Rod Broadway has coached some outstanding Football Championship Subdivision teams over the past seven years, but it’s a NCAA Division II squad that remains closest to his heart.
That would be the 2006 North Carolina Central team that went 11-0 that season, won its second straight CIAA championship on a second consecutive last-second field goal, and earned the Eagles the title of black college national champions.
To make the success even sweeter, it was the university’s last year in the CIAA before reclassifying to Division I.
That 2006 team, along with seven individual athletes, were inducted Saturday into N.C. Central’s Alex M. Rivera Athletics Hall of Fame. Tears, laughter and plenty of wonderful memories were the theme of the day.
Broadway, now the head coach at N.C. A&T State, couldn’t attend the ceremony at the Durham Convention Center due to an afternoon football game against Elon, but he sent a video message to the 30 former players who were in attendance.
“What a special team that was, with a lot of special individuals,” said Broadway. “You guys may be the best team we ever had. It was a pleasure to be a small part of your lives. What a year.”
Despite missing the festivities in Durham, Broadway still found some happiness Saturday as his Aggies defeated Elon 17-12.
NCCU place-kicker Brandon Gilbert (2004-08) received double honors Saturday: first, as a member of the 2006 team, and as an individual player. He is NCCU’s all-time leading scorer with 279 points and holds or shares every kicking record in school history. His game-winning kick of 51 yards in the ’06 championship is still the longest in school history.
Not bad for a high school soccer player who never considered playing football.
“Coach (Kienus) Boulware was the only college coach to recruit me,” Gilbert said. “That was really a special time, and I had a coach that trusted me enough to put me in the game.”
Although Gilbert won the championship game for NCCU, Greg Pruitt Jr. (2004-06), son of former NFL star Greg Pruitt Sr., was named the most valuable player of that game. Pruitt also received double honors Saturday as a team member and individual.
He is NCCU’s all-time leading rusher, with 3,008 career rushing yards in just three seasons, and is the only Eagle to rush for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
“NCCU was a second chance for me,” said Pruitt who transferred from University of Minnesota. “We were one big family, one big team.”
• Katerina Glosova (1999-02) won 22 running titles for NCCU. She won 15 CIAA championships, including four straight cross –country titles, was a four-time NCAA D-II All-American, and was the 2000 D-II Southeast Regional Cross-Country champion.
• Ricardo T. Jones, DDS (1972-75) won three straight MEAC individual tennis titles as the Eagles’ No. 1 singles player. Jones went undefeated for four years until the streak was broken in the ’75 MEAC championship match.
• Amba Kongolo (1999-02) is still the CIAA’s and NCCU’s only WNBA draft pick. Kongolo was a two-time CIAA player of the year in 2001 and 2002, and amassed 41 career double-doubles.
• Shari Matthews (2006-07), the 2006 D-II National Player of the Year, is the Eagles first and only volleyball All-American. She broke the school record for career kills (1,447) and career service aces (229) in just two seasons. She also broke the NCAA D-II record for kills in a season with 974.
• Jason Smoots (1999-03) is a six-time D-II national champion in both indoor and outdoor track and field. He was named an All-American eight times and won six individual conference titles. He climaxed his collegiate career by winning the 100-meter dash at the prestigious 2003 Penn Relays.