More than 100 participate in SHS’s inaugural 5K

Published 9:54 am Friday, October 24, 2014

Left, Dr. Sherita Davis runs alongside SHS Students Hope Weideman, Mary Hudgins and Hannah Williams. -- MURRAY THOMPSON | The Tidewater News

Left, Dr. Sherita Davis runs alongside SHS Students Hope Weideman, Mary Hudgins and Hannah Williams. — MURRAY THOMPSON | The Tidewater News

Approximately 122 people suited up on Saturday to take over the streets of Courtland, or at least 3.11 miles of the town for Southampton High School’s inaugural 5K Run/Walk and Youth “Squirt Spurt.”

The Oct. 18 event was put together by the athletic department to raise funding for football and other athletics activities at the high school.

“It is a dream come reality,” said Superintendent Dr. Alvera Parrish about the event’s success. “I am real excited about the sponsorships and involvement and participation that we had. All of the folks are giving their time freely, the volunteers, and it is just massive. We can’t thank the folks enough that have made this happen.”

Parrish said this is something that they have wanted to do for a while, but it finally came together through the school’s new K12 Athletic Alliance. This particular event was put together by Head Football Coach Willie Gillus.

“This event is his brainchild,” Parrish said. “But there are many events that this alliance will be pulling off to enhance the athletic program. This one happened to be for the high school, but the alliance will support the whole system, K to 12.

“We want to be able to provide more opportunities for our young students in the Southampton County Public Schools.”

Gillus said the athletic alliance program did a lot of work to prepare for this event, and that he couldn’t take all the credit.

“We had great people on the committee, and they worked endlessly in preparation for this,” he said. “We were just happy to get it off the ground. We look forward to the upcoming years of having great success here in Courtland.”

Alliance member Dr. Cynthia Nicholson, who teaches English at Chowan University, said the backing from the community was amazing.

“It is exciting to see the people of Courtland come together to support our children,” she said. “We love having the opportunity to work with young people and to see them do anything they can.”

The race began at the Courtland Community Center, located at 25499 Florence Street and went through residential neighborhoods as well as onto Camp Parkway. The winners of the race for the women were: Mary Hudgins, first; Kristy Johnson, second; and Carrie Beale, third.

For men: Pete Gibson won first; Kendall Butler took second; and Cole Jarrett got the bronze.

“We are still calculating the total raised due to our need to include some event expenses, which are yet to come in,” said Gillus. “But I can tell you it was a great event — not just for the county but for the entire area.

“In addition to the participants, I estimated that we had more than 30 individuals who were volunteers or just wanted to come out to cheer everyone on for the event. So, on behalf of Dr. Alvera Parrish, Mrs. Aileen Atkinson and me, we extend a hearty thank you to all the participants, sponsors and volunteer supporters.”

For more details on the 2015 effort, contact Gillus, or Principal Atkinson at 653-2751.

Contributing photographer Murray Thompson added to this report.