The Wolfpacker

May/June 2022

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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50 ■ THE WOLFPACKER Athletic Hall of Fame Celebrates More Than Just Sporting Accomplishments BY TIM PEELER S ometime after the NC State Athletic Hall of Fame's class of 2020 was in- ducted on the evening of April 23, a for- mer Wolfpack soccer player, Bob Gibbs, went over to say hello to a former ten- nis player, Irwin Holmes, a multigenera- tional meeting of two NC State graduates whose athletic accomplishments likely were overshadowed by what they did after they left Raleigh. It was a completely chance encounter between the first African American ath- lete in the history of the ACC and a press secretary for Barack Obama, the first Black president of the United States — a meeting that could only happen because of NC State athletics. That's what makes this particular hall of fame, now in its 10th year, important to modern audiences: It takes the long view of what recruited athletes do, exploring their accomplishments both during and after their playing careers, and bringing many of them together to say "thank you" for their contributions. It's hardly a unique concept, but it always offers special opportunities to acknowledge that the college athletics experience at NC State is the first, not final, step to a life well lived. And it's a nice chance for a formal night out for past inductees, members of the athletics de- partment and supporters who purchase tickets to the gala. This year's ceremony was part of a three-day celebration of accomplish- ments past and present, along with the annual Wolfie Awards two days later. It ended a three-year absence for the hall of fame, which hadn't had an induction ceremony since the spring of 2019. The hard-luck class of 2020 had been waiting quite a while to become the sixth group added to the hall, which was estab- lished in 2012 and is now housed in the front lobby of revamped Reynolds Coli- seum. The members were chosen and an- nounced by the election committee in May 2019, and were scheduled to be in- ducted at a gala on Sept. 25, 2020. Of course, the world changed signifi- cantly between their election and sched- uled induction. COVID-19 delayed the original ceremony, and it was postponed until many felt more comfortable gather- ing in large groups. This year's event, managed a little dif- ferently than previous years, was certainly a success, even though the ceremonies typically take place in the fall on a Friday night before a home football game. Only four members of the newest class were in attendance: swimmer David Fox, soccer players Henry Gutierrez and Thori Staples Bryan and tennis player/pioneer Holmes. Football star Mario Williams and tennis legend John Sadri were inducted in absentia. As always, it was the athletics depart- ment's best opportunity to celebrate the Wolfpack's past. It was also the first chance for athletics director Boo Cor- rigan and his staff to witness and partici- pate in the extravaganza. The hall is now a decade old, operating under its original bylaws, which allowed the first three classes to include up to 11 inductees, with each subsequent class limited to a total of six former athletes and one coach, administrator or special contributor. There is little doubt that the athletes who are deserving will get their chance to be considered by the election committee, which is made up of former student-athletes and others who are knowledgeable about NC State athletics history. However, there are glaring omissions from the list of contributors that may never be inducted. Names like athletics director Roy Clogston, publicity director Frank Weedon, public address announcer C.A. Dillon, administrators Charlie Bry- ant and Nora Lynn Finch, and announcers Wally Ausley and Garry Dornburg come to mind. Many reading this may not know what any of them did during their lengthy careers to improve and advance athletics at NC State. There are retired coaches whose ac- complishments are ever fading as new championships are won — names like Bob Guzzo (wrestling), Richard Sykes (men's golf), J.W. Isenhour (men's tennis), and baseball coaches Chick Doak, Vic Sor- rell and Sam Esposito. On the horizon are some current coaches who will surely earn induction. Those names alone, if inducted one at a time, would fill the coach/contributor spot through at least 2050. A tweak or two to the bylaws could allow them to be in- cluded earlier, if they are deemed worthy by the committee. Admittedly, that is not a particularly diverse group of candidates. Institution- ally, however, neither was NC State athlet- ics nor State College during its first eight decades. That's not the fault of those who worked for or participated in athletics and left an indelible mark along the way. The accomplishments and contribu- tions of those legacy candidates still merit mindful consideration and near-future induction to the hall, which is one of the most successful features on a campus that doesn't always find ways to celebrate its biggest contributors. ■ Tim Peeler is a regular contributor to The Wolfpacker and can be reached at PACK PERSPECTIVE Attending NC State's Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony April 23 were (clockwise from left) Thori Staples Bryan (soccer), David Fox (swimming), Henry Gutierrez (soccer) and Irwin Holmes (tennis). John Sadri (tennis) and Mario Williams (football) were also inducted but did not attend. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE ATHLETICS

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