The start of the new high-school football season always means hours of pre-season research — past records, past statistics and more. All of that led us to an idea that has the potential to catch on in Bladen County.
How does the Bladen County Sports Hall of Fame sound? Or perhaps the Mother County Athletics Hall of Fame has a better ring to it?
Whatever is could get called, the idea is a new one for Bladen County — but not around the region. Our research showed that Cumberland County is home to the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame and there are similar entities in Sampson and Columbus counties. Robeson County had a sports hall of fame for about 10 years, but when its founder wasn’t able to continue it recently, it fizzled.
So why not Bladen County?
Small as its population and rural as its geography may be, Bladen County has had its fair share of top-notch prep-college-pro athletes, coaches, athletics directors, sports writers, youth coaches/directors, radio announcers and others who have stood out over the years.
A quick list would include the likes of Desmond Bryant, Tyrell Godwin, Lenon Fisher, Robert Hester, Ken Cross, Mac Campbell, Buddy Burney, Mark Gillespie, Russell Priest, Patty Evers, Lacey Suggs, Abbey Walters, Junior Nance, the Bladenboro Spinners — and a myriad of others. Many others.
We have spoken with a handful of folks who have shown interest and excitement for the possibility of a county-wide sports hall of fame, but the idea is still only in the early discussion stages. What must follow is a gathering of those interested and excited people to start organizing such an endeavor.
The list of needs is daunting — and it includes money, leaders, selection committee, locations for an annual dinner and public site for the inductee photos/plaques, and, of course, plenty of publicity. But we think careful, step-by-step process will lead to what would be a positive result, one that will bring a lot of pride to Bladen County.
Why is this necessary?
Every one of those listed above, and many more, have given hours upon hours of their time to be an exceptional part of this county’s overall quality of life through athletics. The stellar athletes have worked hard to attain high goals and become role models for those who follow; long-time coaches have been teachers of important athletic and life skills for our youth; athletic directors and youth directors have been the leaders of programs necessary to keep youngsters active and involved; and sports writers and radio announcers alike regularly bring the achievements of our student-athletes to life in homes across the county.
Right now, the idea is at the grassroots level — and barely, at that — but we are hoping, now that it’s out there, there is a groundswell of interest and excitement. So much so, that folks will want to gather in one place to start the exploration more seriously.
Anyone who would like to be part of the planning for a county-wide sports hall of fame should call Bladen Journal Editor W. Curt Vincent at 910-862-4163 during regular business hours.
Let’s get this ball rolling.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Great leaders are born with the help of a great team; a great team is born with the help of a great leader.” (Unknown)