The NC State Athletic Hall of Fame induction for the class of 2018 started off the night with the reveal of the newest addition to Reynolds Coliseum introduced by Director of Athletics, Debbie Yow. The ceremony then moved into the gymnasium which had been transformed for the event.
Of the six newly inducted members, the basketball team of 1983, led by Jim Valvano, was at the heart of the event.
Dereck Whittenburg, former guard of the 1983 basketball team, said what tonight meant to him.
“A very special night for all of us inductees into the Hall of Fame,” Whittenburg said. “Especially for our team, it’s a chance after 36 years for us to get back together and we’re having a wonderful time. But my heart goes out to the ones who cannot make it; the late Jim Valvano, the late Lorenzo Charles, the late Quinton Leonard, Ed McLean from our ’83 team. We’re thinking about those guys because it’s a special moment for our team and to be a part of something that’s bigger than yourself is humbling and it makes it so emotional and feel good about your experience here at NC State.”
Former assistant coach Tom Abatemarco echoed Whittenburg’s statement.
“For me, it’s an exciting time to come back and see all of your teammates,” Abatemarco said. “We have reunions all the time and we get together but nothing like this. Anytime you get inducted into a hall of fame as a group is a magnificent thing.”
The 1983 men’s basketball team is only the second group to be inducted into the NC State Hall of Fame. The other group being the 1974 men’s basketball team who was led by Norm Sloan at the time.
Yet, there is something special about the 1983 team. Even after 36 years, the accomplishment of that championship team is known throughout the Wolfpack family and beyond.
“A buddy of mine the other day said, ‘You know what, usually when somebody wins the national championship you say okay who won it two years ago? Nobody remembers,’” said Max Perry, a graduate assistant coach of the 1983 team. “But they remember 1983, they know who won the National Championship in 1983.”
A reason for such remembrance lies with the head coach of the team, Valvano.
“[Valvano] was the architect,” Perry said. “He was a fantastic human being and I love him.”
Not only was Valvano a prominent coach at NC State but so was the women’s coach, Kay Yow as remembered by inductee basketball player Trudi Lacey.
“Tonight is a very special night because it’s filled with so many wonderful memories of my teammates [and] coach Yow,” Lacey said. “I was also very good friends with Jim Valvano and the men’s team: Sidney Lowe, Thurl Bailey, Dereck Whittenburg. Just to be in that class with those people is very special.”
Four more inductees into the Hall of Fame were swimmer Cullen Jones, golfer Tim Clark, basketball player Rodney “Ice” Monroe and swim coach Willis Casey.
“At the time we were just in the moment and trying to represent NC State the very best that we could,” Lacey said. “We had no idea that it would eventually evolve into this.”
After a speech from Chancellor Randy Woodson and Debbie Yow, 12 former Hall of Fame inductees were recognized for their attendance including Tommy Burleson, Don Easterling, Steve Gregg, Tory Holt, Lou Pucillo and members of the 1974 men’s basketball National Championship Team.
Former center Thurl Bailey described what tonight was about for him.
“Whenever I have the opportunity to get together with a group of special people that went on a special journey back in 1983, it’s an amazing night,” Bailey said. “But now to be honored as a part of the NC State Hall of Fame is a dream come true. It’s great to be here, great to see familiar faces, it’s great to be honored.”
The night closed with former guard Terry Gannon giving a speech not only for the team of 1983 but for the other five inductees on stage who have impacted the athletics of NC State.
“I’ve had a world-round experience here in Wolfpack nation,” Whittenburg said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”