Aycock's baseball team receives long-awaited championship rings
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 16, 2007 2:15 AM
PIKEVILLE -- Joe Toler felt like he was opening a belated Christmas gift.
A smile curled his lips as he nervously fumbled to open the box. His eyes twinkled when he pulled out the shiny silver ring that glistened in the stadium lights.
That long-awaited moment had finally arrived for Toler and his former baseball teammates at Charles B. Aycock. A standing-room-only crowd awarded the players with thunderous applause as lightning bolts illuminated the darkening sky.
"Before we got this ring, it didn't even feel like a state championship," said Toler, a freshman at N.C. Wesleyan. "Now that we've gotten this ring, it's just memories all over again ... what happened on every single play, every practice that we had and every situation that we went over is all coming back now.
"It's just a great feeling."
But no feeling could have been greater than what the players experienced that overcast Saturday afternoon at N.C. State when Aycock completed its series sweep of Southeast Guilford. The Golden Falcons claimed the school's first N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A title since 1974.
They finished with a school-record 31 wins, which included a program-best 23-game win streak. Aycock successfully defended its Eastern Carolina Conference regular-season and tournament crowns, and won the George Whitfield Invitational along the way.
"This is awesome," said Thomas Pilkington, who is attending Lenoir Community College. "It was unbelievable coming back tonight and seeing everybody so proud of us. It was great to see how much this still means to us.
"It's going to mean more the older we get."
The ring ceremony topped a long evening of festivities recognizing the historic event. The athletic booster club honored the players, coaches and their families with a reception.
Once they were stuffed with hors d'ouerves, the players clambered into convertibles and participated in a parade around the Hardy Talton Stadium track. They all exited at the 50-yard line, walked onto the field and waited for that moment where their dreams finally became reality.
Dr. Earl Moore, principal at C.B. Aycock, presented head coach Charles Davis with his championship ring. Then Davis bestowed a ring to each player as they were introduced to an appreciative and cheering crowd.
Rhonda Davis, wife of coach Davis, received a pendant with the same design -- a silver "A" stamped on a powder-blue stone in the center of the ring. Outside the center are the words "North Carolina State Champions" and each ring has the respective player's name.
Donations from the sophomore class at C.B. Aycock, the Booster Club, the athletic department, Screen-It, George Whitfield, Frankie Davis and Billy Ray Thomas Backhoe Service helped cover the expense of purchasing the rings.
"Our fan support was wonderful and it was great to get recognized for something that we've done for Aycock," said Toler. "Last year we had a good run and we just fell short. Ever since we were in middle school, we've all been playing together and we've been waiting for this moment.
"It was our last year, so we had to get our tails in gear and get it done."
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