Northwood inducts 6 into athletics hall of fame

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PITTSBORO — Northwood High School inducted six alumni into its Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday during halftime of the football game against Williams High School.

Those inducted into the 2022 class were Casey Norris Bodlak, Tra Chandler, Robbie Degraffenreidt, Carrie Webster Howard, Darrell Kirby and Jim Pappas.

Casey Norris-Bodlak

Norris-Bodlak graduated from Northwood in 2014. She was a member of the basketball and soccer team all four years of high school. In basketball, Norris-Bodlak was a three-time all-conference selection and team MVP. On the soccer field, she was a two-time all-state selection, three-time all-conference selection and four-time team MVP.

Norris-Bodlak attended Liberty University on a soccer scholarship, where she graduated with an Elementary Education Degree. She played in every game all four seasons and was a team captain during her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She helped lead the Flames to a Big South Conference Championship and an NCAA First Round game against UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Being able to compete in high school athletics helped to prepare me for a career in college athletics at a high level by challenging me to balance being an athlete and a student,” Norris-Bodlak said. “I was encouraged every day by my coaches and teachers who had a huge impact on me, some of which I am still in contact with today. I learned about what it meant to lead, how to be a good teammate, and also how to be a respectful player to both coaches and players. The coaches I had at Northwood high school made a huge impact on me. As I went on to play Division 1 soccer at Liberty, I took many of those lessons learned at Northwood with me.”

Norris-Bodlak is currently a stay at home mother with her two children, ages three and one, with a third child on the way.

Tra Chandler

Chandler graduated from Northwood in 2011 where he was a standout on the basketball and football team. As a basketball player, he was a member of the 2009 and 2011 state runner-up teams. In 2011 he was named the Eastern Regional MVP for his performance against Kinston with 20 points. He was an all-conference selection his junior and senior year and was also known for his tenacious defense on the opposing team’s point guard.

Chandler excelled in all facets of the game on the football field. He was a dynamic wide receiver, lockdown cornerback and electric kick returner on special teams. He was selected all-conference at the cornerback position his junior and senior years. He was also named to the all-state team as a cornerback his senior year. He led the Chargers with the most interceptions in a season with 12. He was also the only Charger to score a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams in the same game.

Following Northwood, Chandler enrolled at Dean College in Massachusetts for a year before transferring to UNC-Pembroke. At Pembroke, his success continued as a kick-returner; he returned two kickoffs in a season for the Braves. As a senior at Pembroke, he was named to the all-conference team as a kick-returner.

Following his collegiate career, Chandler has played in arena football. In 2019 he played for the Carolina Havoc in Florence, S.C., where he scored three touchdowns. This past year he played in the Fan Controlled Football League, where he had one touchdown.

“The experience I had at Northwood meant everything to me. It molded me,” Chandler said. “The coaches and teammates instilled the work ethic to be successful. Everyone pushed me to be my best. The community of Pittsboro is hands down one of the best in the state. They supported us and came to every game during that 2009 and 2011 state playoffs. My coaches treated me like one of their own. They were there for me when I had questions and guided me as a young man. They helped me be a better man and have shaped me into the man that I have become today.”

Chandler received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Informational Technology from UNC Pembroke in 2016. He has been mentoring youth in the Garner area and is training young athletes. He is currently employed as an IT Technician for Minpath Health and resides in Garner.

Robby DeGraffenreidt

DeGraffenreidt is a 1988 Northwood graduate who was a member of the baseball and basketball teams. Degraffenreidt was a two-time all conference selection in basketball, but it was on the baseball diamond where he excelled. He was a four-year starter for Northwood’s baseball team and was selected all-conference three years in a row. He won the conference batting title his sophomore and senior year. Degraffenreidt was also named the Conference Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992.

He threw two no hitters against Denton in 1987 and another versus Bunn in the first round of the state playoffs in 1988. He won 15 career games as a pitcher. He was selected to the first North Carolina State Games as a member of the baseball team following his senior year of high school.

“When I think back on my time at Northwood I remember how Coach Horton and Coach Shaner changed my life,” DeGraffenreidt said. “They stressed doing your job in the classroom and on the baseball field and basketball court. But academics was first before athletics. My coaches, teammates and friends that I had at Northwood have all impacted me on the man that I am today. I am forever grateful for the experiences that I had at Northwood High School.”

