On Sunday, May 1st, the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame will welcome the 2016 inductees into membership at their annual banquet at the Burney Center on the campus of UNCW. The Reception and Silent Auction will begin at 5:00 pm followed by the induction ceremony and dinner at 6:30 pm. The annual golf tournament will be held Saturday, April 30th .
The GWSHOF was formed in 2005 in order to honor those who have brought recognition to the Greater Wilmington area and themselves, by their excellence in the world of sports. Past inductees include Leon Brogden, Roman Gabriel, Wayne Jackson, Sonny Jurgensen and Meadowlark Lemon (2006 Class); Bill Brooks, Jap Davis, Tommy Green, Althea Gibson and Jack Holley (2007 Class); Buck Hardee, Clyde Simmons, Cathy Johnston Forbes, Hoss Ellington and Wray Carlton (2008 Class); E. A. “Spike” Corbin, Chester McGlockton, George Rountree III, Brian M. Rowsom, and Helen Grey Smith (2009 Class), Ben Bourgeois, Terry Holland, Joe Miller and Sherriedale Morgan (posthumously) (2010 Class), Sheila Boles, Bill Dooley, David Esposito and Wilver Dornel Stargell “Pops” (posthumously) (2011 Class), Dr. James Dineen, M.D., Isaac B. (Ike) Grainger (posthumously), Christopher Trot Nixon and Lendward (Lenny) Simpson (2012 Class), Kenny Gattison, Thell Overman (Posthumously), Martin “Glenn” Sasser and Maggie Will (2013 Class) and Ricky James Benton, Bob Boyd (Posthumously), Alge Crumpler and Calvin Lane (2014 Class). Last year’s class of 2015 included Chuck Carree, Mel Gibson, Jim Hebbe and Jim Moore.
The 2016 slate of inductees are as follows:
Gwen Austin, a stand out basketball player at Wallace-Rose Hill High School was a dominating 6’2” center.
In her freshman year she was All Conference, HM All East; sophomore year she was All Conference, All East (2nd Team); junior year..All Conference, All Section (1st team), All East (1st team) and in her senior year she was All Conference, All Section (1st team), All East (1st team), All State (1st team) and Player of the Year. She was also HM Converse All American and Who’s Who Among Woman Basketball Players in Nation.
From 1977 to 81 she participated in two District II Championships, Two East Central Conference Championships and Two East Central Conference Tournament Championships.
Gwen Austin went on to play collegiately at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She graduated in 1985, with career records in 16 different categories, including points (2,056), rebounds (1,290) and blocks (222). She’s remembered as a sleek center who shot 52 percent from the field and averaged a double-double with 18.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game over her 109 game career. She is all-time leading scorer for the UNC-Wilmington women’s basketball. She was first-team All-ECAC and ECAD South Player of the Year. In her four years with UNCW her teams went 69-40, including a 22-6 mark for the 1983-84 season. In 1981-82 she was named team MVP.
In 2009 Austin was named to the Coastal Athletic Conference Basketball Legends team and in 2010 she was inducted into the UNCW Sports Hall of Fame.
On February 23, 2014 Austin’s #23 jersey was retired….the first for a women’s player in UNCW history.
Since graduation, Austin has lived a relatively quiet life. She played one year of pro ball with Roquebrune-Cap Martin in France.
Gwen has worked as a driver for UPS for the past 22 years.
John Bunting was born in Portland, ME in 1950 to James M and Ethel Bunting and grew up outside of Washington, DC. He was a 3 year starter in Basketball and Baseball and an All-County, All-Met DC in football his senior year. He was recruited by Coach Bill Dooley and received a scholarship at UNC Chapel Hill in 1968. Coach Dooley stated, “John was the Defensive Captain of our team. He was not only an outstanding linebacker, he was a team leader and had a tremendous ability to inspire his teammates.” As a Tarheel he started and played on Peach Bowl/Gator Bowl teams in ‘70-7. John was All-Conference/Def MVP in 1971 and played in the Senior Bowl All-Star game in 1972 in Mobile, Alabama.
In 1972 Bunting was drafted in the 10th round by the Philadelphia Eagles. During his time with the Eagles he was Def MVP in 1979, was in playoffs in 1978 and 1981. The Eagles were the NFC Champions in 1981 and went to Super Bowl 15. John was the NFLPA Player Representative for six years. He was released after the ’82 season.
Bunting then joined the USFL Philadelphia Stars and played in 2 Championship games winning the USFL Championship in 1984 after which he retired and moved into the coaching side of football. He coached for Jim Mora and in final season of USFL he won the USFL Championship in 1985. He then was assistant coach at Brown University and Glassboro State College before becoming head coach at GSC. It was there he met his wife Dawn. He coached 5 years as head coach winning 2 Conference Championships and advancing to semi-finals of NCAA tournament in 1992.
John became assistant coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 1993-96 under Carl Peterson/Marty Schottenheimer then joined Dick Vermeil in ’97 as assistant coach of the St. Louis Rams. Won SuperBowl 34 as Co-Coordinator and Linebacker Coach in 1999-00. In 2000 John joined the New Orleans Saints as Linebacker Coach.
He became Head Coach of UNC Tarheels 2000-06. During that time he was the only coach to beat top 5 team…FSU 2001 and Miami 2004.
After leaving UNC, Bunting has worked at ISP Radio covering the ACC game of the week….ESPN TV broadcasting college football and in football off-season he has been a mentor/trainer at IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL to Jerry Hughes, Luke Kuechly (2012) and Manti Teo (2013). He also mentored/trained UNC Linebackers Jeff Schottmer and Shakeel Rashad in Dallas, TX.
