The new members of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame will be formally inducted Friday at the Raleigh Convention Center. The group includes star athletes, successful coaches, a longtime athletics administrator and a one of the state’s most respected sportswriters. Here is a closer look at the class of 2014:
Eddie Biedenbach, basketball
Even as a two-time first-team All-ACC guard for N.C. State, a draft pick for the NBA, ABA and NFL, and the all-time winningest coach in the Big South Conference, Eddie Biedenbach stays humble.
“I don’t like to talk about myself too much,” he says. “But I’m really proud that as a player and as a coach, I always helped us be better than we were supposed to be – we always played better than our projections.”
Biedenbach led UNC Asheville to a school-record 256 basketball wins as head coach. He also was an assistant at N.C. State during the 1974 championship season and a head coach at Davidson.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a couple of great high school and several great college coaches who really helped me,” he says. “I learned a lot from each one of them and in different ways I think they all helped me tremendously later in life.”
Biedenbach, 68, of Pittsburgh, Pa., says he was proud that he could instill this knowledge in his own players, boasting a 98 percent player graduation rate while he was head coach at UNCA.
Buzz Peterson, coach at UNC-Wilmington from 2010 to 2014, said he had no reservations when he offered Biedenbach an assistant coaching position last year.
Peterson recalled Biedenbach’s ability to befriend people quickly.
“You could put him in a roomful of strangers and he’d come out knowing everybody and everybody would know him,” Peterson said. “He’s such a likeable person.”
Nick McDevitt, men’s basketball coach at UNC Asheville and a recruit of Biedenbach’s, said he feels privileged to try to uphold his mentor’s legacy.
“He coached under three athletic directors and three chancellors and that’s difficult and unusual,” he said. “I think they all recognized that they had a special coach in Eddie and I agree with them.”
Mary Tyler March
A.J. Carr, sportswriter
A. J. Carr’s fascination with sports journalism began when he was 8 years old.
“My daddy, he showed me The News and Observer sports page,” Carr recalled. His first reporting job was covering recreational sports for the Wallace Enterprise while he was in high school at Wallace-Rose Hill.
“I started writing for 10 cents an inch.”
It wasn’t uncommon for Carr, a three-sport athlete, to play in the games he was covering.
While in high school, he would send his Wallace Enterprise stories to N&O sports editor Dick Herbert for advice. Once Carr was at Guilford College, Herbert promised him a job if there was an opening. After graduation Carr started working his “dream job.”
“I never wanted to work for another paper.”
While at The N&O, Carr primarily covered ACC football and basketball. Over a 42-year career, he witnessed some of the most memorable sports performances in the history of the state.
“To be writing or having the chance to write in this state is really a sportswriter’s dream,” Carr said.
Carr is one of the most well-respected sports reporters in the business. Coaches throughout the state commended Carr’s desire to write stories. He was named the North Carolina Sportswriter of the year in 1978 and 2008.
“I really enjoy the sports, but the thing overall that I just treasure the most has been the friendships and relationships with the coaches, the players, and the people involved in the sports programs,” Carr said.
Carr, 71, says he recognizes the role that his Christian faith and family have played in his successful career. “I’m blessed to have a wonderful wife and two sons who are understanding and supportive of irregular and unpredictable hours.”
Since retiring from The N&O in 2009, Carr says he spends his time watching the ballgames of his five grandsons’ games.
Marshall Happer, tennis
Marshall Happer’s fervor for sports was born on the courts of Kinston’s Emma Webb Park, where he learned tennis and basketball.
“Kinston was wonderful to me,” Happer said of his childhood. “We had probably the greatest public recreation program in the state when I grew up.”
As a student at Grainger High, he excelled in the classroom and on the court, playing varsity basketball and tennis. A two-time state junior tennis champion, Happer went on to play at North Carolina.
In a community where basketball has always been the dominant sport, Happer stood out for his focus on tennis.
“With Happer also being a talented basketball player who chose to spread his wings in tennis, his accomplishments can inspire the Kinston and Lenoir County youth and let them know there are options,” said Kinston.com Sports Editor Jessika Morgan.
Happer earned a law degree at UNC in 1963 and specialized in commercial real estate at a Raleigh firm. He quickly noticed the dearth of tennis facilities in the capital and founded the Raleigh Racquet Club in 1968.
Happer wasn’t satisfied. He founded Raleigh Tennis Foundation, a charitable organization to raise funds statewide for junior tennis programs, and served as president from 1970-75. He also was president of the North Carolina Tennis Association and Foundation, the Southern Tennis Association and the Southern Tennis Patrons Foundation.
In 1981 Happer left his Raleigh firm to serve as CEO and in-house counsel for the Men’s Tennis Council.
