There was a moment during the 11th annual Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night when it occurred to me just how important this event truly is for our community.
It might have happened during keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Lee Jessup's introductory remarks. He briefly told us of a story from his childhood, about when he would regularly have a pitch-and-catch with his father back in the day while growing up in Hickory.
I almost always expect to get a laugh from one of Jessup's parables, so my anticipation level usually runs high when he's speaking. He's probably one of the best story tellers in the county, so I usually can't wait to hear what he says next. But when he said his dad "was my Hall of Famer," I nearly started bawling into my plate of scalloped potatoes. It was Field of Dreams come to life, right here in the J. Smith Young YMCA.
The point being, of course, that nearly all of us are impacted, in some way, by someone who has done or said something remarkable, big or small, that adds meaning to our lives. Real Hall of Famers, then, can actually be you and me. And sometimes we are, to somebody.
So the tone was set.
Which is why most of us smiled a teary-eyed smile when Peggy Sink Black, a girls' basketball star for Pilot School back in the early 1950s, said she wishes she could still shoot baskets as she put up an imaginary right-handed jumper from the dais. Literally, it was an air ball — but you know this one swished.
Or why Bowman Gray Stadium NASCAR legend Ralph Brinkley, now in his 70s, became so emotional, bringing both hands up to cover his mouth while searching for words. He gave much credit to his pit crew and their families for the success he enjoyed while racing to 64 victories.
North Davidson softball coach Mike Lambros, usually emotional in an animated way, also had a little trouble getting the words to flow. He told the audience of more than 200 that being inducted into this Hall completed his bucket list wish. Imagine that. And he's still actively coaching the Knights.
Mandy McKinney, who helped West Davidson's girls capture a 2-A state basketball title in 1985-86, was nervous about speaking to the large crowd, but she did well, thanking her parents and her teammates for their support during her career.
Bruce Mills, an All-ACC defensive end for Duke after a stellar career for coach George Cushwa at Thomasville, also thanked his family. Given that football put him through 14 knee and leg operations in his lifetime, that in itself should be enough to put him in somebody's Hall of Fame.
Then there was Mattie Terry, the mother of Lexington basketball star Carlos Terry, who was killed in a car accident in 1989. Mrs. Terry noted, through her tears, that Carlos has been inducted into several halls of fame recently. "He has received many awards the last three years. However, with Lexington being his home, this is special. This is very, very special.”
I've been on the Hall's board of directors for about four years and covered several of the other banquets for The Dispatch before that. Each one has had its profoundly heart-tugging moments, but somehow, this year reached a pinnacle. The event is more streamlined now. From social mingling to dismissal took less than 2 1/2 hours.
But it was a meaningful 2 1/2 hours, perhaps in ways we can't yet comprehend.