Seniors and alumni inductees each shared moment of spotlight as Ring of Gold Committee Chair Fred Park took the stage in celebration of the 10th annual Ring of Gold celebration.
The “Ring of Gold” honors former student athletes, coaches and administrators who have demonstrated excellence while involved in Roberson athletics. This excellence must have displayed during their time at Roberson as well as their post-high school years. To be considered for recognition in the “Ring of Gold,” a player must have been graduated a minimum of 10 years and a coach must be at least five years removed from Roberson.
“The idea for the Ring of Gold started about 15 years ago so it took three or four years to get it going. We did a lot of research and we planned a lot because we wanted to make it very special. For me, it is just very gratifying that we can recognize people and see how much it means to them,” Park said.
Since the first banquet in 2008, the “Ring of Gold” has has 64 members inducted. Six of these members were inducted Friday, each for multiple individual accomplishments. Current inductees include: Liz Howell, Carol Clark, George Clark, Josh Baker, Mike Houston and Wesley Elingburg.
Howell was recognized for her soccer accomplishments during her four years at Roberson starting in 1995 as well as honors earned during her collegiate career at East Tennessee University where she now is fifth in school history for career games played and started (69).
Carol and George Clark, who are husband and wife, were both recognized for their tennis coaching accomplishments. Together, they won nearly 600 matches and only lost 113 in their 16 years of coaching for Roberson. Collectively they coached six state championship teams and 12 individual state champions.
Baker was recognized for his football and track accomplishments as a player as well as a coach. Baker was voted the Most Valuable Player for the 2006 football team and went on to play at the collegiate level at both Butler Community College and later Mars Hill University. He held the record for the most tackles at Roberson up until last year and was a part of the state championship runner-up track team.
Houston coached both football and basketball during his 10-year career at Roberson. Taking over as head football coach in 2001, Houston finished his last 5 coaching years with an overall record of 42-18. His 2004 football team won the outright conference championship for the first time in school history. He went on to coach football at The Citadel before moving to James Madison University, leading them to become the NCAA FCS National Champions.
Elingburg played baseball and basketball while at Roberson and received the “Heart of Gold” recognition at the banquet. He currently funds and supports an assortment of universities in North Carolina, including Elon University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Duke University. Elingburg was also honored as a Roberson Graduate of Distinction in 2014.
“My high school career taught me about teamwork and confidence. It really just gave me a great foundation for the rest of my life, and I still stay in touch with what’s going on through all the former coaches,” Elingburg said.
The Ring of Gold Banquet is also significant to senior athletes as it celebrates their accomplishments from their time at Roberson. Senior volleyball and softball player Nicole Quesinberry gave the invocation before dinner and recognitions began.
“I’ll definitely miss all the games and the friendships I’ve built with all my teammates throughout my four years. It’s been super exciting and super fun being a Roberson athlete. I’ve played all four years, so it’s been a big part of my life that I’ll definitely miss,” Quesinberry said.
Park, a former athletic director for TC, said he does whatever he can to assist current Athletic Director Laura Beatty in making this night special for the athletes.
“Seeing athletes grow from freshmen to senior year is probably the most incredible thing and the thing I miss the most about being away from school. It is really special to see them grow and mature and become successful. I miss that,” Park said.