It was a night of applause, speeches and barbecue as the Pittsylvania Sports Hall of Fame welcomed nine inductees who ranged from coaches to professional baseball athletes.
In 2013, the Hall of Fame was formed to promote civic excellence by recognizing the achievement of former or current individuals or groups involved in or contributing to sports programs' success — from amateur to professional — in Pittsylvania County.
Guests were treated to Hunt and Co. barbeque pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, coleslaw and cake. Every nominee received a plaque, and commendations from the Pittsylvania Board of Supervisors, Senators Frank Ruff and Bill Stanley and Delegates Daniel Marshall and Les Adams.
The nine inductees were Linda Beamon Bailey, Jesse Bennett, Jacob Gruse, a posthumous reward to Shirley Kinsley, Eddy Lloyd, Joe Mantiply, C.L Scarce, W. Neal Oakes and Calvin Takata.
Bailey is a former star athlete in baseball, cheerleading, softball and volleyball at Blairs Middle School and Tunstall High School, earning many awards, including all-district and all-state teams. She represented the United States on the USA team in Holland and Belgium and was named Averett’s Female Student Athlete of the Year 2002.
Bennett is a former Dan River athlete, captain and co-captain in baseball, basketball and all-district for four years. Bennett served as a teacher, coach and principal at Coates Elementary in Danville Public Schools and as principal at Spring Garden and Southside elementary schools, before retiring after 32 years.
Gruse is a teacher and coach for Dan River High School basketball leading the teams to four straight state tournament appearances; one state runner-up finish, one state final four, two state final eight appearances, a Region B championship in 2012 and three regular season Dogwood District championships.
Lloyd was a Tunstall High School football athlete and the school newspaper's sports editor. After graduating from Radford College, he returned to Pittsylvania County and coached the Whitmell Indians in the inaugural year of the Pittsylvania County youth football program. Lloyd served more than 30 years as a teacher/coach in Pittsylvania County, to include the PC Youth League; wrote the sports column for the Martinsville Bulletin and the Chatham Star-Tribune; and authored “No Place Like Home.
The most famous of the group was Mantiply, who was selected by the New York Mets in the 2009 MLB amateur draft but chose to attend college first and committed to pitch at Virginia Tech. While at Virginia Tech, he was redrafted but stayed to receive his degree.
Mantiply was 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, and Reds and a Tommy John surgery from injury, he signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2020.
"I'm honored to get this induction. I'm very proud of where I came from; it's very humbling," said Mantiply. "When I was growing up...it was very competitive and a lot of good athletes, but there was always a league to play in; that alone gave me a lot of good reps as a kid and got me into the love of the game."
Scarce is a 1965 graduate of Tunstall High School, he played at Milligan College in Tennessee. Scarce returned to Pittsylvania County, coached basketball and football at Blairs Middle School and Tunstall High School, and served as head basketball coach in 1973 and athletic director. He then went on to be the assistant principal and principal at Tunstall from 1990-1997, as well as principal for Pittsylvania County Career & Tech Center in 2003. Scarce retired in 2004.
Takata is a retired Pittsylvania County schoolteacher of 48 years and coached football and baseball at Gretna Jr. High and High School for 40-plus years, where he earned three state championships. Takata served on the board of directors of Pittsylvania County youth baseball, managed the Gretna baseball field; participated in Oldtimer’s Baseball and umpires for the Pittsylvania County Department of Parks & Recreation.
A new category of recognition was added in 2020, the "Hampton Wilkins Spirit Award," to recognize individuals who demonstrate the qualities of a cheerleader and supporter of a locality and the people who make up the community, especially young people. Kinsley and Oakes were selected for the 2022 "Hampton Wilkins Spirit Award."
Kinsley had more than 20 years of supporting Gretna youth sports; she was one of the founders of the Gretna youth basketball program and worked tirelessly to provide for the students.
Her son, Steve Kinsley, spoke on her behalf to the crowd Sunday night.
"Mom really cared about the kids that were in Gretna, not only with the kids that were just in Gretna; she cared about kids all together. She spent a lot of time and effort doing things behind the scenes that people didn't know about like when I became president of Gretna sports, she and myself made it made a point that no child would ever be turned away from being able to play youth league sports," Kinsley said.
Oakes coached and umpired across Pittsylvania County for 15 years. He was elected to serve on the Pittsylvania County School Board representing the Dan River District for 14 years and as chair and vice-chair, among many other positions on the school board.
A panel of members of the Board of Directors and former inductees of the Pittsylvania County Sports Hall of Fame meet and discuss the nominees and rate the nominees anonymously on separate/individual rating sheets. The anonymous rating sheets are collected by the organization's secretary, tallied and averaged for the selection.
"It is a way to thank those who have just put in, for some, decades of volunteer hours," said Brenda Bowman, secretary of the Hall of Fame organization "and just helping our youth grow and it's all about the young people and that's what this was for, just to recognize those that have put so much into mentoring and helping our kids move forward."
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