Stellar lumberjack team carves out a niche at HCC
Haywood Community College leaders are collecting donations to give its lumberjack club a facility worthy of its prestige.
“They are very successful. We just feel like they need a space that warrants that success,” said Bill Dechant, director of campus development. “They are amazing. They go out there and beat some of the four-year schools, beat the pants off them.”
The prize-winning Haywood Timber Sports Team has carved out a name for itself after producing two national champion woodcutters and winning many competitions at the club level. The HCC club started about 16 years ago and averages 15 members who participate in various woodcutting tournaments throughout the year. Events test lumberjacks’ speed and accuracy in chainsaw sports, cross-cut saw, axe chopping, axe throw and pole climb.
“It’s unique. There is not another team like this in North Carolina west of Charlotte,” said Kesi Stoneking, the club’s advisor. “It’s amazing what they do.”
The team currently practices in the old skidder shed, one of HCC’s first buildings, making it about 50 years old. The shed is little more than a roof with an open air space underneath — and age has taken its toll.
“It’s just in total disrepair right now,” Dechant said. “It’s just not an adequate facility.”
College officials have started collecting donations to build a completely new practice facility for the timber sports group. HCC had received between $15,000 and $20,000 as of last week, but it needs $80,000 to cover the construction. Monetary gifts will likely be the main source of funding for the project.
“We have looked for grants in the past to help fund this but have not been successful,” said Sherri Myers, head of the HCC Foundation.
The new building will be a wood, open-air structure with wind blocks to prevent a wind tunnel effect through the practice area. It will also have storage for the team’s tools and seating for onlookers.
It is not yet decided where HCC will build the facility. The skidder shed could be demolished, and the new building resurrected in its place. Or, there is the site of the old sawmill, which burned down in November.
HCC will host the Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Woodmen’s Meet for national timber sports championship this spring.
“That would be the ultimate goal to get it built by the time the STIHL competition comes through in April,” Dechant said.
The event will shed a national spotlight on the small community college, with the sports network ESPN expected to attend.
“We are aware of how much of an impact this group has on our community,” Myers said. “It does bring national recognition.”
Want to help?
Anyone wishing to contribute to Haywood Community College to help pay for the new timber sport practice facility can mail a check to the HCC Foundation, 185 Freedlander Drive, Clyde, NC 28721. Checks should note that the money is for the timber sports project.