GUILFORD COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME SELECTS 11 FOR CLASS OF 2022
GREENSBORO – The Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame added 11 new members with the Class of 2022 announced Wednesday.
The class is loaded with athletes who played multiple sports and coaches who coached multiple sports. There are nine laureates and two members of the Legends Class for those deceased.
This is the 17th class of athletes, coaches and contributors to be inducted into the Hall, which was created in 2005. It increases the membership to 186.
The inductees were introduced at a press conference at the Greensboro Coliseum. The GCSHOF presented charitable contributions of $1,000 each to the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Foundation and First Tee of Central Carolina, continuing a commitment of giving back to the Guilford County community since the inception of the GCSHOF.
The induction reception and banquet will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the Coliseum. Tickets for the reception and banquet are $90 while tables for 10 are $900. They can be ordered online at the GCSHOF website (gcshof.org).
Biographies of the Class of 2022 follow in alphabetical order:
Thomas “Long Tom” Alston (Legends Class)
Thomas Alston, a World War II Navy veteran, was the first African-American baseball player to break the color barrier with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1954. The 6-foot-5, 210 Alston earned the nickname of “Long Tom’ due to his height and reach as a first baseman. A native of Greensboro, Alston attended Dudley High School in the early 1940s when it had no baseball team. He went on to star for four years at North Carolina A&T. Alston was also an outstanding player with the Goshen Red Wings, an all-Black semi-pro team in the Greensboro area, playing while a high school and college student against barnstorming Negro League teams. After graduation from A&T, he signed a professional contract in 1952 to play for San Diego in the Pacific Coast League. In 1953 he hit .298 with 20 home runs. That caught the eye of the Cardinals, who bought his contract for $100,000 and four players and promoted him to the major leagues. During his rookie year he played in 66 games, hitting .246 with 4 homers and 34 RBIs. The following three years saw his playing time reduced as he struggled with undiagnosed mental illness. He was described by one sportswriter as “having a sweet swing and a troubled soul.” After the 1957 season, Alston was released by the Cardinals and he returned to Greensboro, where he lived for many years in mental institutions. He died in 1993. Alston was inducted into the A&T Hall of Fame in 1972 and is recognized as a “pioneer of baseball” in the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum.
David Blum was one of the first soccer stars in the Guilford County area. He was an outstanding player at Grimsley High School in1974 when it first fielded a team. Blum was the leading scorer in 1974 and 1975, team MVP in 1975 and was voted team captain as a senior. He earned second team All-State honors in 1975. Blum was one of the first soccer scholarship athletes recruited to the University of North Carolina, where he was a four-year starter. He was twice named National Player of the Week in 1977 and was voted to the All-ACC team as a sweeper in 1978 and 1979. Blum earned All-ACC Academic honors in 1977 and 1978. After his outstanding career at UNC, he played professionally for the Miami Americans (1980) and Carolina Lightin’ (1981) in the American Soccer League. Blum was a member of the USA soccer team at the Maccabiah Games in 1985 and 1987. He has been a small business owner for many years since his retirement.
A celebrated athlete at Page High School and North Carolina State University, Michael Brooks started every game during his football career at Page and helped it post a record of 38-3-1. He was a member of state 4A championships in football in 1983 and1984 as well as being a state champion in the 400 meters in 1985. Brooks was twice an All-Conference football player and named to the All-State team in 1984. He was voted the team’s defensive player of the year twice while also twice being named MVP in track and field. As a four-year athlete at NC State, Brooks was 2nd team All-ACC in football (leading the team in tackles and interceptions in 1987), twice named most valuable defensive back and was voted MVP of the 1988 Peach Bowl. He was also a member of three ACC outdoor championship track and field teams (All-ACC in track and field), one ACC indoor championship team, and was named All-American in 1988 and 1989. Following his superb career in college, Brooks signed as an undrafted free agent in 1989 and played two seasons with the San Diego Chargers and two more with the Dallas Cowboys. He was a member of the Baltimore Stallions Canadian Football League team in 1994, when he was selected to the All-Star team and played in the Grey Cup. He played in the CFL in 1995 as a member of the Memphis Mad Dogs. Brooks has worked for American Express for over 25 years and is currently Director over US Commercial Credit.
