Sensational Six: UP Inducts Newest Class Into Hall of Fame
Union Pines High School added six members to its Athletic Hall of Fame, Friday in James Steed Auditorium.
Lee Williams, Kim McPhatter, Terry, C. Doby, Marry McKeithen, Curtis Dowdy and Lewis Cooper comprised the 2009 class, marking the fifth group to be inducted. During a special presentation in Bob Ward Gymnasium, in between the Viking varsity girls' and boys' basketball games, each of Union Pines' newest Athletic Hall of Fame members were presented with plaques by Dr. George Griffin and Principal Robin Lea. A banner bearing their names was also unveiled. The banner hangs in the rafters alongside banners for the school's previous four distinguished classes.
During his opening remarks Hall of Fame Committee member Stuart Fields touched on the importance athletics play in shaping the character of students.
"There is no activity that better prepares young people for their journey in life like athletics. The 2009 class all possessed excellent athletic ability, but more importantly they have blessed our community with great citizenship by demonstrating the positive effects Union Pines' athletics has on all our lives.
"One thing that dedication, determination and dignity all have in common is that they help spell success in life as well as athletics. These six inductees all had intelligence and a desire to strive for distinction as they demonstrated the ability to excel. Their accomplishments and contributions have made them all more than worthy of this special recognition as they join The Union Pines Athletic Hall of Fame," Fields said.
Lee Williams was introduced by his father Linel.
A 1999 graduate, Williams a former Sanford Herald Football Player of the year, was a three-time all conference selection in the sport and holds the all-time UPHS rushing record. His performance on the gridiron gained him WRAL Extra Effort Award as well. He was also a three-year starter on the varsity basketball team and lettered in golf, four years, earning all conference honors his senior year.
"Early in his life Lee showed a strong commitment to excellence, dedication and hard work in sports and the classroom. Such qualities helped him become a happy and successful person," The elder Williams said of his son.
Earning a full athletic scholarship, Williams continued his football career at Western Carolina, before transferring to the University of Richmond.
"I really feel that this is a great way to document the history of Union Pines' athletics," said Lee. "Without the lessons I learned through my involvements with sports, I would not be the person I am today and I know all I learned while competing as a Viking will continue to aid me in future endeavors.
"Today would not be possible without the support I received along the way from my family, coaches and teachers, who all held me to a higher standard. By believing I had the ability to accomplish greatness, they served as strong motivation because I never wanted to let them down."
Excellence, Exceptional and Extraordinary
Kim McPhatter, a 1994 Union Pines grad, was one of the all-time great Vike track and field stars. For three straight years (92-94) she was Union Pines' MVP, as well as the conference Player of the Year in the sport. A two-time State High Jump Champion, McPhatter led the Vikings to three consecutive conference championships. Her personal best in the event is 5 feet and 9 inches. She also played varsity basketball where she was the three-time team MVP.
Mary McPhatter gave praise to god for the privilege and honor of introducing her daughter at the ceremony.
"When I think of a Hall of Fame three words come to mind," she said, "excellence, exceptional and extraordinary." and Kim exemplified all three at Union Pines and continues to do so today."
While speaking Kim took time to thank all the people who believed in her as a student athlete.
"My induction can speak for itself," she said. It is a great honor and I do not take it lightly; a story of many triumphs but also trials, tribulations and tears. Sometimes along the way I felt like giving up but because god had a purpose for me I strived on."
Recently Kim became an ordained minister.
"My time at Union Pines made me who I am today, a very strong woman who can achieve anything no matter what people may say." She said. "It also prepared me for my true calling: to help others realize they too can all things."
Delivering a moving introduction, Terry C. Doby's mother, Belva Collins spoke about all the memories that came flooded back to her when she learned of her daughter's induction.
"Most of all I remember Terry loved basketball," she said, "and I remember an eight-grade her diving into the stands for a loose ball at the feet of Union Pines' coaches Carl Salmon and Bobby Purvis.
