Alzheimer’s may be robbing Gary Sherrill of a lot of his memories but it hasn’t taken away one important aspect of his life—his love of sports and those who coached and mentored during his career.
His wife, Dreisa Sherrill, encouraged his former players and colleagues to visit him in a nursing facility in Shallotte. “He will remember you,” she said to the crowd gathered at the Statesville Civic Center Monday for the Iredell County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
That love of sports was a theme that resonated throughout the evening as the 2022-24 class was honored with induction into the county’s sports hall of fame.
Sherrill, a former coach and driver’s education teacher at Troutman High School and South Iredell High School, was inducted as a member of the class of 2023.
Other members of the class include the late C.A. Frye, football coach at Statesville High School, Kelly Fleck Landry, a tennis champion at Statesville High School, the late Dr. Fred Long Jr., a football player from Morningside High School, Mike Royal, who coached cross country and track at Mooresville High School and David Stamey, a basketball standout at West Iredell High School.
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The class of 2022 was comprised of Mike Carter, football coach at Mooresville High School, Wayne Harwell, a baseball and tennis coach at SHS, Keith Lawrence Jr., a football standout at SHS, Mitch Mayhew, who played football and wrestled at South Iredell High School, Tammy Millsaps, a three-sport athlete at North Iredell High School and John Wood, a champion wrestler from SHS.
The man who headed the Statesville Recreation and Parks Department for nearly three decades was recognized as the Harold Johnson Community Partner inductee. The late Jack Springer Sr., who started the recreation and parks department in Statesville, was the inductee of the award named in honor of Johnson, a sports broadcaster on both radio and television.
The Hall of Fame Committee also presented awards to a male and female athlete from each of the public high schools. Those recognized were: Eric Dalton and Kennedy Gaulding from West Iredell; Steven Hamby and A’Laya Gillespie from Statesville High School; Eddie Flores and Emma Norris from North Iredell High School; Davis Freeze and Kendal Hudson from Mooresville High School; Jaylin Neal and Jadyn Dixon from South Iredell High School; and Logan Dingman and Kirsten Lewis-Williams from Lake Norman High School.
Flores and Norris were named the Iredell County Sports Hall of Fame Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
Sherrill brought with her a towel that her husband had with him at every game. She spoke of his loss of memory but said his love of sports is still apparent. She said his legacy is that he always put the best interests of his students first.
Accepting the award on behalf of her husband, she said, is bittersweet. “You don’t know how much he really wanted to be here,” she said.
The induction ceremony, the sixth since the Hall of Fame started in 2016, offered a couple of firsts. Landry was the first tennis player inducted into the Hall of Fame, Mayhew was inducted by his father, Bill, who is also a member of the Hall of Fame and Long was the first honoree from Morningside High School.
Long’s brother, Robert, spoke of the legacy of Frye and Springer but also on the importance of recognizing his brother, a graduate of Morningside, a high school for Black students in the days before integration. “Our accomplishments are not less,” he said.
Many of the recipients spoke of the role sports played in shaping who they became as adults, and recognized their parents and other family members for supporting them in athletic endeavors from encouraging them to practice and driving to and from games to cheer them on.
As the latest class of inductees was honored Monday, Ryan Pegarsch of the Hall of Fame committee, encouraged people to fill out nominations on the group’s website, https://www.iredellsportshalloffame.org ,for the next Hall of Fame class. “I cannot induct anyone without a nomination form,” he said.