Five former coaches and athletes were announced as members of the 2011 Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Among the names in this year’s class are NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett, youth sports coach William “Skip” Beatty, slow-pitch softball sponsor Richard Howard and Hickory High School stand outs Cathy Burgess Hitchcock and Charles Allen “Al” Young.
The quintet will be a part of the 10th class of the hall of fame.
“The inductees truly personify the excellent sports heritage of Catawba County, as well as North Carolina,” said Eric Hauss, spokesman for the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame. “They are champions in many ways.”
Beatty, who coached boys and girls in a variety of youth sports, took time to thank those who he interacted with as a coach in Catawba County.
“I am very happy to be a part of the hall of fame,” Beatty said. “I appreciate all of the players that played for me. I appreciate the parents that let me have their kids during the time I coached.”
Jarrett, a Conover native, admitted that two of the nominees — Beatty and Howard — had an impact on his career and life.
“‘Skip’ Beatty was one of the first coaches I ever had as a kid,” Jarrett said. “Growing up in Conover and going to Newton to play in recreation leagues, he was someone that told me not only to compete on the field and be a competitor, but he also taught me about life.
“I can remember going to watch Richard Howard’s softball teams play, and getting to know him through my dad. He was always very helpful and answered any questions I had when I started my racing career,” Jarrett said.
Beatty said that one of his greatest accomplishments in coaching was teaching his players not only about the games they played, but having a focus on issues off the field.
“I always told my kids if they don’t have the grades, they can’t play,” Beatty said. “Their first priority was their grades. If they kept their grades up, they could go places. They could start low and climb the mountain.”
Jarrett will have a busy two weeks, beginning with his induction into the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame.
He is entering the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame on May 12 and his father, Ned, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 23.
Dale says that induction into the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame ranks among the highest honors in his career.
“This ranks at the top,” Dale said. “This is where I grew up and the people I know. These are the people that watched me, pulled for me and were a big part of my life. This means everything to me coming from the area where I’ve lived pretty much my entire life.”
The five inductees will be enshrined in a ceremony on May 9 at CVCC’s All-Purpose Building. The banquet starts at 6 p.m.
One male and one female high school student will also be recognized at the event.
Keith Henry, an assistant football coach under Jim Grobe at Wake Forest, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony. Henry is a graduated of Maiden High School.
Tickets for the event are on sale now through May 6. They cost $25 each or $200 for a table of 10. They are available at the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, each of the public and private high schools in the county and in the Crawdads Store at L.P. Frans Stadium.