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Sports Hall of Fame inducts foursome
Welcome aboard: Larry Canady, Patricia Francis,
Hal Henderson and Ralph Thurston. The four
alunmi were added to the Chowan College Sports
Hall of Fame November 8 during an induction
banquet hosted by the Braves Club.
Larry Canady, Chowan’s first-ever basketball
All-American, was hailed by Braves basketball
skipper Bob Burke as “one of the best ever to wear
Chowan’s blue-and-white.” Continued the coach,
“Back then I was a new coach with new ideas.
Larry may not have liked what I was doing, but he
buttoned his lip and played hard. He went on to
lead us to what was then a school single-season
record of 27 wins.”
Evidently, Canady liked what he saw in Burke.
“Coach Burke was the toughest coach I’ve ever
had,” observed the Kinston native who was
Chowan’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1981. “He
had such a big influence on my career, I can look
back now and wish that Chowan were a four-year
school when I was there. I would have loved to
play two more seasons under Coach Burke,”
Canady, who resides in Raleigh and works with
substance abuse patients at Holly Hill Charter
North Ridge, was quick to point out where the
praise belonged for his outstanding athletic career.
“I give all the glory to God for his heavenly
strength,” admitted Canady. “I would also like to
thank my parents for their inspiration as well as my
entire family for all their support.”
An outstanding two-sport (basketball, volley
ball) athlete while at Chowan, Francis said she could
still feel the caring and the warmth at the school.
“Chowan College offered me a chance to grow and
spread my wings,” said the Capron, Va., native.
“It’s a school that truly cares for its students and
its athletes. I can still feel that warmth and that
caring here tonight.”
Patricia Francis, whose educational career touch
ed many different levels, also expressed her grati
tude toward one certain Chowan professor attending
during the Hall of Fame banquet. “I was told by
fellow Chowan classmates to drop any class taught
by Mr. (Warren) Sexton because he was such a
tough teacher,” recalled Francis. “Well, sure enough,
I was assigned to one of his classes and I tried to
get out of it, but coach (Janet) Collins urged me to
continue. I’m glad I did because Mr. Sexton taught
me that when hfe offers challenges, you can succeed
through hard work.”
CoUins inducted her former two-sport standout
by saying, “I know her family is very proud of
Patricia, as are we here at Chowan College. She is a
A two-time NJCAA All-American during his
Chowan football career, Flal Henderson was
inducted by legendary Braves coach Jim Garrison.
“Hal was a beautiful sight to see in a Chowan
uniform,” said Garrison. “Others said that he was
too small to play as a defensive end in college
football, but they were wrong. He was the first
freshman I ever had to become an All-American and
he backed that up with being honored again in his
“Chowan College is better off for having had
Hal here,” closed the coach, “and I hope he is better
off as well.” The Charleston, S.C., native answered
by jokingly responding, “Believe me, everything
coach Garrison just said is the truth.”
Henderson, who went forward to enjoy a banner
football career at the University of South Carolina,
added that he felt at home while at Chowan. “I’d
do anything to help this school,” noted Henderson.
“It was my home away from home for the two
years I was here and I’ll treasure those times
forever What I accomplished on the football field
was just a little piece of the puzzle.”
“Family” atmosphere at Chowan was so special
to Ralph Thurston that he enrolled at the school not
once, but twice. The former All-Conference football
performer for the Braves saw his stay in Murfrees
boro interrupted by the Vietnam War. Believing
strongly in his commitment to God and Country,
Thurston left school to serve as a medic aboard the
USS Repose stationed off the Vietnam coast. The
ship set a record for most time at sea during one
Inducted Into the 13th Chowan College Sports Hall of Fame, November 8, were (l-r)
Patricia Francis '69, Larry Canady '81, Ralph Thurston '65 and Hal Henderson '80.
tour of duty.
One would think that a former offensive
lineman, who went on the fight against Commu
nism, should be labeled as a “tough guy.” How
ever, Thurston let his emotions show during his
Hall ofFame acceptance speech.
“Why me, what did I do to earn this honor?”
quizzed Thurston, choking back the tears. “What
you are presenting me with here tonight, is not
mine alone. I would like to thank my parents for
the sacrifices they made to put me through school.
Thanks to my brothers who were there to pick me
up when I stumbled and fell. Thanks to my
friends for their undying love and support. I
humbly accept this award for all those people.”
Charles Taylor, a former Chowan teammate,
inducted Thurston. “With Ralph, what you see is
what you get,” stressed Taylor
“Here’s a man so in love with his country that
he sacrificed a portion of his college education to
serve his nation in a time of war That hasn’t
changed at all over the years because Ralph is still
very kind to his fellow man.”
Thurston, who resides in Chesterfield County,
Va., is in the real estate and insurance business.
His close ties with Chowan remain intact today as
he serves on the board of directors with the Braves
Each of the new inductees was presented with a
Hall ofFame plaque and ring.
See What’s New
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CHOWAN TODAY, Winter 1997-98 — Page 11