Local schools are well represented in the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star activities this week at the University of Central Arkansas.
The baseball and softball doubleheaders were played Tuesday, with girls and boys soccer and volleyball games set for Wednesday, girls and boys basketball Thursday and football Friday.
Among those meeting the press Monday were Falan Miller of Central Arkansas Christian, West girls basketball; Josh Williams and Curtis Parker of North Little Rock, East football; Jessica Beaver of Maumelle; East assistant girls soccer coach; and Steve Quattlebaum of CAC, the Lady Mustang girls basketball coach and an eight-year member of the AHSCA’s All-Star committee.
Miller, who will play for Harding University in the fall, said she was "really, really excited" about her All-Star experience.
"It’s a great opportunity to be able to play with all these great players," she said. "There’s so much talent with all those girls. I haven’t really thought about it as going into my last high school game, so it’s bittersweet, but I’m moving on to a different level, and I’m excited about that."
She said although she considered other places, Harding always felt like home.
"The girls are so sweet there; they make you feel so welcome," she said. "That’s where I needed to be."
Joining her on the West squad this week are Tiffany Murdock and Akasha Westbrook of Malvern, which had the Lady Mustangs’ number over the last two years, winning eight consecutive games, including the district, regional and state finals this season.
"They’re really sweet," Miller said. "I’m excited to play with them one time instead of against them. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to play against them again."
She and her coach, Quattlebaum, teased that the two Lady Leopards were rubbing it in a little Monday.
"They said something about their rings," Quattlebaum said, grinning.
Miller said she was looking forward to meeting new people, but her roommate, Taylor McCool of El Dorado, was a late pull-out. At press time, Miller was waiting on McCool’s replacement.
"My goal is to have fun and meet a lot of new people," she said.
One of her West coaches, Chris Kordsmeier of Conway St. Joseph, said he was looking forward to a chance to coach Miller.
"I’ve read about her," he said. "It’s always fun to get the best of the best."
One last game
North Little Rock’s football season ended in a heartbreak of a loss to Cabot in the Class 7A state semifinals, 43-42 in double overtime last fall, and Curtis Parker and Josh Williams are glad to have another chance for redemption.
"We didn’t end the season like we wanted to; it didn’t feel quite right, and I’m pretty excited and happy I get to play one more game with my teammate," said Parker, a 6-2, 285-pound offensive lineman.
Williams, a 6-1, 180-pound defensive back, said it "felt awesome" to see Parker among all the new faces at UCA this week.
"It’s a big opportunity to be here, getting to be with the best players," he said. "It’s a blessing."
Williams, headed to Central Oklahoma, said he had spent a lot of time working out under NLRHS coach Brad Bolding to prepare for this opportunity.
"I’m really ready," he said.
He has big goals — "to get MVP and to come out with a win," he said.
Parker missed the team photograph because he was in class. A signee with UCA, he is taking Basic Oral Communication in summer school. He and his East teammate, Will Jones, a 6-4, 300-pound offensive lineman from Parkers Chapel, are roommates after enrolling in UCA’s first summer session. Dalvin Simmons, a 6-2, 225-pound defensive lineman from Little Rock Central also on the East squad, will enroll in Summer II.
"It’s a pretty exciting experience just to get out and compete with some of the best guys in the state," Parker said. "I’m looking forward to meeting new people, including some of my future teammates."
With his summer class running from 1-2:30 p.m., Parker said he would be able to participate in regular all-star practices all week.
Soccer roster changes
Jessica McCauley of CAC has been listed on both the East and West girls soccer roster, but she was wearing red for the West on Monday.
McCauley had thought as late as last week she was on the East squad, along with long-time friends Lillian McEntire of North Little Rock and Abigail Persson of Sylvan Hills, with Maumelle coach Jessica Beaver as an assistant, but the final roster showed something different.
"We got a call last week that she’s actually on the West," Beaver said Monday.
It’s Beaver’s second straight All-Star experience.
"Our goal is for them to have fun, experience meeting new friends and get an opportunity to feel the college experience," she said. "For us as coaches, getting to communicate with the other coaches, seeing what they’re doing with their programs, and getting to talk about scheduling non-conference games, is good. It’s good to network."