|Ocracoke Update: Life without a highway
February 24, 2008
Beach detour affects movement of Dolphins
By JAMIE TUNNELL
might be surprised to learn that the Ocracoke Dolphins were affected by
the beach detour this winter. Then again, it was also their first year
with the opportunity to play in an area conference and be recognized on
the all-conference teams.
Yes, I'm talking about the Ocracoke Dolphins – the boys' and
girls' high school basketball teams that just finished up their season
this week. While the end results were less than desired, the teams came
out of the season with confidence and the support of their families and
“There was a higher level of sportsmanship from our players this
year,” said Principal George Ortman. “I’m very proud
of them and their effort this year. We didn’t get to play any
games outside of their conference games this year with the bridges but
maybe next year.”
The Dolphins first half of the season, in 2007, were all home games to
cut down on the inconvenience to opposing teams of having to deal with
the road closure and beach detour for the replacement of seven bridges
on the island. Every game since Jan. 2 has been played on the road.
Instead of a traditional school bus trip, the school depended on
parents and volunteers to drive the players to the away games. The
original plan was to transport players through the beach detour in
four-wheel-drive vehicles and then load a bus for the rest of the trip.
Once school officials and parents factored in unloading time and the
speed restrictions of the bus, it was a better plan to stick with the
“That plan just wasn’t practical,” said Ortman.
“All of the parents were informed at the beginning of the second
half of the season that our idea was to transport by vehicle and
everyone was in agreement and even donated their own time and vehicles
Several parents made the regular trips with loads of basketball players, equipment, late-night dinners, coaches, and spirit.
“They played hard,” said Bob Chestnut, freshman parent and
regular driver in the team caravan. “You don’t want to be
in the cab of a truck with sweaty boys and sweaty shoes for the ride
Their shortest trip, to Hatteras, is about an hour and half one way
with the Hatteras ferry ride and extra time added to successfully
navigate the beach detour.
For the first time ever, Ocracoke School was a member of the 1-A
Tideland Athletic Conference with Cape Hatteras, Mattamuskeet,
Creswell, Columbia, Bear Grass, and Jamesville.
“The kids are fortunate to have this opportunity to play in
a conference this year,” said Paula Schramel, senior parent and
regular driver in the team’s caravan. “I was impressed by
the generosity of the teams we were visiting. We had hot dog suppers
provided for the ride home, a treat at Andy’s in Columbia, and
pizzas in Creswell. When it turned out that the girls’ team had
grabbed too many pizzas, some of our boys were invited to their
homecoming banquet to fix a plate for the ride home.”
Schramel commented that it was always a rush back to the ferry. They
didn’t want to become separated or miss that last ferry that was
being held for them in Hatteras.
The late-night driving on the beach was no fun. They always formed a
caravan, and as anyone familiar with beach driving knows, if the person
in front stops or slows down, you have to think quickly. After their
away game to Columbia, they found themselves returning back at high
tide. Luckily, Jarvis Williams, the island’s tow contractor in
the beach detour area during the past few months, was always close
“This year actually worked out better for students and for the
travelers,” said Adam Burleson, Ocracoke School Athletic
Director. “With the bus, it could be as late as 1 a.m. getting
home. With the individual cars, we can go ahead and get back hours
earlier, which is especially nice for our mid-week games. The latest we
took the ferry was about 10:15.”
Burleson credits the cooperation and willingness of the parents that made this season happen.
“These guys stepped up for the first year in a conference,”
said Burleson. “We had some young teams, but that just means they
have more time and more growth ahead of them.”
Jordan Jones and Aaron Caswell are recognized as all-conference players
for the Tideland Conference. Chelsea Markovich, Joe Chestnut, and Chase
Garrish are runners-up.
“It’s really unexpected to be recognized,” said
Garrish. “I’m proud since I’m just a freshman, and I
have a lot more time to get even better. It’s good to be in the
conference because without it, I never would have gotten this
“It feels good that even though we didn’t win any games, we
still got recognized for our effort,” said Chestnut.
Ocracoke’s homecoming game is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 29.
(Jamie Tunnell is the editor of The Ocracoke Observer and a freelance writer for The Island Free Press.)