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Just some rambling thoughts…..

Because I wrote my column prior to last Wednesday I didn’t get a chance to get any words in about the passing of former ‘Voice of the Tar Heels’ Woody Durham. The best way for me to salute Woody is with his own words:

“Thirty seconds left to go, Jimmy Black on the right side, to Michael Jordan, back on the right, over to Jimmy Black. Black holding high, goes to Doherty. Doherty in the double team, gives it back to Black with 20 seconds left to play, goes back to Michael Jordan, jumper from out on the left … GOOD!”

The rest, the cliché goes, is history.

In the spring of ’82, his hometown honored Jordan as North Carolina Azalea Festival Grand Marshall, and later there was a special dinner held in his honor at the Wilmington Hilton. I had the privilege of being the MC for that occasion and introducing Woody, who was the guest speaker. I don’t remember much about his speech other than the final words: “Wilmington, thanks for sending us (UNC) a great kid.”

Woody broadcast Carolina games for 40 years, and I remember one of his first calls, it was from high atop the Carmichael Auditorium ‘Crow’s Nest’ in 1971 after he succeeded the departing Bill Currie. Woody went on to call four NCAA championships, 13 Final Fours and 23 UNC football bowl games. No matter how important or insignificant the game, whether it was Duke and NC State, or Gardner-Webb and NC Central, Woody was always in his element, smooth in his Piedmont North Carolina accent.

“Woody was synonymous with Carolina athletics for decades, and his voice was gospel to generations of Tar Heels who trusted his every word,” John Swofford, the ACC Commissioner and himself, like Woody, a UNC grad, said at last week’s ACC Tournament.

It was always a pleasure to turn down the TV volume and turn up Woody on the radio, especially during the Tournament back in the day when the radio guys were the only ones who did all the games from first tip to championship.

To the Durham’s and the rest of his family, “Thanks for sending us (ACC fans) a great kid.”   RIP, Woody, as you liked to say, “Go where you go, and do what you do.”

Where he’s gone, God just picked up a great play-by-play announcer, and one more time, let’s hear:

“13, 12, 11… Georgetown with one timeout. Fred Brown looking… THREW IT AWAY TO WORTHY! WORTHY, FIVE…FOUR…THE TAR HEELS ARE GOING TO WIN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!”

My thanks to the Winston-Salem Journal for printing that great Tar Heel Sports Network radio call.

 

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Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC announced this week that it is joining the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), and they aren’t wasting time; coming into the league beginning this July 1.

The school will be leaving the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) – a league with members from Kentucky to Alabama – in order to join the CIAA. Claflin is a private liberal-arts university affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and in athletics it does not play football.

While that will leave 13-basketball playing schools it also adds fuel to the rumors floating around that Chowan may leave the conference.

In any case what the addition of Claflin does is help with baseball in 2018, a sport the CIAA does not sponsor anymore. The league dropped it after last season (2017), thus making the baseball-playing members instant independents. Claflin’s addition leaves the conference six schools next season that play baseball, which might be enough to help secure an NCAA Division II post-season bid, or two.

 

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.