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Remembering Will: Baseball tourney opens Monday

LASKER – The 10th annual Sgt. Will McLawhorn Memorial Baseball Scholarship Tournament begins its two-day run on Monday and Tuesday, April 5-6 here at Northeast Academy.

The tournament is played annually around Easter break in honor of the late Sgt. Will McLawhorn, a Northeast Academy graduate who was killed in action while serving in the U.S. Army stationed in Afghanistan. McLawhorn played baseball and basketball at Northeast, graduating in 2005.

Members of the McLawhorn family (from left) Rev. Willie McLawhorn, Sr., wife, Diane, and daughter Melanie, pose beside a bronze plaque dedicated to their late son and brother, Sgt. Will ‘Claw’ McLawhorn, who was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2010. File Photo

This year’s tournament – from where scholarships will be awarded to deserving players – features four local private school teams. In addition to the host school, Northeast Academy, the tournament welcomes Ahoskie Christian School, Bethel Christian, and Ridgecroft School.

Admission is $5 per person.

Opening day, Monday at 4 p.m., a brief pre-game ceremony will be held. The first game pits Northeast vs. Ahoskie Christian followed by Bethel Christian vs. Ridgecroft.

Tuesday at 4 p.m., Monday’s losers will face off in the consolation game with Monday’s winners playing in the nightcap for the tournament championship.

Concessions will be sold.

McLawhorn, a native of Columbus County, moved with his family to Conway in 1998. There, his love of basketball and baseball continued, playing both sports on the junior varsity and varsity level. He was selected to the All-Roanoke-Chowan Baseball Team his senior year.

McLawhorn also enjoyed hunting and killed an 8-point buck with his first shot. As a child, Will had two careers in mind, becoming a professional baseball player or becoming a professional soldier.

In 2006, McLawhorn enlisted in the U.S. Army. Upon graduation from basic training, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division where he became a part of the Screaming Eagle family.

Prior to deployment to Iraq in 2007, he graduated from Air Assault School, earning his Air Assault Wings. He served 15 months in Iraq and reenlisted for five years while there. During the next months he earned his Airborne Jump Wings as well as additional training for becoming an NCO. In June of 2010 he deployed with his unit to Afghanistan. He grew to love his country and wanted to protect her…even if it meant giving his life. He loved his band of brothers who affectionately called him “Claw.”

For his actions on his last mission prior to his death, Sgt. McLawhorn was posthumously awarded the U.S. Army Achievement Medal.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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