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Six inducted into Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall of Fame

If there was one common theme that repeated itself during the 25th Annual Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet held Saturday night, it was humility.

Despite their cumulative athletic accomplishments, inductees Ward Burton, Louie Seabolt Jr., Todd Trickey, Lawson Osborne and Richard O. Wilkins told a large audience they couldn’t have done it alone, as did Mike Taylor in remembering his late father, inductee Everett Taylor.

Burton and Seabolt each followed their respective fathers into the Hall of Fame, and a lot of their success can be attributed to their fathers’ guidance and sacrifice, each inductee said.

It takes dedication and sacrifice to achieve success no matter what anyone does in their lives, noted Burton.

“It’s the same for sports.  The ones that have been inducted in the past have been community leaders, and you learn a lot about that discipline from sports.”

It was his father’s competitive passion that gave him and brothers Jeff and Brian the
opportunity to succeed in their chosen fields, Burton noted.

“My father was so competitive growing up.  We went to that 360 go-kart track near Bethel and won that first race,” he said.

“It was his passion that gave my brother, Brian, and I, and Jeff the opportunity.”

“Without my family I would have had none of these opportunities,” Burton added while thanking the community that nurtured and supported him throughout his racing career and later through his conservation efforts.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the community, not just financially but morally, and I can’t tell you how much it means,” said Burton.

In auto sports it’s hard to shine consistently as a driver without a solid team behind you, he noted, and it also requires sacrifice.

“I owe a lot of thanks to my father and others for giving me the opportunity to race here locally, and all of my friends and the guys who sacrificed a lot.”

Halifax County always will be his home, Burton added.

“It’s been a wild ride, an emotional ride, but I can tell you right now I can still go as fast as anybody out there.”

Johnny Burton introduced his son as someone who did “so much with so little in his racing career.”

“Ward drove for a single car team, but the successful teams and owners come from multiple car teams,” said Johnny Burton.

“Ward didn’t have a teammate, backup car and engineers the other teams had.”

Burton won the Daytona 500 with a team that had never won a race, and when he left that team, they never won a race again, the elder Burton continued.

“They were a top-10 team when he left, and after he left, they never did anything again.”

In presenting his brother, Louie, for induction, Chuck Seabolt said it was a “magic moment” for his family.

“We were blessed with parents who were great mentors, and the mentor of mentors was our father,” he recalled.

One lesson his father always taught was “a person who tried never made an error, so go for everything,” Chuck Seabolt added.

That lesson rang true for his brother’s 1955 state champion Little League baseball team, an underdog throughout the tournament that defeated a strong Hampton Roads team for the title 3-0, with Louie on the mound, Chuck Seabolt noted.

“Chuck said he was the best coach we ever had, and there’s no doubt of that in my mind,” said Louie Seabolt, whose brothers Chuck and Skip also were solid athletes.

Their father was a sports coach and a life coach, “and it wasn’t always easy, I can tell you that,” he pointed out. 

Seabolt said he was fortunate to participate on outstanding football and basketball teams while in high school, with football players such as Mason Ligon and Dale Ramey, and basketball players such as Chip Conner, Bill Morningstar, Wayne Lloyd and Bobby Wilborn.

Baseball was his best sport, and he played that sport throughout his life from youth through college at the University of Virginia.

“I played them all but I wasn’t the best at any of them,” Seabolt explained.

“How honored I am to be a part of this group, and how honored especially I am to join my father.”

In presenting the late Everett Taylor, Don Williams said, “Mr. Taylor was one of the finest man I ever knew.”

“He loved God, he loved his family, he loved kids, and he loved baseball with all his heart.

Taylor chose Dixie Youth Baseball as a means to volunteer his services to the community, and he had a vast impact on many youth, Williams pointed out.

“He coached for a few years, was district director for almost 25 years and state director for three years,” said Williams.

“He would travel around and try to find the best people he could to start those groups to make the league the best it could be for those kids.

“He had a passion for it, and he took me along for the ride a lot of times.”

Taylor would pay individual attention to each child and their needs, including rehabilitating baseball gloves for boys who didn’t have one.

“He did a lot of things for kids in this area and surrounding areas, and that was his passion,” added Williams.

“I know that my dad would be very humbled to receive this award,” said Mike Taylor.

Taylor recalled his father’s assistant coaching stint with the American Legion Post 8 baseball team, and recalled his dad’s youth football team, the Polar Bears, who outscored their opponents 362-0 in eight games one season. 

“Through the years dad worked with hundreds, perhaps thousands of young boys and honed their skills, always teaching fundamentals and preparation, but he also focused on sportsmanship and respecting other players,” said Taylor.

“He wanted to make sure the youth not only learned the game of baseball but life lessons as well.”

Taylor referred to a newspaper column penned by the late Hugh Moore upon his father’s death in 1997 as a perfect memorial to his father.

In that column, Moore wrote, “Everett Taylor was a Christian gentleman who practiced his faith in his everyday life.  He served his fellow man in a variety of ways, and much of his service was done quietly and behind-the-scenes, with no desire whatever of personal recognition or praise.”

That’s something he’s tried to incorporate into his life, Mike Taylor said.

Himself a Hall of Famer, Scooter Dunn introduced inductee Todd Trickey, someone he coached in both middle and high school baseball.

Trickey was captain, MVP, All-District, All-State while playing high school baseball, winning the Tucker Watkins Award for the outstanding high school male athlete his senior year.

Trickey accepted a baseball scholarship to Virginia Tech, where he was a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American.

