Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame inductees represent resilience

Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame inductees represent resilience
The Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame Class of 2021 and 2022 inductees, from left, the family of Horace Whitaker, Ray McDougal and his wife, children of Leonard Sanders, Sheila Boles, Alex Gaines, Blair Sutton Craig, Francie Barragan and Jack McGinley. Other inductees included Dwayne Allen, Earl Harvey and Beau Williford.

As Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame inductees and representatives for the classes of 2021 and 2022 stepped behind the podium to acknowledge their enshrinement at Highland Country Club’s ballroom last month, a theme began to emerge.

The tales of hard work, dedication, long hours of practice and long lists of thank you’s were connected by an underlying narrative that told a story beyond the ballfields, tennis courts and boxing rings where their status as stars of the city was born.

“Take advantage of where you are and don’t ever feel like you’re a stranger to where you’re going,” Tony Baldwin said as he accepted Hall of Fame recognition for former Fayetteville State football, basketball and golf coach Ray McDougal.

“I came to Coach as a boy, and now I’m a man,” Baldwin added. 

“This was his philosophy: I don’t care how dark the day, make sure you bring the light. … It’s not where you come from, it’s where you want to go.” 

More:Fayetteville Sports Club to honor classes of 2021 and ’22 in dual induction ceremony

This photo from 1979 shows Fayetteville State football coach Ray McDougal, center, with players, from left, Anthony Freeman, Ike Hall, Ernest Hawkins and Ed Davis. McDougal was inducted into the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame last month due to his career as a coach at FSU, where he won 15 CIAA titles and six PGA National Minority/Division II championships as a golf coach.

McDougal’s golf teams at FSU earned national prominence with six PGA National Minority/Division championships and a place in the NCAA Tournament in 2009 as the first Historically Black College & Universities member to make the field in more than three decades.

The ability to lift a program to another level of prestige, to convince young athletes to buy into a regimen of discipline and dedication, to execute the plans and meet the challenges of unknown next steps into a new height of triumph — it doesn’t come easily. To most, it doesn’t come at all.