolina being a Democrat. Or liberal. Or even a “conservative Democrat” which is my own political self analysis.
Plus I’m running out of time to create world peace. Is it all controlled by the infamous hidden cartel? Does big oil prevent electric cars? Or 100mpg vehicles?
Or mass transit in our crowding cities? Why did one drug I require go from $300 a quarter to $4.oo? Is the fact that we pay so much of our total income into our final days of “unwanted life”,
controlled by those in the tube business? Why can the funeral people convince us to keep expenses and inconvenience from our loved ones, yet we must ask our families to disrupt their lives and finances to keep us drooling on ourselves for years. (“It is not he or she or them or it, that you belong to…” Dylan.)
Then, Americans always have the racial issue. It is the pox of our nation. From slave labor in tobacco and cotten fields, to the hatred of the welfare state. Lots of different kinds of hate floating around these days. Did entitlements ruin incentive? Was it looking after the poor and hungry, or buying their votes? Or was it good business for the those unseens that really control everything?
Are racial problems good for some business? Does race get people elected? Does telling the truth get you fired? Does race sell newspapers, magazines, entertainment, novels?
No race problems, less police? Security? White flight good business for realtors? Sports? Hollywood ? Education.
This goes on and on. Need to study this possibility. But if some are fanning the flames of racism for profit, they truly are some evil people.


I have always lived in North Carolina. I am a true son of the South. I take great pride in the South. A young man commented on a beautiful, full, “southern moon” to Oscar Wilde. Oscar replied “…Yes, but you should have seen it before the Civil War.” Southerners are unique people. Lots of characters. Some good, and some bad. Racism is a part of our heritage. One cannot be from the South and not feel its sting. Sadly too, we have learned it is not limited to our area of the nation.
Someone suggested that racism is the “pox of the nation”.
I lived in small towns in N.C. growing up. In my childhood and early adolescence, any confrontation with race or members of other races was never an issue. There were hardly any kinds of “different” people at all. Those that were around were sort of “invisible”.
Our family moved to a different town when I was 12. I was aware of the “N” Word, but paid little attention to its common use in both towns that I had lived in. My family prohibited its use in strict fashion. And I suppose that I was beginning to be aware of racial issues right along this stage in my life.
I certainly remember the stark embarrassment when that word was used in my presence, and in the presence of the black janitor at our school, a man that I, and others, were fond of.
That memory is clear and perhaps a pivotal moment in my thinking.
Southern Pines, N.C. was 15 miles from my hometown, and our nearest shot at nightlife. At age 14 and up I was among a group of teenagers who made this trip several nights a week. Beer was the goal and though I didn’t drink I piled in any car that made the trip. One night on the return trip someone in our car hurled a beer can at a person walking along the country road. Younger than the crowd, I was hesitant to complain. Yet I did. The response I got was “…Hey, preacher’s boy, did see how black that bastard was? They don’t count anyway.”
Sports meant the world to me. The next stunning racial impression was related to that world. The biggest sport in our state is basketball, then and now, and the Dixie Classic was the premier event of the sporting year. Later banned because of a gambling fix, at least I saw the one that most people consider the best ever. Michigan State and “Jumping Johnny” Green, Oscar Robertson of Cincinnati, and the Big Four schools, including beloved Wake Forest (then College). Lucky enough to be given a ticket, I watched in reverence as the great Oscar Robertson and Cincinnati took on the Deacons. And while no one has ever pulled for a team any more than I did for Wake, the evening crushed me. Though Oscar was among the best college basketball players ever, and went on similarly in the professional ranks, my school, its team, and the crowd collectively exhibited the most blatant racism I had ever witnessed. It stung me.
Next in line, my Father who WAS much more tolerant than the neighborhood felt professional and personal pain for his stand on race. And I’m sure my love and respect for him helped me screw up my courage and begin to take humble stands on the issue.


We recruited international players often at Atlantic Christian, and from all over. Two Africans, Elfatih Eltom from Ethiopia, and Sharhabil Humeida of the Sudan were two of the firsts, along with Tony Barreteau, all great soccer players. They were also fine students, and they spoke the “King’s English” beautifully. Quite impressive to anyone in eastern North Carolina, white or black, myself included. We all listened and learned from these wonderful people.
Another person who impressed me similarly was a football coach at Elon, Leo Barker. Coach Barker is the only Panamanian to play in the National Football League. One of eighteen children, he was an All-Pro linebacker playing with Boomer Eliasason and the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl. Coach Barker was an impressive man in any number of ways, not the least of which the influence he wielded with our American Black footballers. I talked a number of times with some of our football players about Coach Barker. The comment that
sticks with me most is the player who stressed, “…Coach Leo don’t go for that victimology crap.”
While I had played high school football, there was no college football at the college I went to. When I changed jobs and began work for Elon in 1985, the football team was ranked number one in preseason NAIA picks. I loved that whole scene, and we had some ballplayers. Football players in general, and at this level, were new to me. They were big strong capable men, and as I got to know them I valued their friendship and their ability. John Bradsher, Russell Evans, Jeff Slade, and Gino McCree were close friends and they adopted me in my learning of Elon and college football. I am grateful to these guys, and they opened the door to my knowing a lot of the other players. Often our kids were smaller than Division I players, but they were just as tough and just as skilled as most of the big timers. The receivers and the defensive backs were predominantly Black kids, and for some reason I hold a special place for them and efforts they
rendered. These guys were quick and would “de-cleat,” you. Several years back I wrote a blog article about football and head injuries.


