Ocracoke Dolphin Rosalio Villanueva shoots against Bear Grass Oct. 27.

Text and photos by Richard Taylor

Sports teams returned strong to Ocracoke School this fall following two years of limited games due to the pandemic and recovery from Hurricane Dorian.

Basketball begins in the Ocracoke School gym on Friday at 4 p.m. starting with girls’ varsity followed by the boys varsity as they take on East Carteret from Beaufort. Ocracoke’s community radio station, WOVV will broadcast the game locally on 90.1 FM. The station’s website, wovv.org, is currently out of service.

Varsity basketball coach Frank Moore returns for his third year, although no games were played last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty games were played away for the 2019-2020 season due to Dorian.

The only seniors on Moore’s 10-man squad are Rosalio Villanueva-Romero and Brandt O’Neal.

“Rosalio is probably one of the most enjoyable kids I’ve coached,” Moore said after practice on Nov. 17. “He gives me everything he has. You can’t ask for more. None of these kids except Roaslio has played in a varsity game. It’s a big jump from middle school to varsity. You might be the best in middle school, but when you’re going against an 18-year-old kid who’s been playing varsity for several years, it’s a different game.”

He’s pleased with the young group he has now.

“This isn’t going to be an overnight thing,” he said about coaching them to win. “I hope by February, we’re a lot better than we are right now. We’re going to be alright.”

In the season opener Nov. 15, the 10-player Dolphin boys team lost at Lawrence Academy in Bertie County, 73-47. “We played well until the middle of the second period,” Moore said. The Lady Dolphins, coached by Kadi Richardson, lost to Lawrence Academy, 44-31.

The Lady Dolphins played a non-conference away game Dec 1, while both varsity teams play Friday/Saturday home games this weekend, first hosting East Carteret Friday. The Lady Dolphins play at 4:00 p.m. while the boys play at 5:30 p.m.

Maren Donlon returns a volley against Lawrence Academy Oct. 15 in the refurbished Ocracoke School gym.

Earlier in the fall, girls’ volleyball, co-ed soccer, and cross-country teams all qualified for regional state playoffs.

Guidance counselor Mary McKnight took on the additional role of athletic director this fall, replacing Adam Burleson.

“We went a couple of years without playing,” she said  “There’s some rebuilding’s happening and some new coaches. We’re doing good now.”

Playing volleyball before an enthusiastic crowd in the newly refurbished gym, the Lady Dolphins, 5-7 overall, played hard before losing to Lawrence Academy from Bertie County, 0-3, in the last home game of the season Oct 15.

The girls led the first set right up to the end, before letting that set slip away, 25-23.

The Dolphins finished the regular season third in the Atlantic Five 1A conference, behind Bear Grass Charter and Cape Hatteras.

The Dolphins subsequently lost 3-0 at Northside Pinetown in the first round in the N.C. High School Athletic Association regional playoffs Oct. 25.

The entire 11-member volleyball squad returns next fall. Ocracoke did not roster middle school volleyball this year. Jessica Caldwell coaches the Lady Dolphins, assisted by Charles Temple.

The co-ed Dolphin soccer team finished their regular season 2-5 at home Oct. 27, losing 5-2 to first-place Bear Grass Charter.

It also was Senior Night as Ocracoke School seniors Odalys Garcia, Daniela Garcia, Jonathan Martinez, Brandt O’Neal and Rosalio Villanueva-Romero were honored with flowers for their players at halftime.

In the second half, McKnight felt the need to quickly intercede when two heated arguments broke out between Dolphin and Bear fans following questionable calls by the referees.

“It was a great game,” said Andy Todd, coach. “I’m proud of our team. They have nothing to be ashamed of. They did very well.”

McKnight said Todd was a great choice for head soccer coach, noting, “He’s got a wealth of knowledge. He’s a good mentor and role model for the kids.”

“After a courageous effort, the Dolphins bowed out of the playoffs this evening,” Todd wrote on Facebook following a 9-0 loss to Eno River Academy in Hillsborough Nov. 1.

Todd will return to coach next year.

Dolphin Maren Donlon, left, and Elsie Kattenburg, right, at the Bayboro Regional Cross Country meet on Oct. 30.

The Dolphins ran all cross-country meets away this year.

“We’re hoping to set up a course for home meets next year,” McKnight said.

Under coach Shea Youell’s leadership, Ocracoke took 13 runners and ran well at the cross-country regionals in Bayboro Oct 30.

There, three Dolphins qualified for the next state level meet.

“Everybody had a great experience in Kernersville (on Nov. 6),” Youell said. “They ran really well. It’s really good for our girls to be competing against some of the best runners in the state. I hope it’s something we can build on for the future. We’re looking forward to competing in the state meet again next year.”

“It was cold up there,” said sophomore runner Maren Donlon about the Forsyth County course, “but nobody finished last.”

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