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Four tapped for Hall of Fame

Multi-sport standouts Dale Ramey and Joe E. Johnson, high school and college football standout Ronnie Chappell and former Comets basketball star Jerry Brooks have been selected as the 2014 inductees to the Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall Of Fame.

This year’s induction banquet will be held Saturday, April 12 at the Halifax County Middle School cafeteria.

Tickets for the event will be available in the near future.


Dale Ramey

Ramey was a three-sport athlete, with most of his success in football and track. He was a four-year starter for the Halifax County High School football team, was the leading receiver among backs in Virginia and was second in scoring in Virginia.

He was an All-Western District selection and was named to the all-state team. In addition, Ramey was named as member of N. H. S. All-America Football Team 1959 by Wigwam Wiseman of America and was invited to play in the All-American Classic. However, Ramey declined the invitation in order to play in the Virginia East vs. West and North vs. South All Star games.

HCHS finished in the top 10 in Virginia despite having only 17 players at the end of the season.

Ramey received scholarship offers from 25 colleges and universities and elected to attend Duke University.

Ramey played junior varsity basketball for two years before moving to the varsity team in his junior year. He started his senior season, but Duke University Football Coach Bill Murray asked him to stop playing basketball in order to protect his knees.

A four-year member of the Halifax County High School track team, Ramey competed in the 100-yard dash, 220-yard dash, low hurdles, mile relay, shot put, discus and broad jump. Ramey scored the most track points of any member of the track team in the history of the school.

During his senior year, Ramey received a call from a coach in Richmond who was going to train athletes for the 1964 Olympics in the decathlon. He was asked if he was interested in participating and he declined.

As a baseball player, Ramey played for the Bankers team in the South Boston Pony League. He played first base and centerfield and was named to the league’s all-star team.

Ramey also coached youth basketball and football in Rocky Mount, N.C. for three years and coached youth basketball and football in High Point, N.C. for four years.

While attending Duke University, Ramey helped train Olympic sprinter Dave Sim.


Joseph E. Johnson

Johnson entered Halifax County High School as a freshman in the fall of 1966 under the initial Freedom of Choice period in the Halifax County Public Schools and went on to become one of the school’s first true standout African-American athletes.

He starred in football, basketball and track, and was a seven-time varsity letterman between the three sports.

As a junior, Johnson joined the varsity football team as a reserve running back. In his senior year, he became a stellar kickoff team specialist and starting right defensive back. Although he missed three games during his senior year, his outstanding play earned him Honorable Mention recognition on the All-Western District team. The Comets football team coached by Coleman Starnes went on to win the Western Region Championship in 1969.

Johnson played three years of basketball as a back-up point guard. He moved up to the varsity team for his junior and senior years and played under Coach Bill Morningstar.

Track was where Johnson really found his niche. Under Coach Bristol Martin, Johnson became a three-time letterman while running the 440-yard dash and anchoring the mile relay team for three seasons.

As a quarter-miler, he established new school records in both his junior and senior year. His personal record for covering that distance was 50.1 seconds and was achieved his senior year in the spring of 1970. 

Johnson anchored the mile relay team for three years and the 1970 squad established a school record. In 1970, he was selected to the All-Western Region Team and earned Honorable Mention accolades on the All-State team.

Johnson entered Virginia State University in the fall of 1970 but chose not to compete in sports due to family commitment. He did, however, maintain a vigorous intramural life in football and basketball.

After graduating from VSU, Johnson joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel. In 1978, he coached the Company D/67th Sig Bn (Ft. Gordon, GA) softball team. From 1986 to 1990, he played softball on the 81st Army Reserve Command (Atlanta, GA) winning the division championship in the Spring of 1990.

From 1999 to 2003 Joe provided sponsorships to numerous football and basketball youth activities associated with the Ft. Gordon Youth Activity League. Later, from 2005 through 2009, he provided sponsarship for youth to attend the John A. White Youth Golf Camp in Atlanta, GA.


Ronnie Chappell

Chappell was a standout football player for Halifax County High School and went on to become a football standout at The College of William & Mary.

The former Halifax resident played on the offensive and defensive line of an undefeated Halifax County High School freshman football team. As a sophomore, Chappell made the Comets varsity squad as a defensive tackle. He played offensive and defensive tackle as a junior and offensive tackle and defensive end during his senior year.

Chappell lettered all three years that he played on the varsity squad. In his senior year, Chappell was selected to the First Team of both the All-Western District Team and the All-Western Region Team, making him the only player selected to the First Team of both squads. In addition, he was selected to the First Team Offense and Third Team Defense of the All Virginia Group AAA Football Team.

In addition to being a standout football player, Chappell lettered in track three years and was a member of the basketball team during his senior year.

Chappell was awarded a full athletic scholarship to attend the College of William and Mary. At that time, freshmen could not participate in varsity sports. However, Chappell became a starter as a sophomore playing under Coach Lou Holtz. In his junior and senior seasons while playing under Coach Jim Root, Chappell was named to the All-Southern Conference First Team in 1972.

After graduating from The College Of William and Mary, Chappell returned to Halifax County to join the staff of the South Boston News / Record Advertiser and work with the late Hugh Moore.

In 1977, after a brief stint as the chief speechwriter for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Henry Howell, he moved to Alaska to edit a small daily newspaper in the oil and fishing community of Kenai. He also worked as the Kenai Bureau Chief for the Anchorage Daily News.

Chappell joined ARCO Alaska in 1989 as a communications specialist and held a series of increasingly responsible public affairs and communications positions within ARCO and BP America.

At the time of his retirement in March 2010, Chappell was responsible for managing BP America’s internal and external communications programs in the United States.


Jerry Brooks

Brooks was one of the more prolific scorers in the history of the Halifax County High School boys basketball team. He was a member of the Comets basketball team from 1970-1973 and earned a number of honors. Brooks broke the school’s single-game scoring record of 40 points in a single game, a mark that stood for more than 15 years.

Among the honors Brooks earned were being named to the First Team of the All-Western District Team, the First Team of the All-Northwest Region Team and the First Team of the All Group AAA State Team.

In addition, he earned the Most Valuable Player Award in the Western District Tournament and the Most Valuable Player Award in the Northwest Region Tournament.

Brooks went on to play basketball at Palmers Junior College. From 1976-1980 he played for the Langley Air Force Base basketball team. In 1980-1981 he played at Clark Air Force Base in the Phillipines and in 1982 played at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, Cal.

Continuing with basketball, Brooks played at Beale Air Force Base in Sacramento, Cal. From 1983-1987 and played at Shemeya Air Force Base in Alaska in 1993. 

Brooks coached basketball in the Virginia Recreation League in Newport News in 1994. He retired from the United States Air Force in 1996 and since 1998 has served as a Senior Corrections Officer for the Department of Corrections.