As Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame inductees and representatives of the Classes of 2021 and 2022 climbed behind the podium to acknowledge their induction into the Highland Country Club ballroom last month, a theme began to emerge .

The stories of hard work, dedication, long hours of training and long lists of thanks were tied together by an underlying narrative that told a story beyond ball fields, tennis courts and boxing rings. where their status as city stars was born.

“Enjoy where you are and never feel like a stranger to where you’re going,” Tony Baldwin said as he accepted Hall of Fame recognition from the former football, basketball and basketball coach. Fayetteville State Golf Club, Ray McDougal.

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

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

After:Fayetteville Sports Club to Honor Classes of 2021 and 22 in Dual Induction Ceremony

This 1979 photo shows Fayetteville State football coach Ray McDougal, center, with players, left to right, Anthony Freeman, Ike Hall, Ernest Hawkins and Ed Davis.  McDougal was inducted into the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame last month for his coaching career 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 rose to national prominence with six PGA Minority/National Division Championships and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2009 as the first historically black member of colleges and universities to make the course for more than three decades.

The ability to elevate a program to another level of prestige, to convince young athletes to adhere to a regime of discipline and dedication, to execute the plans and meet the challenges of the unknown next steps to a new height of triumph – it does not come easily. For the most part, it doesn’t come at all.

“He took the little and did a lot. Those are the things he taught every player,” Baldwin said of his coach. “I love him like my own father.”

McDougal’s 44 years as a crew chief for Fayetteville State has inspired and influenced many young people, and with them, his “make sure you bring the light” mentality will carry on.

Coaches like him also paved the way for other Hall inductees like tennis stars Blair Sutton Craig and Francie Barragan, who played for the remarkable Gil Bowman at Terry Sanford before moving to NC State.

Craig was a three-time individual state champion to Terry Sanford and an All-ACC player for the Wolfpack at No. 1 in singles.

“What you put into things is what you get out of them,” she said. “When all is said and done, I know I’ve given a good part of my heart to the game of tennis and tennis has given me so much.”

Barragan played on three state championship teams at Terry Sanford and reached NCAA Tournament ground with NC State before returning home to coach at Methodist, where she is a member of the school Hall of Fame.

Barragan and Blair were teammates at NC State, a connection they cherished. “Playing with Blaire at NC State was the time of my life,” Barragan said.

Impact of Title IX

For Sheila Boles, legislation to ensure fairness in women’s sport has changed the course of her career in real time.

While women like Barragan and Blair would reap the ultimate benefits of Title IX, Boles’ future was shaped from its inception.

“I graduated in June 1972 thinking I would never play competitive track and field again,” she said.

“But on June 23, 1972, Title IX was passed, and at the time I was just oblivious to what it would do to my life.”

Boles, who had been a star athlete at Seventy-First, became the first woman to receive a scholarship to play basketball at UNC Wilmington.

She went on to win several conference titles as head coach of the Wilmington Hoggard men’s basketball team, and the gymnasium there is named in her honor.

Another seventy-first alumnus, Alex Gaines, has been listed in the Hall’s Class of 2021 along with Boles.

“All I wanted to do was play sports,” Gaines said.

Then he was kicked out of a junior basketball team.

“After that, I started every team I played on,” Gaines said, crediting that challenge for pushing him to work harder for what he wanted.

With a father who was a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars and a mother born in Germany in the 1930s, Gaines spent 20 years in the Air Force, earning a Bronze Star and bearing in mind the fights that his family had led to give him the opportunities he had.

An outstanding football player, Gaines also threw the game-winning field goal in a 3-0 Falcons 1986 state championship win over West Charlotte.

Gaines played football and ran track at UNC Pembroke, making the all-district team three times and setting school records for career points and goals.

Other honorees included Dwayne Allen (Terry Sanford alum and Clemson football All-American who won a Super Bowl as a tight end for the Patriots), Earl “Air” Harvey (Douglas Byrd alum who set NCAA Division II to move to NC Central), and the late Leonard Sanders (first black man hired by the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department who mentored the black community and organized many youth teams).

Other inductees included Jack McGinley (pitcher for Wake Forest’s 1955 NCAA baseball championship winning team who served as principal of Reid Ross High School), the late Horace Whitaker (sixty-first and football star Douglas Byrd who led Byrd to his first league title and went on to play for Lou Holtz at NC State) and the late Mabon Leslie “Beau” Williford (Fayetteville High School alumnus, North Carolina Golden Gloves titlist and champion national amateur in 1967 who founded the Ragin’ Cajun Boxing Club in Louisiana where he coached and mentored youth).

Their stories span Fayetteville, where a love of athletics and the life lessons inherent in the game can launch nationally renowned careers or fuel a passion for serving one’s community.

“Education and service were hallmarks of our home,” Leonard Sanders Jr. said as he accepted the Hall honor for his father. “And for years it served children from kindergarten to the elderly. And kids from midget league football to the NFL. We played table tennis. We danced downright. This night is a celebration of the memory of those who improve the lives of all, and I salute all the men and women celebrated this evening.

Sportswriter Monica Holland can be reached at

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