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The first Greenfield School Athletic Hall of Fame induction class was, as athletic director Rob Salter said, “a no-brainer.”
The first three student-athletes to get their jerseys retired — Badie T. Clark III, Catherine Thomas Andrews and Anthony Atkinson Jr. — were easy selections, as were former headmaster Janet Broadhurst Beaman, who was inducted posthumously, and longtime soccer coach Ben Forbes, who presided over 19 combined boys and girls soccer state championship teams.
The plan, moving forward, is to hold athletic hall-of-fame inductions every three years. Despite the relative small size of Greenfield, which currently has an all-time high student enrollment of 365, the well of athletic history runs mighty deep there. Salter noted that, starting with the 1989 Knights soccer team, the school has produced 31 North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association championship teams and 34 state runners-up, along with five All-Americans (Clark, Andrews, Isaiah White, Dwanya Williams-Sutton and Coby White) and a national player of the year (White). Atkinson was a two-time NCAA Division II All-American at Barton College, which he led to the Div. II national title in 2007. Hundreds of Greenfield graduates have gone on to play intercollegiate sports.
The new hall of fame room that Salter said is nearing completion upstairs in the gym should have no problem filling up over the next nine to 12 years given the number of standout athletes Greenfield has produced in its 50 years of existence. In addition to the aforementioned Isaiah White, Coby White and Williams-Sutton — who should be no-brainers when they are eligible — other names to throw out there are Edward Thorne, John Lee, Ayer Gresham, Spruill Thompson, Anna Wooten Gauss, Maitland Barnes, Will Bell, Kevin Joyce, Aaron Rountree, Joe Warenda, Jordan Sharpe, Jeremy Jeffers, Jim Warenda, Walston Peters, Bart Williams, Errol Frails, Christopher Gauss, Brian Richardson, LeeLee Kirkland, Sam Hughes, Chuck Pruden, Chris Tripp, Duane Pittman, Cameron Johnson, Brian McNair and all four Stone brothers — Rob, Richard, Roger and Russell — as well as plenty more who are unintentionally overlooked here.
Count Salter as a shoo-in as well.
FORBES HAPPY TO BE BACK
When Ben Forbes retired as Greenfield soccer coach in 2014, it wasn’t completely his decision. The veteran coach, who had been on staff since 1991 and had been involved at the school since his children, Tricia and Jack, were students there in the 1970s, was told that he would not be retained. Forbes at the time was not pleased with the decision but he was thankful to be part of Greenfield history Saturday.
“That was nice. That was real nice,” said Forbes, who said that Salter had asked him a few months earlier if he would accept the honor.
“I told him I’d think about it,” he said. “After I was inducted into (Greenfield’s Order of) the Roundtable, I figured I might as well.”
It was even more meaningful that the 1989 Greenfield boys soccer team, the school’s first state champion, was being inducted as well. Forbes was the assistant coach to head coach Rick Helms and his son, Jack, was a senior. Jack Forbes was one of seven former Knights on hand at the ceremony.
“It was extremely special to me to have him there,” Ben Forbes said.
Salter gave an emotional introduction for Forbes, who demonstrated he is as delightfully feisty as ever in his remarks, which had the crowd roaring with laughter at times.
Later, Forbes expounded on the story he told of his coaching origins when he was unknowingly nominated by his wife, Pat, to coach their daughter’s rec league team. He said that he told the other parents that the only thing they should ask of their kids was, “Did you have fun?”
While he was much more demanding as a high school varsity soccer coach, Forbes said he held onto that mentality.
“I wanted them to have fun and enjoy themselves,” he said. “For one thing, winning’s a whole lot more fun than losing, so that was one way for them to have fun!”
Forbes’ memory is as sharp as ever as he would quickly launch into a story of a game played decades earlier with a keen focus on details. However, he often measured time by the players he coached at the time instead of what year it happened.
And Forbes, who went 692-278-78 as coach of the girls and boys soccer teams at Greenfield, noted, with a twinkle in his eye, “I remember the losses more than the wins!”
Peters noted in her opening remarks that the success of the Greenfield athletic program over five years wouldn’t be complete without the support of parents, teachers, students and community members. She pointed to two parents in the audience — Harry Sutton, the father of 1989 team member Will Sutton, and Atkinson’s mother, Vivian, who introduced him — as memorable for their vocal support at Greenfield athletic events.
“I can still hear Mrs. Atkinson saying every time a Greenfield player went to the foul line, ‘Bend your knees and follow through!” Peters said.
The Greenfield headmaster, a former student-athlete and coach at the school, also recognized Will Cobb, a former student-athlete who was the school’s No. 1 fan when he wasn’t playing, as well as all the coaches wives, in particular, Erin Salter and Pat Forbes.
Peters also mentioned that construction on a new on-campus baseball field is set to begin soon adjacent to the Laura Leslie Tennis Complex, which opened in 2018.