The list of North Carolina high school athletes I thought belonged in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame was impressive.
There were the obvious choices – Rocky Mount’s versatile Danny Talbott, Asheville football legend Charlie Justice, South Johnston basketball star Genia Beasley, Fayetteville Sanford national girls basketball player of the year Shea Ralph, Perquimans’ pitcher Jimmy Hunter, Greensboro Page quarterback Todd Ellis, Raeford Hoke long jump Olympian Kathy McMillan and the running Shea sisters, Julie and Mary, of Cardinal Gibbons.
My list also had Durham High basketball stars Gordon Carver and Bones McKinney, Broughton basketball shooter Pete Maravich, Rocky Mount point guard Phil Ford, Winston-Salem Atkins football lineman Carl Eller and Wilson running back Carlester Crumpler.
Sylva-Webster pitcher Steve Streater, Durham Riverside volleyball hitter Megan Hodge, Nathan’s Creek basketball star Molly Colvard Gambrill and football stars Julius Peppers of Southern Nash, T.A. McLendon of Albemarle and Roman Gabriel of New Hanover were on that list, too.
The purpose of the list was to see what the NCHSAA Hall of Fame would look like if outstanding high school athletes were selected along with coaches, administrators, officials and friends of high school athletics.
To me, it seemed fitting that our best high school athletes should have a place in the NCHSAA hall.
The National High School Sports Hall of Fame inducts athletes and it seemed logical that the NCHSAA hall should follow the same pattern.
But there was another viewpoint, and I’ve come to embrace it.
How do you compare the contributions of an athlete in a three- or four-year career with men and women who devote their entire lives to the boys and girls of our state?
Can the contributions of any high school athlete, no matter how outstanding, compare to the impact of coaches such as Greensboro’s Bob Jamieson, Durham’s Russell Blunt, Charlotte’s Dave Harris, Wilmington’s Leon Brogden and Wilson’s Harvey Reid?
I am a numbers guy. I helped write the first NCHSAA record book. I love statistics.
But high school athletics is really about helping young people become good citizens. Players usually don’t do that.
I’m glad the NCHSAA compiled lists of 100 male athletes and 100 female athletes to remember during the association’s 100th year. Lists are good things. But so is honoring the coaches and administrators who have given their lives to the boys and girls of our state.
Saturday night, the NCHSAA will induct into its hall some of its best people: former Wake County athletics director Bobby Guthrie, former coach and game official Jack Huss of Rutherfordton, East Chapel Hill tennis coach Lindsey Linker (16 state titles), basketball coach Shelly Marsh (533 basketball wins), Smoky Mountain volleyball and basketball coach Cindi Simmons (512 basketball wins), former Burlington Williams football coach Sam Story (two state titles) and Greenville Rose baseball coach Ronald Vincent (800-216 record and six state titles).
They will be honored at Friday Center in Chapel Hill because they gave to high school athletics for years, not months.