Sunday, October 20, 2019

A Davidson County family affair

It almost makes you want to shake your head to clear out the background noise and bring some clarity back to your brain. Can this really be Davidson County?

There he was, Thomasville's Casey Medlin, all 104 remarkable years of him, sitting at his table with a remote microphone in front of him humbly offering his thanks and appreciation for his induction into the 18th annual Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame Saturday night at the jam-packed J. Smith Young YMCA.

Medlin, who was the clock operator for Thomasville football games for 46 years and thusly was the recipient of the organization's Unsung Hero recognition, was accompanied by his son, Danny. Oh, yeah. Danny, who was a football player at Thomasville, was inducted into the Hall in 2004, thanks to a stellar career as a lineman at N.C. State and who later won a Super Bowl ring playing lineman for the Oakland Raiders in 1977.

The Medlins are now the third father-son combination to be inducted into the Hall, the others being Doug and Charles Elmore and Wade and Steve Younts.

But wait. It gets better.

Keynote speaker Phil Rapp posed the question to the audience, "Will all those who won a Super Bowl ring please stand?" Danny Medlin and Ledford's Madison Hedgecock then rose from their seats. Hedgecock, who played for the University of North Carolina and then the New York Giants of the NFL, was the starting fullback for the Giants when they won the Super Bowl in 2008. He was inducted into the Hall in 2016.

Huh? Two Super Bowl rings in Davidson County, which has a mostly rural population of about 170,000? Whoa. By comparison, the city of Charlotte, by itself, has a population of 731,000.

But wait. It gets better.

Sitting a couple tables away from the Medlins was Ledford's Marcy Newton, who was also inducted last night. Newton just happened to win the United States Golf Association's U.S. Women's Amateur championship in 2000. That was just a few years after she won the USGA's Girls Junior Championship in 1995. She went on to play 13 years in the LPGA. She told the audience last night that the whole reason she got interested in golf in the first place was that as a youngster she couldn't wait to drive the golf cart on family outings.

Apparently, this is how Hall of Famers get started.

Sitting a table away from Newton was the family of Larry Beck Sr., who was inducted posthumously last night. Not many people can say they beat Jack Nicklaus in golf, but Beck did, back in 1957, when as a 17-year-old he whipped the future PGA Hall of Famer and golf legend 4-and-3 in the quarterfinals of the USGA Junior Championship. It was the only major title Nicklaus never won.

OMG, as they say these days.

Also inducted last night were Lexington's Rory Holt, who had a stellar career as an undersized 5-foot-7, 143-pound defensive back for Wake Forest football and before that, was an all-state quarterback at Lexington; football coach Dick Cline, who has a career record of 264-108 with tenures at Ledford, North Davidson, Ragsdale and Kernersville Glenn; basketball coach Matt Ridge, who turned around the boys' program at East Davidson and has since produced 10 championship seasons at Davidson County Community College; and Dale Peck, who starred in baseball and basketball for Reeds High School in the 1950s.

Almost all inductees will recognize family members as integral to their success, but last night, it seemed to be an unplanned major theme of the evening as every single one of the inductees recognized parents, spouses and children, often in heartfelt and emotionally heartrending moments.

It was a night to remember.

•   •   •

In perusing the list of past inductees, there's something else I want to mention. In addition to the three father-son combinations now in the Hall, there's two brother combinations in Gary and Steve Hinkle and Stew and Stan Lanier; there's a husband-and-wife entry in Caroline Smith and Madison Hedgecock, and Smith is also part of the only mother-daughter combination with her mother, Roxanna Smith. Tim Holt and Rory Holt are distantly related and Dick Cline and Wanda Wilson Cline are in-laws.

There are currently 127 inductees in the Hall, so there may be other combinations that I have overlooked, for which I apologize and will correct if it comes to my attention. But my point here is that the athletic DNA seems to run incredibly deep and unerringly true in Davidson County.

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