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High-Energy Fundraiser Between Avery-Watauga Sheriff’s Offices Nets $1,500 for Explorers Program

This photo represents community spirit at its best, as law enforcement officers from Avery and Watauga counties come together to help benefit the Avery Explorer’s Program, helping shape the young lives of future officers. Members of the Explorers are pictured with the officers before the fundraising ballgame in Newland on Friday, April 5.

By Sherrie Norris

Two unique teams came together for a good cause on Friday, April 5, at the Avery High School Gym in Newland — and everyone came away with a renewed sense of community spirit.

For probably the first time in history, law enforcement officers representing both the Avery County Sheriff’s Office and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office hit the basketball court in a friendly competition, joining forces to benefit the Avery County Sheriff’s Explorers Post 850.

And, yes, the Avery County team also earned bragging rights as winners in the inaugural fun-filled, high-energy game, with a final score of 74-61.

According to Avery County’s School Resource Officer Luis Sanchez, who coordinated the event, it was a huge success.

“Proceeds from the game totaled around $1,500 and will be used to help pay for uniforms, duty equipment (training weapons, handcuffs, duty belt, holsters, flashlights, etc.), protection equipment ( vests, gloves, eye protection) and books,” he said.

Sanchez added, “I would like to thank my coworkers at Avery County Sheriff’s Office and also the great support of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Avery County Schools, Avery County EMS, Phillip Greene/Glory 1130 AM WECR, other local media and all the fans that came out to enjoy a very fun evening and to support this program. Both teams played an amazing game. We would not have been able to raise this money without everyone’s cooperation.”

Officers participating on the Avery team included the following:

Corporal Brett Stocton, Sargent Jack McCloud, Detectives Casey Lee and Nathaniel Calvert, Deputy Cody Carpenter, NCSHP Trooper Matt Pitman, Seven Devils Police Chief Jonathan Harris, Newland Police Officer Matthew Potter, Linville Land Harbor Police Officer Craig Hughes, and their coach, Avery County Sheriff Kevin Frye.

The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office team included:

Captains Kelly Redmon, Carolyn Gragg and Justin Wood, Sargent Chris Ward, Lieutenant Preston Russell, SRO Paul Scott, Detectives Andrew Smith, Darrick Woody, Deputy Garrett Norris and their coach, Sheriff Len Hagaman.

According to Sanchez, the Avery County Sheriff’s Explorers program is sponsored by the Avery County Sheriff’s Office and chartered through the Learning For Life organization. “The program gives middle school and high school students an insight into a career in law enforcement,” he said.

The program is under the administration of the school resource officer and patrol division of the sheriff’s office and is supervised by specially selected deputies who serves as advisors.

Sanchez added that the Explorers will also be “very well involved in many different activities,” including the following:

– Explorer competitions in different locations within the region

– Law enforcement training

– Community service projects

– Community and social events

– Ride-a-longs with officers

– Law enforcement service

– Crime prevention projects

“Becoming a member of the Explorer’s program is easy,” Sanchez said, as he encourages middle school students who might be interested in joinging to contact him at (828)386-8055 or luissanchez@averyschools.net.

“If the student is at Avery High School, contact Corporal Tim Winters at (828)789-9004 or timwinters@averyschools.net,” he added.

“Either one of us (advisors) will be more than glad to answer any questions these young people or their parents may have.”

The team representing Avery County gets a pep talk from its coach, Sheriff Kevin Frye.
These officers take a break while the action continues to heat up on the basketball court during a fun-filled, high-energy basketball game in Newland on Friday night.
Watauga’s Preston Russell, one of the game’s top scorers, waits for yet another drop from the line.
And the winners are — The Avery County Sheriff’s Office team!