01/11/08 — Annual two-day affair brings nation's top coaches together

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Annual two-day affair brings nation's top coaches together

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 11, 2008 1:48 PM

Each season, George Whitfield's annual baseball clinic reads like a "Who's Who" among coaches on the local, state and national levels.

This year is no different.

Appearing during the two-day affair, which begins tonight at Goldsboro High School, includes a plethora of North Carolina-based coaches. But the main guests are Whitfield's latest class of inductees and three state championship baseball teams -- Charles B. Aycock, Wayne Country Day and Princeton.

Aycock emerged the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A baseball champion last spring and brought home its first state title in 30-plus years. The Golden Falcons amassed a school-record 31 victories under the guidance of head coach Charles Davis.

Wayne Country Day earned the school's first-ever N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A baseball crown. Coach Michael Taylor's squad recorded 22 victories.

A veteran-led Princeton squad seized the NCHSAA 1-A championship -- the program's second with head coach Bruce Proctor and fourth overall. The Bulldogs posted their first-ever unbeaten campaign in Carolina 1-A Conference history.

Whitfield will present each player and coach with a medal to acknowledge their accomplishments.

"They appreciate getting recognized and they certainly should for what they did last spring," said the 71-year-old Whitfield.

Then Whitfield will unveil his latest class of 15 inductees, the largest group he has ever enshrined in his Hall of Fame.

"I'm doing more this year because I know there aren't many more years that I'm going to be able to do it," said Whitfield, who started the Hall of Fame in the mid-1980s and hand picks the new members each year by himself.

"I want to make sure that friends I've admired and watched their careers over the years are honored for what they've done. I'd love to go on forever."

The 36th annual clinic kicks off Saturday morning with a short talk from Albert Long, a North Carolina graduate and only four-sport letterman in Atlantic Coast Conference history. Neil Buie, a Southeastern Association Booking agent, will discuss baseball rule changes for the 2008 season.

Forty clinicians will discuss a variety of topics that include what college coaches seek in today's players; helping a coach organize practices; indoor/outdoor drills to improve player fundamentals; pitching; catching; infield/outfield play; hitting and base running.

On hand to instruct players Saturday are Rob Watt, assistant coach at perennial Division II power Mount Olive College; UNC's Matt McCay and Scott Forbes; former Wayne County Post 11 standout Ben Sanderson, now an assistant at East Carolina; Myrtle Beach Pelicans manager Rocket Wheeler and a host of other coaches.

"When I started this clinic the one thing I wanted to do was have some diversity," said Whitfield. "It takes a long time to put something like this together. There is a lot of camaraderie among the coaches and they enjoy that. I'm told that's one of the things that separates my clinics from others.

"We're going to have a good time and enjoy ourselves."

The 2008 class of inductees, who each receive a plaque recognizing their achievements and contributions, includes:

* Kenny Moore -- An entrepreneur and graduate of Mount Olive College, Moore created Andy's Cheesesteaks and Cheeseburgers, which began as an area franchise, but has expanded to several eastern North Carolina communities. Moore was inducted into the inaugural MOC Hall of Fame last season.

* Ralph "Rocket" Wheeler -- Obtained his nickname for his speed and hustle while playing baseball at the University of Houston. He played in the Toronto Blue Jays' farm system from 1977-1982 and is also a member of the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.

* Dave Jauss -- Currently the bench coach for the Baltimore Orioles, Jauss served as captain for the baseball and basketball teams while an athlete at Division III Amherst (Mass.) College. He spent three seasons as head baseball coach at Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, in Wilson.

* Debbie P. Keel -- Long-time volleyball coach at A.G. Cox Middle School in Winterville, Keel's teams have won numerous championships. Keel played volleyball and basketball at Barton College, and was selected female athlete of the year at the Division II school.

* Mark Scalf -- A Cary native and current head baseball coach at UNC Wilmington, Scalf collected his 500th career victory last spring. During his tenure with the Seahawks, he's coached nearly 40 players who have moved onto the professional ranks. Included in that mix is Battle Holley, the current head football coach at perennial North Carolina football power Wallace-Rose Hill.

* Bobby Guthrie -- Has served as an administrator and coach in North Carolina for 30-plus years. He guided Scotland County to the NCHSAA Class 4-A baseball title in 1977 and is a previous Southern Regional winner of the National Council of Secondary School Athletic Directors by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

* Gene Causby -- One of the first people Whitfield coached with when he arrived in Goldsboro in the mid-1960s. He served as varsity football coach at Goldsboro High School and within five years, turned the Cougars into a perennial power. He coached in the annual N.C.-S.C. Shrine Bowl and East-West All-Star games.

* Bobby Ross -- A retired football coach, Ross guided Georgia Tech to a share of the national championship in 1990 and helped the San Diego Chargers advance to Super Bowl XXIX. He is a former first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and won three ACC titles at Maryland before moving on to Georgia Tech.

* Ed Emory -- A third-team All-American football selection as a senior at then-East Carolina College, Emory later returned to his alma mater to coach the Pirates. His 1983 team finished 8-3 overall and earned a No. 20 ranking after suffering losses against Florida schools -- Florida St., Florida and Miami -- by a combined 13 points.

* Elliott Avent -- Just one of 16 head coaches in the 102-year history of N.C. State baseball, Avent has coached 35 players who have received either first- or second-team All-ACC recognition in 11 seasons. The Wolfpack finished 38-23 a year ago and advanced to the NCAA Columbia Regional.

* Dr. Alan White -- Served as athletics director at Elon University and was a pioneer in helping the North Carolina school move into the Division I ranks. During his time, Elon won national titles in football and tennis. He played halfback at Wake Forest and was inducted into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame last spring.

* Nolan Respess -- Coached at Roanoke High School and led the Redskins to state titles in football and baseball. A three-sport coach who didn't have a lot of assistant coaches, had a strong run at the Martin County school. He played on ECU's NAIA national baseball championship team in 1970.

* Glenn Nixon -- Retired from coaching at Clayton nearly a decade ago with more than 230 wins in football and is a member of the NCHSAA Hall of Fame and N.C. Athletic Directors Hall of Fame. He played football and baseball at N.C. State.

* Vickie K. Peoples -- Known as "Mama Eagle" for 25 seasons, Peoples recently retired as head coach of the Raleigh Enloe swimming team. Her boys' teams have won nine consecutive NCHSAA Class 4-A titles and her girls' team was runner-up a year ago. Enloe's teams won 585 meets and 27 conference titles during her tenure as coach.