06EarlEditor’s note: Up & Coming Weekly sports editor Earl Vaughan was inducted to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame. We are proud to have Earl on our staff. Below are his thoughts on the event. Congratulations, Earl.

There aren’t enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe my recent experience. This is the second time in my life I’ve been honored with selection to a hall of fame, the first one coming in 2012 when the Fayetteville Sports Club honored me.

The NCHSAA ceremony was held at the Embassy Suites in Cary, and it could not have been a more perfect evening.

I was joined at my table for this special moment by a mixture of family, friends and professional associates from my 40-plus year career at The Fayetteville Observer and now Up & Coming Weekly.

There was my dad, the Rev. Earl Vaughan Sr., who thanks to his friendship with former Fayetteville Publishing Company publisher Ramon Yarborough helped open the door to my career as a sports writer. My cousins, Tammy Hill and Dr. Marcia Lancaster, along with Tammy’s husband Nick Hill were there. Tammy and Marcia have been more like sisters than cousins to me and have been fans of my work from the beginning.

Two of my former Observer sports editors, Doug Mead and Thomas Pope, who put up with an assortment of aggravations from me over the years, took the time to attend.

And then there was Melanie Grooms Garrett, one of the finest three-sport athletes I ever had the honor of covering when she starred at South View High School and later UNC-Pembroke. She was one of the best players for my good friend, the late South View softball coach Eddie Dees, who submitted my nomination to the NCHSAA Hall of Fame.

Finally, there was Trey Edge and his wife Kensley. I’ve known Trey since his high school days at Terry Sanford, and I was with him on one of the most disappointing nights you could imagine on an athletic field when his Bulldogs fell to Greensboro Page in a brutal way to lose the 1985 state championship football game. Trey has gone on to do play-by-play for DK Sports Inc. and host a Monday night sports talk show on WFNC with former Terry Sanford coach Bill Boyette.

There were others in the room who shared the moment as well: fellow Hall of Famer and longtime Terry Sanford tennis and girls’ basketball coach Gil Bowman, East Bladen coach and athletic director Patty Evers, officiating regional supervisors Neil Buie and Brad Allen, the latter also an NFL football official. Another good friend was Robeson County product and former state department of public instruction staff member Tim Brayboy.

Evers, Allen and Buie all appeared on a video tribute that was shown during the banquet and had kind words to say about me, along with former Observer coworkers Sammy Batten and Jaclyn Shambaugh and former Douglas Byrd and Seventy-First football coach Bob Paroli, another fellow Hall of Famer.

I can’t begin to thank everyone who has made a comment complimenting me on social media, via texts to my phone and in personal phone calls as well.

The hardest thing for me to wrap my head around is that my name now graces a display in the Simon Terrell Building at the NCHSAA office in Chapel Hill, where the names of coaching greats and administrative legends of this state are also honored.

My role in high school athletics has been on the periphery compared to them. All I do is tell everyone else’s stories, and I’ve tried to do that with two goals in mind. They are simply to be fair and tell the truth.

That is what I plan to continue doing here at Up & Coming Weekly thanks to the generous support of publisher Bill Bowman, who has allowed me to keep doing the one thing I truly love in this world, covering high school athletics.

Thank you to everyone for all the kind words, and most of all, thanks to the coaches, athletes and fans for reading what I’ve written.

It’s all about them and for them. I’m just along for the ride, and it’s been an incredible one so far.

Photo: Earl Vaughan Jr.

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