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Catawba College Sports Hall of Fame Announces Six New Members

April 03, 2008

Category: Alumni, Athletics, Events


Six new members will be inducted into the Catawba College Sports Hall of Fame on April 26, during the festivities of the Hall of Fame's 30th anniversary.

The inductees are (with graduation year): Ginger Hamric of Salisbury; Charles E. Little '64 of Salisbury; Joseph S. Popp '52 of Mooresville; Tracey N. Scruggs '90 of Alexandria, Va.; Ralph Wager of Charlotte; and the late Herman D. Helms '48.

The induction ceremony, sponsored by the Catawba College Chiefs Club, will be held on Saturday, April 26, at 12:30 p.m. The luncheon will be held in Kirkland Lobby of the Abernethy Physical Education Center. On Friday, April 25, the Hall of Fame Golf Tournament will be held at The Country Club of Salisbury at 1 p.m.

The Catawba College Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 1977 and this year's inductees will bring the total number of members to 147.

Following are the achievements of this year's inductees: 

Ginger HamricGINGER CRISSMAN HAMRIC
Hamric, Catawba head women's volleyball coach since 1990, joins Sam Moir (men's basketball, 1960-94) and Nan Whitley (softball, 1983-present) as coaches who were inducted while still active at the college.

Hamric has coached the Lady Indians for 18 seasons now, compiling a 389-211 record and leading the program to South Atlantic Conference regular season championships in 2000 and 2002. Catawba has won SAC Tournament titles in 1990, 1991 and 2001.

The 2001 SAC Tournament championship gave Catawba its first berth into the NCAA Division II Regionals.

Hamric's teams have enjoyed 16 winning seasons, including 11 seasons of 20 wins or more. Catawba has had three seasons of 30 or more victories under Hamric, including the school record of 39 in 2002.

In addition to coaching volleyball at Catawba, Hamric has taught physical education classes and handled the NCAA compliance for all sports for several years. Most recently, Hamric has been the advisor for the Catawba Student Athlete Advisory Committee and served on the NCAA Division II National Volleyball Committee.

Hamric currently directs and coaches USAV Juniors Club Volleyball and directs and instructs numerous camps each spring and summer.

Hamric was team captain at Appalachian State as both a junior and senior, and led the Lady Apps to the Southern Conference championship in 1984.

Prior to coming to Catawba, Hamric was successful at Mt. Airy High School (1985-89), winning two state (2-A) championships and three Northwestern Conference titles. Her high school career coaching record was 95-14.

Hamric and her husband, Will, a minister, reside in both Yadkinville and Salisbury.


Herman HelmsHERMAN D. HELMS
Helms, a 1948 Catawba graduate, enjoyed a long career at a sports writer at two major newspapers. Many considered Helms the most highly read sports columnist in the Carolinas for four decades.

Beginning his career in 1948 at The Charlotte Observer, Helms covered all sports and wrote a column two times a week. In 1963, Helms moved to The State newspaper in Columbia, serving as executive sports editor until 1987. He was The State's lead sports columnist from 1963 until retirement in 1989.

Helms was the only journalist to be named Sportswriter of The Year in both Carolinas, earning the North Carolina honor twice and the South Carolina award five times.

Helms was inducted into the N.C. Boxing Hall of Fame in 1988 and his interest in boxing led him to know and write about such greats as Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.

He was former president of the Atlantic Coast Writers Association and was a founder and director of the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.

While a student at Catawba, Helms was the sports information director, the first person to do that job at the college.

Helms died last December. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Nancy; sons Dr. Stephen Helms of Marietta, Ga., and Tracy Helms of Dallas, Tex.; and daughter Robin Lauren of Columbia, Md.


Charles LittleCHARLES E. LITTLE
Little was a four-year starter in football at Catawba, prior to graduation in 1964. He then went on to an outstanding teacher and coach in high school and college.

A member of the Western Pennsylvania All-Star football team in 1960, Little played in that state's well-known East-West All-Star game. He then come south to Catawba College, where he played both offensive and defensive line for the Indians for four seasons. Little was a key member of the Catawba team that won the 1963 Carolinas Conference championship.

Following graduation, Little enjoyed great success at the high school level as an assistant coach for Pete Stout at Salisbury (1965-76) and Burlington Williams (1976-83) high schools.

