Thursday, May 23, 2024

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Stories should flow for next Graham Sports Hall of Fame induction

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

There will be plenty of stories to tell and retell when the next edition of inductions for the Graham Sports Hall of Fame takes place Saturday night.

Those are bound to be among the highlights at Graham Recreation Center for the induction class that is heavy on accomplishments at Graham High School.

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With the 1998 boys’ golf team among the inductees, the stories have already started.

“We can all tell stories,” said Nolan Myrick, a member of that team.

Last week, Myrick reached out to several of his former teammates as they recalled some of the good times in advance of what will be a reunion for the induction. The induction banquet begins at 6:00 p.m. Saturday.

The Hall of Fame class includes Graham resident Burton Cates, a longtime championship football coach at Eastern Randolph; Shelby Hall, a multi-sport standout at Graham; Nikki Wilborn, who helped the Red Devils the first of three straight appearances in girls’ basketball state finals; and the 1998 Graham High School boys’ golf team.

Members of the golf team, which was coached by the late Gary Moser, were Justin Dixon, Shaun Griffith, Joey Hall, Wayne Jordan, Matt Linens, Marty Predmesky Jr., and Myrick.

Moser is fondly the focal point of many of the golf team’s memories. Those included the requirement of each golfer making 10 consecutive 4-foot putts before being allowed to continue with the next phase of practice.

“That’s something I still do today when I go out for a round,” Myrick said.

And there was Moser, who also spent time as a football coach at the school, going around the course at practices eating raw onions like they were apples.

“We were always just amazed that he could do that,” Myrick said. “His personality was right for what we needed.”

Whatever the rituals, they worked for the Red Devils. They were the Class 1-A state runners-up behind Albemarle after winning a conference and regional championships.

Griffith was the team’s top golfer and went on to play on some amateur tours. Jordan was generally No. 2 on the team, while Hall was identified as providing the biggest personality to the group.

Many of the golf team members still live in Alamance County or nearby and a golf outing is slated for Saturday prior to the induction.

  • Wilborn was one of the main sparks for Graham’s latest heyday in girls’ basketball under coach Kyle Ward. She racked up numerous individual honors and the Red Devils reached the Class 2-A state final.

“It means a lot that my community recognizes me for all the hard work,” she said.

Wilborn went on to be a women’s basketball standout for Greensboro College, making a 3-point basket that beat host Juniata and advanced the Pride to an NCAA Division III Final Four. When she was done, she was Greensboro’s career leader in 3-point baskets and steals.

Prior to college, she was on the travel circuit for softball and ran for the Graham cross country team.

“It wasn’t all me,” she said. “It makes me so proud (to do so many things). It’s not an easy route.”

She credited Ward and softball coach Mike Williams for creating the atmosphere that led to success at Graham.

Wilborn spent a few years as girls’ basketball coach at Western Alamance before stepping away from sports.

“I really love basketball,” she said. “My whole life had been basketball for me up until that point.”

Now an Efland resident, she does plenty of traveling for work in clinical research for pharmaceuticals.

  • Hall, a 2011 Graham graduate, did so much in terms of participation in high school that one of her top pursuits might have gone a bit overlooked. She was an accomplished youth gymnast along with competing for the Red Devils in track and field, basketball, tennis and softball.

“Sports was a huge part of my life,” said Hall, who lives in Raleigh. “I didn’t get bored. The highlights mostly started with track and field.”

She gave tennis a try when encouraged to do so by boys’ coach Jay Cook, who happened to be the Hall of Fame committee member who notified her of the Hall of Fame selection. “It was just wild that I got this random call from Coach Cook,” she said.

Jim Melvin, then an assistant basketball coach, suggested to Hall that she might be a strong 400-meter runner.

By her senior year, she only participated in track and field for the Red Devils and earned a scholarship to UNC Wilmington, where she was a heptathlete.

The daughter of Graham’s Lisa and Randy Hall, she also named former track and field coach Bill Hynus as among those who was instrumental in her development.

“This recognition is just as much about the people who helped me get to where I am,” Hall said. “The coaches and family who were there to support my goals.”

She was heavily involved at Kidsport Gymnastics in Burlington, crediting Sarah Myers for building a foundation in that sport that bolstered her in many ways in other sports.

Hall, who works as a client assistant in financial advising, remains competitive. During the past week, she was in northern Virginia taking part in an ultimate frisbee event.

  • Cates is a 1970 graduate of Graham High School before carving out a coaching career that has been one of the most distinguished in the state in high school football.

He’s listed as the active leader in career football-coaching victories with more than 360 in 39 years, mostly at Eastern Randolph along with a nine-year stint at Lee County. All along, he has lived in Graham.

“Being from Graham all my life, it’s special recognition,” Cates said of his Hall of Fame selection. “What I accomplished isn’t about me by any stretch. It’s about the people around me.”

Cates, 71, said there was never a reason for he and his wife, Janet, to leave Graham. She’s a retired principal from Alexander Wilson Elementary School.

Cates spent 24 years at Eastern Randolph and then nine years at Lee County before returning to Eastern Randolph. He’s entering his seventh season in his second stint at the school in Ramseur.

He works with his son Foster Cates, who’s athletics director at Eastern Randolph and on the football coaching staff.


Two for Hall of Honor

Hall of Honor inductees are Buster Goodman and the late Jimmy Perry.

Goodman is well-known as a longtime observer, ambassador, and aide for Graham High School sports. He’s a 1970 Graham graduate, playing tennis for the school. From 1978-2002 he assisted coaches in football, basketball and tennis at the school.

Perry provided support for Graham-area athletics largely on the youth level. His involvement as a game official in baseball, football, and basketball included about 30 years as a local booking agent for umpires and officials for youth sports. He officiated basketball on the collegiate level and was involved in the local Civitan club.

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