Black Tops and Best Friends


Lucy Dempsey ’24 and Mary Stewart Hunter ’24 pose for a picture before the Touchdown Tailgate in 2014. (Sherrill Dempsey)

Written By Lucy Dempsey

It was a rainy afternoon in first grade, and our class was antsy to go outside for recess. Mrs. Shamblin was extremely hesitant to allow us to go to the playground because a morning storm had swept through the grounds leaving everything wet and humid outside. With 14 eight and nine year olds screaming to go out and play, it was hard to say no. Finally she folded, and we bolted out of the door, racing straight to the slippery blacktop. 

As I was running around, Mary Stewart Hunter flew up to me. She was a little blonde girl with a high-pitched voice. We dressed alike with pink khaki shorts, white shirts, Nike socks and shoes. I had never talked to her before besides a few words exchanged during class. She asked, “Do you want to play basketball?” I loved playing basketball and was part of a church league team who was undefeated. Joyfully, I responded with an ecstatic, “YES!” I was super-excited to play with this new friend. We began with a game of one-on-one. We went back and forth for a good bit, then, Mary Stewart threw up a shot, and I rushed to get the rebound and so did she. In her haste to be first for the ball, she slipped on a puddle and immediately hit the ground. 


Lucy Dempsey and Mary Stewart Hunter celebrate their first sleepover together in 2014. (Sherrill Dempsey)


Feeling extremely guilty, I grabbed her hand to help her up. She smiled at me, letting out a slight giggle. I was relieved to see she was okay and laughed a little back until I saw upper thigh–it was sliced from the cement blacktop and blood was streaming down her leg. I screamed and raced over to Mrs. Shamblin to get some help. Mrs. Shamblin saw the bloody scene and immediately retrieved the nurse. Mary Stewart was still sitting there with a smile on her face as I sat next to her and talked about the cute boy in our class. We laughed and from that point on I knew we were going to be best friends. 

Since that day, Mary Stewart became my first sleepover; we shared the same crush, bonded over my church basketball leagues, did Wake Forest soccer camps together, conquered middle school, and hung out almost every weekend. We played three seasons of high school soccer, played for the same club, went surfing together, and spent every waking moment together that we could. One rainy day on the playground gave me my best friend.