Wednesday, September 11, 2013
They stood nine members strong, this Berkeley Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
Some silver and white fading at the temples, a little slower of foot, older now with kids and grandkids of their own, these nine former Berkeley Stag greats are the names that come to mind when fans young and old say, “Hey, do you remember that play?”
Rusty Williams, Marsha Williams, Albert “Snookie” Boyt, Ben Fleming Sr., Rufus Wofford Sr., Mike Brown, Alan Watson, Rodney Mack and John Rivers, the second class of the Berkeley Athletics Hall of Fame, were inducted at halftime of Friday night’s football game with Summerville.
They are legends now, forever a part of the Stags’ sports lore, according to Class of 2013 inductee John Rivers.
“When I told my daughter I was being inducted into the Berkeley Hall of Fame, she said, ‘Gosh Dad, that means you’re a legend now.’ I am honored that I am now considered a role model,” Rivers said.
Rivers, a three-sport Stags star and Class of 1988 graduate, went on to star at Virginia Tech in football and basketball.
“It all started here, at Berkeley and here in Moncks Corner,” Rivers said.
Like many of the other inductees, he entertained the crowd of family, friends and fellow Hall of Famers at the Thursday night Hall of Fame banquet with stories about the late, great Gerald Moody.
“It’s nice to hear these other stories because I always thought when Coach Moody would take off his hat, run his hands through his hair and say, ‘By God, you’re terrible,’ I thought he was just picking on us,” Rivers recalled. “I feel so much better now.”
Berkeley Athletic Director Jeff Cruce said the new inductees are just as worthy as last year’s inaugural class.
“Once you’re in, you’re in,” he said. “Berkeley’s been around for 100 years. There is a tremendous tradition and sense of history here.
“These inductees are the people who laid the foundation for what has become the rich tradition that is Berkeley Stags athletics. I am honored to recognize their accomplishments, what they’ve accomplished for themselves, their families and the community.”
Hall of Famers like Snookie Boyt and Ben Fleming recalled the days of Stags athletics under legendary coaches Jim Bradley, Gerald Moody and Rufus Wofford.
“We played basketball in the old gym behind the school on Main Street,” said Boyt. “It was an old wooden building with two rows of bleacher seats built in around the court. Under the basket you had maybe three feet of room before you hit the wall, so when you were going in for a layup you had to apply the brakes really fast.”
Fleming, who lettered in baseball, football, basketball and track, and went on to play football at South Carolina, reminisced about how the Berkeley track team was founded under Coach Moody.
“We didn’t have a track and we only had four pairs of shoes between us,” he said. “Coach Moody and John McKissick decided having a track team was a good way to hold spring football practice. Coach came to us before the start of baseball practice one day and said, ‘We’re going to have a track team so I want you, and you, and you to come with me and run.”
Fleming said they didn’t even know what track was back then.
“They lined us up and said you’re going to run the half-mile relay,” he said. “We used a surveyor’s stake for a baton because we didn’t have a baton to use in the race, but we went out and won the half-mile relay that day.
“We were pretty fast.”
What they didn’t know following the completion of the race was that they had broken the state record for the half-mile relay.
“I remember John McKissick running up to Coach Moody after the race saying, ‘Do you know what you did? You just broke the state record.’
“Well, we went on to break the state record in every race we ran except the last race of the season and we won the state championship with that one.”
Also honored was longtime Berkeley Training School coach Alan Watson, winner of three state championships in three sports while coaching at the Training School. When the Training School closed in 1970, Watson moved to Berkeley High School where he continued to coach.
“I had a good time while I was here,” he said. “This is my second home.”
Rufus Wofford Sr. was a longtime Berkeley coach under Jim Bradley and Gerald Moody, a principal and school system administrator, serving as an assistant superintendent. Wofford passed away in 1974 and his oldest son Rufus Wofford Jr. accepted the induction on his father’s behalf.
“Tonight’s a great night at Berkeley High School,” he said. “Daddy had the good fortune to coach several Hall of Famers in Henry Bonner, Snookie Boyt, Bobby Dellinger, David Anderson, Watson Mims and Ben Fleming. It is a tremendous honor and I’m very proud to be here.”
Mike Brown, Class of 1967, was a 12-time letterman in four sports, and a two-time member of the All-State football team.
“I feel like I wouldn’t be here today without my teammates,” he said. “They were a bunch of great guys and I wish they were here to enjoy this with me. It was a great honor for me to play with them.”
Rodney Mack, class of 1985, lettered in football and basketball, and was twice honored as Region Player of the Year in 1984 and 1985. Mack played college basketball at South Carolina State.
“I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to be here today,” he said.
Marsha Williams from the class of 1989 was the first truly dominant Lady Stags basketball player, starring in basketball and softball while at Berkeley. Williams was named to both the All-State and All-America teams in 1989, and while playing basketball at South Carolina was a select member of the Lady Gamecocks 1,000 Point Club.
“I want to thank God for the opportunity and the honor of being here tonight, and my family, all my cousins that are here to share this award with me,” she said.
Rusty Williams played on the 1994 state championship team and was a three-sport star while at Berkeley. In his senior year Williams racked up 2,000 yards in rushing and scored 28 touchdowns on the way to being named South Carolina Player of the Year. Williams played collegiately at Auburn where he gained 1,000 yards rushing.
“Whatever it takes, just visualize, on the field or in life, you visualize,” he said. “For all the guys who came here before me and for all the guys yet to come, I’m honored to be a part of this.”