02/06/04 — GC students grieve for fallen teammate

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GC students grieve for fallen teammate

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 6, 2004 2:00 PM

SNOW HILL -- Charles Gamble looked upward. Tears welled up in his eyes.

The public announcement was made before Tuesday's varsity boys basketball game that his friend and teammate Delaun Wade, known at the school as Delaun Sullivan, passed away on Monday evening of a cardiac arrest, complications related to a cancer diagnosis only a few months before.

Gamble and the rest of the Greene Central family were shocked when they first heard the news on Tuesday morning. The usual hustle-and-bustle between morning classes turned into a somber and puzzled hush.

After all, it seemed like Sullivan, who was poised to make the varsity squad this year, was getting better in recent weeks.

He even made mention to a few players that, "he was going to be back next year and was going to earn his spot back."

"I didn't really understand it. I was thinking maybe he just got sick again," Gamble said. "Then they said he passed away."

The 17-year old basketball and track athlete was on campus, walking the halls as late as Friday.

The process of remembering, yet trying to move on with life's daily tasks, has already begun for the school and specifically the basketball team -- in the middle of the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference schedule.

As a sixth-man and a role player on last year's junior varsity squad, Sullivan's memory will obviously play a huge role for the rest of the Rams' season.

"We talked about it before the game, and the guys had it in their mind that we are going to win it for Delaun," said Kelsey Baker, a junior varsity player and Sullivan's good friend. "The rest of the season is going to be all about him.

"He would want us to play hard. He would want the best for the team for the rest of the season."

First-year coach Kevin Hart never got a chance to call Sullivan's name in a game situation but saw the five-foot-10 guard during preseason, open-gym workouts -- where he first started complaining of lower back pain as the cancerous condition developed in his legs.

Hart remembers him as a hard-worker and a true team player.

"He was a quiet kid, well-mannered and never got in trouble at school. The kids all liked him," Hart said.

Coached by Andre Quinerly last year, Sullivan averaged five points per game for the JV squad. Gamble and Baker respected him as a friend and look back fondly on his style of play as well.

"He was one of those people who wasn't just good at one thing, he was good at everything," Gamble said. "He could rebound, play defense."

Understandably, the Rams didn't play to their potential on Tuesday night against rival North Lenoir. First-year coach Kevin Hart didn't spend a lot of time lecturing his team after the game.

He and his players know this process isn't going to be easy, but they have each other.

"After the game (Tuesday), some of them were talking about how they were going to play better, and hopefully as it goes on we will have more unity," Hart said.

Gamble and Baker, both sophomores, will be pall bearers at the funeral that will be held at the Rams' gymnasium on Sunday. Joining them will be Dreyon Willis, also a varsity basketball player, and 2003 graduate and multi-sport athlete Joe Joyner.