“Happer was instrumental in his role as commissioner,” said N.C. Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director Don Fish. He worked diligently to write, administer, and enforce the International Tennis Code of Conduct, earning the nickname “the sheriff.”
Happer became the first chairman of the USTA Circuits Committee, which now supervises more than 100 development-level professional tennis tournaments.
In the summer of 2005, Happer moved to Florida and was certified by the Florida Bar to represent the USTA through 2009. He is retired from the practice of law.
Happer, 76, was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 1981.
Rodney Rogers, basketball
For Rodney Rogers, basketball was the ticket to a better future.
He was born and raised in Durham’s McDougald Terrace, a public housing complex and looked to sports.
“My mama kind of threatened me about being in trouble and I started playing sports and it kept me out of the streets.”
The 6-foot-7 “Durham Bull” played football and basketball at Hillside High.
Despite being an honor roll student, Rogers never thought going to college would be an option. On the day he got his SAT scores back, his high school principal called Rogers to his office, hugged him, and said the life-changing words: “You’re going to Wake Forest.”
“I was just like man, here I am a kid that ain’t had nothing and I’m going to be playing basketball at Wake Forest and getting an education as well, ’cause I didn’t think I’d be going to college.”
Rogers was the first McDonald’s All-American that Wake coach Dave Odom had recruited to the Winston-Salem campus.
“They didn’t start beating Carolina and Duke until I came to Wake,” Rogers said.
While at Wake Forest, Rogers averaged 19.3 points per game. In 1991, he won the ACC rookie of the year and was the ACC player of the year in 1993. His No. 54 jersey is one of 11 retired numbers hanging from the rafters of Joel Coliseum.
Rogers was the ninth overall pick by the Denver Nuggets in the 1993 NBA draft. In 2000, he won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award. Rogers played in the NBA Finals with the New Jersey Nets during the 2002-03 season and played 12 seasons for seven NBA teams before retiring in 2005.
In 2008, a dirt-biking accident left Rogers paralyzed from the neck down. His injury inspired him to create the Rodney Rogers Foundation, which helps others who have spinal-cord injuries.
“A lot of people that have the injury that I have don’t have the insurance or the money to be able to afford certain surgeries.”
Rogers. 47, has always given back. He returns to his old neighborhood for food and toy drives during the holidays.
“It’s always good to see somebody smiling,” says Rogers.
Randy Denton, basketball
With the heart of a Blue Devil and the rebounding skills of an All-American, Denton never dreamed his successes on the court would be so great.
“You know, my fondest memories would have to be playing those home games at Duke – there was nothing like it. I felt like I was floating on Cloud Nine when I came out of the locker room and heard the cheers of the students,” Denton said.
Born and raised in Raleigh, Denton discovered his love for basketball at 15, when friends and family encouraged him to try out for his middle school team. He starred at Enloe High, where his jersey was retired when he graduated in 1967.
Denton was offered a scholarship to play at Duke and he averaged 19 points and 13 rebounds.
“If I am not mistaken,” Denton said, “I’d go on record (that) having 20 points and 20 rebounds is the most of a Duke basketball player in terms of 20-20 games. I’m very proud of that.”
Denton says integrity and perseverance defined certain aspects of his character on the court. He recalls assistant coaches such as Howard Hurt and Tom Carmody as sources of inspiration.
“They were intense coaches who really helped jump-start me on the court,” Denton said.
Motivation did not end with the coaches. Two young Duke alumni served as significant role models.
“Art Heyman and Jeff Mullins were the greatest guys in the world! They were both really supportive of us younger guys,” Denton said.
Denton, 65, later played in the ABA and NBA.
Frank Weedon, sports administrator
Frank Weedon will always be known for his passion.
Weedon, a longtime publicity director and athletics administrator at N.C. State, died Sept. 2 at 82. Never has there been a more rabid Wolfpack fan.
Tim Peeler, managing editor for GoPack.com, took over for Weedon, a walking N.C. State encyclopedia, as the university’s athletics department historian and archivist.
“Frank was just a guy who was truly emotionally involved in everything he did and just completely bought into what he was trying to sell and that this was the best place for college basketball, the best place to live and the best place to be,” Peeler said.
“From the day he (Weedon) moved here until the day he died, he was devoted to seeing the schools and the sports entities within the borders be successful and grow in popularity.”
Freddie Combs, a former N.C. State football and baseball player and close friend of Weedon’s, said one of his favorite memories of Weedon occurred at Doak Field, the baseball stadium at N.C. State.
“(Frank) was in the dugout area and he was razzing the umpire about balls and strikes,” Combs said. “And the umpire got tired of it and he told [Frank] to go somewhere that he can’t see him. [Frank] stood on the home plate and said that the umpire hadn’t seen it all day.”
