Bird Athletic Hall of Fame welcomes third class

On Saturday, Oct. 2, 12 new inductees were added to the L.C. Bird Athletic Hall of Fame, including the school’s first principal, who has been credited with establishing what has come to be known as the “Lindsay Legacy.”  Aubrey Lindsay understood from day one that a strong athletic program, coupled with extra curricular opportunities for all students, laid the groundwork for a great public high school.  In very short order, Lloyd C. Bird High School became the standard bearer for others to emulate.

Besides Lindsay, 2010 inductees included Shane Burnette (’97), Rick Cratch (’80), Kim Dunn Ramsey-Wallace (’82), Burrell Fisher, Jr. (’80), Earl Fisher (’80), Travis Hawkins (’88), Ronald Jones (’92), Michelle Little (’92), Greg Whirley (’94), Mike White (’94) and Cory Williams (’93).

Themes for the evening included a desire on the part of the athletes to make a name for themselves, as well as the school; a belief that character development is the overriding benefit of athletics; thankfulness for coaches and teachers who truly cared about the students; and a belief that one should never give up on any child.

“You could see it in his eyes,” said Shane Burnette’s basketball coach, Tommie Sides.  “He was like a coach on the floor.”  Burnette was an all-district performer at Bird. He went on to star at Bridgewater College, where he was a team captain and attained all ODAC status.  “I just wanted so badly to make Bird something more than just a football school,” said Burnette.

Rick Cratch was the first quarterback for Bird when the school opened in August 1978.  Although he threw the first touchdown pass in the school’s history, it was his baseball prowess that caught the eye of college recruiters and professional scouts.  Cratch was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and became a Carolina League All-Star in 1983.  “There were very low expectations that first year.  We had no senior class, but very quickly other schools discovered that our kids came to play,” said Cratch.

Twins Burrell and Earl Fisher joined previous inductee Daniel “Jake” Clark to make up the “best secondary in the state,” according to coach Walter Gilliam.  The Fishers were three-sport stars at Bird: football, basketball and track.  Burrell Fisher went on to Eastern Mennonite, where he became a four time track and field All-American.  In true Bird form, Earl Fisher was late for Saturday’s ceremony.  He explained, “I’m now a coach myself and I have promised my kids I would always be there for them, just as my coaches were always there for me.”

Travis Hawkins was a tremendous baseball player, but not the most interested student at Bird.  He credits teachers, coaches and especially his parents for never giving up on him through any adversity.  Hawkins went on to Fork Union, where he hurt his back to the point he could barely walk.  His parents worked with him through the rehabilitation process, allowing him to return to Fork Union, where he earned a scholarship to Radford.  He later transferred to the University of Georgia.  Athletic Director Ron Paquette described him as “a tremendous young man, who I now count as a dear friend.”

Ronald Jones is the most decorated athlete in Bird track and field history.  He went on to VCU, becoming the Rams all-time leading scorer, while being named conference MVP three times.  “I was a little guy who was just hoping to someday be able to put on a Bird uniform.  I give a lot of credit to all my Salem Church Cowboys buddies.  Then and now we live by the motto, ‘anything you can do, I can do better’.”

Coach Chuck Tester introduced Kim Dunn and Michelle Little.  Dunn represented Bird in the VHSL all-star basketball game before heading to Randolph-Macon.  Little was a three sport star at Bird, who went on to All-American status as a softball player at Campbell University.  “After graduation I continued to want to be a part of the team, so I joined the Army,” said Little, who recently retired from military service.

Paquette introduced Greg Whirley as the “most hard-nosed football player we’ve ever had.”  He also graduated with a 4.5 GPA before heading to William and Mary.  There, he starred as an offensive lineman and went on to set several lifting records for The Tribe.  Whirley thanked coach Sides for calling him aside prior to his senior basketball season.  “Coach Sides called me into to his office and told me he wasn’t going to cut me.  He then pointed to the weight room while telling me I would never play college basketball.  I took the hint and arrived on the William and Mary campus as one of the strongest players on the team.”

Mike White thanked his soccer and football coaches for “allowing this band geek to live out a dream.”  He also thanked his mom for discovering an ad in the paper for a Chip Lohmiller kicking camp.  White is recognized as the premier kicker in Bird history, earning All-State honors.  He went on to secure a scholarship as the kicker and punter at the University of Richmond.  “I never felt any pressure like I felt from Coach Paquette’s kicks for sprints.”

Cory Williams was an all-everything offensive lineman during his career at Bird.  Both All-State and All-Academic, He was selected to play in the VHSL all-star game.  He went on to establish himself as an all-ODAC performer at Hampden-Sydney.  Now a doctor in Lexington, Ky., Cory is the son of legendary Dale coach Vic Williams.   

The brainchild of Paquette, the Bird High School Athletic Hall of Fame recognizes the tremendous athletes and people of character that have been so prevalent at the school. 

Anyone who would like to support the Hall of Fame may wish to circle May 2, 2011, the date of the Hall of Fame Golf Tournament at Chesdin Landing.  Paquette can be reached by e-mail at ron_paquette@ccpsnet.net.

Comments

The high school I went to

The high school I went to held athletics in very high regard as well. It was more than just the sport that we were getting out of the programs. We were learning discipline, teamwork and great leadership skills among a plethora of other lessons. High school athletics can in ways teach more practical, worldly lessons than class work can.

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