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Western Carolina Student-Athetes Visit Nantahala School as a Part of Red Ribbon Week

Nov. 9, 2005

Cullowhee, N.C. - On Friday October 28, four Western Carolina University student-athletes had the opportunity to speak at the Nantahala School about staying drug free as a part of the national Red Ribbon Week. Four seniors, including David Berghoeffer, Jared Outing, and Corey Muirhead representing men's basketball, as well as Erika Danford from women's golf were accompanied by WCU Senior Women's Administrator, Dr. Jennifer Brown.

Upon arrival, the student-athletes were ushered into the library to speak to a packed house composed of over 100 students ranging from kindergarten to twelfth grade. The student-athletes took turns introducing themselves and giving reasons why they choose to stay drug and substance free.

"I knew that if I used illegal drugs and substances it would hurt my performance on the court," said Berghoeffer.

Muirhead added, "Peer-pressure is a very strong force, but if you want to be able to pursue your dreams, you have to realize that drugs can only hurt you."

Outing spoke of a high school teammate with lots of schools looking at him to play basketball in college. Because his friend chose to use drugs and got caught, the colleges were no longer interested in him.

Catamount student-athletes pose with the Nantahala School children.

"If you ask around, everybody has a similar story. We all know people who had what it takes to play sports in college, but because of a stupid decision in high school, they were never given that chance," said Outing.

Danford asserted, "Unfortunately, in today's society perception is reality. Even if you are staying drug-free, but you associate with people who do use illegal substances, it is easy for outsiders to group you in and assume that you use drugs as well."

After speaking with the students for over an hour, the high school basketball team challenged the Catamounts to a friendly pick-up game. Everyone made their way to the gym, where the basketball trio provided an exhibition of slam dunks to rousing Ooo's and Ahh's from the Nantahala School students. A pick-up game was played and ended in a friendly tie. The Catamount Student-athletes ate lunch with the Nantahala students and answered more general questions about college life.

"This was an incredible opportunity for us to speak with children who are of an impressionable age. Hopefully, what we had to say today will impact at least one of their lives for the better," concluded Danford.