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Hughes has made trips to almost every HS football stadium
June 30, 2012North Carolina
Kinston Free Press
SEVEN SPRINGS — The ritual is the same for Chris Hughes — jump out of his vehicle, walk all over the stadium, snap a dozen or so photos and get back on the road.
It’s what he’s done for more than four years as the self-professed prep football fanatic has traveled to all 100 counties in North Carolina to take pictures of all the high school football stadiums — more than 370 schools. He’s compiled all those photos in an impressive display at carolinapreps.com in a project he aptly named the “Stadium Project.”
Hughes’ love of the game came naturally as he grew up in Kannapolis in Cabarrus County, a football-crazy town located about 40 miles north of Charlotte.
“Growing up near A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis, football was always a part of my life,” Hughes said. “I coached for a while and started CarolinaPreps.com in 2007. I wanted to find something to set it apart from other sites and make it unique.”
Since taking his first stadium photos at Greenville D.H. Conley — near ECU, where his wife went to college — he’s visited all but five high schools that play football in North Carolina.
The U.S. Army disabled veteran lives in the central part of the state, so his modus operandi is to call a school’s athletic director before he goes to that school. He said there’s only been one of the schools he’s attempted to visit that objected to him taking photos of their football stadium — Cox Mills High School in Concord.
Hughes also only shoots photos in spring and summer months, when the stadiums’ fields look their best.
“The goal of CarolinaPreps is to promote high school football,” Hughes said. “I don’t consider myself a journalist, like a newspaper reporter. I almost look at myself as a promoter, so I don’t want to put photos of brown fields since I don’t think that would show the best side of a stadium.
“I don’t want to make a school look bad; I want to go when the grass is green and when the stadiums look their best.”
Last week, Hughes marked Spring Creek High School and Arendell Parrott Academy off his list as he visited them for the first time; he also revisited Kinston, North Lenoir, South Lenoir and Greene Central to refresh and update his photos of those stadiums.
“It’s always fun to visit a stadium for the first time and yes, there’s a bit of a rush when you visit it,” Hughes said. “There have been stadiums I’ve been to five or six times before I’m able to get pictures. It’s fun to check it off the list.”
He has no idea how many miles he’s driven in his unique quest, but he said he’s put 15,000 miles on a new vehicle he bought in December — nearly all from snapping photos for the stadium project. He said the best high school football stadiums in North Carolina are at Cherokee High School, Asheville High School, Kannapolis Brown, Greensboro Grimsley’s Jamison Stadium, County Stadium in Durham, Legion Stadium in Wilmington and Scotland County High School.
Hughes credits his wife of nearly six years, Kim, for allowing him to complete the project.
“She has rearranged her work schedule numerous times to allow me to be able to do this,” Hughes said. “It’s even trickled down to my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter; the other day, she was riding with my wife and they drove by a stadium.
“She said, ‘Mommy, call Daddy! That stadium is unlocked!’ ”