- Tuesday, 28 January 2020
- Written by Earl Vaughan Jr.
The Fayetteville Sports Club has announced its Hall of Fame class for 2020.
The new list of inductees includes four voted into the traditional Hall of Fame and two added as members of the Legends category, which was introduced for the first time last year to honor candidates who had been considered for some time but had not been inducted.
The four members of the regular class include veteran high school official Neil Buie, former Terry Sanford High School and Elon football standout Brent Sexton, three-sport high school star and UNC-Pembroke volleyball All-American Melanie Grooms-Garrett and former E.E. Smith boys basketball coach Roy McNeill.
The two Legends selections were longtime minor league baseball player Bob Spicer Sr. and the late Jimmy Edwards Jr., standout dirt track racing driver.
Here are brief biographies of each honoree.
A 1965 graduate of Fayetteville High School, Buie has been involved in various levels of officiating since 1967. He was a baseball umpire for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association from 1967-98. He umpired five high school state championship series.
He also called seven American Legion state title series plus a dozen area championships.
Buie also worked at the NCAA Division I, II and III levels calling baseball.
In addition to baseball, Buie called high school football. He was involved with six NCHSAA regional championship games, two state championships, the 1993 North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star game and the 1996 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
Buie has served as regional supervisor of baseball officials from 1998-2019 and has done the same for football officials from 2013 to the present.
He has won a number of awards from the NCHSAA including the Golden Whistle Award, the highest award given to officials, along with the Special Person Award and the Distinguished Service Award.
Jimmy Edwards Jr.
Better known by his nickname "Porky," Edwards was one of the most successful dirt-track racers in North and South Carolina.
He began his career in the lower levels of both dirt and asphalt racing in 1975, then advanced to the popular Late Model division in 1976. Edwards claimed more than a dozen track titles and took his 400th career win in July of 2007 at the Fayetteville Motor Speedway.
In 1979, he won 40 races. In 1983, he won 24 times in only 35 starts.
He competed head-to-head with NASCAR stars like Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson in short track competition.
Edwards died at the age of 57 in 2011.
Grooms-Garrett was one of the most versatile and outstanding athletes in the history of South View High School.
Her senior year with the Tigers, she was the athlete of the year in three different sports, volleyball, basketball and softball.
She enrolled at UNC-Pembroke and continued her athletic success there, becoming the only player in school history to be named an NAIA All-American in the sport of volleyball.
Grooms-Garrett also played softball for the Braves and was All-Carolinas Conference from 1991-92 and All-District her senior year.
She returned to UNC-Pembroke to serve as head coach of the volleyball and softball teams.
She coached softball for two years, nearly tripling the school’s win total from the first season in her final year as softball coach.
She was inducted into the UNC-Pembroke Hall of Fame in 2003.
During his stint as head basketball coach at E.E. Smith, McNeill compiled a record of 185-62. He coached from 1993-1999 and earned one Holiday Classic championship, two conference titles and three sectional championships.
Those are impressive numbers considering he inherited a team his first year that went 4-22 in the previous season.
He ended his career with six 20-win seasons, nine consecutive state playoff appearances and nine straight winning seasons. His prior head coaching stops included Northwest Halifax, Wilson Hunt, Lumberton and Littlefield.
He was voted Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year in 1999.
McNeill played college basketball at Fayetteville State and was inducted into the Fayetteville State Hall of Fame in 1993.
Sexton was a football standout at Terry Sanford High School before going on to star on the football team at Elon University.
He earned All-American recognition at Elon in 1974 and was elected into the Elon Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.
Sexton was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1975 and played three seasons with the organization, winning a Super Bowl ring in 1975 when the Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X by a score of 21-17.
Sexton was the third-highest player drafted in Elon history, taken in the fifth round. The only players who went higher were Rich McGeorge, a first-round choice of the Green Bay Packers in 1970 and Jimmy Smith, who was taken in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins in 1984.
Sexton set an Elon record in 1971 when he intercepted five passes in one game vs. Gardner-Webb.
Bob Spicer Sr.
Spicer, a native of Richmond, Va., and a longtime Fayetteville resident after his baseball career was over, was among a trio of players drafted by the old Philadelphia Athletics before they relocated to Kansas City.
During his high school days he played on a two-time state championship basketball in Newport News, Va. He later played semi-pro football in the Dixie League.
Spicer made appearances with teams in Lumberton, Fayetteville, Macon and Springfield before spending a number of seasons in the Pacific Coast League with Los Angeles. His best pitch was a screwball, complemented by a knuckleball and a slider.
One of his teammates in Los Angeles was the actor Chuck Connors of "The Rifleman" fame.
One of his best years was with Macon in the South Atlantic League in 1949 when he compiled a 20-6 record with an earned run average of 2.73. He struck out 119 batters.
