You Can't Get There From Here

Updated 5 years ago Sundae Horn
Hatteras ferry dock, oh how we miss you!
Hatteras ferry dock, oh how we miss you!

The winter storm cancelled both Ocracoke Dolphins basketball games.

We posted this story on the Ocracoke Current Thursday. It was obsolete almost immediately.

"We had a grand plan," Charles said. "The weather killed it." 

Charles, with coaches Dave Allewalt and Adam Burleson, had worked out a plan that got the Dolphins to two away conference games and had them only missing half a day of school. 

"The ferries ran, but the weather on the mainland shut us down," he said. "All the other schools had early dismissal Friday – Ocracoke was the only school in northeast NC that went a whole day."

Charles explained that schools have to cancel all extracurriculars if there's an early dismissal. 

The Dolphins will have to re-schedule again with only two and a half weeks left in the season. So many games were pushed ahead until traveling conditions could improve, and now time is running out.

"We're back to square one, but we're comfortable there," Charles said. "It may be square one, but it seems to be our square."

Read the original story from January 24th:

The Ocracoke Dolphins are playing at Hatteras on Saturday. They’re getting there by way of Nags Head.

They’ll leave school Friday at noon to travel to Creswell for games starting at 5 pm. The teams, coaches, and parent chaperones will spend the night in a hotel in Nags Head and travel down Highway 12 to battle the Hatteras Hurricanes at 10 a.m.

Under normal circumstances, it should be a quick ride home from Buxton. Ocracokers could expect to be home from 10 a.m. games by 3 at the latest, and that’s with a stop for sandwiches or pizza.

But this is the new normal, and, although you can see Ocracoke from Hatteras, you can’t get here from there. After the games, the kids will board the bus, and take the long way home back through Nags Head, and down to Swan Quarter to catch the 4:00 boat and pull into Ocracoke at 6:45 pm.

Ocracoke School’s Athletic Director Charles Temple has to figure out every day how to schedule (and re-schedule and re-schedule) basketball games when the ferries aren’t running. Charles credits the other ADs and coaches he works with for being so adaptable.

“It’s a day-to-day decision about each game,” he said.

Time and tide waits for no one – not even basketball teams.

“I think I’m the only athletic director who looks at tide charts every day,” he commented last week when ferry service to Hatteras was still a possibility.

For example, on Friday, January 11th, Columbia was supposed to play at Ocracoke. Based on tide charts, which Charles added, “don’t always conform with reality,” the game time was changed three different times during the day. 

“All day, we were facing the possibility of canceling. The best-case scenario is they get to come here and leave. But they could get stuck here and have to spend the night or they could not get here at all,” he said.

As it turned out, the noon-ish low tide meant the ferry couldn’t run until 4pm. The games started at 5, and all was well – except for the fog. 

“All I could think was, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Fog?’” he said. Charles was on the phone with the ferry station every fifteen minutes all evening, The ferry crew held the 9pm boat until 9:30 because they knew it would be their last run of the night. 

The Columbia AD and coach Bill Manning was “relaxed about the possibility of spending the night,” Charles said. “Which I really appreciated. But the whole day was…” Charles trailed off searching for the right expressions. “Just say it was mommicked some. It was offshore,” he said.

Last Friday, Terra Ceia’s team made plans to spend the night and play our middle school on Saturday morning. Luckily, they’d also planned to come and go across Pamlico Sound. That was the day the Hatteras ferry channel was shut down indefinitely. Unfortunately, there were some hard feelings about the ferries filling up. Ocracoke residents couldn’t get on the ferry to come home because it was full of Terra Ceia players, but, on the other hand, not all the Terra Ceia fans made it to the island because the ferry was full of Ocockers. The moral of this story? Make a reservation, people! 

While the Hatteras ferries sit patiently at the dock, the scheduling becomes a bit easier. No need to look at tide charts; it's Swan Quarter, or bust! The Dolphins have had to work around road closures, low tides, high winds, fog – and winter storms. Keep your fingers crossed that the ferries will run this weekend....

"When the road opened up, we thought our troubles were over, and then the Hatteras ferry channel problems started. The basketball schedule has been crazy. Before the season started, everything was planned to the finest detail. We thought ‘What could go wrong?’”

Perhaps a better question is: where did Charles get his optimism? Haven’t wind and tide affected Ocracoke athletics before?

Last fall, Hurricane Sandy “crushed the cross country season,” he said. “There was a good chance we could’ve won regionals, but we couldn’t get there because the ferries weren’t running.” 

Two Ocracoke Dolphins, Adam Carter and Wyatt Norris, were given special permission to attend the state finals.

“The qualified as individuals, based on their times,” Charles said. “But we think the whole team could’ve gone if we’d had the chance. Next year, we could win the whole region, God willing and the creek don’t rise – or fall.”

The scheduling troubles began, of course, with the hurricane.

With Highway 12 in Rodanthe closed until right before Christmas, the basketball teams had to come and go by way of the Swan Quarter ferry. That wasn’t so bad, Charles said, because “we had mostly tournaments, here and away, and teams are already planning to spend the night.”

During the last week of November, the Dolphins were invited to a week-long tournament off the island. Teachers, parents, and coaching staff worked together to make sure the kids could keep up with their classwork. They even got a chance to come home mid-week before heading back for the final games.

“Ocracoke kids are great travelers,” Charles said. “They know how to deal with long stretches of time.”

As AD, Charles is responsible for scheduling games and also for all the paperwork for compliance with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

Ocracoke School belongs to the Tideland Conference, which also includes Mattamuskeet, Hatteras, Creswell, and Columbia. Next year, our conference will merge with another, and we’ll be playing the much bigger teams at Plymouth, Manteo, Perquimmons, Gates and Camden.

A big part of Charles’s AD work is getting ready for next year, and scheduling games with new teams (the hopes the Dolphins will play each small school twice and each big school once per season). 

“Scheduling has been a real challenge this year," he said. "I know this is a small headache in the grand scheme of things, but basketball is such a big piece of life at the school, and a big part of community involvement with the school, especially in the winter.”

Go Dolphins!


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