HIGH POINT — The name of the men’s professional soccer team that will play its home matches in High Point starting in 2024 will be Carolina Core FC, which stands for Football Club, organizers unveiled Thursday.
The team will compete in MLS Next Pro, which is the developmental league for Major League Soccer, and will play 12 to 20 home games from spring to fall at Truist Point stadium.
The news that the team was coming was revealed in September, when the City Council approved renovations to the stadium to accommodate a soccer field to MLS standards.
Carolina Core FC will schedule its games around the High Point Rockers baseball team, who will remain as the stadium’s primary tenant.
Thursday’s announcement provided additional details, including the presence of High Point native and National Soccer Hall of Fame member Eddie Pope on the team’s executive staff.
Pope is the chief sporting officer, which is akin to the role of a general manager, and will oversee all soccer operations, including building the team’s roster, which he said will consist of players generally between the ages 16 and 30.
Pope, a graduate of Southwest Guilford High School and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, had an 11-year professional career in MLS and played in three World Cups for the U.S. National Team.
He said players will come to Carolina Core FC through a variety of routes, including from MLS Next, which are youth academies affiliated with the league. MLS Next Pro is part of the player pathway leading to MLS, which is the top U.S. professional soccer league.
MLS Next Pro just completed its first season with 21 teams, including in New York City, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Denver, St. Louis, Kansas City, Miami and Cincinnati.
Seven more teams will join MLS Next Pro in 2023, including one in Charlotte.
Unlike all but one other team in the league, Carolina Core FC will be independent and have no affiliation with an MLS team.
The new team has local owners, led by lead investors Megan Oglesby and brothers Matt and Mark Penley, who are Oglesby’s cousins.
They are part of the Congdon family, which founded Old Dominion Freight Line.
The trucking and logistics firm was headquartered in High Point from 1962 to 2001, when it moved to Thomasville.
Oglesby declined to say how much it cost to buy the team.
She said she undertook the venture because she has always loved soccer and wants the investment to be a major driver of economic development.
“I’m really excited about the opportunities we’ll create on the field, but also thinking about sports as an industry, where there are lots of jobs and careers that revolve around the game off the field,” Oglesby said.
As managing partner, she hired Pope and the rest of the team’s executive staff, including President Andy Smith, who has more than 20 years of experience as a professional soccer executive.
Oglesby said the team will eventually have 40 to 50 full-time employees, in positions such as sales and marketing.
The team name coincides with the Carolina Core regional economic development brand that was originated by the Piedmont Triad Partnership a few years ago.
Oglesby said the team didn’t coordinate this with the PTP, but decided to adopt the name because of its regional connotation.
PTP President and CEO Mike Fox issued a statement praising the team name:
“With the tremendous success and momentum in the Carolina Core, we’re excited to see partners adopting not only the name, but the spirit of regionalism and the belief that we are stronger together. We welcome Carolina Core FC to our community and look forward to a successful future together.”
Up next are the stadium renovations, which will include removing a portion of the first base grandstand that angles sharply toward the field in order to move the playing surface 20 feet closer to the seating area.
The work will also entail replacing the existing artificial turf to meet color, pattern and playability standards for both baseball and soccer, and building out unfinished space to accommodate soccer locker rooms.
The city’s initial cost estimate for the work was $5.1 million, but a contract price is still being negotiated with Samet Corp., the general contractor chosen for the project. Staff will likely have a construction contract for council’s consideration in December, according to Assistant City Manager Eric Olmedo.
HIGH POINT — A High Point man has been recognized for his philanthropic efforts this year.
Jordan Washburn, 85, was named the recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Philanthropist-High Point Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals NC-Triad Chapter, which issues several awards each year to mark National Philanthropy Day.
For the past 20 years, Washburn has been heavily involved with Victory Junction, a camp in Randleman for children with serious medical needs that was established in 2004 by the Petty racing family in honor of Adam Petty, a grandson of Richard Petty who had a passion for helping sick children.
