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Rams keep Big House Gaines
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
April 18, 2005 is a date that will
live forever in the hearts of all
Winston-Salem State University
(WSSU) family, friends, supporters
and all HBCU basketball enthusiasts
On that day, the legend, Clarence
"Big House" Gaines passed away,
leaving a void on the campus of
Winston-Salem State University.
"Big House" won 828 games and
the 1967 National Championship dur
ing his 47-year coaching career at
WSSU, and the current athletic
administration, coaches and student-.
athletes refuse to let his memory van
The WSSU Department of
Athletics and its student-athletes
wore buttons on Thursday, April 17
and Friday, April 18, that reads, "We
Are The "Big House" Legacy!", in
remembrance of Gaines, on the 10th
anniversary weekend of his passing.
"We are committed to preserving
an important legacy of Coach Big
House Gaines and other 'greats' who
have been of significant impact to
WSSU Athletics," says Director of
Athletics Tonia Walker.
"Big House made choices about
the life he lived, which truly deter
mined the legacy he left behind. He
left us with his spirit of sheer will,
determination, competition and
excellence. I am honored to stand on
his shoulders in an effort to move the
Rams to new heights," added Walker.
"Nationwide, the name Big House
Gaines has represented championship
level college basketball and great
exposure for Winston-Salem State
University, but to us he represents so
much more," said James Wilhelmi,
WSSU head men's basketball coach.
"He was a mentor, community
leader, trailblazer, father figure and
had an impact on many, many lives.
Celebrating his legacy by wearing
buttons donning his name and
remembering all that he accom
plished is a source of great pride,"
"We should all strive to leave a
legacy that will have a positive
impact on people we will never
meet," said A.G." Hall, WSSU-'
women's basketball coach.
At the Carl H. Russell Sr. Community Center, James
Blackburn, seated left, an agent for East Carolina
University basketball star Antonio Robinson, seated
center, signs Robinson to a contract to play overseas.
Others in the photo are: front row seated right, Brian
Leak Sr., Robinson's father; back row left, Marcus
Williams, friend; and right, Brian Leaks Jr., brother.
College star signs with
pro basketball team
during Easter egg hunt
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
Antonio Robinson will be playing professional basket
ball overseas. The basketball star of East Carolina
University is the son of High Point College (now High
Point University) Basketball Star Brian Leak, who works
at the Carl H. Russell Sr. Community Center.
RobinsoQ was signed by his agent James Blackburn at
the sixth annual Easer Egg Hunt on Thursday, April 2 at
the Russell Center.
Pre-K children through age 11 attended the event,
sponsored by the Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks
Department. Beverly Ligons, Brian Leak and Ben Piggott
welcomed the children to enjoy the special event.
The children had a chance to find many eggs and win
prizes as well.
Senior Center Supervisor Ben Piggott would like to
thank volunteers Wanda Reid, Karen Sterling, Ramona
Williams, Kings and Queens Bridge Club and the Carl H.
Russell Senior Citizens Club for their help with the egg
"May God bless them all for helping with the children
and showing my mother respect, Mrs. Mae Edith Piggott,
who passed earlier this week, with a homegoing prayer,"
(Above) Ben Piggot,
with hands raised, is
shown with the many
prize winners at the
Easter egg hunt on
Campbell was the big
winner. She had the
most Easter eggs.
.645. '.There's no question about how
much she improved over the summer,"
said Gray. "She did all the necessary
behind the scenes work to take her skill
set to another level.
"Mercedes is a huge asset. She's
merged her talents to the point where
she's now a factor offensively and
defensively. I'm just hoping that the
consistency stays there."
Hargett arrived at Winston-Salem
State as a highly regarded recruit. She
emerged as a standout player at
Havelock High School and the show
case travel squads that play during the
summer months. As things turned out,
her rookie season as a Lady Ram
proved to be an eye-opener on several
"Time management was a big issue
for me when I first got here," she said.
"After that first year, I had a much bet
ter handle on how I schedule my days.
As an athlete, it was a culture shock for
me. When I got to WSSU, I found out
quickly that everybody else was a No.
1 at their high school just like 1 was at
my school. So, that means that nothing
is guaranteed. You have to compete
hard every day to earn your spot on the
It's been a season of ups and downs
for Winston-Salem State softball. With
an overall record of 13-19 as of April
20, the Lady Rams will most likely face
long odds to win the CIAA
Tournament, which begins next.
Thursday (April 30) in Raleigh.
WSSU, 8-2 in league play, expects
to make a strong run at this year's con
ference championship trophy. Hargett
is confident that her team will be ready
"We've had our struggles," she
said. "But what it all comes down to is
what have we learned in going through
those struggles. Every day presents an
opportunity for us to work on getting
better as individuals and as a team. So
now, we'll focus on performing well at
the CIAA tournament at the end of this
of taking part in hazing activities on
the UNCC baseball team. Roberts
and four other players were sus
pended from the 49ers program.
The school has started its own
investigation, which is ongoing and
not yet completed. ?
In the meantime, Roberts gave
serious consideration to walking
away from the game for good. The
situation at UNC Charlotte left him
wpndering if it would be worth his
while to continue his career. He had
other baseball offers and chose
Winston-Salem State over the
University of Central Missouri.
