‘12 Hall of Honor inductees site community for success
Leigh Shepard, Insenell Richards, Angela White and the late O.E. Wilhite were the sixth class to be inducted into the Rockdale Sports Hall of Honor Friday evening.
There a re now 70 member s of t he Hall, which honors athletes and contributors from Rockdale and Aycock schools.
The newest members were introduced at a banquet in their honor at the high school and then recognized again at halftime of the Rockdale-Caldwell football game.
The Class of 2012 was joined this year by the Tigers’ 1962 state finalist football team, which was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the state championship game.
Also in attendance was the coach who led them, 83-year-old Ray Birchfield.
Fred Johnson and Lew Simmonds, coaches of the 1976 state championship team, were also at the banquet to see a couple of their players off that team— Shepard and Richards—placed in the Hall.
All three recipients deflected credit for their achievements to the people who influenced them— and the town of Rockdale itself.
“When I was a kid, I was raised by the whole community,” said Shepard, a 1978 graduate and an All-State football player for the Tigers who played football at LSU. “Lee Ida Hairston, Harold Parsley, the Kovar family, the Heintze family—there were a lot of special people hanging on that fence on Friday nights.
“My village is still sitting in here tonight.
“What drove our success is that we never wanted to let each other down,” Shepard added. “We never wanted to fail our assignments. But if we did fail our assignments, someone had our backs.”
Richards, a 1977 graduate who also played on the state championship team, noted the symbiotic relationship between three close graduating classes.
“The 1975, 1976 and 1977 classes were just like one big class. There was no difference. We were all in it together.”
Simmonds call the outstanding athletic ability and the success the teams enjoyed during the period “the perfect storm.”
An emotional White echoed the previous speakers sentiments, when explaining her success.
“Coach June Owens, Dr. Laura Petty-Burrell, Barbara Hargrove, Walter Pond. They all had a hand in guiding me.”
White—a 1980 graduate who still owns several track and basketball marks—also related a story about how Coach Johnson worked with her on her left handed layups and then eventually she made a left handed layup to beat Cameron at the buzzer.
White, who joins her late brother Garry and sister Theresa in the Hall, also thanked “my mom, my role model.”
Wilhite— the principal at Aycock for 33 years— was elected as a honorary Hall of Honor member and was represented at the game by granddaughter Kenya Wilhite and great-granddaughter Saige Robertson.
Current Hall of Honor Members
Class of 2012—Insenell Richards, Leigh Shepard, Angela White, O.E. Wilhite.
Class of 2011—Fred Johnson, Mike Korth, Kerry Locklin, Robert Luetge, Randy J. Morgan, James Russell, Lew Simmonds, Jackie Thompson, Don Wesley, Theresa White, Dick Wiegend.
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.