Especially for Register & Bee
The Pittsylvania County Sports Hall of Fame inducted nine new members into the elite group last week.
The organization was formed in December 2013 with the goal of promoting the achievements of current and former residents who have made a lasting impact on youth sports programs in Pittsylvania County.
The eighth annual induction ceremony, held on November 13, included Lindi Michelle Beamon Bailey, Jesse William (Bill) Bennett Jr., Jacob Gruse, Shirley Kinsley, Eddy Lloyd, Joe Mantiply, W. Neal Oakes, Calvin (CL) Scarce and Calvin Takata.
Oakes and Kinsley received the Hampton Wilkins Spirit Award, a category added in 2020 to recognize individuals who recognize the qualities of a cheerleader and supporter of a place and the people that make up the community, especially young people. Hampton Wilkins received this first award and it is named in his honor.
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Aside from the most recent ceremony, there have been 85 additions since 2014, including HF Haymore, Ronnie Haymore, David Bullins, George Henderson, Tink Richardson, Robert Prunty, Ferrell Edmunds, Haywood Crider, Jackie Hardy and Peyton Sellers.
- Lindi Michelle Beamon Bailey: Former elite athlete in baseball, cheerleading, softball and volleyball at Blairs Middle School, Tunstall High School, winner of many awards, All District and All State teams; Recruited from Averett University, catcher on softball team, earned USA All Conference and All-State honors; represented the USA in the USA team in Holland and Belgium; Averett’s Sportswoman of the Year 2002; inducted into Averett’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008; coached volleyball at Pittsylvania County Youth Sports.
- Jesse William (Bill) Bennett Jr.: Former Dan River athlete, captain and assistant captain in baseball and basketball, four-year all-district; played baseball and basketball at Ferrum Junior College; played semi-pro baseball in the Henry’s Mill County League; teacher, coach, and principal at Coates Elementary when it was part of the Pittsylvania County school system; principals at Spring Garden Elementary School and Southside Elementary School; to retire after 32 years in the public school system.
- Jacob Gruse: Former basketball teacher and coach at Dan River High School who has taken the teams to four straight state tournaments, a second place finish in the states, one appearance in the last four states, two appearances in the last eight states, Region B – Championship in 2012 and three regular seasons at the Dogwood District led championships; Dogwood District Coach of the Year three times; Region B Coach of the Year 2012; Danville Register & Bee All-Metro Coach of the Year four times; Assistant Coach at West Virginia University Institute of Technology; assistant basketball coach at Averett University; Gruse is currently the basketball coach at Cave Springs High School in Roanoke and has won two state championships.
- Shirley Kinsley (posthumously): Selected for the 2022 Hampton Wilkins Spirit Award with more than 20 years of support for Gretna’s youth sports; one of the founders of the Gretna Youth Basketball program; has made financial donations by buying uniforms and equipment and feeding the players; providing transportation to practices and games and assisting in securing a bus and ensuring maintenance for youth transportation to games; Once a team received the wrong uniforms and she personally changed more than 50 jerseys. she sewed the American flag onto uniforms.
- Eddie Lloyd: Tunstall High School graduate and football athlete and sports editor of the school newspaper; Graduate of Radford College; returned to Pittsylvania County and coached the Whitmell Indians in the inaugural year of the PC Youth Football Program; served more than 30 years as a teacher/coach in Pittsylvania County, including assistant athletic director at Chatham High School, basketball coach at Tunstall High School and Pittsylvania Youth Basketball; He wrote a sports column for the Register & Bee, the Martinsville Bulletin, and the (Chatham) Star-Tribune (Lloyd’s Lowdown), covering mostly high school sports and summer league baseball. Author of “No Place Like Home” chronicling a Virginia High School basketball prodigy, the story of Cave Spring basketball under Coach Jacob Gruse.
- Joe Mantiply: graduate of Tunstall High School; selected by the New York Mets in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, but chose to attend college first and committed to play at Virginia Tech; While at Virginia Tech, he was drafted again but stayed to graduate. He was subsequently selected for the third time in the MLB Amateur Draft and made his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers in 2016. After stints with the Tigers, Yankees, Reds and injury surgery at Tommy John, he signed a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2020 and the Diamondbacks selected his contract to the active roster. He appeared in four games, pulled out of the minor league deal and was selected to the 2021 active squad. In 2022, he was named to his first National League All-Star team as a relief pitcher and competed against the American League. He came out of the bullpen in the sixth inning and threw a 1-2-3 frame with just nine pitches.
- W Neal Oakes: Selected for the 2022 Hampton Wilkins Spirit Award, a 1963 graduate of Dan River High School; played basketball during high school; Coach of the Pittsylvania County Pony League, Little League, Sandy Kofax League and President of the League for 10 years; coached the Palmetto League and umpired all-ages county leagues for 15 years; Elected to the Pittsylvania County School Board, representing the Dan River District, for 14 years and serving as Chairman and Vice-Chairman, among many other school board positions; supported and attended all district school games and always proudly wore his Dan River hat and jacket; was instrumental in getting the county to support various improvements in school field development, as well as improvements in parks and recreation fields.
- Calvin (CL) Knapp: 1965 Abitur at Gymnasium Tunstall; played basketball, soccer, and baseball and served as captain in all three sports; advanced to baseball district championship games; played baseball at Milligan College in Tennessee; returned to Pittsylvania County and coached basketball and football at Blairs Middle School; coached football and basketball at Tunstall High School and was head basketball coach in 1973; Athletic Director, Assistant Principal at Tunstall High School; Director at Tunstall 1990-97; 2003 Director of Pittsylvania County Career & Tech Center; Retired 2004 as Director of Vocational Training at Headquarters; coached basketball and soccer in the Pittsylvania County Youth Leagues for over 20 years; Just under a week ago there was a dedication and naming ceremony for Tunstall High School CL’s Scarce Football Field House.
- Calvin Takata: Born on the North Shore of Hawaii, Takata has been a retired schoolteacher in Pittsylvania County, all in the Gretna area, for 33 years. assistant football and baseball coach at Gretna Junior High School and head of football and baseball for seven years; assistant soccer coach at Gretna High School, winner of state soccer championships; then became head baseball coach and gave Gretna her first district championship in history; served on the board of directors of the Old Timers Baseball League in Danville and played for nine years; Pittsylvania County Youth Baseball board member; was a referee for the County Youth League, the Pittsylvania County Parks and Recreation Department, and the Virginia High School League for over 40 years. Takata says refereeing helps him stay involved in the game.