By David Rogers. April 13, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Deftly mixing football metaphors with politics, former Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore looked North Carolina Senate incumbent Deanna Ballard squarely in the eyes in front of more than 60 supporters at Chetola Mountain Resort Tuesday night and said, “We can’t let you get away.”
COVER IMAGE: Coach Jerry Moore gave Deanna Ballard a special gift at the end of his remarks, a small washer inscribed with “Whatever it takes” on one side, and “Don’t mess it up” on the other side. Photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Moore waxed philosophical in admitting that he almost made a mistake in 2005 after dismissing a couple of players the year before because they said the team was working too hard.
“One of them I never heard from again,” Moore recalled, “but the other came by my office the next day and said his complaint was the biggest mistake he had ever made. I told him I wasn’t going to change my mind, that I didn’t want him around or even working out with players in the summer.”
We need local people and local representation. We must get people out to vote.
A 2014 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, Moore then went on to recount how that player kept returning, asking to be back on the team. Himself a collegiate wide receiver at Baylor University, Moore kept shaking his head “no” but continued, he admitted to the crowd that he observed the student’s work ethic as he trained by himself. With the consent and strong support of all of the assistant coaches before the 2005 season, Moore said he let the player back on the team. In what would become the first of three consecutive national championship games, against Northern Iowa, that same player made a key catch of a pass in the second half that helped win the game.
“It was fourteen games into the season,” reflected Moore, “but that kid proved an important asset to the team. And I almost let him go.”
Ironically, it was a Republican-dominated General Assembly that will defeat one of their own. In last year’s “re-districting” — which cynics call “gerrymandering” — most of Ballard’s District 45 was merged with much of Randleman’s District 30. So in 2018, they will be running against each other in May’s primary for the Republican nomination. Ballard is from Watauga County, while Randleman is from Wilkes County. The new District 45 includes all of Watauga, Ashe, Wilkes and Allegheny counties, as well as most of Surry County. The old (current) District 45 was comprised of Avery, Watauga, Ashe and Allegheny counties, while the old District 30 represented by Randleman was comprised of Wilkes, Surry, and Stokes counties.
In endorsing Ballard, Moore credited the sitting senator for “doing things right,” applauding her integrity and that she really cares about the people she represents and serves.
We can’t let you go.
“We need local people and local representation,” Moore said in speaking to the supporters at Chetola. “Just like in my case when I almost let that kid go, we can’t let you go, Deanna. We have to get people out to vote.
“There is a huge need in our country for people who care about people,” Moore concluded as he turned to speak directly to Ballard. “You’ve been that. We can’t let you go.”
After thanking Moore for his opening remarks, Ballard smiled to the crowd in saying, “I am still a little bit of a novelty in the North Carolina Senate. I am a young female. I am conservative. And I am a Republican. There aren’t many of us (with that combination of traits) around…Those of you who know me well and who have seen me out and about know that the number one thing in my heart is how I can serve others. My family talks about the sacrifices I make with them in order to be there for you guys, the constituents I represent. Sometimes the personal sacrifices get lost, but just know that who I am is rooted in service…I am committed to this calling.”
As Ballard was finishing her thanks to all who attended, Moore reached into his pocket and extended his hand. Ballard’s hand met his, taking what initially appeared to be a coin, but instead was a washer. Around the hole in the center of the washer on one side was inscribed, “Whatever it takes.” Turning it over brought a big smile to Ballard’s face and chuckles from the crowd as she read, “Don’t mess it up.”
Deanna Ballard is a native North Carolinian, the daughter of a public school teacher and a logger in a family-owned business. She is currently serving as Director of the Office of the President/CEO for Samaritan’s Purse. Previously she served as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Scheduling and Advance for the First Lady under U.S. President George W. Bush. In the latter role, she oversaw the planning and implementation of a wide range of high-level events for the President and the First Lady, and served as a bridge between the East and West Wings of the White House. Earlier, she served as the Director of Advance for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Deputy Director of Advance for Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige.