Surry County Hall of Fame inducts eight new members

Jeff Linville Civitas News Service

November 18, 2013

DOBSON — The Surry County Sports Hall of Fame inducted six new members and two teams to its Ring of Honor Saturday.

The gym at Surry Community College was filled with praise, laughter and tears as each new inductee received the honor.

In the past, the Hall has inducted as many as eight individuals and four persons or teams to the Ring of Honor. However, the committee has decided to narrow that down to six and two to give each honoree more attention.

It was a hard process to narrow down the 21 nominees to eight, according to Daniel White, director of Surry County Parks and Recreation, which oversees the Hall of Fame.

Two of the awards were posthumous as Robert Edward “Doc” Wall and Jarret D. Martin each passed away in the past 20 years.

The most touching moment of the ceremony came when Jarret’s parents, Doug and Lana, asked Jarret’s former college teammate to speak on their behalf.

Needing several seconds to compose himself, Jason Blake began, “I had a little over a year with Jarret. That’s all I needed for him to touch my heart.”

Blake spoke of a charismatic young man who not only was a very talented swimmer, but won guys over and turned girls heads.

He recalled how Jarret dyed his hair gold and convinced Blake to dye his hair purple so they would match East Carolina’s team colors. And he told how they slid their beds together in the dorm room and tried out their favorite professional wrestling moves.

Jarret introduced Blake to the rock group Creed, and Blake quoted lyrics from the band’s song “Stand Here With Me.”

“You always reached out to me and helped me believe. All those memories we share, I will cherish every one of them. The truth of it is there’s a right way to live. And you showed me. So now you live on in the words of a song.”

For Wall, great-nephew Kyle Wilson spoke of the lessons he learned from his old-school mentor.

“The legacy you leave behind are the people you’ve helped,” said Wilson, and Doc Wall helped many people over the years as a coach and a friend.

Daniel Lynch drew the biggest laugh of the day when he recalled his first encounter with New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichik in practice.

A rookie hoping to make the roster as a center, Lynch had his chance to shine one day in practice.

Seeing the middle linebacker sneaking up to the line, Lynch knew he needed to caution his teammates with a code word. If the “mike” was sneaking up to the right side, he was to call out “ram” and on the left it was “lion.”

“I see the mike is to my left so I make the call,” he said. “I say, ‘Lion, lion.’ All the sudden behind me I hear, ‘Hold, hold, stop.’”

“You made the right call, but the word up here is pronounced lion, not line,” the coach said. “Where are you from, Mayberry?”

Lynch thanked his parents and said his father Jimmy always told him to remember two things: never quit and always be the best. Lynch said he was never the best at football, but the constant pursuit of it is what allowed him to have success.

Gordon Jones was inducted for his success as a coach, but he recalled the early struggles when East Surry began a soccer team.

The first year the team only scored one goal, but that one goal did result in a tie, he said, and the team got better each year after that.

He paraphrased retired FSU football coach Bobby Bowden in saying that a coach needs talented players to succeed.

Jones led the Cardinals to four straight 1A titles as golf coach, but gave credit to Tom Gibson for working with the boys when they were young.

“When you’ve got good players, just don’t mess them up,” Jones said. He gave Tom Gibson credit for coaching children so that East had a good feeder system.

Eddie Wilmoth, chairman of the Hall of Fame committee, pointed out that the Hall had a first this year as a past inductee’s son was honored.

John Charles was selected for the first Hall class in 2006, and John Charles Jr. joined him on Saturday.

Mike Chatham added that he, too, followed a relative into the Hall. His uncle Fred Folger Jr. was inducted in 2008.

Chatham was a star at Elkin, but was a walk-on at UNC who never saw the field in his first two years.

“I was lucky enough to have friends that played,” he said. “I got tired of hearing them come back on Saturdays talking about the game.”

“I said, ‘You know what, I can do this. I’m going to make myself do this.’ … It would have been easier to quit. I saw a lot of guys that just sat around and complained that the coaches didn’t give them a chance. It was the coaches’ fault.”

Chatham went on to become an all-ACC selection at tight end.

Johnny Charles thanked the many coaches who helped him earn nine all-conference selections in three sports and five Most Valuable Player awards.

“My father said, ‘If you want to find success, surround yourself with good people.’ I was very, very fortunate to play with some great teammates.”

He ended with a quote from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle, victorious.”

The 2003 Elkin football team was honored for its state 1A football championship.

Before the team was introduced, Linda Davis, chair of the recreation advisory committee, noted that Elkin Coach Richard Grissom was a past honoree himself. However, he could not attend the 2007 ceremony because he was busy winning another state championship.

Of the 2003 team, Grissom pointed out that the team went 16-0. Including a couple of scrimmages, the Elks played more games than many NFL teams do.

“These guys were a pleasure to coach,” he said.

“I always tried to take one game at a time as a coach, so I probably couldn’t tell you half the people we played in the state championship games,” Grissom said. “I just remember they were a whole lot bigger than we were and a whole lot faster-looking than we were.”

Tom White spoke on behalf of his father Buck White and the 1934 Dobson basketball team that won the state Class B title.

Back then, every time a team scored the ref tossed up a jump ball. Players took set shots and flipped up free throws granny-style. But those players were deadly with those shots, White said.

“I remember playing in some of the same gyms when I was in high school in the late ’50s,” White said. “Dobson High School, for example, still had the same gyms as in the ’30s, heated by pot-bellied stoves. We had our bench around the stove so we could stay warm. Went into the bathroom, we couldn’t use it because the toilets were frozen. You wouldn’t dare take a bath because you’d get pneumonia.”

After the ceremony, the participants and guests took part in a reception.

Reach Jeff Linville at jlinville@civitasmedia.com or at 719-1920.