Friday, 22 February 2019 15:05

Third annual Gay Garris Rhyne Memorial Volleyball Tournament looking to carry on legacy

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Norma Gwen Garris (left), the mother of Gay Garris Rhyne, awards a winner from last year's tournament with a t-shirt. Norma Gwen Garris (left), the mother of Gay Garris Rhyne, awards a winner from last year's tournament with a t-shirt. Contributed photo.

ROCKINGHAM — For Richard Wallace, the game of volleyball serves a much stronger purpose than for just staying in shape or being competitive on the court.

As the chairman of the Gay Garris Rhyne Memorial Volleyball Tournament commitee, Wallace uses the event to remember the life of the “kindest” person he knew, while also raising money to support local college students.

In its third year, the “GGR” volleyball tournament has become an annual staple for local volleyball enthusiasts, and this year’s fundraising competition is set for Saturday, March 2, inside Richmond Senior High School’s gymnasium. The all-day affair is set to kick off its first matches at 8:30 a.m.

“I keep doing this tournament because I want people to know who she was,” Wallace said of Garris Rhyne. “She gave a lot to other people, and she’s still doing it in a way through this tournament.

“Gay was the type of person who’d help anyone at the drop at hat,” he added. “She was the kindest, sweetest person.”

Garris Rhyne was a health information technology instructor in Richmond Community College’s Allied Health program who passed away unexpectedly in July 2015. At the time, she was dating Wallace, and he called it the “hardest day” of his life.

A lifelong resident of Richmond County, Garris Rhyne called the Roberdel community her home. She was a 1982 graduate of RSHS before she attended and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. Wallace added that she was one of the founders of the Hot Mamas softball league in Ellerbe, and “enjoyed life and was loved by everyone who knew her.”

From the tragedy blossomed the the Gay Garris Rhyne Memorial Scholarship, a foundation set up by RichmondCC in August 2017. Wallace explained that he discussed the possibility of a scholarship with Garris Rhyne’s brother, Kyle Garris, and mother, Norma Gwen Garris.

In early 2017, Wallace decided to put together the first volleyball tournament as a way to add to the scholarship. He explained that his love for the sport, coupled with the hope of getting the sport more exposure in Richmond County, led him to choosing it.

T-shirt design for this year’s tournament. Other colors include white, gray, red and pink.

Two of the major requirements to qualify for the scholarship are studying in the Allied Health program, as well as being a single working parent with a GPA of at least 2.75. The $500 scholarship is given out twice a year.

During the first two years of the GGR Memorial Volleyball Tournament, Wallace said the event brought in between $1500 and $2000. His goal, however, is to eventually see the tournament and individual donations reach $20,000, which would make it an endowment.

This year’s volleyball tournament currently has eight teams registered to play, and will take new registrations through Thursday, Feb. 28. The coast per team is $100, and checks can be made payable to the Gay Garris Rhyne Memorial Scholarship at RichmondCC.

Using a round robin bracket, each team will play a match against all of the entered teams. Afterward, based on overall points, teams will be split into two playoff brackets, one the championship, the other for the lower-seeded teams. Each bracket will produce a champion, with GGR t-shirts being awarded.

Each team will play with six players on the court, but there can be no more than three males on the floor at one time. Other tournament rules include round robin games being played to 21 points, with playoff tournament games going to 25 points. The championship match will be a best of three series.

Admission for the general public is $2, and a full concession stand will be available for players and spectators. Those wanting to donate to the scholarship, but who don’t want to play, can make checks out to RCC Foundation and put Gay Garris Rhyne on the memo line.

“It’s a good time, and we want to make this a continuous event,” Wallace said. “There will be door prizes and raffles -- it’s just a really fun day and I’m glad the way people have come out in the past to support it. We’re hoping for a big turnout this year.

“I’m thankful for the way the community pitches in,” he added. “Without people like Robin Roberts, Caroline Smith, Renea Craven and Robyn Davis on the committee,we wouldn’t have the success we’ve had. This event is all about having a good time for a good cause.”

For more information, or to register a team for the event, contact Richard Wallace by phone at 980-333-5347 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Last modified on Friday, 22 February 2019 21:39

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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