Middle Creek’s Miss NC Adrienne Core: The Little Boy Dad Never Had

  • Name: Adrienne Core
  • Age: 26
  • Organization: Middle Creek High School, NC State

Author: Patrick Kinas, DNAOfSports.com creator.

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(Photo: Adrienne Core as child (left), Charles Core and family.)

Adrienne Core is defined by a myriad of events, successes and accomplishments. She won Miss North Carolina and represented the Tar Heel state in the 2010 Miss America pageant in Las Vegas, even winning the preliminary talent competition. She’s a math whiz, and passing along that knowledge to several classes a semester at Middle Creek High School. She’s also an enormous sports fan and emerging star high school volleyball coach, leading the Mustangs to their best-ever season, in her first as the varsity coach.

Core is also the epitome of her father, in whose memory she continues to coach, lead and inspire, years after his passing.

Adrienne’s Hero

“My mentor was absolutely my Dad,” Core said. “From the time I was very young I can remember crawling up in his big recliner with him and having the same three questions: ‘who are we pulling for, what color are they wearing, and are they winning?’

In other words, Adrienne, now 26, was her dad’s partner-in-crime in the family.

The Core family did not contain a son, but to Adrienne, she and her father had that unique father-son bond, centered around a passion for sports.

“I was the little boy Dad never had.”

The Core connection wasn’t just limited to watching sports on TV.

“I can remember us drawing a foul line and 3 point line with sidewalk chalk in our driveway and setting goals for how many (shots) I had to make in a row before we went inside,” Core recalled.

There were even nights where they’d shoot until Adrienne hit the number after the sun went down.

Whose father would do this?

“I was in competitive dance classes a couple nights a week and he was the first to make sure every costume was perfect,” Core said. “He actually preferred to sew rather than letting my Mom.”

Core’s father was also her Sunday school teacher, quizzing her on the books of scripture, the commandments, disciples and other Christian teachings.

As deep as the love ran between Adrienne and her father, it is not a major leap to connect her craving for numbers, stats, metrics and problem solving.

He was, after all, an engineer and they shared a love of math, which Adrienne now teaches at Middle Creek High School after receiving her master’s in mathematics from NC State.

“If my teacher assigned the even problems for homework, my dad and I would work those together and I would take a quiz on the odd problems. He had an incredible way of teaching me how to expect the best of myself. He also taught me that there will always be people that are better than you at something, but don't let anyone ever out work you.”


Adrienne’s dad is Charles Core.

When Adrienne was 10, Charles, then just 48, was diagnosed with Stage IV Multiple Myeloma, which is a blood cancer developing in bone marrow featuring abnormal plasma cells.

The treatment was swift despite a grim initial prognosis of five years before the cancer would take him.

Most would quiver and deny. Not Charles.

His response was a page from the NC State paragons who turned waging war against cancer into a global mission.

“He took this news with an attitude of ‘where do we start, how do we fight?’"

Charles was made directly from the Jim Valvano and Kay Yow mold.

“Over the almost eight years my Dad lived with this terminal illness, he was cheering at my ballgames, helping with my homework, and was greeting people at the door of Erwin United Methodist Church almost every Sunday,” Core said. “For people that never got to meet my Dad, I like to say that without his physical disabilities of this awful disease, you would never know he was even sick.”

In many respects, his example can be traced directly to the heights Core’s already achieved.

“Coping with what my family was dealing with helped me mature much faster than most my age,” Core continued. “Most students in middle school loved getting called out of class for anything, but when the intercom called my name I knew Dad was probably back in the hospital and I was going to find out who would be picking me up from school.”

Charles passed after a courageous eight-year fight, during Adrienne’s senior year at Erwin Triton High School.

“I can still remember so many friends and family trying to empathize by saying ‘it gets easier, time will heal.’ I distinctly remember thinking I don't want it to get easier, I don't want time to heal because that felt like we were forgetting all that my Dad stood for.”

Paying Tribute To Charles: Woven Through Coaching, Teaching and Pageants

“Pageants are what gave me an outlet to make sure we didn't forget (my Dad),” Adrienne admitted. “I was able to travel and share our story of how my Dad could have literally given up that day in September when he was diagnosed, but he didn't. I will always believe it was his love for life that beat the doctors timelines each time. He shared so much of Jimmy V's never give up attitude and enthusiasm to make a positive difference in someone else's life.”

With Core’s well-documented pageant exploits, one may presume she grew up in the industry. That’s not at all the case.

Core’s first competition wasn’t until 2008, two years after Charles passed.

“I competed in my first Miss NC preliminary pageant in November 2008, but was 1st runner up.”

As you might have imagined, Core didn’t quit after the first. Quitting isn’t in the family DNA.

“I won the second preliminary I competed in as Miss Fayetteville in January 2009 to earn my first trip to Miss NC. I was a preliminary talent winner, preliminary swimsuit winner, overall academic award winner, and 1st runner up at Miss NC 2009.”

Even finishing runner-up didn’t deter Core. Not hardly. Everything changed the next year.

She won Miss Raleigh in 2010 to book a second consecutive trip to Miss North Carolina and ultimately was the last one standing.

A few months later just a short time after graduating from NC State Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Math Education, Core jetted off to Las Vegas to compete in Miss America where Core was a preliminary talent winner and overall non-finalist talent award winner.

“Right after winning Miss NC I had to defer enrollment to grad school,” Core said. “After completing my year, I went back to NC State to earn my Masters in Mathematics Education and graduated in 2013.”

Upon graduation, Core landed her first professional job at Middle Creek High School as a math teacher and JV volleyball coach. But after just one year, the Mustangs were looking for a new varsity coach.

The search didn’t last long.

Core was offered the job, fulfilling one of her long list of dreams.

Core took the Mustangs to never before seen heights, leading the Mustangs to their best-ever season with a record of 15-7 and tied for second at 10-4 in the Southwest Wake conference. The Mustangs advanced to the second round of the 4A playoffs before losing to eventual champion JH Rose in four sets.

“There are times that I may talk about lessons my Dad taught me (to the kids) and I try to relay that same enthusiasm he had in all aspects of life.”

“Volleyball is such a game of momentum and a lot of our ups and downs this season has been learning to take the good things we do and run with it without letting the mistakes get us down.”

Core, who lettered in volleyball, basketball and softball at Triton before graduating in 2006, always had special blood coursing through her competitive veins on the volleyball court.

“My high school team played for the Eastern Regional championship my senior year, one game away from state championship,” she recalled. “From middle school on I remember watching state championship games in Reynolds Coliseum and from a family that is die hard NC State, my ultimate dream was playing on campus for that state title.”

Even though Core’s Mustangs didn’t reach Saturday’s 4-A championship match, Core was there soaking in that special atmosphere she yearned for as a youngster, along with reliving memories and moments that drew them so close together.

“My Dad and I talked before that (the Eastern Regional final) game about leaving everything I had out on the court and as long as that happened I could have no regrets. We lost that game but it was somehow comforting to know there was nothing more we could've done. I try to make sure our girls have that same attitude of playing the game we all love without the worry of mistakes. Mistakes will inevitably happen, but it's all in how you deal with them that can make a good team a great team.”

That’s just one of the many lessons that Core hopes to leave with the young players she now coaches and mentors.

“I really hope these ideas of humility when it comes to being a team player also carry into their everyday lives of learning to put others first.”

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