With 2021-22 school year now over, area high school sports fans have a couple of months off before the Richmond Raider sports teams are in action again.
For those that do not follow middle school sports, the Richmond Observer will take a look at some future Raiders that you may or may not know about. Today’s featured female and male middle school athlete are Tatum Watson and Braxton Martinez, both of Cordova Middle School.
The Scotland Bombers fast pitch softball program from Laurinburg boasts successful 14u and 18u teams with players helming from several neighboring counties in North and South Carolina. Several future and current Richmond Senior High Lady Raiders have donned the Bomber blue and toured with the Scotland County-based travel program.
Rising freshman Tatum Watson is currently competing with the Bombers, but is no stranger to circling the diamond in a blue uniform. Watson spent her time at Cordova Middle wearing Cavalier blue for the softball, volleyball and cheerleading programs. Even though her Cordova blue uniforms are now retired, she has proudly continued to play softball with the Bombers.
“Tatum is eager to learn,” shared Scotland Bombers coach Charles Smith. “She always gives you 100%. She takes in everything you tell her and continues to get better. She is a team player and we are happy to have her in our Bomber family.”
Watson noted that her favorite moment from her eighth grade softball season was the two doubles she hit against cross-county opponent Rockingham Middle. She credited her coaches at Cordova with her interest in softball and her growth as a player.
“My first ever coach, Coach (Freida) McLean, made me fall in-love with the game of softball,” said Watson. “I really don’t know how I did it without her. She has always been there for me – even when I swung at the riseball. Also, Coach (Rebecca) Wright – she is new, but she has gotten the team and I so far in the past year. She’s definitely one of the goofiest and funniest coaches I’ve ever had and I’m so glad I had them both as coaches.”
In addition to serving as the role of softball coach, McLean has been one of Watson’s teachers in elementary and middle school and has enjoyed watching her grow in athletics and in the classroom.
“Tatum is a very conscious student and athlete,” shared McLean. “She works hard in every subject with intention as well as on the volleyball court and the softball field. She’s friendly and presents a positive attitude, which every teacher and coach appreciates. Tatum will be successful in all she attempts to do. I’m so proud of her and can’t wait to see what she accomplishes.”
In addition to softball and volleyball, Watson spent time as a cheerleader – attending Cordova’s football and basketball games. Watson also assisted with the yearbook and made the A/B Honor Roll, garnering support from all of her teachers and coaches at the school.
“Tatum’s motivation and drive has made her the outstanding athlete that she is today,” said Cordova coach and teacher Terrina Harris. “Although she was a multisport player, her happy place was on the softball field where she always worked hard and displayed drive. Tati is a well-mannered, amazing young lady with a bright future on and off the field and court. I know her outstanding work ethic and determination will take her far in life.”
Watson plans to try out for softball and volleyball at Richmond Senior.
Rising freshman Braxton Martinez wasted no time transitioning from a Cordova Cavalier to a Richmond Raider. He has already been participating in summer football practices at Richmond Senior and plans to wrestle at RSHS as well.
At Cordova Middle, Martinez was on the football, soccer and wrestling teams during his eighth grade year. His commitment to improving, supporting his teammates and his coachable personality landed him Cordova’s male athlete of the year award.
“I have seen him grow academically, as well as in sportsmanship,” shared Cordova Middle teacher Terrina Harris of Martinez at the award presentation ceremony. “At one time he looked lost, but now he leads his team.”
Richmond County only has one middle school wrestling team made of up students from all four middle schools and coached by Cordova Middle P.E. teacher Richard Kerekes. Martinez is one of 12 Cordova students to serve on the county team. As part of the middle school program, Martinez claimed the Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference title in his division (157-pounds).
“Braxton is one of the hardest workers I know,” Kerekes said. “He excels in every sport he participates in. He was a conference champ in wrestling, a most outstanding athlete in soccer and football. He also has a great personality and very polite. He has no limits and I can’t wait to see how well he does in the future.”
Outside of sports, Martiniez continues a commitment to his faith and the classroom as well. He was on the school’s A/B honor roll attends Abundant Life Church in Rockingham.