Lewisville to induct inaugural athletic Hall of Fame class in May

bmccormick@heraldonline.comMarch 29, 2014 

Lisa Waldrop Rivers led Lewisville to a 1983 girls’ basketball state title, before an illustrious career at Francis Marion University.

PHOTO COURTESY OF FRANCIS MARION UNIVERSITY

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    May 9 at Gateway Center

    Lewisville will induct its inaugural Hall of Fame class on May 9. Eight individuals and members of two state championship teams (see all 10 on page 5C) will be recognized during a ceremony at the Gateway Center in Richburg at 6 p.m.

    Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the event. They can be purchased by calling football coach Will Mitchell at 704-641-8709, or at the school’s front office.

    Any members of the Hall of Fame teams who wish to be involved should also contact Mitchell no later than April 15. Donations will be accepted and all proceeds from the event will benefit Lewisville’s athletic department.

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    And the inductees in the inaugural class are…

    • Lonzo Giles coached the 1959 girls basketball team to a state championship and led the 1953 baseball team and 1958 boys’ basketball teams to state runner-up finishes. Giles was also the track coach and was the first football coach in the school’s history.

    • Debbie Rogers served as the school’s cheerleading coach from the 1980s into the early 2000s. Between 1987 and 2001, Rogers led Lions cheerleaders to 10 Class A/AA state championships, while sending a number of athletes to collegiate level.

    • Bennie McMurray was Lewisville’s baseball and football coach from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. He led the Lions to a combined eight state titles – five in baseball and three in football – and is a member of the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

    • Grady Bolton became the school’s first player to be selected to the Shrine Bowl (1961), where he was captain of the S.C. squad and voted MVP of the game. Bolton led Lewisville to its first conference championship before attending Mississippi State where he was an All-SEC defensive lineman. Bolton then became the first of five Lions to reach the NFL when he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. He also played for the Miami Dolphins.

    • Wesley McFadden graduated from Lewisville as South Carolina’s all-time leading rusher. A four-year letterman at Clemson, McFadden’s teams went 30-6 during his three years as a starter. In 1987, he finished third in the ACC in rushing yards and led the league in yards per carry.

    • Lisa Waldrop Rivers led Lewisville’s girls’ basketball team to an undefeated regular season in 1983. Rivers was voted Class A player of the year and scored over 1,400 points in her career. She later led Francis Marion to the 1986 NAIA National Championship. At FMU, Rivers played in more games than any other player in school history.

    • Brian Williams led Lewisville baseball to three straight Class A state titles from 1985 to 1987. Williams went to an All-American career at South Carolina and was a first-round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 1990. Williams pitched in the majors for nine years.

    • Sheldon Brown led Lewisville to the 1996 Class A football state championship. Brown was named Class A player of the year and Associated Press player of the year. An all-state selection in three sports, Brown went on to play football and baseball at South Carolina, before being selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent 10 seasons in the NFL, the longest professional sports career of any Lewisville Lion.

    • 1959 girls’ basketball team became the first athletic squad in school history to win a state championship. That team was coached by Hall of Fame inductee Lonzo Giles.

    • 1986 football team Jimmy Wallace’s team won the school’s first football state championship, finishing 14-0, outscoring opponents 430-32 and finishing as the Charlotte Observer’s Sweet 16 champion. Wallace and assistant coach Bennie McMurray eventually became South Carolina Athletic Coaches Hall of Famers.

    Bret McCormick

Lewisville High School seems like the kind of school that would have an athletic hall of fame. Despite its diminutive size, the school has pumped out a number of professional athletes and even more state championships in a range of different sports.

But there was no centrally located place of recognition for all of the great Lions teams and athletes, until football coach Will Mitchell circulated the idea at the school and in the community of Richburg.

“There’s such a strong sense of community here, and these people are so supportive of us, of our athletics here, and all our extracurricular activities really,” said Mitchell. “When I floated the balloon it was met with enthusiasm by (principal) Dr. (James) Knox and people in the community.”

The Lewisville Athletic Hall of Fame is no longer an idea that folks assume already existed. On May 9, the school will induct its first class during a ceremony at the Gateway Center in Richburg. Coaches Lonzo Giles, Debbie Rogers and Bennie McMurray, athletes Grady Bolton, Lisa Waldrop Rivers, Brian Williams, Wesley McFadden and Sheldon Brown, and the 1959 girls’ basketball and 1986 football teams will be the first 10 members of the prestigious hall.

A nine-member committee made the final selections from a pool of 25 nominees. The committee included principal James Knox, athletics director Rusty Pemberton, current baseball coach Billy Keels, current football coach Will Mitchell, former baseball and football coach Bennie McMurray, Lewisville faculty member Jovanda Dickerson, Lewisville alumna Susan Helms, Richburg mayor James Harris and Nikki Nash, a businesswoman and Lewisville alum.

Mitchell acknowledged there were some deserving candidates left out of the first class. But, as he said, what would be the point of having a hall of fame if you could get all the deserving parties in in the first year?

“What we looked for were people that made a big impact, and there were certainly more than this that made a big impact,” Mitchell said, pointing out two other Lewisville NFL players, Mike Barber and William Strong, and Jimmy Wallace, who coached the school’s first state championship football team; none of those three will be in the first induction class.

Lewisville plans to make additions to the hall of fame an annual occurrence. Coaches will be eligible five years after they have left Lewisville, while athletes will be considered at least 10 years after they graduated from the school. Full teams will be eligible 15 years after the graduation of their senior class and must have been at least a runner-up, or state champion.

Mitchell is looking forward to the ceremony on May 9. He said some of the proceeds will go to building a hall of fame display in the front hall at the school, complete with plaques for the inductees and teams.

Bret McCormick •  803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T

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