Three athletes with ties to the Haywood Community College lumberjack team recently competed at the STIHL Timbersports US Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas. Darby Hand, current HCC Forest Management Technology student, was named 2021 US Rookie Champion. Hand is pictured left giving a demonstration to first-year students on HCC’s campus with team manager Alex Storm.  

Three athletes with ties to the Haywood Community College lumberjack team recently competed at the STIHL Timbersports US Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas. Pictured left to right are Alec Parsons, Ben Knicely and Darby Hand.

Three athletes with ties to the Haywood Community College lumberjack team recently competed at the STIHL Timbersports US Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas. While full results have not been disclosed, Darby Hand, current HCC Forest Management Technology student, was named 2021 US Rookie Champion. His achievement earned him the right to compete in the STIHL World Rookie Championship.  He will also now qualify for consideration to be part of the professional division next year.  

The Rookie Competition brought together the top 8 athletes under the age of 25 to battle for the US title.  Alec Parsons, 2020 Fish and Wildlife Technology graduate, also competed in Rookie Division.  Ben Knicely, 2014 graduate of the Fish and Wildlife Technology program and a 2015 graduate of the Forest Management Technology program, competed in the Professional championships, which consisted of the country's top 20 male athletes.

According to Hand, winning this championship is a challenge he has dreamed of. "I have been working at it a good long time. Being a student at HCC has absolutely helped me to be able to achieve this. Having the training facility on campus is second to none and having Alex Storm as a coach has been great."

Hand works at Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

"I think one of the main reasons HCC students and alumni have been so successful in past STIHL events is due to the support they receive in their time on campus," explains Storm, HCC Lumberjacks Team Manager and Forest Management Instructor. "Faculty in the past and present have taken a real interest in the team which allows students to learn the fundamental skills necessary to succeed in the sport. The financial support of HCC for the Lumberjack team is second to none, giving more opportunities for travel to competitions and the ability to purchase equipment that allows them to compete at their highest potential. The school is also proud of the team, using it as a marketing tool, which helps bring students from far away to come and compete.  I have no doubt this trend will continue due to the opportunities provided by the new JM West Training Facility on campus."  

Parsons,  in his first STIHL competition appearance, finished 6th overall. At the age of 23, he will have two more future opportunities to win the title. He is a current student at North Carolina State University. Knicely advanced from the Semi-Finals (top 20 athletes) of the professional division to the Finals, which consisted of the top 12 competitors in the nation. He finished the event in 8th place, which is a truly incredible achievement.  All three athletes are true winners for their hard work, dedication, and excellence in pursuing their passion.

For more information about HCC’s Fish & Wildlife Management Technology program, visit haywood.edu or email hcc-advising@haywood.edu.

2. Three athletes with ties to the Haywood Community College lumberjack team recently competed at the STIHL Timbersports US Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas. Pictured left to right are Alec Parsons, Ben Knicely and Darby Hand.