Home Local Sports A celebration of athletic excellence: RSHS announces inaugural Hall of Fame class

A celebration of athletic excellence: RSHS announces inaugural Hall of Fame class

A dozen members of the inaugural class of the Richmond Athletic Hall of Fame will be inducted on May 22 at the Cole Auditorium,. (Contributed photo by RSHS)

ROCKINGHAM — In the nearly 51 school years since Richmond Senior High School opened its doors in the fall of 1972, the magic, lore and tradition of its athletic program has gained statewide, and even national, recognition.

Now many of those historic moments, big plays and memorable careers by student-athletes and coaches will be enshrined into the newly created Richmond Athletic Hall of Fame.

“We have talked about doing the Hall of Fame for a number of years, and we wanted to have the inaugural class ready for the 50th anniversary of Richmond,” Jim Butler, Richmond’s head principal, said. “The ball was rolling but was stopped because of the pandemic.

“Once we got our feet back under us, it was a pretty big endeavor. About a year ago we got our committee together and had meetings to discuss what we wanted the Hall of Fame to be and establish the criteria.”

The Inaugural Class of 2023

In April, the school announced its inaugural 12-member class, which will be inducted during a ceremony at the Cole Auditorium on May 22.

Chosen were state championship-winning coaches Darryl Barnes (football) and George Whitfield (baseball, athletic director).

Eight former student-athletes were announced — Walter Ellerbe, Melvin Ingram, Kathy Ormsby, Mike Quick, Tali Robich, Franklin Stubbs, Mike Thomas and Whitney Wright.

Two legacy members were also named, Dr. Bill Haltiwanger and G.R. Kindley, for their contributions to the athletic program over the decades.

“Athletics pulls this community together,” Butler said. “Anyone who saw a Friday night basketball game knows how much we care, love and support the Raiders. Our county really supported those kids on their run to the state championship game.

“It’s important to have a Hall of Fame because it unites the community and will honor the tremendous players, coaches and contributors over the last 50 years. We want to recognize as many as we can before we lose them. This is long overdue and we want to recognize all good things within our school, which includes athletics.”

Inductees’ Biographies
Coaches

Darryl Barnes: Coaching the Richmond football team during two different stints, Barnes compiled a 110-6 career record as the Raiders’ head coach and has the highest winning percentage (94.8 percent) in school history. He won five NCHSAA 4A state championships (1988-90, 1997 and 1998). 

Twice named the North Carolina 4A Coach of the Year, Barnes won eight conference championships and was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

George Whitfield: A head baseball coach at Richmond and with the Hamlet American Legion team, Whitfield racked up a career record of 976-301. He helped bring three baseball state titles to Richmond during its early years (1973, 1975 and 1976), while also clinching 14 conference crowns. 

Whitfield has been recognized with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and was inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame (1993) and the NCSHOF (2005).

Players

Walter “Flip” Ellerbe: Considered to be the “measuring stick for all Raider running backs,” Ellerbe dominated the backfield during his time with Richmond. 

He helped the football team win three consecutive 4A state titles from 1988-90 and was named All-Conference those same years. Ellerbe still stands as the all-time leading rusher, grinding out 4,345 rushing yards in his career.

Melvin Ingram: Another football player at Richmond, Ingram has made a career out of playing the game. A three-time All-Conference player at Richmond, he played in the 2006 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. 

Ingram signed a Division-I scholarship to play at the University of South Carolina before being drafted by the then-San Diego Chargers in the 2012 NFL draft. A three-time NFL Pro Bowler (2017-19) at defensive end and linebacker, Ingram most recently played with the Miami Dolphins.

Kathy Ormsby: Personifying the term “student-athlete,” Ormsby was the valedictorian of her graduating class at Richmond in 1983. As a cross country and track and field athlete, she held the state records in the 800, 1600 and 3200-meter events, while also winning the individual state cross country championship in 1982. 

Signing a scholarship with North Carolina State University, she set the NCAA record in the 10,000-meter in 1986.

Mike Quick: A wide receiver on Richmond’s first 4A state championship team in 1978, Quick was also part of the 4×100-meter relay team’s state title that same year. He led the Raider basketball team in scoring as a senior. Playing his college football at NCSU, Quick was drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1982. 

A five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Quick was the NFL’s leading receiver in 1983 and 1985 and holds the league’s record for the longest touchdown reception (99 yards). Quick is now the color commentator for the Eagles’ radio broadcast.

Tali Robich: A three-sport athlete during her time at Richmond, Robich was a key contributor on the Lady Raiders’ basketball, soccer and softball teams. She was a three-time All-Conference player for basketball, and achieved the same accomplishments while playing both soccer and softball during the spring season. Robich was the 1997 and 1999 conference softball player of the year and the 1997-98 and 1998-99 basketball player of the year.

After Richmond, Robich signed to play Division-I college basketball at East Carolina University in 1999. She was named a team captain and later served as an assistant coach at her alma mater.

