LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW) — Players and coaches of the Lumberton Jr. High football team were honored Wednesday by Lumberton City Council three weeks since a shooting at the Robeson County middle school championship game.
The Nov. 16 shooting happened in a parking lot behind the stadium. It interrupted the trophy presentation as people ran for safety.
“Just run away fast I can so won’t get hit by a bullet,” Lumberton Jr. High 7th grader Bryan Jones said of his first thoughts once he heard gun shots. “I was scared, but I was ready to go at the same time.”
A 41-year-old woman was shot in the head. She survived the shooting. Police have not made any arrests.
The tribute was during Wednesday’s city council meeting. Team members were presented with “Pride in Lumberton” awards “for their championship spirit and bravery.”
“I’m glad that I made it,” Jones said. “I’m here, and I’m proud of myself, and go Vikings.”
Head Coach Quentin Gore called the shooting “disheartening,” but was thankful for the opportunity for his players to receive recognition for their runner-up finish.
“They deserved it,” Gore said. “The team, the community, the parents, they all deserved it.”
Senior Lumberton City Council member John Cantey led the tribute. He congratulated the players for representing Lumberton well after a successful 2022 season.
“That incident took over the headlines, took over the story, and these young men and coaches and this school did not get the recognition that I feel, and that many others on the council feel and the city feel they so well deserved,” Cantey said.
Cantey said the presentation served as a “community pick-me-up” beyond the football team and school after a deadly stabbing at a Lumberton grocery store and a Black Friday shooting inside the city’s Walmart.
“We needed a good feel-good story about what’s going on here in Lumberton,” Cantey said.
The city of Lumberton also approved a $3,000 donation to the football team Wednesday for equipment upgrades. A local business plans to host a pizza party for the team.
The Vikings improved this season to 7-2, flipping a 2-4 record last season. Coach Gore said to expect his players playing for a championship next season.