John was a Professional Football Coach for 10 years, a College Football Coach for 13 years, 11 as Head Coach and a Professional Football Player for 13 years. As the Head Coach of the University of North Carolina, he won more games in the first season than any other first-year coach in school’s history.
John and Dawn Bunting live in Hampstead with their dog Bella and have made the Wilmington community their home. John has served on the Board of the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame since 2008, has been a board member of the Miracle League National Organization since 2009 and is a commentator on WECT’s Friday Night Football Program. He has served as a Key Note Speaker at various are events such as the Ashley High School Football Program, New Hanover County Domestic Violence Shelter, the Topsail High School and the New Hanover County Boy Scounts.
Born in Raleigh in 1944, Larry graduated from Raleigh Broughton in 1962. He was the quarterback for their 1961 state championship team. He went on to attend UNCW where he was the outfielder on the National Jr. College Baseball Championship team in 1963. He graduated from UNCW in 1966. From ’66 to 70 he taught and coached in Raleigh. Then in 1969 he obtained his Master’s Degree from UNC Chapel Hill.
Honeycutt returned to UNCW in 1970 as a coach and faculty member. During that time he coached baseball, soccer and 25 years as the men’s tennis coach. He was voted NAIA coach of the year in 1975.
He began his officiating career in basketball and football while attending Wilmington College as a student. He has officiated many conference, regional and sectional championships during his 47 years of officiating….including 9 state championships…..2 basketball, 3 football and 4 soccer.
Larry officiated the following, to name a few:
• Jaycee Boys Home Football Game 1977
• East-West All-Star Basketball Game 1985
• 12th Annual Carolinas Classic Basketball Game 2009
• East-West All-Star Football Game 2014.
• ACC, SAC, DIAC, CAA, ODA, NISOA…including 1st, 3rd and 4th round Championships in Div. 2 football playoffs
Honeycutt served as a local clinic leader for the Wilmington area officials in football, basketball, and soccer. He was featured in the April 2015 issue of Referee Magazine and received the Golden Whistle Award from the NCHSAA in May of 2015….the highest honor for a sports official in North Carolina. He is a member of the UNCW Seahawk Club and is currently a part time faculty member in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences as a lecturer. He is a UNCW alumni-ambassador for the school, serves as a faculty advisor in the university college advising program and was a Guest Speaker at the Senior Men’s Club of Wilmington in 2015.
Larry is married to his wife Gwynn of 35 years and they have 3 children and 2 grandchildren. He serves as an elder, deacon and choir member at Little Chapel on the Boardwalk at Wrightsville Beach, NC.
CHARLIE “BARREL” NIVEN – (1932-1994)
Sports fans of the 50s would say Charles Duncan Niven was arguably the best and most exciting three-sports athlete ever to play in Wilmington. His size was an unimposing 5 feet 8 inches and 170 pounds and he was referred to as Charlie “Barrel” Niven. He was exceptionally fast and excelled at football, basketball and baseball.
In football at New Hanover High School, Charlie would fill Legion Stadium with his football antics. Breaking the school record for most touchdowns in a single season, he made All State in football, was MVP in both the North-South Shrine All Star Football Game and the East-West Football All Star Game. Choo Choo Justice of Carolina football fame was scouting the games for Carolina and said “Barrel” was the best runner he had ever seen. Carolina offered Niven a football scholarship but with the help of Coach Jap Davis of Duke football fame, one of the original Iron Dukes, Charlie went to Duke on a football scholarship.
After a great freshman football season at Duke, the Canadian Football League offered Niven a $600 per game contract to play for them so he headed to the Canadian League. After one season and some great games, he returned to Wilmington, got married and decided not to go back. Coach Bill Brooks, basketball coach at Wilmington College gave Niven a Basketball Scholarship to come play for him. Charlie put Wilmington College on the map, leading the nation in scoring with a 38.6 points per game average and there were no three-point shots at that time.
After his career came to an end, Niven continued to be involved in sports. He played in the YMCA Industrial League Basketball on “The Spot” team alongside past Hall of Fame Inductees Roman Gabriel and George Rountree III. He also acted as an umpire in baseball, refereeing football and basketball and volunteering as a football coach. He joined Grace Baptist Church and became one of the Church’s strongest supporters. Niven passes away in August of 1994. He had two daughters, Claudia and Deborah and one son, Charles Niven, Jr.
This year’s emcee will be FOREST ORION (MICK) MIXON III
Mick graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May of 1980 with a BA in Broadcast Journalism/Radio, Television and Motions Pictures. He is currently in his 34th year as a sports announcer. During those 34 years he spent 16 years as Color Analyst/Production Manager for the Tar Heel Sports Network and is former radio and TV “Voice of the Maine Guides” Triple-A Baseball Club. He has also worked a handful of TV games for Fox Sports.
Mick was named play-by-play announcer for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers in 2005, won a Regional Emmy Award in 2008, was named North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year in 1999, 2004 and 2009 and was the only non-official to be inducted into the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Officials Association.
He taught two classes in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communications for 6 years and was a consistent recipient of the department’s highest professor approval ratings. He also teaches a Sports Marketing class in the business school at Wake Forest University.
In his own words….Mick married way above himself to the former Dawn Elizabeth Thomas. He plays drums in The Franklin Street Bank, likes to jog, life weights, write, mess around with cars, do yard work and play golf.
For more information on the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame and ticket information for this year’s event, go to www.gwshof.com; email address firstname.lastname@example.org or call (910)795-1224
For more information on the golf tournament contact Sheila Boles at email@example.com or Joe Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.