Harding Rams’ Success Sparks Renaissance for School
Harding University High is one win away from a football state championship.
CHARLOTTE, NC — Sometimes it’s about more than just winning a game. Especially for a Charlotte school that has seen its share of problems.
Harding University High is one win away from a football state championship. but the Rams’ journey may be more valuable than the final destination.
“It galvanizes the whole community,” says Harding principal Eric Ward.
For Harding University High School in West Charlotte, success on the football field has sparked a renaissance.
“What’s happening this year has definitely propelled that,” says the principal. “I mean we couldn’t have added this type of culture and this type of excitement over three or four years, what’s just been done in just one year, since the changing of the schools in the 2011 school year.”
That’s when Harding was on the verge of being shut down as CMS consolidated schools.
A protest may have saved the school then, but a series of negative news stories has haunted it since.
Now things are turning around, both on and off the football field.
The Rams are 13-1 this year, and playing Scotland County on Saturday for the Class 4A title.
“When you Google Harding right now, the first thing that comes up is Harding football,” says Harding Head Coach Sam Greiner. “And we’re able to rally the school together.”
Greiner was just a PE coach at Harding, with a newborn daughter at home. But he saw something special in the Harding kids.
When he took over the program, he made the team a promise. He wouldn’t cut his hair until they made the playoffs.
“You know about three years ago we were like 1-10, and he committed,” says Ward. “So for two years, he never cut his hair. Had the big man-bun going on.”
“Yeah, I did have a man-bun going into that postseason last year,” says Coach Greiner. “Now, a little bit more clean cut. My wife likes it a little more.”
Harding last made it to the state final in 1987. They came up short then.
“We want to finish the job,” says Greiner. “We’re not just satisfied getting here. It’s an exciting thing, but we expected to be here. We grew this thing with a firm foundation.”
Harding faces Scotland County at 4:00 p.m. Saturday at BB&T Stadium in Winston-Salem. You can watch the game right here on WCCB Charlotte.