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While the Fike High football program’s state championship run of the late 1960s had many components, the unmistakable face of the Cyclone dynasty was Henry Trevathan.
Now the legendary coach’s face will be forever part of the stadium in which his teams built that legend more than five decades ago. A large granite and bronze monument with a relief image of Trevathan’s face stationed just inside the entrance to the stadium was unveiled during a brief ceremony Friday night before the current Fike team’s game against Southern Nash. The monument caught the 91-year-old Trevathan by surprise as he thought the occasion was simply a pregame get-together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his last state championship team.
“I still can’t believe it,” he said after the unveiling. “I’m happy for Wilson — nowhere but Wilson!”
Russell Rawlings, who chronicled the Trevathan era at Fike (1964-69) in his 2000 book, “Cyclone Country: The town, the time, the team,” gave the opening remarks following a pregame tailgate. Rawlings noted that while Trevathan was the architect of the championship era in which Fike became the first school in the state to win three straight North Carolina High School Athletic Association championships, the players on the teams leading up to the first title in 1967, as well as the entire community that supported Fike football, were part of what was truly a special time.
Several dozen of Trevathan’s former players were on hand for the ceremony, including the two who spearheaded the effort to have the monument erected — Gary Farmer and Stuart Walston.
“It was several years (in the making) but finally, with Gary pushing everybody, we got something to happen,” Walston said. “But it’s long overdue and, as Russell said, Coach Trevathan was the architect but the community, the players, it was just a time we were very fortunate to have been here. Coach Trevathan taught us to prepare, to respect each other and work together as a unit and that’s how we got to where we are today!”
Trevathan came to Wilson in the spring of 1964 after serving as an assistant coach at Rocky Mount High, helping the Blackbirds win the NCHSAA 4-A title the previous fall. He inherited a Fike program that had gone just 2-28 in the three prior seasons. It took three seasons for Fike to have a winning record under Trevathan but he’s long given credit to the players on his 1964, ‘65 and ‘66 teams for building the foundation for future greatness.
Farmer was a senior on the 1964 Cyclones but he’s never forgotten the impact that had upon him and he rarely missed a game during the championship seasons while a student at Atlantic Christian College. Farmer solicited the support of many former players and others in the community to raise funds for the monument, insisting that it would a community effort, just like the championship seasons were.
Trevathan left Fike after the final championship season in 1969 to take a job as an assistant coach at East Carolina University where two of his players — Carlester Crumpler and Dan Killebrew — joined him. Trevathan spent the latter part of his career as an assistant coach at North Carolina State University. He has never forgotten the accomplishments of his Fike teams and the support they received from the community.
“What was done had never been done in this state anywhere,” Trevathan said. “If anything is going to perpetuate through this state for young people and for education, let it be from Wilson.”
Fifty years ago, Cyclone Country Stadium was a special place to be on Friday nights. Now, a lasting monument stands as a reminder to that unforgettable era.
“We just hope that students here will look at it and know that great things happened here and great things are still possible,” Walston said.