At Salisbury, Little was on the staff of three Western N.C. championship teams and coached seven Shrine Bowl linemen. He was also named Teacher of the Year at Salisbury High School in 1972 and enjoyed great success as a track and field coach.

At Burlington Williams, Little was defensive coordinator for teams that won 44 consecutive games and state championships in 1981 and 1983.

Little was also head golf coach at Williams and won state championships in 1976, 1978 and 1981.

Little then returned to his alma mater in 1983 when Stout took the head football coaching position at Catawba. Little was Catawba's defensive coordinator for four seasons (1983-86).

In addition to be the Chiefs Club president for two terms, Little began the Gridiron Club in 1996, an organization that assists the college's football program. He has been the club's president since its inception.

Little resides in Salisbury with his wife, Phyllis.


Joe PoppJOE POPP
Popp enjoyed a four-year career in football at Catawba, playing halfback and safety, and also played basketball and baseball.

Popp then went on to an outstanding career in high school coaching. At Jonesville (now Starmount High School), Popp's teams won 35 of 39 games in 1953-55. Popp then coached at West Forsyth in 1956-57 before moving to Mooresville in 1958. Popp's 1961 Mooresville team won the state 3-A championship.

In 1962, Popp moved to an assistant coach position at UNC-Chapel Hill. He also coached at George Washington (1963-64), Wake Forest (defensive coordinator, 1965-68) and Georgia Tech (1969-72).

Popp then got into professional football, first with the Chicago Fire/Wind of the short-lived World Football League in 1974-75, and then as special assistant to the head coach and defensive assistant for the Cleveland Browns (1989-91).

Popp was selected to the Mooresville Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

Originally from Cambria County, Pa., Popp was selected as one of the Top 50 all-time athletes in his home area's history.

Popp still resides in Mooresville with his wife, Peggy. They have three grown children, Joey, Karen and Jim.


Tracey ScruggsTRACEY SCRUGGS
Scruggs was a career starter at point guard for the Indians (1985-90) and holds school records for games played with 124 and assists with 614.

An All-Carolinas Conference performer in 1988, when he dished out 170 assists, Scruggs was also a scorer, averaging 14.1 that season and 11.9 points per game for his career.

Scruggs scored 1,471 career points, ranking him 14th all-time at Catawba.

In addition to leading the assists category, Scruggs also ranks fourth all-time in steals with 152.

Catawba enjoyed a 70-57 record during Scruggs' career at point guard but a Rowan County measles quarantine shut down what could have been one of Catawba's all-time best teams in 1988-89. The Indians were 5-6 at Christmas break but 6-9 Oral Roberts transfer Boyce Cherry, in combination with Scruggs and the likes of Brandon Christie, Rodney Deese and newcomer Andre Godfrey, made the second half of the season look very promising. However, the season was ended by the measles epidemic.

Scruggs had many big games for the Indians, but one highlight was taking a rebound the length of  the court, laying in a game-winning basket against eventual conference champion High Point at the buzzer.

Since graduation, Scruggs has been involved in coaching in the Alexandria, Va. area. He resides in Alexandria with his wife, Connie.


Ralph WagerRALPH WAGER
Wager, recognized as one of the top soccer coaches of his era at any level, built Catawba into a nationally respected program in the 1980s.

After arriving at Catawba in 1983, Wager took a lifeless program that was 8-42-1 in 1980-82 and created immediate success. In 1983, Wager's Catawba team went 10-5-3 and by 1984, won the Carolinas Conference and NAIA District 26 championships.

Wager coached Catawba through the 1989 season, compiling 91-42-8 record and five conference championships (1984, 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1989). Not afraid to take on larger, Division I programs, Wager coached his Catawba team to stunning victories over UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Asheville, Wake Forest and in 1986, eventual national champion Duke.

Catawba had a 31-game District 26 winning streak under Wager (1984-87), including three district titles.

Wager coached nine All-Americans at Catawba and seven student athletes moved on to the professional soccer ranks.

Wager was voted the conference and district Coach of the Year in 1985 and 1986 and the South Region Coach of the Year in 1986.

After leaving Catawba in 1990, Wager has gone on to being a clinician throughout the United States and has been involved with soccer in the Charlotte area. He has been involved with several books and teaching videos as well.

A native of Webster, N.Y., where he enjoyed great success in high school coaching, Wager played soccer and graduated from SUNY-Brockport.

Wager now resides in Charlotte.


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