NC State Athletic Hall of Fame Welcomes Inagural Class
Oct. 6, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. - Seven-time track and cross country national champion Julie Shea Sutton kicked off her shoes and, appropriately, ran across the stage to be inducted into the inaugural class of the NC State Athletic Hall of Fame.
Tab Ramos, one of America's greatest soccer players, weaved his way through the crowd at Reynolds Coliseum and made it next door to the Dail Soccer Stadium, just in time to kick out the first ball for NC State's match against Duke. He was back in time to be inducted with the rest of the class, but bolted after he signed autographs so he could fly to Spain on Saturday morning to coach the U.S. Junior National team in an international tournament.
Dr. Genia Beasley wept as she bent down to receive the medal each inductee was given to commemorate the pinnacle of the Wolfpack athletic career.
And the applause for David Thompson rose almost as high in the old rafters of spruced-up and air-conditioned Reynolds Coliseum as the three-time ACC Player of the Year did during his unequaled career.
But the greatest emotions were reserved for the late Everett Case, Jim Valvano and Kay Yow were honored for all their pioneering glory as innovators of NC State basketball.
Represented by surviving family or close friends - 1959 ACC Player and Athlete of the Year Lou Pucillo for Case, Pam Valvano Strasser for her late husband and Susan Yow for her older sister - the three departed members of the class were there in visible spirit, as a light fog wisped over the crowd of nearly 1,000 spectators.
It was a black-tie gala that was red all over, awash with cheers and rinsed in tears.
Ritcher, speaking for the entire 10-person class, talked not just of the individual athletic and team accomplishments of his fellow nine inductees, all of whom were significant in the growth and development of their sports.
He talked about what they did after the final echoes of cheers from their greatest athletic achievements faded to memories.
Beasley became a pediatric ophthalmologist. Brown became a juvenile parole officer. Ramos a national junior coach. Gabriel raised more than $5 million for various charities through his celebrity golf tournaments and other fundraisers. Shea Sutton was an elected community official and, for the last 13 years, has taught young teenagers about the joy she discovered in running long ago.
Thompson helped develop faith-based recreational leagues for at-risk youngsters, teaching them to avoid the mistakes that briefly grounded the ACC's highest flying superstar.
And the awareness and research dollars that have been raised in the names of Case, Valvano and Yow - all three of who died of cancer - lives far beyond their achievements on the basketball court.
"These nine hall of famers are famous because of their achievements in athletics," said Ritcher, the 1979 winner of the Outland Trophy while at NC State and a four-time Super Bowl participant while with the Buffalo Bills. "But they are significant because of the difference they've made in the lives of others. These nine have demonstrated great leadership and citizenship in their lives, and the 10th is inspired by them."
All who attended the well-organized celebration, which was broadcast on locally and nationally on ESPN3, were also thrilled and moved by both what all 10 inductees did while wearing Wolfpack red and white, what they have done with their lives since then, and what they can still do as they proudly wear the distinction of the inaugural class of the NC State Athletic Hall of Fame.