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Who doesn’t like a party? The Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program Tennis Tournament Kick-Off was held on Wednesday, August 9, at the Brevard Health and Racquet Club, to be followed on the 11th and 12th by the annual tennis tournament which took place at the club for the first time this year. The party started with some brief remarks by Rick Salling to thank the volunteers and donors who were being honored at the party as well as the local vendors who provided food and beverages for the attendees. Salling and Bob Coffin co-chaired the Connestee Falls Tennis Committee which included Marian Wolf, Karen McKee, and Barb Martin. The team of volunteers coordinating the food included Betsy Wise, Ann Hill, Marian Wolf, Gay Coffin and John Gannon. The sponsor coordinator was Al McCoubrey. Food and beverages for the tennis tournament were donated by generous business sponsors Oskar Blues, Waffle House, Lola’s Old Hickory House, Hawg Wild, and Bojangles. Joshua Vandergrift, head tennis pro and manager at Brevard Health and Racquet, which is owned by his father Mike, provided the location for the party and the tournament, including court time and health club usage.

Bill Medl, the school liaison for the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program, introduced the keynote speaker for the evening, Caroline Dockery. Dockery, a Brevard High School graduate, received a Connestee Falls scholarship in 2016. She grew up in Brevard; her mother, Tracy Brown, owns Lotsa Loaves and her father, Shane Dockery, owns Dockery Gas Piping, both Brevard businesses. Caroline noted that, even with a middle class family income, she really needed scholarship money to be able to afford to go to UNC Asheville, since she and her sister will be in college at the same time. A photography major, Caroline realized that she might need a professional backup plan in addition to her major to support herself after college, so she became a fitness instructor during her first semester in college and immediately began teaching cardio and strength training classes at UNCA. Without the Connestee Falls scholarship, Caroline might not have been able to plan to graduate in three years. She suggested that the benefits of the scholarship be viewed this way: it covers the cost of one semester’s tuition, or one semester of on-campus housing, or two semesters of a meal plan. To all the donors, but especially the business supporters of the Student Scholarship Program, Caroline said that the best way to give locally is through education. “Today a secondary education is necessary. Would you hire someone to work in your business who didn’t even have a degree? Look at your own expectations for employees and ask yourselves, how can I help others meet them?” Good question, Caroline!

The tennis tournament previewed by the party began on Friday, August 11, at 8:30 a.m. on the eight outdoor clay courts at Brevard Health and Racquet. Forty-eight people played in six teams of eight in a round robin. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was in no mood to accommodate the careful work of the planners. About fifteen minutes after play started, the skies opened up, necessitating a move to the two indoor courts at the club. Fickle as always, the weather changed again around noon, and the afternoon matches moved back outside to the clay courts. For the Saturday matches the sun was shining and the play was all outside.

The tournament attracted people from within and outside of Connestee, and from other parts of the state as well. Allen Patrick, Jack Slattery, and Mark Henderson drove six hours from Wilmington to play in the tournament. Allen Patrick’s sister Mary Lou McJunkin and her husband Mac just moved closer to downtown from Connestee Falls. Mary Lou is a strong supporter of the Scholarship Program. She noted that she was able to attend college because she was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship, and she observed that “any amount of scholarship money helps.” In her view, often people are oblivious to the fact that there are many families who want their children to get an education but who just cannot afford everything that is needed in addition to tuition and room and board, such as clothing, books, and transportation.

At the “Celebration Pot-Luck Dinner” Saturday night at Atagahi Park in Connestee Falls, Rick Salling thanked everyone who played and those who organized, and gave a special thanks to Josh Vandergrift and Brevard Health and Racquet for being “awesome and supportive.” He noted that approximately $7000 was raised, about a 17% increase over last year, and estimated that if “in kind” donations are included, the total would be close to $10,000. Bob Coffin announced the winning team. Similar to last year the overall results were very close, but Team “Peter Fleming” pulled out some critical wins in the last round of matches to seal the victory. Each player received a team photograph and the members of the winning team received a “Sweet Victory” prize of a mason jar filled with M&M’s.

For more information about the Scholarship Program and to donate securely online, please visit

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