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THE WORKING WORLD. Former Southern Nash football standout Stacey Howard is now looking for a job after graduating from Chowan University. (Graphic photo by Geoff Neville)
STANHOPE -- As the head football coach at Southern Nash High School, Brian Foster considers it a personal responsibility to find college homes for his players -- if they have the talent to compete on an upgraded level.

Once those performers have moved on, Foster hopes the lessons he taught them will help them succeed in college, both academically and athletically.

Certainly, the Firebirds have a long list of collegiate success stories during Foster’s tenure at the school.

Former Southern Nash standout Stacey Howard can be added to that list, as he has graduated from Chowan University in Murfreesboro.

Howard was able to earn his degree in business in four years at Chowan.

He also played three seasons of football and has one campaign of eligibility remainining, but he has instead opted to look for a full-time job in the working world.

Howard was able to succeed at Chowan despite literally breaking his leg in two early in his college career.

Working hard to rehabilitate the injury, Howard finished his Hawks career last fall by making six tackles from his linebacker position, including five solos.

T.J. Batchelor, another former SN star, was also on the Chowan roster in 2012, and he earned all-league and all-american honors as a defensive end.

The Hawks enjoyed a strong campaign, going 6-4 overall to go with a 5-2 mark in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

A last-minute loss early in the season to Bowie State eventually kept Chowan from having an opportunity to compete in the CIAA Championship Game.

“The most important thing is that Stacey made a commitment and stayed with it to get his degree,’’ Foster said. “That’s what I like. The injury he had was really bad, but he stuck with it and worked hard. He didn’t give in. That was neat.’’

Athletic and academic success is nothing new to the Howard family.

Ricky Howard, Stacey’s older brother, starred at SN before going on to play baseball at Louisburg College and Campbell University in the early to mid-2000s.

Ricky later coached his brother at Southern Nash and is now an assistant baseball skipper at Wilson Fike High School.

“The entire Howard Family -- they are just good people,’’ Foster said. “They are fun to be around. They stand for all of the right things.’’

Stacey is now going through job interviews, hoping to find a full-time position.

He has kept up with his training, though, and has been a regular recently in the Southern Nash weight room.

While Howard will now enter the workforce, Batchelor will be returning to Chowan for his senior season. He hopes to lead the Hawks to another winning campaign -- and maybe even more in the competitive world of CIAA football.

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