He is currently third all-time in wins at Virginia Tech, and he returned home to coach baseball at the high school, Dixie Boys, Dixie Majors and American Legion levels, and he continues to volunteer his time to mentor young ball players.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be with Todd a long, long time, and he was an unbelievable ball player as you all know, said Dunn.

“I can always tell you Todd Trickey has always been a truthful person, he added while relating numerous stories from their days in middle school and high school baseball.”

Dunn read a note to Trickey penned by Trickey’s college coach, American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chuck Hartman, for 47 years the head baseball coach at Virginia Tech and the coach with the fourth greatest number of wins in Division I history.

“Todd, wish I could be there, you have all the characteristics of a Hall of Famer, good player, good student and a good person.  Players such as you are a pleasure to coach.

“I’ve never forget your no-hitter against Old Dominion…have a great evening and congratulations.” Chuck Hartman, Virginia Tech, retired.

Trickey said he has indeed been blessed and has been fortunate in many ways, having been exposed to sports at an early age while living within walking distance of the high school athletic fields.

“I had a personal athletic facility,” said Trickey, who added he benefited from the guidance of a number of coaches in different sports while growing up, all of whom “touched my life in some way.”

Dunn, Frosty Owens and David Wallwork stood out as influential coaches, Trickey told the audience, both for their knowledge of the game as well as for their guidance, Trickey explained.

“In eighth-grade, Scooter Dunn taught me the game of baseball,” he said.

“He had such love and passion for the game, it was contagious, and I caught it.  Scooter became a friend for life, and he was a father, brother, mentor and coach,” Trickey added.

“Frosty Owens made us believe we could do great things,” said Trickey.

Trickey said he’s been blessed with good players and supportive family, recalling with tears in his eyes his late father’s efforts in helping him get to ball games.

“My father worked two jobs, and he made sure I had a ride home,” said Trickey, who referred to an anonymous inspirational saying as a way of summarizing his life in sports.

“I’ve seen better days, but I’ve also seen worse,” Trickey concluded.

“I don’t have everything that I want, but I do have all I need.  I wake up with some aches and pains, but I wake up.

“My life may not be perfect, but I am blessed, and tonight I’m blessed to be a member of the Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall of Fame.”

Inductee Richard Wilkins had perhaps the strongest number of supporters at the banquet, including teammates from his Mary Bethune High School football team and members of the Jeter Chapel Baptist Church, in addition to his family.

From 1964-1968, Wilkins anchored Mary Bethune High School’s offensive and defensive lines, being named to the First Team of the All-Western District as a defensive end.

He also found success in track and field, qualifying for the state meet in the shot put his senior year at Mary Bethune High School.

He played collegiate football at University of Maryland-Eastern Shore and was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of the NFL draft in 1972.

Wilkins’ high school coach, Harvey Dillard, said he learned to expect the best from Wilkins, even when he returned home to become a successful and well-known building contractor and a leader in his church.

“I feel blessed I may have played a small part in your football career, and I hope I did or said something that may have helped you,” Dillard said with a nod to Wilkins.

“Without God, I am absolutely nothing,” Wilkins said, noting his faith has played a dominating role in his success both on and off the gridiron.

While thanking numerous family and friends for their support, Wilkins recognized one of his high school teammates at the banquet and recalled one practice drill in particular.

“I never laid my hands on a stronger man than Mr. Roger Rice, I thought his cleats may have been three or four inches deep, and I could not move him,” Wilkins said with a grin.

“If we hadn’t stopped, we’d still be there today.”

 Wilkins concluded with a reference to his strong faith. 

“My prayer is that God will open up the windows of Heaven, and give a blessing that you all would not be able to resist,” he said.

Lawson Osborne played football, baseball and basketball as a youth and later played basketball and ran track at the high school level, but he found his greatest success in football.

A Midget League football player for Coach Bob Owens in 1962 and 1963, he later played freshman football at Halifax County High School and one year of varsity football under Coach Bob Merritt in 1966.

He considered quitting football for basketball in 1967 before meeting new head football Coach Coleman Starnes for the first time.

“It’s very, very unusual for a football coach or any coach for that matter to have a young man you first met 46 years ago that not only played football for you but who is a very close personal friend,” Starnes said in introducing Osborne.

Starnes told several stories that exemplified what Osborne was all about, including the first time he encountered the record-setting fullback.

Osborne was considering dropping football for basketball his junior year in high school, and he was attending a workout for Coach Bill Morningstar when Starnes paid him a visit.

“Here’s a guy who’s 5-11 or 6-0 tall, and he’s going to play center for Morningstar, and he’s probably going to foul out of every game,” recalled Starnes.

“All I’m thinking is fullback, and fortunately for me I talked him into coming out for football, and the rest is history.”

Osborne rushed for 647 yards on 117 carries in 1967, while running for eight touchdowns.

He followed that up with a record-setting senior season in 1968, rushing for 1,136 yards on 184 carries.  He scored 21 touchdowns, six coming in a 42-14 homecoming win over William Fleming High School.

With Osborne in the backfield, the Comets went 5-5 in 1967 and improved to 8-2 in 1968, with Osborne being named all-district, all-region and all-state his senior year.

The winner of the T.C. Watkins Award that goes to the outstanding athlete at Halifax County High School his senior year, Osborne was named both all-district and all-state, and he was awarded a full football scholarship to Virginia Tech.

During his induction speech, Osborne thanked Addison Marable and the late Hugh Moore for their positive coverage of high school sports during his time there, and he also gave credit to coaches from Midget League through high school for their guidance. 

In a humorous poem he wrote for the occasion, Osborne chronicled his high school sports career, where he played for Hall of Famers Starnes and Morningstar.

“I not only had to carry it, but I had a ball,” Osborne concluded.