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.