Degraffenreidt went on to Louisburg College and finished his degree at Central Carolina Community College. He currently resides in Pittsboro with his wife and three daughters, Shanya, Destinee’ and Kyonti. He has a grandson, Jorden, and a step-daughter, Destinee Sumter.

Carrie Webster Howard

Webster Howard is a 2010 graduate of Northwood High School, where she excelled on the softball field. She was instrumental in the softball team’s success winning the conference championship and conference tournament in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Webster Howard excelled on the mound for the Chargers. She was an all-conference selection all four years as a pitcher. She was named Conference Player of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2009 and 2010, Webster Howard was named All-District and All-State.

Following her career at Northwood, she attended Meredith College in Raleigh where she pitched two years for the Avenging Angels before deciding to double major her junior year of college. She graduated with honors from Meredith College with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising with a minor in Marketing.

Webster Howard resides in Pittsboro and is employed at Galloway Ridge as an Administrative Assistant for Facilities and Technology.

“Some of my best memories are from playing softball at Northwood and I am thankful for the values and lessons that I gained,” Webster Howard said. “I learned how to persevere when times get tough and that failure builds character. I also learned that having faith in yourself and others is contagious. The more you believe in others, the more they will believe in you. I will be forever grateful for everything my parents, coaches, teammates and Northwood did for me during my four years as a Charger; they helped shape my life today”

Darrell Kirby

Kirby, a 1992 graduate of Northwood, was a standout in football, basketball and baseball. A running back, Kirby was a two-time all-conference and all-area selection his junior and senior years. During his senior year, he had two 200 yard rushing performances and finished with 1,136 yards rushing his senior year. On the basketball court, Kirby was also a two-time all-conference selection. He was selected as the team MVP his senior year and was part of a team that won two conference championships.

On the baseball field Kirby was a true force. He was a three-time all-conference selection. Leading the team in batting with an average of .425, he was named the 1992 conference player of the year and all-state selection. On the mound, he won 19 games as a pitcher and also hit 13 career home runs. Kirby was also the first Northwood athlete to receive the WRAL Tom Suitor Extra Effort Award.

Reflecting on his experience at Northwood Kirby said, “The teachers and coaches that I had at Northwood kept me grounded. They kept me on the right path. I had goals that I wanted to achieve and they helped me reach them. Coach Pappas, Coach Horton, Coach Ribbett and Coach Hall, thank you for driving me and instilling a hard nose mentality and work ethic. You held me accountable and treated me like everyone else. They all treated me as if I was one of their own.”

Kirby, who resides in Snow Camp, is married to his wife Tracy. He has two daughters, Ceionna and Aniyah, who were also Northwood graduates.

Jim Pappas

Pappas was a longtime Northwood teacher, coach and athletic director from 1989-2002. He coached tennis (89-92), football (87-97) and basketball (91-2002) during his tenure while also juggling athletic director duties during those seasons. He led the Northwood basketball team to its first ever state championship appearance in 2000.

A native of Danville, Virginia, Pappas came to Northwood in 1989 after serving as a football assistant coach and Health and Physical Education teacher at Pinecrest High School.Coach Pappas received numerous accolades as a coach while at Northwood. He was the coach of the year during the 1989 and 1990 seasons in tennis. He won the Football Coach of the Year Honor in 1990. He was also named Coach of the Year in basketball during the 99-00 and 00-01 seasons. He had a career overall basketball record of 303-211 between his coaching stops at Northwood, Cedar Ridge High School, and Williams High School (girls basketball).

“It was a tremendous time of our lives during the years my family and I spent at Northwood,” Pappas said. “The people, who are too numerous to list, that touched our lives both professionally and socially. We consider Northwood to be “Home”. This honor is about the Northwood Community.”

Pappas received his Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from the University of South Carolina in 1978. He also received a Masters of Arts degree in Physical Education from Gardner Webb in 1987. Pappas recently retired from education after serving 42 years in the school system. He and his wife Donna reside in Hillsborough and have three children, Josh, Cameron, and Peyton.

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