Franklin Stubbs: With his road to Major League Baseball starting at Richmond, Stubbs was a power-pitching lefty and power-hitting first baseman for the Raiders. A three-time conference champion, Stubbs signed to play Division-I baseball at Virginia Tech in 1979.

Two years later, he was named an NCAA D-I All-American and was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1982 MLB draft. Playing nine big league seasons with the Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers, Stubbs won the Fall Classic with LA in 1988.

Mike Thomas: A teammate of Ellerbe’s in the late 1980s, Thomas served as the Raiders’ quarterback during the 1988 and 1989 4A state championship runs. Also a two-time All-Conference player and a USA Today First Team All-American, Thomas led the nation in punting in 1989 with an average of 43.3 yards per punt.

After graduating, Thomas signed a Division-I scholarship with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels’ starting quarterback in 1995, he threw for over 2,400 yards. Thomas was also drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 1990 MLB draft.

Whitney Wright: A four-year golfer at Richmond from 2000-2003, Wright was the Lady Raiders’ captain and MVP all four seasons. She was the conference’s individual golf champion each of those four years and was also named to the NCHSAA All-State team four times.

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As a junior, Wright led Richmond to the 4A team state championship and finished as the individual state runner-up. During her final campaign, she helped the Lady Raiders repeat as state champions and also took home the state title in individual play. In 2004, Wright began her Division-I career at Florida State University.

Legacy

Dr. Bill Haltiwanger: Considered to be a “major benefactor of the Richmond Raiders,” Haltiwanger served the athletic community for decades. He’s remembered for touching the lives of many Raider athletes and students, both as an orthodontist and an athletic booster.

Haltiwanger made custom football mouth pieces for players and was known for his hospitality cart for visiting cheerleading teams. His recognition plaque will read that “invoking the name of Dr. Bill will always bring a smile.”

G.R. Kindley: Also a major benefactor, Kindley “changed the landscape of the Raider athletic program.” He’s led multiple efforts to upgrade athletic facilities at Richmond and contributed to several additions and upgrades around campus. 

Kindley still leads fundraising efforts to help improve Richmond’s athletics program, while updating athletic signage at different venues.

The Selection Process

An eight-person committee was created, Butler explained, who has been the head principal at Richmond since 2016-17. Following models of other high school hall of fames from around the state, the Richmond Athletic Hall of Fame Committee was formed.

Along with Butler are athletic director and head baseball coach Rob Ransom and assistant principal Wendy Wallce, the school’s former softball coach. Representing the county’s school board is Ronald Tillman.

On the committee as the media person is Richmond athletics historian Deon Cranford. Three at-large community members were also selected  — Hal Shuler (former AD, coach), Paula York (former coach, educator) and Dennis Quick (former coach, AP and interim superintendent).

One of the first tasks to be decided was the criteria for elected members, as well as which categories honorees would be placed. There are three — players, coaches and legacy.

In order to be selected, coaches must have coached at Richmond for at least five years, while players are eligible if they competed in varsity athletics. 

A mandatory seven-year period must pass between graduation for players and leaving the district for coaches to be deemed eligible for the Hall of Fame.

“We decided that an inductee’s high school athletic career had the greatest weight,” Butler said when it came to deciding who would be selected. “And also factored in are their contributions to the community afterwards,  as well as their college and professional careers.

“And we put this out on social media to get public nominations,” he continued. “The idea of the whole thing is to recognize the athletic tradition here. It’s very tough to cut the list down and we didn’t want to take anything away from anyone. This is something we hope to be able to add to and sustain for many years to come.”

Induction Ceremony and Hall of Fame Site

At the Cole Auditorium on May 22, the inductees will be honored. Tickets are $40 and all proceeds will go toward the new Hall of Fame and the Richmond general athletic fund.

Guests are asked to wear business casual attire and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served.  

An introduction of all 12 inductees will be read, a plaque will be presented and the members of the inaugural class will get a chance to address the crowd and talk about their time as Richmond student-athletes.

Butler said when he called each inductee to inform him or her, each person seemed “genuinely thrilled to be accepted.” Most are expected to be able to attend, which Butler noted is important to “have them back here as a part of our community.”

“The cool thing about the Hall of Fame is that it creates debate. There is nothing better than comparing teams and players and it creates interest in Richmond’s athletic tradition.

“We don’t want this to be a one-time thing, we’d like it to be an annual process. We’re looking forward to inducting many more Raiders over the years.”

The final site of the Richmond Athletic Hall of Fame is still in the works, but Butler hopes to display it in the new auxiliary gym when it’s constructed as “something for fans to be able to see and enjoy.”

PURCHASE TICKETS ON GOFAN BY CLICKING HERE. Tickets will also be sold at Richmond’s front office.

Note: Stats, information and details listed in the inductees’ biographies were provided by Richmond Senior High School.

Note: Article was updated to include new information to inductees’ biographies provided by Richmond Senior High School.