"Terry drew on her Dad's competitive nature and love of sports during her athletic career; she was the apple of his eye and the only said part about this is that her father is not here to see this day but I know he is present in spirit."
Doby was a member of the 1979 and 1980 conference champion basketball teams. A 1980 All-East selection, she was the conference basketball MVP and conference All-Tournament MVP her senior year. Also a volleyball star, she was the team MVP in 78.
"I am very grateful to be here today," Doby said, "and thank Union Pines for giving me this award. It is an honor to join this group and community. I was very blessed during my time as a Viking and remain blessed.
"You learn many life lessons through athletics here, some were harder than others, but they were worth it such as responsibility, stick-to-itiveness and being able to be trusted to properly follow instructions. However, the most important thing I learned is that if you have good parents it is the greatest blessing in life."
Champion, Team Captain
Mary McKeithen was a senior member of the 1976 Viking State Champion basketball team. During that season she averaged 14 points a game, was selected to the All-East team and made honorable mention for All-State. As a junior she helped Union Pines win the conference basketball tournament.
"I thank god that I am here," said McKeithen, "and thank the Hall of Fame committee for nominating me. I especially want to thank Brenda Frye who was instrumental in my development as a player during my seventh and eighth grade years at Vass-Lakeview middle school.
Giving His All
During his introduction speech Donald Dowdy described, Curtis, his brother as "a very unselfish person who always gave his all in whatever he did."
"As a coach/teacher for thirty years at Jacksonville High (NC), Curtis has instilled his values to countless individuals, demonstrating that if they believed, strived and worked their hardest that there is nothing they cannot achieve."
Curtis Dowdy graduated from Union Pines in 1973. In his time as a Viking he was a two-time all conference selection in track and field. The State runner-up in the long jump in 71, he went on to win the conference track MVP award his senior year. He also excelled in football. After high school Dowdy went to East Carolina University on a track and field scholarship.
In his 30 years as the track and field coach at Jacksonville High School he has won twenty Coach of the Year awards. Under his tutelage his teams have claimed 20 conference championships, 17 regional titles, 4 state championships.
"This process has brought back so many memories," he said, "especially the guidance and support I received from Carl Salmon and Nat Carter. I feel truly blessed to be a part of the Union Pines Hall of Fame and hopefully I will continue to be able to help kids become successful, upstanding citizens.
"Of course there is always a price to be paid with success and it would be difficult to accept this honor only on behalf of myself but to share it along with my wife and children. My wife has played a big role in all the accomplishments that I could have achieved without her support, love and the sacrifices she has made along the way."
Two Sport Star
During his time at Union Pines, Lewis Cooper excelled on the baseball diamond and the hardwood of the basketball court. In 1967 he was a member of the first championship team in Union Pines history; the team and conference MVP he led the '67 Viking baseball team to a conference crown. As the 1967 Viking basketball team MVP, he was an all conference and All-East selection. He also served on the committee that selected the UPHS colors and mascot.
After high school Cooper turned down two athletic scholarships, instead deciding to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Pharmacy School. Upon graduation he returned home eventually opening Cooper's Pharmacy in Vass, where he currently employs over 40 people.
Cooper thanked all the people involved in the Hall of Fame selection process.
"Union Pines is the only school in Moore County that does this," Cooper said, "and you do a top notch job. This school is the best at providing a quality combination of athletics, academics and producing quality citizens.
I value the years I was here more than the four I spent at Chapel Hill. This honor will always hold a special place in my heart. My time here helped me tremendously throughout my life and aided me in obtaining and sustaining the goal I reached and built upon.
Union Pines Hall of Fame member and renowned Viking coach Carl Salmon put a cap on the ceremony as he summed up his feelings about the 2009 HOF class.
"In athletics sometime the balls must quit bouncing and the bats stop rattling, but it is what you do after that which is most important. I think all of these inductees have long since made the Hall of Fame in life."
Contact F.W. Manning II at 639-5481 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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