UNCP's Homecoming honors outstanding performers


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Cross country team members honored were (from right): David Lewis of St. Pauls, Jeff Moody of Southern Pines, Dan Ryberg of Lumberton, Tom Harris of Monroe, N.C., Ricky and Mickey Stoker of Fayetteville, Craig Williams of Winston Salem, Randy Aldridge of Charlotte, Gary Griffith of Charlotte, Wayne Broadhead of Monroe, Ga., Jamie Bagley of Bridgeton, N.J., and Kevin Houston. Coach Ed Crain was also on hand. Not present were Gary Henry of Charlotte, James Plummer and Walt Jachimauski of Northville, Mich.

Twelve of the 15 members of UNC Pembroke's 1978 national championship cross country team made it back to the university to be honored during the homecoming awards banquet Feb. 22.

The 12 were given special rings to commemorate their "very, very special" feat, said Athletic Director Dan Kenney.

"They accomplished the ultimate in athletic competition - a national championship," Kenney said. "This is a remarkable group of individuals."

On the basketball court, UNCP's teams split with Peach Belt rival Lander University. The women won an overtime thriller 90-80, and the men lost 71-52. The games were carried live on the university's local cable channel for the first time in history.

Dr. Zoe Locklear, former dean of the School of Education, was named Outstanding Alumnus and Alec Price, former dean of students, was named recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Locklear, a 1977 UNCP graduate and associate superintendent for the state Department of Public Instruction, credited the university for giving her a solid foundation.

"As a child looking across the railroad tracks at the university, I knew something magical would happen if I could get over here," she said. "UNCP gave me the ability to get a job, and UNCP gave me a life."

She was introduced by a former student, Jason Benzler '96, who remembered Dr. Locklear, as "a friend, mentor and colleague."

Dr. Diane Jones, vice chancellor for Student Affairs who worked with Price for most of his 32 years, called his job as chief judicial Locklear and Priceofficer for the campus "one of the most difficult jobs on campus." Price finished his career as associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs.

A 1971 UNCP graduate, Price thanked the many UNCP people who encouraged him over the years.

"They told me not many former deans of students come back to be honored in this way," Price said. "I would like to thank the people in the UNCP community who have been friends and colleagues over the years. This is a great place to work."

Retired Athletic Director Ray Pennington and former volleyball all-American Melanie Grooms-Huddleston '92 were added to the Athletic Hall of Fame at the banquet.

Dr. Pennington was baseball coach, golf coach, physical education instructor and athletic director over a 40-year career at UNCP.

Grooms and Pennington"One of the things I am proudest of is that eight of my former baseball players are already in the UNCP Hall of Fame," Dr. Pennington said. "I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by good players, coaches and friends."

Dr. Pennington's family and friends Drew and Tina Bullard of Lumberton presented the university with an endowed scholarship in his name.

Grooms, who was an outstanding softball and volleyball player and coached volleyball at UNCP, was called "an all-American athlete, coach, teacher and mother," by Tommy Thompson, director of the Physical Education Department.

Grooms said all she needed was an opportunity to succeed, and UNCP gave her that chance.

"I needed somebody to give me a chance to excel in something I really love to do," Grooms said.

Alumni Association Vice President Jeanne Fedak '82, of Laurinburg was mistress of ceremonies for the banquet. Chancellor Allen C. Meadors delivered closing remarks for a busy week of homecoming events.

"I welcome those who have returned to campus after being away for several years," Chancellor Meadors. "Let me say that if things look different now on campus, just wait two more years."

UNCP is a university on the move with enrollment up 45 percent since Chancellor Meadors' arrival in 1999 and with $57 million in construction on the drawing board.

Homecoming 2003 reflected a bustling campus. Several events including performances by comedian D. L. Hugley and actor James Earl Jones were sold out at the 1700-seat Givens Performing queen and kingArts Center.

At halftime of the men's basketball game Amy Locklear a junior psychology major from Laurinburg was crowned Homecoming Queen and B.C. Thomas, a senior recreation major from Fayetteville was crowned Homecoming King.