Recently, I interviewed the Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors Chairman, Jim Lippard, to learn about their upcoming banquet to honor the hall’s 2017 inductees. An anticipated audience of 100 plus attendees is expected for the banquet on Saturday, October 21, 2017, to be held at the J. Smith Young YMCA in Lexington. Phillip Rapp, a 2013 inductee, is the Master of Ceremonies. 

Lippard at the county historical museum with the Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame plaque. 
Photo courtesy of Gini Chauncey

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees to be recognized are: David Fritts, Fisherman; Debbie Pope, Cheerleader and Leader; Bruce Hayes, Boxer; Jimmy Snyder, Basketball; Chelsa Leonard, Softball. 

Two additional awards will be given: a posthumous award to Jimmy Hester, Boxer, and the “Unsung Hero” award to Billy Epley. The inductees names will be engraved on plaques housed at the Davidson County Historical Museum. 

Eligible nominations were sent to the Board of Directors in July. This is the first year that inductees were chosen in the categories of boxing and cheerleading. 

In 2000, Lippard was inducted into the American Legion Department of North Carolina Baseball Hall of Fame. He was interested in forming a similar organization in Davidson County to recognize deserving individuals connected to the sports world. 

Lippard and Gene Klump, President and CEO of the J. Smith Young YMCA in Lexington, established the Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. 

Since then, other counties have formed similar organizations; and some of the local high schools in Davidson County have started the practice of honoring athletes and persons dedicated to sports. 

The Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame inducted their first 14 selections in September 2002. Since then, 105 persons, including the 2017 inductees, have received this honor. The purpose of this tribute is to 

recognize and honor former players, coaches, and those individuals who have been instrumental in the sports world in Davidson County. To be eligible: 

1. Athletes must have completed competition at least five years prior to the election. 

2. Devoted persons who have sacrificed so much time and effort to maintain sports on such a high level of excellence can still be active. 

3. Nominees must have significant ties to Davidson County. 

I asked Lippard about his most memorable banquet. He smiled and said, “I was surprised in October of 2015 by being awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian award received from the governor of the state of North Carolina.” 

According to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society’s website, this award is given to persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments as Lippard has done. He played baseball in 1951-52 for NC Post 8 American Legion, served as an Athletic Director of the American Legion Department of North Carolina Baseball for 30 years, and for eight years as a state commissioner. 

To view the names of those previously inducted into The Sports Hall of Fame, visit the Davidson County Historical Museum off Main Street in Lexington where the hall of fame plaque is permanently housed. The names of those individuals inducted are listed by year since the inception of the hall. One can visit the hall’s website at davidsoncountysportshalloffame. com for information on eligibility and for nominating someone for entry consideration. 

For more details about this year’s banquet, email DavidsonCountySportsHallOffame@gmail.com. A ticket to attend this special community event is $25.00 and can be purchased at both the Lexington and Thomasville Area Chamber of Commerce offices or at Lippard’s Tailors located at 101 East 1st Ave, Lexington.