Kim Burroughs has had an exceptional career coaching women’s soccer since the early 1980s. He competed in baseball while a student at Fred T. Foard High School and with American Legion Post 48 in Hickory. He played soccer during his junior and senior years at UNC Pembroke, graduating in 1977. Post-college, he played for the Morganton Albion and Greensboro Reunited soccer clubs. He earned a graduate degree at UNC Greensboro in 1988. Burroughs began his coaching career with the ’75 Greensboro Bucs (1987-1989), then moved to Women’s Classic with the various Greensboro Twisters teams between 1995-2009. He was named Girls Classic Coach of the Year in 2004. Burroughs coached at East Burke and Greensboro Smith high schools before moving to Greensboro Day School. He began as a middle school art teacher in 1988 but found his true calling coaching women’s soccer in his third year. Since 1991, Burroughs’ teams have won over 425 matches, had three nationally ranked seasons (No. 7 in 1997, No. 2 in 1998, and No. 16 in 2005), won 12 NC Independent School state championships, including six consecutive titles from 1995-2000, and 23 conference championships. He has been honored as Conference Coach of the Year eight times, NC Coach of the Year four times, NC Regional Coach of the Year five times and the South Region National Coach of the Year three times. In 2004, the NSCAA honored him as National Coach of the Year among private schools. He has coached in two All-Star games. Burroughs received the 2005 Art Alumnus Award from UNCG and, in 2017, the Hendrix Teaching Award at Greensboro Day School.
Thomas Bynum (Legends Class)
A native of Chapel Hill, Bynum made his mark in Guilford County as a longtime athletics trainer at North Carolina A&T. He earned an undergraduate degree and master’s degree in sports medicine from A&T, where he was a four-year starter in basketball, Bynum served in the U.S. Army before returning to Greensboro in the mid-1960s. He began his career at A&T as the school’s athletics trainer in 1968, serving until his retirement in 2000. During his career, “Mr. B’s” reputation spread far and wide. He served as an athletics trainer in the Pan-African Games in 1971 as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee. In 1973 he was selected by the Amateur Athletic Union to be a trainer in Germany, Africa and Russia. In 1973 he was the trainer for the USA National Junior Track and Field team. Two years later, he was named a Sports’ Festival trainer and worked in Venezuela, Africa, France, China, Poland and Germany. He was the head AAU trainer in 1976 in Russia, West Germany and Canada. Bynum was one of 24 athletics trainers selected to work the Summer Olympic Games in 1984 and was named to the Olympic Training Advisory Board. He was chosen to be a trainer for the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta. Bynum was inducted into the A&T Hall of Fame in 2000. The Sports Medicine Room in the Corbett Sports Center is named and dedicated in his honor. He passed away in 2020.
A pioneer in women’s high school sports, Andrea Cozart began coaching at High Point Central High School before there were varsity sports for women. A native of Bailey, NC, where she played on a basketball team that won 100 consecutive games, she graduated from East Carolina University in 1965. Cozart helped establish the Girls’ Athletic Association during her early days at Central, then went on to a stellar 30-year coaching career from 1967-1997. While primarily a women’s tennis and men’s and women’s swimming coach, Cozart also coached women’s basketball on an “interim” basis from 1983-1986, posting a 67-3 record and a state runner-up finish in 1985, and was named conference coach of the year three times. As a tennis coach, her teams won 15 conference championships, an NCSHAA state championship in 1976, and produced five individual state champions. Her greatest accomplishments came in the sport of swimming. During her 10 years as head coach from 1987-1997, her women’s teams posted a 92-5 dual meet record with 45 consecutive wins. Her men’s teams were 91-6 with 47 consecutive dual team wins. Cozart coached 14 individual NCHSAA state champions and three teams were state runners-up. During her coaching career her teams never had a losing record. Cozart was inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame in 2003 and the High Point Central Sports Hall of Fame inaugural class of 2013.
Rod Elkins was a prolific athlete at Grimsley High School from 1976-1979, starring on the football, basketball and baseball teams. As a quarterback, he earned All-Conference and All-Metro honors during his junior year when Grimsley was conference champion. Elkins was named Conference Player of the Year, All-Metro, All- State and All-Southern as a senior. He played in the East-West All-Star game and was a Shrine Bowl Game starter and team captain. He was voted Most Outstanding Athlete at Grimsley and named “NC Athlete of the Year” by the NC Association of Sports Broadcasters. In basketball Elkins was twice voted All-Conference and was a member of the All-State Tournament team. As a baseball player, he was team MVP as a sophomore and senior, All-Conference for three years and Grimsley was conference champion during his senior season. Elkins attended the University of North Carolina, where he was a three-year football starter between 1980-1982. He led the Tar Heels to three bowl victories and an ACC championship. UNC was ranked 9th in the country in 1980, 10th in 1981 and had a pre-season rank as high as 5th during his senior year in 1982. Elkins was voted to the 2nd team sophomore All-American team (John Elway was 1st team and Dan Marino was 3rd team) while he led the ACC in passing efficiency. He was named team captain as a junior and senior and ended his career as the winningest quarterback in UNC history with a record of 22-4. A severe knee injury during his senior year ended his career. Elkins is currently National Director of Sales with Sophysa USA.