Washburn was a camp founder, is a board member and has raised millions of dollars for Victory Junction, and in 2017 part of Adam’s Race Shop — the camp’s iconic, racecar-shaped building — was named for Washburn and his wife, Lou.
At the time, Kyle Petty — Richard’s son and Adam’s father — said of Washburn: “Jordan has probably raised more money for camp than any other person. … He is as much the heart of the camp as the children we serve.”
Washburn said in a 2017 interview that he originally had planned to devote his retirement years to helping the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but when he learned about the plans for Victory Junction, he changed his mind, especially after he and Lou visited a similar camp in Florida.
“When you go to the camp and you see these kids there doing archery, swimming or horseback riding, it kind of takes your breath away,” Washburn said.
But Washburn’s philanthropy extends far beyond Victory Junction. Examples include his advocacy for the House of Prayer, a 90-day program for men who have been through the throes of addiction; working with Roc Solid Foundation in 2018 to get a playground set installed in the backyard of a little girl battling a form of pediatric cancer that made her immune system too weak for her to go to public parks; and paying for a prosthetic arm in 2020 for Boun Lod, a High Point teenage girl from Laos whose arms were amputated when she was a baby after she had been critically burned in a house fire.
The AFP NC-Triad Chapter’s awards will be presented on Nov. 21 at Grandover Resort and Conference Center. For more information or to purchase tickets, go online to www.afptriadchapter.org/npd2022
HIGH POINT — A 15-month-old boy was seriously injured after being struck by a car on a south High Point street Wednesday.
The boy was struck in the 700 block of E. Fairfield Road about 4:45 p.m. The boy walked from a private driveway into the roadway and was struck by a 2016 Kia Sorento traveling west on Fairfield, according to the High Point Police Department. The Kia was driven by a 53-year-old man from Greensboro.
The child was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and then flown to Brenners Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem for treatment of what police called life-threatening injuries.
No other information was released.
HIGH POINT — A new mental-health awareness campaign called OK High Point targets the persistent stigma surrounding mental illness, assuring the public that it’s OK not to be OK, and it’s OK to seek help.
Mental Health Associates of the Triad launched the campaign with a $135,000 grant from the Foundation For A Healthy High Point. In addition to a website that candidly discusses mental illness and lists multiple resources for seeking help, the campaign also includes advertising aimed at increasing awareness and directing people to the website.
“We have identified stigma as a long-standing barrier to people seeking mental-health care,” said Ellen Cochran, executive director of MHA of the Triad. “Many people are simply embarrassed to admit they have a problem. Some people don’t realize they have a problem. Many fear consequences on their job or within their social group.”
The sad part is that the stigma actually prevents people from calling MHA and other agencies for help, Cochran said.
“For people to seek mental-health care, the barriers need to be removed,” she said. “Our agency and services have never been more needed.”
In a recent survey conducted by the Foundation For A Healthy High Point, more than a quarter of High Point residents who participated said they’ve been experiencing increased levels of depression and anxiety, citing such factors as trauma, a crisis, stress, the pandemic, substance use and unhealthy relationships, said Whitney Davis, program officer for the Foundation For A Healthy High Point.
“A lot of folks would say High Point is a resource-rich community with a lot of wonderful organizations, but a lot of residents don’t know those organizations exist or that those services are for them,” Davis said. “Part of this campaign is to raise awareness — and to help those in need identify with those services — by reducing the stigma.”
The key piece of the OK High Point campaign is a website aimed at normalizing mental-health issues, educating the public and creating more awareness, and — most importantly — telling site visitors where and how to get help, ranging from crisis hotlines to behavioral health service providers.
According to Cochran, connecting the public with the mental-health resources they need is a critical piece of the OK High Point campaign.
“OK High Point is a local outreach for our community,” she said. “We are making a real effort to impact those who need us, to remove barriers and to let people know it’s OK to need and seek help. The ultimate goal is mental wellness.”
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