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“Good, better, best! Never let it rest until your good is better and your better’s best. Never settle for less than God’s best.”
It’s a saying with which students and teachers at Wilson Preparatory Academy are well acquainted as a daily mantra from the fifth-year charter school’s founder and executive director Daryl Woodard.
“If we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it with excellence,” Woodard said. “There’s no need to do it halfway. If you’re going to do it, do it with excellence. That’s what we believe in.”
Wilson Prep’s latest project ascribes to those standards. Woodard proudly unveiled the next phase of its athletic complex — a multi-use field for soccer, football and lacrosse, encircled by a running track and sitting adjacent to a baseball/softball diamond. The fields are still under construction but Woodard, ever the optimist, assures that with just a little bit of rain, the sod on the soccer field will take and the Tigers will play their first ever true home game soon.
“It should grow up in two weeks,” Woodard said. “Or let’s say by the end of the month, so I’m hoping and praying that this thing will take and we should be able to be in business!”
The polyurethane-rubber track and baseball diamond will be ready by spring. Woodard said the diamond will come with a moveable mound so the Lady Tigers softball team can use it. Future plans include a softball diamond located beyond the baseball field.
The eight-lane track will have high jump and long jump/triple jump pits as well as a throws area and a pole vault pit.
The multi-purpose field, which will only be used for soccer until WPA potentially adds football or lacrosse teams, is raised.
There will be concrete walkways connecting the fields and a concession/restroom building along with storage structures and bleachers.
The facility, which Woodward said will cost nearly $750,000, has been designed by Herring-Sutton Associates of Wilson.
Woodard said the athletic facilities are part of the long-term plan for excellence at Wilson Prep, a K-12 school which has about 250 students in its high school.
“We knew it couldn’t happen overnight,” he explained. “Even though we just opened, we said it was going to be a five-year process. So we try to keep things realistic and make sure that everything is done.
“But, like I said, we’re not into just having quantity when it comes to kids. We’re want to have quality kids that if they are athletically inclined to get scholarships, we want the academics to match so that they won’t have problems when they sit down with that college recruiter. Their grades are in place, the courses that they’ve taken — that’s very critical. That’s why we’re making sure that we’re taking time to let the kids understand, all of our scholars at Wilson Prep, you have to be a scholar-athlete and not just an athlete. We don’t just want you to be the best basketball player or baseball player or track athlete in Wilson and then 15 years later, you’re still in Wilson. We want you to go on and we want to see you on the basketball court at a university on a scholarship or on the track and maybe in the Olympics, but you have the academics to complement your athletics.”
Wilson Prep is in just its second season of high school varsity athletics but has already had success. The boys basketball team won the regular-season and tournament titles last year in the Capital City East Conference, one of six leagues in the statewide Carolina Athletic Association for Schools of Choice. WPA has been accepted into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association but Woodard said immediate plans are to stay in the CAASC.
One thing is for sure, however, no matter what league or association Wilson Prep teams are in, they will have first-class facilities.
“This complex here is not for outside show. It’s for making sure if a child enrolls at Wilson Prep, they have everything they need right here,” Woodard said. “They don’t have to seek anything anywhere else, they have everything they need right here. I tell people all the time that Wilson Preparatory Academy is a real school. We have to be accountable financially, academically and in everything we’re doing. That’s why it’s not a one-man show because I have to have people such as my board of directors that I have to report to on a monthly basis. We’re about to get audited by the state that says that every penny has been well spent the way it needs to be spent. But you have to be accountable! And you have to be a good steward of what you’re trying to do. So that’s what we’re doing.”