In his lone season in Fayetteville, 1948, he was 18-4.
In 1958, he won the Rawlings Silver Glove Award for his fielding.
Spicer was also a successful billiards player who competed against legends like Willie Mosconi and Rudolf Wanderone Jr., better known as Minnesota Fats. In golf he was a one handicapper.
- Tuesday, 21 January 2020
- Written by Earl Vaughan Jr.
The Cumberland County Schools have scheduled 10 Play4Kay basketball games this season in memory of the late Kay Yow, the longtime womens basketball coach at North Carolina State University.
The Play4Kay games are held annually to help raise money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. The games are held by both high school and college teams and are the biggest single source of contributions annually to the fund.
The Kay Yow Cancer Fund was established on Dec. 3, 2007, by Yow during her battle with breast cancer.
She fought the disease for the final 22 years of her life, finally dying in 2009.
Since the Kay Yow Cancer Fund was created, it has given $7.53 million to a variety of programs involved in cancer research. Although Yow suffered from breast cancer, the money donated to the fund is used to help support all forms of cancer research.
According to an article from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Yow’s oncologist said her life was both extended and enhanced during her fight with cancer because of research on the disease that had been conducted as far back as 20 years or more prior to her death.
Cumberland County Schools didn’t get seriously involved in the Play4Kay fundraisers until a couple of years ago when county student activities director Vernon Aldridge heard a presentation by Chasity Melvin at a state athletic directors conference.
Melvin starred at Lakewood High School and went on to play for Yow at NC State, where she was a Kodak All-American and led the Wolfpack to the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 1998. She set an NCAA semifinal scoring record with 37 points in North Carolina State’s loss to perennial NCAA power Louisiana Tech.
Melvin was the 11th player taken overall in the 1999 WNBA college draft. She spent 12 years as a standout player in the WNBA, playing for the Cleveland Rockers, Washington Mystics and Chicago Sky.
She played in the WNBA All-Star game in 2001.
In addition to her WNBA career, Melvin played professionally in Italy, Israel, Spain, Poland, Russia and China.
At the time she made the presentation to the athletic directors, she was serving as the director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. She moved on to an assistant coaching position with the Greensboro Swarm basketball team, which competes in the NBA’s G League. Last September she was hired as an assistant coach for the women’s team at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland.
Aldridge said that Melvin told the athletic directors that even though the Kay Yow Cancer Fund is based in North Carolina, the state was not the national leader in annual donations to the fund.
Aldridge came back to Cumberland County and addressed the situation to the senior high school athletic directors.
“We felt that was a shame,’’ Aldridge said, that the state wasn’t tops in donations to the fund.
He presented the idea to the athletic directors and suggested their schools take a more active part in the annual Play4Kay fundraising drive.
This year, the Play4Kay fundraisers are scheduled to be held nationally from Feb. 14-24. However, each school is allowed to schedule a fundraising date that is most convenient for the school and doesn’t have to strictly adhere to the dates announced by the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
Cumberland County holds its games earlier than the scheduled Play4Kay dates because the local high school regular season ends on Friday, Feb. 14. The method used to raise the money for the fund is up to each school to decide.
The fundraisers are generally held separate from ticket sales and involve a specific fundraising method that is the choice of each school.
Aldridge said the fundraisers are usually held during both the boys and girls basketball games that are on the Play4Kay schedule.
He said he’s seen county schools engage in a variety of activities to raise money for Play4Kay. Among the activities that have been used include selling T-shirts, baked goods or even passing the hat around the gym during the game designated as the Play4Kay event.
Some schools involve the entire student body and hold fundraisers on campus during the days leading up to the Play4Kay contests. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund also encourages schools to honor cancer survivors at their fundraising events.
“It’s up to each school how they raise funds,’’ Aldridge said. “They all do something different.
“Cancer is a disease that I don’t think anyone in this country can say hasn’t affected someone they know.’ We felt this would be a great cause for us to take on.’’ Aldridge estimates that over the last two years, the county schools have donated $13,000 at its Play4Kay games.
Following are this year’s Play4Kay games that will be hosted by the 10 Cumberland County senior high schools. If you have specific questions about the national Play4Kay effort or the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, call the fund’s office in Raleigh at 919-659-3301.
Jan. 22 - St. Pauls at South View.
Jan. 24 - Pine Forest at Douglas Byrd.
Jan. 28 - Douglas Byrd at E.E. Smith.
Jan. 31 - Douglas Byrd at Cape Fear, Terry Sanford at Gray’s Creek.
Feb. 4 - Purnell Swett at Jack Britt, Scotland at Seventy-First.
Feb. 7 - Terry Sanford at Westover, E.E. Smith at Pine Forest.
Feb. 11 - South View at Terry Sanford.