By Jessica Pitcock
Sophomore Ray Harwood is one of the three athletes in his class that decided to repeat their freshman year with the COVID “Redo Bill.” The decision turned out to be a good one because the freshman team won the 16th District Championship for the first time in over 20 years and Ray became a starter on the varsity team that took runner up honors in the 16th District Tournament.
Ray is the son of Kenny and Jane Harwood and the late Karen Harwood. His mom passed away from a blood clot when he was just eight years old. His stepmother Jane has been in his life since he was 10. Ray said, “One trait I get from my dad is dedication. When we both do something we do it to the best of our ability and we don’t give up.”
Kenny and Jane said, “We are so proud of Ray. He was only 10 when he moved to Burkesville from Indiana. It had to be hard to move to a new place and start a new school, but Ray fit in well and made many friends. Still today, Ray is such a likable person and everyone wants to be around him.”
“Ray works hard on the court. He is strong and we cant wait to see where basketball takes him. He works hard in the classroom too. He is also now working at the Cumberland Valley Manor in the laundry department. We are proud of the young man Ray is,” said his parents.
Ray said, “Coach Patrick Crawley has had such a big impact on my life. If it wasn’t for him encouraging me to play basketball at the middle school level, I would have never played. Also Coach Kurtis Claywell pushes me to make me a better player.”
Coach Kurtis Claywell said, “Ray is a fantastic kid that everyone truly loves to be around. He is eager to learn in the classroom and on the ball court. He has potential to be a great ball player if he continues to work. We will really be counting on him this season in basketball.”
Ray said, “During the off season, I want to work on my shooting more than anything. I also want to work my post moves and scoring.”
Deven Norris, Ray’s teammate and best friend, said, “Ray is a pretty good friend on and off the ball court. On the ball court, he makes sure we keep pushing and doing our best. He tells us to keep fighting and to never give up. We always have a good time no matter what are doing. It’s always going be a fun time when Ray is around. I remember when he first moved down here and we would always go to the ball court and play ball. There’s nothing like the old times where we stayed up playing games all night and all day. When we were young, we would shoot basketball outside my house for hours. We both have always been competitive and wanted to win.”
“The award I am proudest of is receiving All District last season. I am blessed with many things in my life, but my family, friends, and sports are the top three things that I am thankful for in this life,” said Ray.
Two sets of eyes are always watching Ray from the stands. Ray said, “Ezra Henderson and Nolan Perdue are my biggest fans. They are at every game and always cheering me on.”
Cora Craft nominated Harwood to he the next Panther Spotlight and she had this to say, “Ray is a very determined athlete. He is a inspiration to many people. He works hard at everything he does and everyone can see the dedication he puts into basketball. He is also just an amazing person to be around.He is very outgoing and always happy to help with anything anyone needs. I know he will have a bright future.”
Ray would like to further his basketball career after high school. He would love to get a scholarship and play college basketball, but if that doesn’t work out he wants to go to a trade school and become a carpenter.The next three years of Panther basketball will be exciting to watch. We hope to see a district championship banner hanging from the rafters and with Ray Harwood working hard in the middle that dream is very reachable