As things turned out, the NCAA
transfer rules worked in Roberts'
favor. As a transfer from a Division
I school (UNC Charlotte) to
Division II, he was allowed to trans
fer and be immediately eligible to
play at the start of the new semester
Des Roberts has hit over 300 this season in
spite of a lingering wrist injury.
For a while, I wasn t too sure
about playing any more baseball," said Roberts. "But I'm
happy about the decision I made. Now, I'm in a position
to finish what I started. Coming in, it was difficult to deter
mine expectations of any kind. My attitude was to go out,
play ball and we'll see what happens. I believe we have a
good chance to do some
thing special and win the
CIAA, and hopefully go to
the regional championships
and make some noise.
"I haven't been here that
long, but I'm in a very good
situation here. My new
teammates are like brothers
to me. For the group of sen
iors on this year's team, I
want to do every thing I can
to do my part and not let
Roberts is hopeful that
he can take his game to the
next level. Last summer, he
played well for the
Thomasville Hi-Toms of the
Coastal Plain League, a
wooden-bat summer league
that helps college players
refine their skills for the
pros. Roberts hit .358 for the
Hi-Toms and was voted in
as a starting outfielder on
the West team for the 2014
CPL All-Star Game.
"I'm lnnlrino fnru/arH to
showing people what 1 can
do," he said. "It's about playing hard and holding nothing
back. If things work out and I make it, that will be fine. If
it doesn't work out, I can still be satisfied because I know
I would've given my very best effort."
from page WT ?
Washington-Saunders believed he would make
amends during the summer track season. Those hopes
vanished when he suffered shin splints while competing in
an AAU meet. This turned^out to be a severe injury that
sidelined Washington-Saundiers for nearly four "months.
What might have happened if it wasn't for
The recovery process didn't go as smooth
ly as Washington-Saunders hoped it would.
He never reached the desired level of condi
tioning needed to compete up to his capability
for the indoor season.
Ironically, Washington-Saunders was
widely viewed as a solid pick to win the 500
meter run at the state indoor championships.
That's because he had the fastest time of all
the returning runners from the previous winter
season. At best, the indoor season was so-so
for Washington-Saunders, who finished 9th in
the 500 and 13th in the 300-meter dash at the
That was a low moment, but by the opening weeks of
the outdoor season, there was no denying that
Washington-Saunders was completely healthy and good to
go for the 400. In mid-March, which was early in the sea
son, he ran a blistering 48.48 seconds, which put him in
the No. 2 spot in the Class 4-A state rankings on the N.C.
At the Brent Invitational two weeks ago, Washington
Saunders won the 400 for the second year in a row. Even
though there was nobody in the field who could seriously
challenge him, he clocked 49 seconds flat.
What if he had been pushed to his limit?
"I'm not where I should be right now," said
Washington-Saunders, who has a 3.7 grade-point average.
"But I also know that for me to run faster times, I need to
compete against the fastest 400 runners. That hasn't hap
pened a lot for me this season."
Washington-Saunders may not get that opportunity
until early May at the Class 4-A state championships.
That's provided that he finishes among the top four at the
regionals. He looks forward to a rematch with Kaylan
Love-Soles of Rocky River, who is No. 1 in the state rank
Love-Soles edged Washington-Saunders by .15 sec
onds in their only encounter of the season at the Marvin
Ridge Invitational in March. The other most likely 400
contenders for the state meet include Southeast Raleigh's
Jayon Woodward and TJ. Bleichner of Fuquay-Varina.
Woodward (48.87 this spring) was fourth at the New
Balance Outdoor Nationals last year and Bleichner is this
year's state indoor champ in the 500.
'Chace can go 47.6, 47.7 this year, said
Donald Grant, Reagan's sprint coach. "His
work ethic is outstanding. I don't think you'll
find any athlete who's more dedicated to his
sport. He's always telling me that the 400 is his
Washington-Saunders' devotion to track and
field goes beyond his relentless inner drive to
train and push himself to the limit. In recent
years, he's evolved as a student of the one-lap
It's the norm for him to analyze video
footage of races run by legendary 400 sprinters
Michael Johnson, Butch Reynolds, Jeremy
Wariner and Quincy Watts. As he dissects the
various stages of each race he views, Washington
Saunders probes for a myriad of details which run the
gamut from how to run the turns to how to stay relaxed
when fatigue sets in at the end of the race. These efforts
are all geared to help him run at peak efficiency.
"I watch the videos closely to find out how they did
what they did," he explained. "Then I take what I leam *
from them and try as best as I can to emulate that."
Washington-Saunders has a vision for his running
career, which he hopes will extend past his college years.
As a freshman at Reagan, his dream of running in the
Olympics one day was bom.
That dream, however, isn't his only reason for running
and competing at the highest levels possible. Washington
Saunders runs in honor of his late grandmother, Carolyn
Washington and his grandfather. Coy Saunders Sr., who's
been diagnosed with colon cancer.
"I run so that I can leave a legacy," said Washington
Saunders. "My grandmother passed away when I was a
baby and I want to make her proud. I want to do the same
for my grandfather because he's been there for me since
day one. When I run, I don't do it just for me. I do it for
WSSU pitcher Mercedet Hargett (33 in white) leadf the C1AA in strikeouts.