There have been many seminal moments in Rodney Webb’s life, but two stand out. His union to his wife, Rita, more than 30 years ago is tops; he called his
induction last week into the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County High School Sports Hall of Fame “the second best thing that has happened to me.”
Webb and 12 others make up this year’s inductee class. They join the 238 former athletes, coaches, school administrators and boosters already in the Hall, which was established in 1983 by the Winston-Salem Sportsmen Club.
“You (have) become part of a very elite group,” Sportsmen Club President Robert Wynn told the inductees during their April 3 coming out event at the Gathering Place building at the corner of Sixth and Cherry streets. The building is the physical home of the Hall of Fame. The names of all inductees are enshrined there and pictures of many of them from their athletic heydays hang on walls.
Though inductees are now years or decades removed from their playing days, Webb and others credit sports with giving them the foundation to build successful lives and careers.
“It wasn’t all about winning ball games, it was about building up young men,” Webb said, describing the philosophy of his former coach, Olon Shuler, who guided Webb’s storied basketball career at North Forsyth in the mid-1970s.
Webb, an assistant principal at Reagan High School, has asked Shuler to serve as his presenter during the Friday, May 3 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Benton Convention Center.
William Butler Jr. may have the honor of presenting one or both of his sons at the ceremony. William J. Butler III and Jonathan Butler were both selected
for induction this year. Both Butler brothers lettered in football and basketball, William at East Forsyth and his younger brother at North. Daddy Butler said that he and his wife, Brenda, were always conflicted when the boys’ game times clashed or when they had to face each other.
“We had some hard times at the house,” said William Jr., who was inducted into the Hall in 1990 for his memorable sports achievements at Anderson High. New inductee David Hart – whose legacies in football and basketball at Carver includes the 1992 Winston-Salem Journal Athlete of the Year honor – also has a Hall family connection. Last year, his twin brother, Daren, an assistant football coach at Winston-Salem State University, was inducted.
Three non-athletes made the cut: Ken Lee Hayes, who racked up droves of Coach of the Year honors throughout the ’70s and ’80s for leading championship-winning basketball, golf and volleyball squads at Mt. Tabor and East Forsyth; former West Forsyth Principal Kurt Telford, whose school earned an array of regional and state titles under his reign; and Ben Piggott, who has long shaped and guided young athletes through his work as the former director of the William Sims Recreation Center and current leader of the Carl Russell Rec.
Each year, the Sportsmen Club puts out a call for Hall of Fame nominations. Candidates or their representatives are asked to submit applications and portfolios detailing and chronicling their achievements. After verifying the authenticity of the submissions, the Sportsmen pass them on to an independent board, whose members select the inductees.
Julie Smith Cox’s accolades from four years of cross country, track and swimming at West Forsyth are so plentiful that it took a box to hold her portfolio. Cox, who earned an athletic scholarship to UNC Chapel Hill in 1996, is one of three female inductees. Amy Cole Fuller, who earned All Conference honors in basketball, softball, tennis and soccer at North Forsyth in the 1980s, and Gwendolyn West McCoy, whose achievements on the tennis court in the 1960s earned her a #1 statewide rank and the title of “Best Female Athlete at Atkins High School,” are the other women.
Those whose glory days were three, four or even five decades ago often have a tougher time piecing together portfolios, which can include everything from newspaper clippings and press releases to school newsletters. Inductee Russell Rice, who was a standout in football, basketball and tennis at Carver in the early 1960s, said he was at first reluctant to apply to the Hall.
“I kept wondering, ‘should I try,’ because it’s been over 50 years ago,” he said. “After I heard how nice this thing was, I started dreaming about it.” Michael Bennett, who ran track and played football and basketball at Parkland in the late ’60s, and Charles “Chip” Reed, who from 2005-2006 had an impressive 127-21 wrestling record at Parkland, are the other inductees. Reed, a Bronze Star awardee, is an Army Ranger currently serving in Afghanistan. He is expected to be home for the induction banquet.
The 30th Annual Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will start promptly at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 3 at the Benton Convention Center. Tickets are $30 each. To purchase them, call Sportsmen Club Treasurer Aldeen Smith at 336-650-9028 or 336-682-3493.