Whitfield Hall of Fame inducts latest class
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 17, 2010 12:12 AM
Autograph seekers, young and old, fished for pens and opened their notebooks to blank pages.
Standing in silence -- and awe -- they watched as the names were scribbled in different directions on the white background:
The seven men, who undoubtedly put Atlantic Coast Conference basketball on the national map, were part of the 20-member class of inductees enshrined into the George Whitfield Hall of Fame on Friday evening. Each person drew loud cheers and applause when he received his plaque after Whitfield had read to the crowd his respective, impressive accomplishments.
"They're all good people," said Whitfield.
Before the induction ceremony began, Whitfield honored several individuals and teams for their accomplishments during the 2008-09 year. He presented glass trophies to two Goldsboro tennis teams -- the 7.0 Senior Mixed Doubles and Super Seniors. Each won a North Carolina USTA state championship.
North Carolina's Mike Fox received Whitfield's coach-of-the-year award after guiding the Tar Heels to their third consecutive trip to Omaha. Also among the honored guests were 10 members of the 1955 Wake Forest College baseball team -- the lone squad in ACC history to win an NCAA Division I national championship in that sport.
Whitfield acknowledged the four North Carolina state champions in high school baseball -- South Stanly (1-A), Lake Norman (3-A), George Patton (2-A) and Ardrey Kell (4-A).
The guest list included members of the 1976-77 athletic teams at Goldsboro High School. The Cougars reeled off a 10-game win streak in football, finished undefeated in wrestling, lost one game in basketball and enjoyed tremendous success on the baseball diamond. Included among the group were 2009 Hall inductee Steve Wright Brown.
"It's a huge honor, amazing to see all the big-name people who are here tonight ... very humbling," said Brown. "We were laughing and joking ... inside jokes were abounding everywhere and we talked about having a great time. (It's) something we wouldn't trade for anything.
"(Back then) black and white was no issue ... just togetherness. We had great coaching and camaraderie among everybody. We still get along great, but don't see each other enough."
Award-winning sports writer A.J. Carr and former Mount Olive College men's basketball coach Bill Clingan echoed Wright's "humbling" sentiment.
Carr grew up watching Rosenbluth, Brennan, Bubas play and later had the privilege to write stories on those individuals. He compared his induction to a Pro-Am golf tournament and considered himself the amateur.
"When I got involved in sports writing, I got the chance to know many of them and establish friendships or relationships throughout the years," said Carr. "I'm thankful to the Lord that I had the opportunity to participate these number of years.
"It is overwhelming and I'm deeply appreciative for George recognizing me in this fashion."
Clingan shares Indiana ties with Bubas and Molodet. A three-sport letterman from the tiny town of Hobart, Clingan played college basketball for four years. He coached at two Oklahoma colleges and UC Irvine before taking over MOC's head coach nearly two decades ago.
The soft-spoken Clingan amassed 325 victories and took five Trojan teams to the NCAA Division II playoffs. His 2005 squad reached the Elite Eight.
"I'm sure humbled to be around a group that's more deserving than I," said Clingan. "My hair stood up to hear some of their accomplishments. It's amazing. With the cast of people who are here, I feel very honored to be part of it."
Whitfield's annual baseball clinic kicked off Saturday morning and he thanked Major League Baseball coaches, college coaches, community leaders, business owners and friends who sponsored boys for the clinic. People from 17 states sent donations, including Texas football coach Mack Brown.
Jeff Bardel, a Guinness Book of World Records holder and motivational speaker, shared his inspiring story with an overflow crowd. At 18, Bardel lost his right arm in an industrial accident while working at a glass company in Laurinburg. He surrendered his life to God at 21.
In 2006, Bardel broke the world record for the longest drive of a golf ball with one arm. With humor, he uses that accomplishment and his unforgettable life journey to draw his audience to Jesus, and to encourage them to do all God has called them to do.
Mark Dreibelbis, associate executive director of the N.C. High School Athletic Association, stopped by to explain and answer questions about rule changes for the 2010 season.
More than 40 coaches spoke on a variety of topics at this year's clinic. The group discussed what college coaches seek in today's athlete, practice organization for coaches, indoor-outdoor drills for players, pitching, catching, infield play, outfield play, base running and hitting.
"We haven't even finished the weekend and I've already started thinking about next year," said Whitfield.
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