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Graham Lavette’s softball teams at ERHS were 144-55 over nine years, including at least a share of four conference titles and a spot in the 2019 state finals.

Changing of the guard for Eastern Randolph softball

RAMSEUR — Much like it has in the past 10 seasons, the Eastern Randolph High School varsity softball team opened its season during the final week of February. And like most times during the past 10 seasons, the Wildcats opened with a win as ER recorded a 5-0 home shutout victory over Jordan-Matthews. 


The one obvious difference in the Wildcats taking the field this season from the past nine years is they are being led by someone other than Lavette Graham. 


Citing the need to be available to help care for an ailing father, Graham has stepped down from his post of leading one of the most successful softball programs in the North Carolina West.


Dallas (Heaton) Cross, a member of the 2010 state championship team at ER, is the new head coach.


Graham said his father had been ill for quite some time. While at a spring tournament on the coast last season, he drove back and forth to tend to his father and still be there for all practices and the only game ER ended up playing because of weather. He said he made six trips, with each trip taking approximately seven hours, to be at both places.


That apparently upset a group of individuals and after finishing the season and then thinking he would start this upcoming season with preseason workouts, he heard rumblings again.


“I realized there were a lot of people still uneasy and I gave myself the weekend to think about it,” Graham said. “He was about to pass away at the time and me and my sister had to make some decisions.


“He’s still living, but he needs to be taken care of. I was going to try and hang in there for a year or two more, make some changes that needed to be made, but instead of making those changes and then walking away, I decided to step away. Leave the keys to the Cadillac to them. This year, all they have to do is hope for health and they should be great.”    


Graham said he was willing to make some changes because the landscape of coaching high school sports is heading in a different direction. Instead, he resigned.


Graham was an assistant coach under Richard Thomas for three years before taking over the reins in 2015. In his nine seasons as head coach, the Wildcats were 144-55, including 75-14 in conference action. ER won or shared four conference championships in that time span and was 23-11 in state tournament action, which included a state finals appearance in 2019.


“There are so many positives,” Graham said of his time at ER. “So many kids who have been able to develop. The thing I appreciate more out of all those years there, I always was able to have a jayvee squad and people said we wouldn't be able to do that.


“We’ve had winning seasons and made the playoffs every year and we were always in contention to make runs at conference championships. So many kids have had the opportunity to go play college softball because of our program. It has nothing to do with what I did as an individual. Whenever I have a former player reach out and say how much they loved our program, that says a lot.”


Graham, who is also the owner of 7G Enterprises LLC, a commercial landscaping business, has also coached youth softball, baseball and middle school sports. 


“I felt I had a calling to do this and I was blessed and fortunate enough to do it as long as I did,” said Graham, who also spent many years coaching youth softball and baseball as well as at the middle school level. “I thought we developed a very, very strong program, one that matched how strong our football program has been.”