Garner Cleveland: Sports

Garner duo surprised by Shrine Bowl Hall of Fame honors

Two fixtures on the sidelines at Garner football games (and many other sports) have been honored for their longtime work with the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. Garner Magnet High School trainer Mike Guerrero and Dr. Greg Pleasants (both Garner graduates) were inducted into the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Hall of Fame recently.

The pair have served as the chief medical staff for the annual game, which features high school all-star talent from North and South Carolina, for many years.

Guerrero said the enshrinement came as a surprise to both of them. They had been led to believe they were invited to be on hand for an award for Elton Hawley, the Athletic Training Chairman Emeritus of the Shrine Bowl. It wasn’t until a speaker started reading off Guerrero’s career path until the pair realized they had been had.

“It was an unexpected honor,” Guerrero said. “You always enjoy a little bit of recognition, but when we learned that Doc Pleasants, Elton and myself were the only non-Shriners in the Hall of Fame it really hit me what an honor we had received.”

Clayton’s Brack Wilson is Shrine Bowl president for 2015: Wilson, a broker with HTR Commercial, was named President of the Board of Governors for the 2015 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, which will be played Dec. 19 in Spartanburg, S.C.

Wilson, a Shriner since 1978, will oversee the staff that puts on the contest between some of the best high school football players in North and South Carolina, raises the funds to support the game and most-importantly raises funds to support the 22 Shriners Hospitals in North America.

The hospitals provide free health care for kids with challenges from orthopedic issues, burns, cleft pallets and anything in between.

“The purpose of the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas is to promote Shriners Hospitals for Children,” Wilson said. “To see what we do for kids that need our help is a very humbling and rewarding experience.”

Wilson is meeting with the coaches for the game on Sunday and will then have at least two meetings a month until the fall when he expects the gatherings to finalize plans to become weekly or more often.

“It takes a lot of time and dedication to put this game on, and over 150 Shriners from these centers volunteer their time and efforts at there own expense to make sure it happens,” Wilson said. “We tell our players as they visit the Greenville Shriners Hospital each year that the real winners of the game are the kids.

“It’s really encouraging to see the high school seniors get it. They all say that the day with the kids at the hospital is the highlight of their week.”

Wilson speaks the truth. In my years of covering the Shrine Bowl, the common bond among players and coaches is the hospital visit.

Four Oaks Bank Cup taking a year off: The delayed start of the spring sports season, thanks to the trio of ice events, and rainy days last week forced the cancellation of the annual Four Oaks Bank Cup girls soccer tournament. With conference schedules looming for some participating teams and field conditions a concern, event organizers made the decision to call off the event.

Cleveland, which was to host this year’s tournament, will instead host in 2016.

Princeton also changed the format of its softball tournament to a two-day event instead of one day after the school makeup days put school back on for April 9-10. The tournament, with Princeton, North Johnston, Triton and Midway, will now feature two games at 5 and 7 p.m. on April 9 and April 10.

West Johnston basketball coach steps down: West Johnston High School boys basketball coach Kris Bennett has resigned from his post.

“I have no plans at this time of leaving West Johnston as a teacher,” Bennett said. “This is completely my choice and have never received anything but the utmost support from administration and parents of West Johnston.”

Wrestling club starting up again: Local high school wrestling coach Kristian Stewart is resuming the Real Hero’s Wrestling Club in Johnston County. The club is for kids of all ages interested in amateur wrestling in N.C. Wrestling Association and other regional events. The club will meet at Corinth Holders High School. For info, contact Stewart at 919- or or 919-365-4344.

Some within staff praise: I wanted to share a series of Tweets from one of our stable of reporters, Michael Held, that came after last Tuesday night’s basketball playoff games:

“Watching the Cleveland game tonight, what struck me was how many coaches from other sports, schools in the county were there to support a team/school that is usually an opponent,” Held said in a series of Tweets. “I love the competitive nature of high school sports but the support these JoCo schools give to each other is unparalleled from what I’ve seen. Great ball game but so much respect goes out to JoCo as a whole tonight you all acquitted yourselves quite well.”

The rivalries and sportsmanship in the area give us great things to write about in the sports department. And I’d like to thank my staff of helpers — all people who do this because they love high school sports above all else — for their work in putting out three community papers twice a week each. At the annual N.C. Press Association Awards recently, the Clayton News-Star received second place in sports coverage, a category taking the entire section (stories, photos, graphics, etc.), for community newspapers across the state. The Smithfield Herald was third in the same category.

Last year, the Garner-Cleveland Record was named the best community sports section in the state by the NCPA.

Everybody likes a little recognition from time to time, even though press awards are not our motivation for doing what we do. So the next time you see Held, Mike Potter, Bill Woodward, Dennis Burton, Dean Strickland, Johnny Johnson, Damon Thomas, Chris Rodier or some of our other regional helpers, offer them a handshake or a pat on the back for their hard work.

Best: 919-524-8895 or;

Twitter: @dclaybest