Sunday, July 17, 2011

Edgecombe County loses a great lady

Ann Pitts Cobb
For those who have attended football games at North Edgecombe and SouthWest Edgecombe over the last 25 years or so, you know that Ann Pitts Cobb was a fixture of support. 

From this point on, she'll be in the stands at SWE in spirit.

Mrs. Cobb, who we all affectionately called "Ms. Ann", was the mother of SouthWest Edgecombe head football coach Raymond Cobb, and she passed away Thursday at Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville. She was 81.

Her endearing spirit and loyalty to both programs during Raymond's successful tenure at the schools were unmatched. Whether it was in the stands on those hot sultry days of early season games, or bearing the bitter cold of a late-season playoff matchup, Ms. Ann was there - more often than not bending the ear of her beloved daughter-in-law Martha, Raymond's wife, or her husband - the sublime J. Vines. She was the Ying to his Yang - and they were a wonderful pair.

She was a sweet spirit who lit up every room with her presence. A leader in so many facets of Edgecombe County life, this patron of the arts and all things good was the matriarch of the one of the nicest and dearest families I have ever known.

I have so many fond memories of her. Two come to mind, from 1997 and 1998.

She and the rest of the Cobb Clan made to trip to down I-95 (except Raymond and his team who superstitiously made trip down U.S. 301) to play South Robeson for the 1-A East finals and trip to the state championships.

It had to have been the coldest Friday in N.C. high school football history. But there she was - in this bone-chilling cold pulling for her Warriors. NE came from behind in the final two minutes and won the contest, then beat Rosman in the state 1-A finals to go undefeated for the season (15-0).

In 1998, North Edgecombe, which barely made the playoffs due to a myriad of injuries earlier in the season, was the No. 16 seed and made the trip to Camden to face the East's top-seeded team. J. Vines had just bought a new minivan and he wanted to put it on the road. So I was asked to accompany him, Ms. Ann, Martha and her son Jonathan to the game.

She was a ball of nerves making the trip to the little town outside Elizabeth City, but that was last time that minivan had to go on the road that season - until trekking to Chapel Hill.

That was the one year the NCHSAA had the rule that if a lower seed defeated a higher seed, that team would assume that team's seeding in the bracket.

With the support and urging of Ms. Ann and the rest of the Warrior fans, North Edgecombe upset Camden 8-6. After taking over Camden's No. 1 seeding, the Warriors beat every opponent - at home - the next three weeks to end up in the 1-A state title game again.

Only a hard-fought 22-20 loss  to Starmount, ironically, one year after B.W. Holt's departure, kept the Warriors from becoming the subject of the ultimate Cinderella story.

And as you can imagine, the NCHSAA threw out that rule after one season. But for one year, Ms. Ann saw it help her miracle Warriors.

The highs for Ms. Ann certainly outweighed the lows in every facet of her life. It's those wonderful memories that keep people alive in our hearts.

Ms. Ann will forever be a glow in mine.