MINT HILL, NC – Ron Morris, an icon at Independence High sporting events, has covered local area sports for 25 years. He is extremely knowledgeable about the Patriots historically and is a sports enthusiast. Morris has been covering many of the major local sporting events for Independence and other high school programs for 25 years.
You can find Ron standing tall in his green and gold on the sideline, basketball court, or baseball diamind, walking with a slight limp due to knee surgery on the Independence football team. He will be carrying his camera and monopod taking photographs of all the key plays of the game. He also stops and talks with folks along the sidelines from cameramen at the local TV news networks to coaches, officials, PA announcer, security officers, parents, and players. He is beloved and well-respected by all who know him.
Ron began this journey in 1972. He was working at the Sheriff’s Department in Stanly County when a former Sheriff sent Ron to photography school to take photos of crime scenes and other photo events involving police matters.
One night, a local newspaper called Ron about photographing a high school football game. “This is how I got started covering local sporting events,” he said. Ron ended up not only covering football games; he would cover various events the high school requested as a freelance photographer. Ron recalls the first high school game he ever covered for a newspaper was in North Stanly County. He later covered the Concord Spiders from 2000-2006 in all sporting events.
In 2007, Ron was taking photos of the Independence vs. North Mecklenburg football game and was noticed by The Mint Hill Times. Ron would not only take photos; he would also take excellent notes of key plays and situations, and provide colorful dialogue of the action on the field. He was recruited to provide photos and write stories for the newspaper. His reports were so thorough he was asked to expand his coverage into basketball and baseball at Independence for the publication.
Morris has some memorable stories, and he was gracious in sharing them with this writer. One such story goes back to Marcus Graves, whose father was a receivers coach for the Carolina Panthers. Marcus was a PG on the Independence Patriots basketball team. Ron recalls, “Marcus would drive down the lane and get hammered, knocked down all the time, during the year the Patriots won the Conference Title.” What amazed Ron is Marcus never stopped driving the lane no matter what happened. “That took guts, and he did it all for the team,” adds Ron.
He then recalls a baseball conference championship when Indy beat Butler, their arch rival. “My biggest regret as a sports photographer was when I went to change my camera lens,” says Ron. “I missed the celebration after the last out of the game.” He learned from this experience, like any professional, and Ron now carries two cameras to championship games. He also recalls other memorable highlights as a sports photographer, including covering the Patriots football state championship titles under Coach Tom Knotts and the Patriots state basketball championship in 2017-2018 under Coach Preston Davis.
Another story came flowing from Ron’s memory bank: “Butler took the lead with only 2 minutes remaining in the football game. Independence had a good kick-off return to the 45 yard line, then Indy Coach Joe Evans told the team three times, ‘I promise we will win this game.’ So starting the drive 55 yards from the end zone, QB, Kevin Bryant ran a screen pass, a call made by Evans, and Indy scored on the first offensive play. The score put the Patriots on top, and Ron said to Coach Evans, are you kidding me a screen pass? His response: it worked great in the first half for a touchdown, why not now when they least expect it? On the ensuing kick-off, a special team player made the best tackle all year. Just as the ball was caught, the player hit the returner for no gain; he did not gain an inch. The Indy defense held and won the game. This was the first time Indy beat Butler since their championship run. Now that’s Patriot football in a nutshell.”
A final story: it was a home basketball game against Audrey Kell, the first time he had been hit on the sidelines. Two players went flying out of bounds chasing a loose ball. “They knocked me over, put me flat on my back,” recalls Ron. “Indy PG Chae Johnson ran over and said, ‘Mr. Ron, are you alright?’ This is when the kids really got to me. The fans chanted ‘Mr. Ron,’ the entire student section, everyone standing and chanting repeatedly.” Morris got emotional when he told this story. What a tribute to a man who has had such a profound positive impact upon the Patriot community for many years.
“Mr. Ron is such a huge blessing to our Indy family. He is always one call away, and will do anything to ensure that Independence is loved and supported. We value and appreciate Mr. Ron for his contributions over the years,” said Elijah Ashley, Athletic Director.
“Mr. Ron, on behalf of the Independence Girls Basketball team, your support of our program and Independence athletics has been unmatched,” said Independence Girls Basketball Coach Lauren Galvani-Lewis. “Thank you always for supporting our ladies, no matter what the record. Thank you for being our favorite face to see on the baseline, whether at a home game or an hour or more away. You have always been a favorite pre-game and post-game conversation. Hope to see you at future games, wearing your green and gold.”
Today on campus, he is still fondly known as “Mr. Ron” to the student body. The entire community embraces his passion, dedication, and commitment to the school, student athletes, and sport programs. He has made a difference in their lives and all he has touched at Independence.
Mr. Ron’s legacy will last in the minds of many athletes, coaches and others alongside his journey. I have known him for six years; he earned my respect, and I’m sure the respect of many others. I’m fortunate to know him, call him my friend, and to work alongside with him covering Independence sporting events.
Ron is a gentlemen who is respected by the coaches, players, student body, administration, and alumni. As Ron said in the course of our interview, “It’s all about the kids, the electric atmosphere, players, and coaches. This is the reason I continue doing this at my age.” He completely enjoys covering Independence games and sporting events.
Mr. Ron is truly an icon, is part of the fabric and makeup of true Patriot spirit. He is one of the faithful, and will continue to be hopefully for several years to come.