A common thread wove through the Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall of Fame banquet on Saturday, where a gathering of sports standouts, family and friends honored inductees Greg Weddle, Jeff Burton, Keith Lee and the late Fred Palmore.
Weddle, Burton, Lee and Michaeleen Palmore, speaking for her late husband, Fred, all mentioned they would not have attained the success they did without the support of the community where they lived.
Weddle, Burton and Lee all have addresses outside Halifax County and the state of Virginia, but in their words, success starts at home with the support of family, friends and teammates.
One glance at their success tells you that support provided dividends for Weddle, a high school and collegiate standout in baseball, as well as Lee.
Both Weddle and Lee had long and successful stints playing baseball in strong, well-coached recreation baseball leagues in South Boston and Halifax County in preparation for success at the high school and collegiate levels.
Palmore, himself a stellar high school and collegiate football player, parlayed that success into a coaching career that spanned almost five decades, the vast majority of that career at Halifax County High School.
Burton learned his craft spending many hours building, setting up and driving race cars at South Boston Speedway, under the tutelage of a number of well-known car builders and owners, many from Halifax County.
With so many issues facing communities across the country, financial and otherwise, sports is the glue that holds things together in many cases.
Rural communities are no exception, and I’ll bet that each of the inductees into the Hall of Fame has benefited in some way from support they’ve received in the sports community of Halifax County.
There is a way to display the accomplishments of those athletes, and one anonymous donor has stepped forward with a significant donation of $40,000 toward the estimated cost of $175,000 to renovate the building housing the future Hall of Fame Museum.
Halifax County is a community of many needs and smaller and smaller financial resources to deal with them, but citizens from every walk of life can identify with sports and the pride and sense of accomplishment they can bring to anyone and everyone, young and old.
People debate the need for a new high school or the need to renovate the old one, but maybe just as important is the need to address aging athletic facilities throughout the area.
They’re as much a beacon for economic development as anything, and they’re among the first thing potential residents look at when researching the county before deciding whether or not to move here.
As a 12-year-old, I played Midget League basketball for Dr. Frank Godbold and Tom Crowell.
They and my teammates, including two future varsity basketball players who played at the collegiate level, made me feel like a million bucks after going 2-2 at the foul line for two of my four points of the season as a 12-year-old.
That was the best feeling in the world for me at that time, and as long as there are sports, it could be the same for legions of youth in this area.
You can bet on that.