DePaul Mittman’s career as track and field coach has spanned three decades. A native of Mount Airy, Mittman earned his undergraduate degree at UNC Greensboro in 1978 and masters’ degree from NC A&T in 1986. His initial coaching position was head football coach at Ferndale Junior High in High Point from 1978-1984. He went on to become an assistant football coach at Western Guilford High School in 1985 and served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from 1998-2001. It was as the men’s and women’s track and field coach at Western that Mittman earned his greatest recognition. His team won the 1999 3A State Championship and finished as runner-up in 2000 and 2008 (indoor track) while also winning eight Regional Championships and 15 conference titles. Mittman was recognized as conference Coach of the Year16 times and coached three All-Americans, 16 individual state champions and 64 All-State athletes. He also served as meet director of multiple track and field championships, including the NCHSAA State Meet (1999-2022). Mittman is co-founder and past president of the NC Track and Cross County Coaches Association and served as Executive Director from 1993-2021. Upon retiring in 2008, Mittman was a member of the USATF National Junior Olympic Championship Meet Organizing Committee in 2007-2009 and 2012-2013. Mittman was honored with the NCHSAA Charlie Adams Distinguished Service Award in 2010. The track at Western Guilford was named in his honor in September 2018. In February 2022, he was inducted into the NC High School Track & Cross Country Hall of Fame.
Renee Coltrane Pakkala
A four-sport participant at Northwest Guilford High School and 1981 graduate, Pakkala excelled in basketball and, during her senior year, in track and field. She was the basketball team MVP in 1979 and 1981 while being selected for the All-Conference team three times. As a senior, Pakkala was MVP of the conference tournament, honorable mention All-Metro and her team was ranked fifth in the state. She was a member of the volleyball, softball and track and field teams for three years and made her mark in track and field as a senior. She was all-conference in the high jump, where she set a school record, and the triple jump. As a senior, Pakkala was named the outstanding athlete at NW Guilford. She enrolled at UNC Greensboro where, between 1981-1985, she became a record-setting basketball player. She earned third team All-American honors as a junior and second team as a senior, becoming the first UNCG women’s basketball player to exceed 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds during her career. She is 6th on the all-time scoring list with 1,378 points and 1sts on the rebounding list with 1,211, pulling down a school record 25 rebounds in a single game. During her four years, UNCG won the Dixie Conference championship four times, advanced to the NCAA South Regionals three times, and once to the Division III national championship game, where it lost in overtime by one point. Pakkala was inducted into the UNCG Hall of Fame in 2001 and her 1981-82 team was inducted as a group in 2007. She is currently the CFO of Capital Automotive.
Sharon Parks enjoyed a high school coaching career that started in1985 and ended with her retirement in 2018. During different tenures, she coached women’s basketball, track and softball but was exceptional coaching volleyball. A 1979 graduate of Thomasville High School and 1983 graduate of Guilford College, Parks posted an overall 584-198 record in volleyball during her career at three schools, winning 15 conference titles and being named Coach of the Year on 13 occasions. She coached volleyball one year at Thomasville followed by 21 years at Southern Guilford. Her teams were 377-102 during those years, winning one regular season title, eight conference tournaments, four regional titles and finishing runner-up in the state four times. Parks moved to Northern Guilford High School in 2007, where she started the volleyball program. Over 11 years, her teams were 197-92, advancing to the playoffs 10 times and winning three conference titles. Her 2017 team advanced to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. Parks also coached basketball at Thomasville Middle School and Southern Guilford, where her team won a regular season conference championship. She coached the track and softball teams at Southern Guilford, then started the softball program at Northern Guilford. Parks was named Region 5 Female Coach of the Year in 1995 and NC Female COY in 2008. She was awarded the NCHSAA Award of Merit in 2008. While a student at Guilford College, Parks was a fine athlete. She was a four-year basketball and volleyball starter, earning All-conference honors in both sports as well as Academic All-American honors in 1983 in basketball. She was inducted into the Guilford College Hall of Fame in 1996.
One of the most accomplished golfers ever in Guilford County and the state of North Carolina, Jason Widener has won at every level. A native of Greensboro, he is a 1989 graduate of Northwest Guilford High School, where he led the golf team to state titles in 1988 and 1989. He won the prestigious USGA Junior National Amateur National Championship in 1988 while earning All-American and Scholastic All-American honors from the American Junior Golf Association. When he signed with Duke, Widener was the No. 1 ranked junior player in the country. During his Duke career he became a three-time All-ACC player, an NCAA All-American, and reached No. 1 in amateur golf rankings. Widener represented the USA in victories at the Shiseido Cup in Japan and the Simon Bolivar Cup in Venezuela. In 2005, he was named to the Top 50 All-Time ACC Golfers. Upon graduation from Duke in 1993, Widener played professionally competing on the Nike Tour and the PGA European Tour. Between 1993-1996 he won six mini-tour events and the Bangor Open championship. Widener served as assistant coach for Duke men and women’s golf teams for three seasons, helping lead the women’s team to a 2003 national championship. Widener was the men’s golf coach at UNC Wilmington for five years, leading it to Colonial Athletic Association conference titles in 2004 and 2005. He returned to Durham and became a teaching professional at the Duke University Golf Course. In 2017 Widener resumed playing professional golf and qualified for the PGA Wyndham Championship. He continues in his current career as a professional player and coach.