MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. — Friendship, family, and faith are the bonds that tie together Sampson County natives Hunter Britt and Ty Hunter. Friends since birth, Hunter and Ty attended the same school growing up, graduated from Hobbton High School together, attend Mount Vernon Baptist Church, and share a passion for the outdoors. The pair also attend the University of Mount Olive (UMO) where Ty is majoring in ag production with a concentration in business and Hunter is majoring in ag business.
Ty enrolled at UMO straight out of high school, in the fall of 2016.
“I have always been interested in agriculture,” he said.
Ty is the son of Missy and Eric Hunter of Clinton, and brother to Kyle-15. His grandparents are Lettie and the late Max Hunter and Marshal and Mittie Tyndall, owners of Tyndall Seafood located on Southeast Boulevard in Clinton. Ty jokes that he has worked at the seafood market since he was old enough to stand on a bucket and look over the fish counter. Even now, with a full college load of 16 to 18 credit hours per semester, Ty works at the fish market about 30 hours a week. “It is tough juggling it all sometimes,” he acknowledged. “But, I would do anything for my grandparents, and they know that.”
Having a good work ethic is something that comes naturally for Ty. He recalls having labored many summers for local produce farmer, Danny Joe Pope. Ty packed peppers and squash; the hours were long, and it was hot and dirty work. However, the lessons Ty learned about responsibility, dependability, and hard work have stuck with him.
He has applied those lessons often at UMO. All UMO ag majors are required to do an internship before graduating. This past summer, Ty completed his internship with Pope and Son out of Clinton.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “And they have told me I can come back to work with them any time.”
Ty is keeping his options open, but one thing is for certain, he hopes to keep his roots tightly connected to Sampson County.
“Sampson County is special,” he shared. “There a lot of people who can’t wait to graduate and leave, but not me. My family is here. I know the roads and the woods like the back of my hand. I may get a job where I travel all over the nation, but ultimately I still want to call Sampson County home.”
Ty’s good buddy, Hunter, has a similar outlook on life, labor, and a love for the outdoors. The two can often be found duck hunting in the swamps around their homes, or deer hunting from a tree stand…waiting, watching, and wishing for the next “big one” to show up.
“I got my first buck when I was six years old,” Hunter boasts. “Well, I got my first deer in the third grade, but I have been hunting since the second grade,” Ty added with a smile.
The friends share more than a passion for hunting. They both have a shared faith that has been cultivated in the walls of Mount Vernon Baptist Church where the two attend with their families.
“When half of the congregation is related to you, you know it truly is a church family,” Ty laughed.
Hunter recalls helping build wheel chair ramps for those in need, and participating in derby car races as a youngster in RAs (Royal Ambassadors).
“Faith in God is what keeps you going,” Hunter said. “We each have a choice every morning when we wake up. To either give it all we have or to just get by. I pray that God gives me the ability and strength to do the best that I can at all that I strive for each and every day.”
Hunter’s faith and trust in God are two things that he feels led him to attend the University of Mount Olive; that, and a passion for baseball.
Hunter started his college experience on a baseball scholarship at ECU. He opted to be redshirted during his freshmen year to maintain athletic eligibility. He then decided to transfer to UNCW.
“At the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to come to UMO,” Hunter said. “I had talked to Coach Carl Lancaster and felt good about the program here, so I enrolled in the fall of 2017.”
It is a decision he has not regretted.
“UMO is a good fit for me,” he said. “It is close to home, has excellent academics, and a great baseball program.”
Hunter is a right-handed pitcher and is slated to be a starter for the Trojans during the 2019 season. He averages speeds of 93 miles per hour (MPH), and has pitched as fast as 96 MPH.
“Baseball is kind of my thing,” Hunter said. “Outside of hunting, it is the one thing that I think I am good at, and that I really enjoy. I work hard to get better at it every day.”
Most would call Hunter a late bloomer in the baseball world. He didn’t start playing the sport until his sophomore year in high school. “I could throw hard and fast, but I wasn’t always in control of where it went,” he joked.
By the time Hunter was in the eleventh grade, he had gained the attention of many scouts. At one time, he was listed as one of the top five pitchers in North Carolina and one of the top 100 in the nation.
He talks about his abilities with a quiet humbleness. The six-foot-six-inch tall young man could be considered a gentle giant. On and off the field, he leads by example.
Like Ty, Hunter worked for Danny Joe Pope for many summers during his youth, and also cut grass. This past summer, he had a brief job shadowing experience with Ag Technologies which gave him a glimpse of what his future might hold. He hopes to do an internship with them soon.
“I really enjoyed the variety of work,” Hunter said. “I could see myself doing something like that, if and when I am done with baseball.”
Hunter would ultimately like to make it to the major leagues. And, the possibility is very real. He was once offered the opportunity, but turned it down.
“I was just too young,” he admits. “But, now I am working towards that goal all the time. To me, it is important to have the whole package. I think you need to be successful in the classroom first, and then the athletics will come.”
Good insight for a 20-year old. Probably advice that he learned from his parents, Barry and Lynette Britt, or from his grandparents, Loraine and the late Harold Britt of Faison and Lib and the late Franklin Pope of the Herring Community. And, it is advice that he will surely share with his brothers, Daniel-16 and Garrett-12.
“My brothers like to come see me play when they can,” he said.
On game day, Hunter can also often spot his friend, Ty, in the stands cheering him on.
“That is what is so great about our friendship,” Hunter said. “We have known each our whole lives. When one of us needs something, all we have to do is call the other one.”
Ty agreed, “Hunter is the kind of friend that will never let you down.”
Adding to their many commonalities, Hunter and Ty hope to share the graduation stage in the spring of 2020 when they anticipate earning their degrees from the University of Mount Olive.
–Rhonda Jessup, University of Mount Olive