A short conversation with Sarah Dalton quickly reveals a quick wit and an engaging personality. She has a ready smile and exudes confidence in her ability to take on any task set before her. It is obvious that she is someone who makes good things happen.
Sarah grew up in the Piney Creek community, the daughter of Mark and Judy Wagg. Her father is the pastor of Pine Fork Baptist Church in Laurel Springs and is also a cattle farmer. Sarah says that she “spent a lot of time on the farm” as a girl. She attended Piney Creek Elementary until the family moved to Ennice. Her mom drove her back to Piney Creek for a while before Sarah settled in to Glade Creek School. In the 8th grade, she left public school for a home school program.
The home school schedule allowed Sarah to spend more time with her parents. While some kids would view that as something less than positive, Sarah cherishes the time with her mom and dad. Her dad coached Sarah’s home school basketball team which was based out of Galax. The team played against Christian and private schools with Sarah filling the role of point guard. She counts playing in a large tournament at Liberty University as a highlight of her high school career.
Sarah’s athletic skills carried over to college. She continued to play basketball at Piedmont International University in Winston Salem during her freshman and sophomore years.
Then Sarah’s life made an interesting turn.
A young man from Pulaski, Virginia struck up a running conversation with Sarah on social media. He was a friend of a friend and was serving in the US Army at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs, Colorado. As their conversation continued and deepened over time, Sarah felt there may be some potential to the relationship.
In November of 2014, Sarah flew to Colorado to visit Dustin. As the week neared its end, Sarah found herself high atop Pikes Peak where Dustin asked for her hand in marriage. He was anticipating a deployment to Germany in the near future. Faced with the prospect of a long distance courtship, they married in January of 2015.
Instead of Germany, the newlyweds were assigned to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. Sarah continued her education through Liberty University’s online program, graduating with a degree in elementary education in 2017.
As Dustin neared the end of his military enlistment in 2016, the young couple considered where they wanted to live. As bad as Sarah wanted to return to Alleghany County, she knew she was facing an assortment of personal challenges in transitioning back home. Since she was home schooled through high school, she didn’t have a network of classmates to help her find a job. Complicating that further was that she was coming back with a new last name. It true rural fashion she often introduces herself in relation to her family members. Her older sister, Stacey Presnell works for the Alleghany County Department of Social Service. Sarah said with a laugh that, “When I tell people who my sister is they warm up to me pretty quickly. Everyone seems to know her!”
Sarah began a part-time job with the Alleghany County Chamber of Commerce in November of 2016. Three months later, she also assumed the role of director with the Sparta Revitalization Committee. The two jobs put her in the middle of many business and community support activities. She quickly found that there are a number of local organizations doing similar work. Establishing communication across those organizational boundaries is a key part of Sarah’s responsibilities.
For those not familiar with basketball, the point guard is the team’s primary ball handler and the player who puts the plays in motion. On successful teams, this player is fully synced with the coach and becomes extension of the coach on the court. The truly successful point guards often describe having an intuitive sense of where all the players are at on the court. Most importantly, they know where those players will be and how to set those players up to score.
Sarah Dalton’s life is characterized by this point guard mentality. She adjusted to being home schooled and developed a group of life-long friends playing basketball. Her trip to Colorado to explore whether a budding relationship had legs may seem impulsive to some, but her family had been praying for a man to come into her life that would be a good mate. When marriage took her out of the county, she continued her education online.
This leads to a question we must consider about Sarah and other young Alleghany County residents. Are we willing to give them the ball and then trust them to make the plays that lead to us having a healthy, thriving community?