Press "Enter" to skip to content

Cherokee County Schools forfeits all volleyball games against Highlands citing “safety concerns”

Instead of facing Andrews High School last Thursday for their scheduled match, the Highlands Volleyball team went to Kiwanis for ice cream and team bonding. The impromptu trip was a distraction for the players after finding out that the Cherokee County Board of Education voted in an Emergency Called Meeting to forfeit all remaining games against Highlands School JV & Varsity volleyball teams. 

Cherokee County Board of Education members were notified of the Emergency Called Meeting via email on Tuesday, September 20 at 3:58 p.m. The meeting was scheduled for the following day, Wednesday, September 21 at 6 p.m. for the purpose of “student matters.” 

According to Greg Chapman, Administrative Assistant/Board Liaison for Cherokee County Schools, it was during that meeting on motion made by Board of Education member Jeff Tatham and seconded by Joey Shore, “that we as a County will not participate in any volleyball games, varsity or junior varsity, against Highlands due to safety concerns.”

The vote to forfeit the three remaining games on the schedule for the Volleyball season passed by a vote of 5 to 1 with Keesha Curtis casting the lone dissenting vote. 

In a follow-up email, Chapman reiterated that, “Last Wednesday, the Cherokee County Board of Education determined the varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams within Cherokee County’s high schools will not play the Highlands School volleyball  teams due to safety concerns for Cherokee County Schools’ athletes.”

Chapman said the board made the decision after a Hiwassee Dam High School volleyball player sustained head and neck injuries the previous week in a match against Highlands School. The injury occurred when a Highlands athlete spiked a ball, which forcefully struck a Hiwassee Dam athlete in the head.

When asked for clarification of the incident including the following questions: 

“Was it unsportsmanlike from Highlands? 

Was the Highlands’ player intentionally attempting to cause another player harm? 

Did Highlands not handle the injury during the game? 

Was the Highlands player ejected from the game? 

Has the Hiwassee Dam player recovered?”

Chapman responded and said that the original statement regarding the board’s vote was all the information he was given and that minutes of the Emergency Called Board Meeting would not be available until after the October 13 board of education meeting. 

According to North Carolina High School Athletic Association Commissioner Que Tucker, the NCHSAA had not been notified of any issues between the teams or the forfeitures but noted that in general forfeitures are handled on the district level.

Although Chapman said that the decision was made due to an injury that occurred the previous week, according to the schedule, the last match-up between Highlands and Hiawassee Dam was on September 1. According to meeting bullets available online, there was no discussion of the injury or player concern addressed at the video recorded and public meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Education held on September 15. Despite “safety concerns” from an injury that occurred on September 1, Highlands School competed against Andrews High School on September 5, winning 3-0, before the September 22 game against Andrews was forfeited. 

Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin said that he did not have any response from Cherokee County Schools regarding the alleged injury that lead to the board’s decision, but that he did speak via phone to Cherokee County Superintendent Dr. Jeana Conley.

“I have spoken by phone with the CCS superintendent.  She notified me of the CCS Board’s decision to cancel (forfeit) the remaining volleyball games with Highlands,” said Dr. Baldwin. 

Cherokee County Schools’ vote applies to Andrews High School, Murphy High School, and Hiwassee Dam High School. Dr. Baldwin noted that because the schools are forfeiting, the three remaining games on Highlands’ schedule against Cherokee County Schools will be counted as a win for the Highlanders. Highlands will also advance in the conference tournament and state playoffs if paired with any of the Cherokee County teams.

Highlands is part of the Little Smoky Mountain 1A conference and out of the three Cherokee County high schools, Hiwassee Dam is the only school that shares the conference. Highlands is currently undefeated in conference play and 7-8 overall, while Hiwassee Dam have not won a conference game this season and have lost 13 out of the 14 games they have played, with their solo win coming against Andrews High School on August 22. Both Murphy and Andrews are part of the Big Smoky Mountain 1A Conference.

Highlands was scheduled to play Murphy High School on Wednesday, September 28, however, that game will be forfeited. Because of the forfeiture, Murphy’s 11-3 record will now change to 11-4 as the Highlands match-up will be counted as a loss for the Bulldogs. The loss will impact Murphy’s rankings as the loss will make them lose their 2nd place ranking. Hiawassee Dam is scheduled to play Highlands on October 11, however that game will no longer occur. 


  1. Michael Kouvatsos Michael Kouvatsos October 14, 2022

    You seem to have failed to mention that the athlete that caused the injury was biologically male.

    • Brittney Lofthouse Brittney Lofthouse Post author | October 17, 2022

      We didn’t fail to mention that. We intentionally did not report that rumor as it remains unsubstantiated at this point.

  2. Tim Owend Tim Owend October 20, 2022

    the rumor seems to be the gut of the story. i would, as a journalist look into that hazy fact.

    • Brittney Lofthouse Brittney Lofthouse Post author | October 20, 2022

      We have relentlessly. Unfortunately, legally, there is no way for it to be confirmed.

      • Sleuth Sleuth October 21, 2022

        multiple sources confirmed it. Searching for the truth seems to be a lie.

        • Brittney Lofthouse Brittney Lofthouse Post author | October 24, 2022

          You are mistaken. No sources have confirmed it. Education Alliance reported the accusation. However, in no reports is there any evidence to support that claim, it is strictly speculation. The media identified the player as transgender, no one else has.

      • DB DB October 23, 2022

        Yet somehow every other organization reporting on it notes that it was a biological male. Either you aren’t capable of doing the work, are afraid to, or support it.

        • Brittney Lofthouse Brittney Lofthouse Post author | October 24, 2022

          Not one organization has reported how they know that information. Not one organization has any proof or evidence of such. They all just say that it is to be true. That is irresponsible. We arent reporting that it is not true, however we cannot report that it is factual either. That is only speculation.

    • Brittney Lofthouse Brittney Lofthouse Post author | October 24, 2022

      That is irresponsible journalism. They aren’t reporting on anything other than what Education First Alliance alleged. Again, there is no factual evidence to support that claim.

  3. Faye Flynn Faye Flynn October 22, 2022

    Go to a Highlands game. On the ground reporting makes a great journalist.

    • Brittney Lofthouse Brittney Lofthouse Post author | October 24, 2022

      We have!

      • BG BG October 25, 2022

        Present at the game in question? You could have mentioned the player being a biological male but noted as unconfirmed. To not mention it at all seems a little deceitful.

        • Brittney Lofthouse Brittney Lofthouse Post author | October 25, 2022

          There was a month ago, and still today, no reason to believe any player on the Highlands team is a biological male. Why would I have mentioned that? How could I have mentioned that?

  4. James Moore James Moore October 25, 2022

    Britt, just admit you have a woke agenda.

    • WildCat WildCat December 5, 2022

      Journalists must report facts not agendas? Just because you say it is so it’s not, where is your proof? What is a “woke” agenda? Anything you disagree with or assume is untrue based off biases?

      • Brittney Lofthouse Brittney Lofthouse Post author | December 6, 2022

        You are absolutely right — which is why we didn’t report that it was one way or the other — because there is no proof to confirm either way.

  5. GE GE October 27, 2022

    Good for you! I hope that if these accusations are false, the player in question gets a fat settlement from the irresponsible journalists out there! People seem to forget that this is a child and IF these accusations abt gender are indeed false (which I believe they are bc I have seen her play…) this could be devastating for her.
    I wish the injured player all the best for sure. Volleyball is not a easy sport. There are risks and injuries. Girls hit hard. Go to a college game and watch. Just bc she hits hard and fast doesn’t make her a male.

  6. TC TC November 7, 2022

    What if they are true?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *