Jul 26, 2011
Longtime WRAL anchor and reporter Tom Suiter was one of eight people selected for induction into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame Tuesday.
Suiter has been an integral part of high school sports coverage for WRAL-TV since joining the station on June 2, 1971. A native of Rocky Mount, Suiter attended Christ School in Arden and then went to Erskine College in Due West, S.C. For his first 10 years at WRAL, Suiter anchored weekends, early morning newscasts, coach’s shows and early morning radio.
On Dec. 18, 2008, Suiter stepped aside from the role as weeknight sports anchor and slipped into a new role with WRAL. Suiter continues to bring viewers the scores, highlights and excitement from high school football games on his Football Friday show and honors outstanding high school athletes with the Extra Effort Award.
Bob Holliday, a Suiter colleague since 1981, remembered their very first conversation at the station.
“Tom felt strongly even then that there was so much WRAL could do to advance the cause of high school athletics," Holliday recalled in a 2008 interview. "We began covering games, first in Raleigh, then in Rocky Mount, Wilson and Fayetteville."
Under Suiter’s leadership and direction, the Football Friday show began and has emerged as a local tradition. Crews cross the state to cover football teams from the WRAL viewing area.
Because there are so many games to shoot and deadlines are tight to make air at 11:35 p.m. each Friday night, Suiter enlists a lot of help. Many reporters and photographers in the WRAL newsroom got their starts in the business assisting Suiter with the show.
In addition to game coverage, Suiter began the Extra Effort Award as a way to honor top high school athletes who excel in sports and in the classroom. Each week, Suiter travels to an area high school to present the award to a deserving student.
"Tom and I often marvel at the qualities many of our award winners possess – they are great students and leaders as well as athletes,” Holliday added in the same 2008 interview. “The passion he brings to this weekly recognition of young people is, like his mentoring, Tom’s way of helping others. The opportunity to recognize the best seniors in the WRAL viewing area is something that means a great deal to Tom.”
Suiter was just the fourth ever 6 p.m. sports anchor at WRAL and held the position longer than any other.
His dedication to his profession earned him induction into the prestigious Silver Circle by the Nashville/Midsouth Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has also been named the winner of the annual Media Representative of the Year by the NCHSAA.
This year marks the 26th induction class and brings the number of people enshrined to 140.
The new inductees will be honored during special halftime ceremonies at a football game at Kenan Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, when North Carolina takes on Rutgers. The new class will officially be inducted at the special Hall of Fame banquet next spring in Chapel Hill.
The NCHSAA Hall of Fame is supported in part by a special grant from GlaxoSmithKline.
"These individuals joining the Association Hall of Fame this year have had a tremendous impact on high school athletics across North Carolina," said NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield. "Their accomplishments are impressive, but the character they exemplify and the lives they touched are truly representative of what the NCHSAA stands for. Their selection maintains the standards of excellence established by our previous inductees, and we are proud to honor these deserving individuals."
The Other inductees are:
Rosalie Bardin has been an outstanding coach and administrator during her career in education.
After graduating from Lucama High School and then magna cum laude from Atlantic Christian (now Barton) College, Bardin began a stellar run at Southern Nash Senior High School, where she coached women's basketball for 12 years, volleyball for 18, track and field for seven, and softball for 24, including the transition from slow pitch to fast pitch. She also served as cheerleading coach and athletic trainer during her tenure at Southern Nash.
She compiled a brilliant record in slow pitch of 373-130 and her fast pitch mark was an outstanding 71-11. Her teams earned 15 conference championships in softball, one state championship in slow pitch in 1995 and a runner-up finish in fast pitch.
Bardin moved into administration in 1998 and wound up serving as principal at Southern Nash for several years, where she has twice been Nash-Rocky Mount Principal of the Year.
Sheila Boles compiled an impressive record as a coach in several sports, but is perhaps best known as the first woman to coach a men's varsity basketball high school team in North Carolina.
A graduate of Seventy-First High School in Fayetteville, where she was a three-sport star, Boles was the first female scholarship athlete at UNC Wilmington, where she was a standout in volleyball and basketball. She began her teaching and coaching career at the junior high level and then in 1989 went to Hoggard in Wilmington. She coached men's basketball for 11 years of her almost 20 there, men's golf for eight and women's golf for two and was also athletic director.
Her career coaching record in basketball included more than 300 victories, with a 167-120 men's hoops mark at Hoggard and a school record 24 wins in one season. Her men's golf teams won five conference titles and finished in the top five in the state four times.
She has won a number of awards previously, including the NCHSAA Courage Award, NCHSAA Athletic Director of the Year and served on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association.
Jimmy Fleming is one of the state's outstanding coaches in softball but also coached men's basketball, track, football, baseball and cheerleading during his career at South Granville.
A graduate of Creedmoor High and East Carolina University, Fleming is best remembered for his success in softball. His teams did win four men's conference basketball championships, but in softball South once won 14 consecutive league titles and a whopping 164 conference games in a row to go with a 54 consecutive game win streak that spanned three different seasons. His teams won five NCHSAA slow-pitch state championships, finished second twice and then made the transition successfully to fast pitch, winning one state crown in that version.
A member of the NCHSAA Board of Directors from 1990 through '94, Fleming also served as athletic director at South Granville for many years. He coached in the North Carolina Coaches Association East-West all-star basketball game in 1986.
Although John Frye has spent his entire teaching and coaching career in Moore County, he has had a tremendous impact across the state in the sport of tennis.
A graduate of Carthage High School (1962) and Appalachian State University (1967), he started his coaching career in 1968 at Union Pines High School and has coached in an amazing six decades. He has coached both men's and women's tennis, winning almost 50 conference championships and earning state team championships in both men's and women's tennis. The number of dual match wins Frye has earned in men's tennis is approaching 600.
In addition, he has been a great supporter of the sport of tennis and has directed numerous conference, regional and state championship events during his career. He was the championship director of 29 different NCHSAA state finals.
Jerry Johnson has had a stellar career in officiating as both a game official and booking agent.
A graduate of Orange High School and North Carolina A&T State University, Johnson spent 30 years in education, 26 in the Wayne County system and 15 of those as assistant principal at Dillard Middle School. His contributions in the area of officiating, however, are enormous.
He has umpired high school baseball for 36 years, calling over 3,200 games and five NCHSAA state championship series along with 22 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) tournaments. In football, his career spans 35 years and well over 1,000 games, including two NCHSAA state championships, an NCAA Division II national championship, and numerous CIAA championship games. His basketball career includes 26 years and almost 1,800 games, including a couple NCHSAA state 4-A women's championships.
Active in his church in Goldsboro, he has earned numerous awards, including the Association's coveted Golden Whistle Award in 2008.
The late Mike Matheson had his coaching career cut short by his untimely death due to cancer at age 41, but he compiled a remarkable legacy primarily in women's basketball at Bandys High School in Catawba County.
A graduate of South Iredell who earned his college degree at Appalachian State University, he had an unprecedented run of success coaching the varsity women's basketball team at Bandys from 1979 to '89. His Bandys teams during those 10 years posted an incredible record of 268-29 and won four NCHSAA state championships, in 1981, '82, '87 and '88. Those teams won 10 conference championships and lost only four games on their home floor in 10 years.
Matheson founded a basketball camp to raise money for underprivileged children that was later named in his memory.
He is a member of the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame.
The late John Morris was an outstanding coach and athletic administrator prior to his death at the age of 48.
Morris graduated from Perquimans High School and then from Duke University in 1958, where he had played football and baseball.
He coached football and baseball at Roxboro, posting a record in football there of 62-18-4, before moving to Reidsville for a seven-year stint as coach and athletic director from 1967 to '74. He coached two seasons at High Point Andrews before leaving active coaching in 1976, when his diabetic condition wound up leading to the amputation of both legs. His career coaching mark was 120-58-6.
From 1976 until his untimely death in 1984, however, he served as athletic director for the High Point City schools. He was president of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association in 1973-74.
The Hall of Fame plaques are on permanent display in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame room, located in the Simon F. Terrell Building in Chapel Hill that houses the Association offices.