When Billie Jean King courageously “came out of the closet” it was a big deal. At that time in Wilson, North Carolina we sponsored a professional tennis exhibition. At a post play party, one of the local people made an anti-gay slur. One of the pros, Erik Van Dillen, a Californian, simply
stated, “that’s not too unusual where I come from.” Someone has stated that one in eight people
are homosexual. I know a lot of great gay people, and history is full of them. Isn’t equality an all encompassing term in America?
Get over it.
I saw a bumper sticker with “gay colors” (Jesus would slap the shit out of you).
In the impending days before the 2008 election there was at least one agreement. Commonly heard was the statement “… well, no matter who wins things are so bad they won’t be corrected and one term, probably not in two.” True then, true now.
But the “rock throwing” began almost immediately.
No answers, no solutions, just bitching about everything the man did. Worse than that, they followed Rush’s lead (“I hope he fails”). Isn’t that borderline treason?
So what actually has happened? Granted it has been slow-going. How could it be any other way given the negative behavior of Congress? And yet:
• There has been a remarkable recovery in the car industry.
• The housing industry is recovering.
• The Affordable Care Act is working and will continue to work better. April 1 marked the fulfillment of seven million people signing up.
• We have a president who can speak English. Remember: “… fool me, ah, twice, ah…fool me…ah…) and the combined zillion malapropisms of our top spokesman? The Right actually vilified President Obama, “…just because he can make a good speech, Wow.
• Unemployment is down.
• The job situation is much better.
• The President is carrying the flag for increased minimum wage.
• Many poor people or now covered with health insurance.
• The war in Iraq is over.
• He is getting them out of Afghanistan.
• The price of gas has been relatively stable. The stock market is at an all time high.
• Oil production in the United States is booming.
• Researches into “Green” options are yielding attractive alternatives that are essential to the
economy and environment.
• Information on climate change is gathering. Ninety seven percent of acknowledged scientists
agree it is a reality, with mankind a major contributor. This month the United Nation’s panel on climate change concluded that the “…world is warming, ice is melting, water flow is surging, Animals are changing their range and behavior, crop production is failing and once rare and deadly events are occurring with unnatural frequency.” The good news is someone is paying attention and evidence builds.
• The deficit has taken a remarkable downturn recently. More later.
• World opinion is has vastly improved during the Obama administration. And yet, unfolding history is rapidly revealing what a gigantic mess the others created.
• And, oh yes, Obama got Bin Laden!!!! Obama got him.
Still, here comes the race card, the tax card, the saber rattlers, the fear mongers. The old ones who send young ones to die for their profit, pride, or reelection. “A war is good for the economy”. Oh yeah? How did that work out this time?
Pete Seeger died this year. Was Pete right when he stated “… the best thing for the economy is no war.”
Take a guess as to who “walks with the money” a war makes? And who pays the bill?


I guess my “signature” course was First Aid. I taught about thirty students each semester for twenty years. I can remember about a dozen cases when people came back told me through artificial respiration, cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), treating wreck victims and a host of other accidents or illnesses, they saved a life.
One interesting case involved a soccer player from Jamaica, Tony Barriteau. Tony was a joy, and volunteered his time teaching the growing number of soccer kids in Wilson.
Greenfield School was the private school in Wilson, and it was typical of the schools built during integration, soccer, no football.
I got a call from George Bell, Greenfield’s headmaster. He wanted to know if I should hire an applicant named Barriteau, who’d listed my name as a reference.
“Why not?” I asked.
George hemmed and hawed until my silence forced him to say it.
“Well, he’s black, you know and our parents……..”
He was still stammering when I advised him “George, hire Tony.”
I’d forgotten it until a call from an excited Tony Barriteau. “Coach, I, I, I thinkI did it right. I remembered all you said, I, I, I…”
“Tony, what happened.”
As he explained that on his first day at Greenfield he was eating lunch with
the faculty and staff. All of a sudden George Bell, choking on his lunch, turned blue and grabbed his throat. Tony had administered the “Heimlich Maneuver” perfectly, popping George’s lunch on the cafeteria floor.”
“Tony”, I said, “go get Mr. Bell on the phone.” A few minutes later George Bell said “Hello”.
I couldn’t resist: “George, how do you feel about hiring Tony Barriteau?”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a white cat or a black cat, as long as it can catch mice,” Colin Powell at Elon University – 2005.