Laughter, tears and high praise defines induction
Emotions ran the entire gambit and friends and teammates that hadn’t seen each other in decades reunited Friday night at the fourth installment of the Rockdale Sports Hall of Honor induction ceremony.
Thirteen new members were inducted into Hall of Honor in front of a packed high school cafeteria, the largest crowd in the four-year history of the event.
There are now 55 former athletes or contributors in the Hall of Honor and their plaques will be displayed in the concourse area of the new Rockdale gymnasium.
As is the tradition, the honorees were introduced to the crowd at the Rockdale-Caldwell football game and sat together in a special section in the end zone.
Of course Aycock High School was well represented at the induction, with four of its contributors being honored.
“I do this because I enjoy it,” said Sansom-Piper, who received one of three standing ovations on the evening.
She was joined by Bob Roberson, Tom Black and Sammie Moore.
Black was represented by sisters Betty Jean Williams and Tonya Murphy and Moore by sister Gracie and son Hanson.
Ronnie Laurence joined his father, legendary coach Ernie and brothers Ernie Wayne and Donnie in the Hall of Honor, which master of ceremonies Mike Brown labled “the Laurence family reunion.”
Ronnie is the oldest of the Laurence brothers.
“I told my brothers I may be the oldest, but the bible says, the first shall be last,” he said. “We were some pretty tough country kids.”
The RHS Class of 1973 was well represented with Liz Galloway McQuitter and Ted Weems.
“The old African saying is it takes a village to raise a child and this town has been my village,” said an emotional Galloway McQuitter. “I’m connected to so many of these families.”
“I don’t deserve this,” said Weems, “but I do appreciate it.”
Weems becomes another father-son combination in the Hall of Honor, joining his father, Tiger great T.A. Weems.
Rainey Eanes, from the Class of 2000, was overwhelmed by the company she was keeping.
“I can’t quit smiling,” Eanes said. “It’s incredible that I’m being included with the great people who are here tonight.”
The Class of 1976 was also on display as Martin Stroman, Ray Locklin and Odis Mack were ushered in the Hall.
Locklin made the fifth father- son duo in t he Hal l, along with the Weems and the Laurences.
“I never had to look too far to have a great role model, thanks dad,” Locklin said.
Mack thanked his teammates “I see Mart in Stroman sitting there and it w as something to play with him,” he said. “He is one of the greatest athletes that I have ever played with. He was special. And Ray (Locklin). I always took a lot of pride in my downfield blocking a nd I always knew when Ray was runn ing the ball because the defender’s eyes would pop wide open.”
Gera ld Adams, Tiger basketball coach f rom 1973 to 1976, noted the talent level at Rockdale during that timeframe. "Sometimes it’s not how you coach, but who you coach,” he said as he had all his former players stand and be recognized and a lso read off a list of Tiger players he coached that weren’t present, that he wa nted to thank. “It’s always g reat to be in Rockdale, no mat ter what the occassion.”
The most poignant moment came at the end of the e vening when the late Garry White was inducted into the Hall, just 12 days after he died of cancer. Add itionally, Fr id ay would have been Wh ite’s 52nd birthday. His sister Angela and sons Kolby a nd Kor tli n accepted on his behalf to a standi ng ovation. “Garry loved that state championship football team,” said Angela White. “It meant the world to him.”
Kortlin White, a star himself as a Tiger running back, wished his father a happy birthday. White was a star on the 1976 football team and 1977 track team that both won state championships.
Current Hall of Honor members
Class of 2010—Gerald Adams, Tom Black, Rainey Eanes, Ronnie Laurence, Liz Galloway, Ray Locklin, Odis Mack, Sammie Moore, Susie Piper, Bob Roberson, Martin Stroman, Garry White, Ted Weems.
Class of 2009—Samaji Akili (Sammy C. Williams), Sue Jean Bennett, Bill Cooke, Glenn Chmelar, Edward Grubbs, Veron Guest, Ronnie Heflin, Barbara Young Kastner, Richard Kubiak, Ernie Wayne Laurence, H. Earl Marion, Art “Copie” Perry, Mike Speer.
Class of 2008—Ray Birchfield, Ernie Laurence, Duane Vincent, Matthew “Doc” Cook, Flora Mack, Annie Bell Wesley, Donnie Laurence, Ronny Menn, L. B. Kubiak, Lee Earl Gadison, Zelma Dykes, Gary Holliman, Dick Summers, Billie Jean Washington, Rufus Wolridge, Dan Yezak.
Class of 2007—Weldon Alford, Louise Barnes Ohnesorge, T. A. Weems, Billy Ray Locklin, Leroy Wright, Ralph Johnson, Kirby Owens Wright, Jack Kyle, Hal Stanislaw, Clyde Luetge, William Moultrie, Eural Davis Sr.