Tony Riggsbee, longtime radio personality and current PA announcer for the Durham Bulls, said even though Weedon was a University of Maryland graduate, he became the biggest N.C. State fan Riggsbee had ever met.
“Most sports information directors are fairly dispassionate. They go about their job and don’t get into rooting that much,” said Riggsbee, also a State alumnus.
“That was not Frank – he remained first and foremost that fan.”
Weedon was a native of Washington, D.C.
Lee Gliarmis Sr., youth coach
Lee Gliarmis Sr. developed a passion for sports when his father opened Dick’s Hot Dog Stand near a local baseball field in Wilson in 1921.
“Some of the major leaguers played back there as the years went by,” Gliarmis said. “Great players came to eat here when it opened.”
Gliarmis, 86, of Wilson, attended UNC from 1945 to 1950, during what he referred to as “the golden era of Carolina.” A highly recruited high school athlete, he played on the basketball, baseball and soccer teams while pursuing a degree in physical education.
Following his graduation, Gliarmis returned to Wilson to take over the family business. There, he channeled his fervor for sports into local youth leagues.
Giliarmis coached youth baseball, basketball and football – photos of these teams cover the walls of his restaurant. In 1969, Gliarmis led youth teams in all three sports that he coached to national championships. He also founded the booster club at Barton College, formerly Atlantic Christian College.
Following his love of baseball, Gliarmis began a hot stove group in Wilson, where fellow baseball fanatics could talk shop. When members heard rumors that the town planned to demolish aging Fleming Stadium, they led the effort to renovate it.
Gliarmis, motivated by a strong appreciation of history, founded the N.C. Baseball Museum as part of the renovation. The museum is a tourist destination for visitors to Wilson and boasts a large collection of baseball cards and memorabilia.
“A historic museum in a historic building,” Gliarmis said. “It seems fitting.”
These days, Gliarmis wakes up at 7 a.m. and heads to the hot dog stand to begin cooking chili for the day.
Former athletes he coached, some of whom now play professionally and some who worked at the restaurant during their youth, still stop in for a hot dog and Gliarmis’ warm company.
Bob Colvin, football coach
With a record 11 state championships during his career as coach, Bob Colvin put Robbinsville High football on the map. Graham County’s Robbinsville plays in the Smoky Mountain 1-A conference against much larger schools, but Colvin said his players competed well.
During his 18 years as coach (1966-84), Colvin led Robbinsville football to 16 Smoky Mountain championships and the 11 state championships, five of those consecutive.
“I was very fortunate to have been coaching the bunch of kids I had,” Colvin said. “It was just great to be with such wonderful guys.”
Colvin, who played football at Robbinsville High, didn’t play in college because of a neck injury during his senior year. He returned to Robbinsville as a coach after graduating from Western Carolina in 1962.
After college, Colvin said he had chances to work elsewhere, but he “preferred to go to Robbinsville, (his) hometown.”
Today, Robbinsville High’s assistant principal, Tonia Walsh, said the coach’s awards and plaques remain on display in a trophy case dedicated to the football program.
“Most of the people that are involved in athletics at our school have at one time either played for him or coached with him” Walsh said. “He definitely was a mentor to a lot of young people in our community and in our school.”
Colvin, 74, said he would not be able to attend the N.C. Hall of Fame induction ceremony because of health issues, but that he was nevertheless “thrilled about the great honor.”
Bob Waters: football coach
Some know him as the NFL’s first “shotgun” quarterback, with the San Francisco 49ers in 1960. Others know him as Western Carolina’s winningest coach.
But for most, Bob Waters was known as a father figure.
“Everyone who knew Bob, and everyone who was around him, liked him,” said former Western Carolina athletics administrator Steve White.
White, a longtime friend and former assistant on Waters’ staff, said Waters’ amiability and paternal instincts made him a strong leader.
“He just wasn’t one of these guys who screamed and shouted and kicked things,” White said. “He (had) a subtle form of leadership.
“He was able to teach without being so verbose or demonstrative. He was like a father to most of his players.”
Waters was hired as Western Carolina football coach just before the 1969 season and his unique coaching style helped the Catamounts to a spot in the I-AA title game in 1983.
Waters spearheaded the school’s move toward NCAA status and helped the Catamounts gain membership in the Southern Conference in 1976. He is the only coach in WCU history with a career winning record (116-94-6).
In 1985, Waters was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. White said Waters was unwilling to walk away from his beloved team and the family that Waters spent his career forging responded.
“The football team, they played their guts out for him,” White said. “They rallied around him and that was something to behold.
“Many people said that coaching kept Waters alive,” White said. “I think those people might be right.”
Waters, whose hometown was Sylvania, Ga., graduated from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. He died in 1989, at the age of 50.