Officials of the City of Mount Airy and its school system, along with the families and friends of the 14th induction class of the Greater Mount Airy Sports Hall of Fame, gathered Sunday afternoon at the Andy Griffith Playhouse to honor the achievements of the five individuals honored in the institution’s Class of 2016.
Former MAHS sports stars Clarence Hines and Sarah Ann Knott, each of whom led Granite Bear sports teams of different eras to a state championship, were joined by the school’s 2005-06 boys’ tennis teams, who were indicted as a team, current MAHS Athletic Director Donald Price, and longtime announcer and local sports volunteer David Beal, who was presented with the Granite City Award for his contributions to sports in Mount Airy over the last 49 years.
All four individual inductees were present and spoke at their introduction, with former Mount Airy tennis coach Scott John representing the 2005 and 2006 tennis teams, who won back-to-back state championships. Three members of that team were also able to attend the ceremony. Collectively, the group has contributed to several championships at the school. Hines played for the 1946 Class A football state champions and the 1947 runners-up, while Knott was the MVP of the 1990 2A state championship match, after her team had finished as runners-up in both 1988 and 1989. Beal and Price played major roles for the Bears’ 2008 1A state football champions, and Price as an administrator has logistically helped several championship teams along their way.
Hines, the blocking back on the 1946 championship team and a 1947 All-State selection, told several stories about his time playing for the Bears. He played right at the end of the era in which the old single wing offense was popular, and hinted that the Bears may have had a bit of an edge. Mount Airy’s head coach, Wally Shelton, was a friend of UNC head coach Carl Snavely, whose Tar Heels were a national power at the time with Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice running the single-wing offense. Hines said that thanks to the relationship, the Bears were able to learn all of the Tar Heels’ plays.
Price, the school’s AD since 2003, has been in the local news frequently, as the community has rallied behind him in a battle with pancreatic cancer. His presenter, MAHS baseball coach and Mount Airy Mayor Pro-Tem Jon Cawley, stated that Price “brings character and inspiration to the young people of Mount Airy High School.” For his own part, Price, who never sought out the honor himself, thanked the Lord for his ability to serve Mount Airy and credited the players and coaches he has been surrounded with for his success.
Knott let the audience in on a little secret — if not for a change of heart in junior high, she might have become the heroine of a championship team at Surry Central High School and be a member of the Surry County Sports Hall of Fame instead. At the time, her mother was a teacher at SCHS, and Knott thus had the option of attending either Central or Mount Airy. She chose to play for the Lady Bears and coach Ginger Ashley Hamric, who still coaches at Catawba College and who was present at Knott’s induction on Sunday.
She and David Beal, who was presented with the Granite City Award, had a humorous moment later on, when Beal, who frequently buys KitKat bars from Knott when the latter works the concession stand at basketball games, asked her for one during his acceptance speech. Knott presented him with one and got a hug in return.
Beal, who never played sports for the Bears and has never coached at the high school level, said his sport is “supporting Mount Airy.” Beal has played an important role in improving and promoting youth sports in town for nearly half a century, in addition to his work for the Bears.
Following the induction ceremony, the names of the new Hall of Fame members were unveiled on the monument outside the Municipal Building, and reception was held.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.