Aug. 20, 2004
Cullowhee, N.C. - Two football greats, one of the best hitters in Southern Conference baseball history and a standout both academically and athletically in cross country/track highlight the list of four being inducted into Western Carolina's Athletics Hall of Fame.
The Class of 2004 includes Darrell Lipford (football), Denny Williams (football), Susie Gardner-Mayhorn (cross country/track) and Matt Raleigh (baseball). In addition to the four former student-athletes, Larry Stanberry, a Western alum and longtime Catamount supporter, will be honored as a Patron Award recipient at the induction ceremonies, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 9, prior to the WCU-Georgia Southern football game.
Lipford, who started at tailback in every Catamount contest from 1974-77, was an All-America for the 1976 season and is Western Carolina's all-time leading rusher with 4,089 career yards and 952 attempts. The Lenior, N.C., native was the Southern Conference Football Player of the Year in 1977, rushing for 1,318 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns. He led the nation (divisions I-A and I-AA) in touchdowns scored in 1997 until the final game of the year when Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell overtook the title. A subject of a Sports Illustrated article in 1997, along with former Catamount great and 1977 NCAA leader for receptions Wayne Tolleson, Lipford ended the 1977 season 10th in the nation (divisions I-A and I-AA) in rushing (120.2 ypg) and second in scoring (9.8 ppg). In 1974, his freshman season, Lipford rushed for 983 yards as he played a key role in WCU finishing with a 9-1 record, ranking eighth in the Associated Press College Division poll and reaching the NCAA Division II playoffs. Lipford rushed for at least 100 yards a WCU-best 19 times in his career, setting school records on two occasions with 231 rushing yards versus Presbyterian (1975) and 243 rushing yards versus Marshall (1977). He additionally owns Western Carolina records for touchdowns scored in a season (18), points in a season (108) and touchdowns scored in a career (38). Lipford was denied many postseason honors as Western was in transition from NAIA, to NCAA II, to NCAA I-AA during his career and played only one season in the Southern Conference.
Williams played both offensive and defensive line for the Catamounts for the 1955-56 seasons and the 1959-60 seasons. However, the Belmont, N.C., native made his mark as an offensive lineman for Western, earning honorable mention All-American honors during his four-year career. Williams additionally was a three-time All-North State Conference pick, an All-District 26 selection and an All-State honoree. He also is the only offensive tackle on record in Western Carolina history to catch a touchdown pass. After his playing days at Western, Williams coached one year at Western, one year at East Tennessee State and one year at Carson-Newman under current WCU head men's golf coach Johnny Wike. Williams would get out of the collegiate ranks and spend 30 years as a high school coach and teacher at four different schools.
Gardner-Mayhorn (1989-93) is one of the most decorated student-athletes in Western Carolina history. A three-time Academic All-America, picking up first team honors in 1992 and `93, the Marietta, Ga., native was additionally tabbed North Carolina's 1993 NCAA Woman of the Year and won the Southern Conference's 1993 Dorothy Hix Postgraduate Scholarship. Also in 1993, she graduated summa cum laude (3.92 grade point average) with a degree in psychology to earn the WCU Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award and she received the fourth of her four SoCon All-Academic Team honors. In cross country, Gardner-Mayhorn earned All-SoCon honors in 1991, becoming the first Catamount female to earn the honor thanks to a fourth place finish in 1991. She was the cross country team MVP in 1990, `91 and `92, finished first eight times in her career and set WCU course records for all distances. She was an 18-time All-SoCon honoree in indoor track (four times each in 800 meters, 1,600 meters, 4x800 relay and high jump and twice in the 4x400 relay), earning indoor team MVP honors once. In outdoor track, Gardner-Mayhorn earned All-SoCon honors 12 times, including four times each in the 800 meters, high jump and 4x400 relay. She added SoCon individual championships in the high jump (1992) and 800 meters (1991 and `92) during the outdoor season. In addition to her numerous conference honors, she holds the distinction of being the first SoCon female athlete to break the five-minute mark in the mile and set 18 Western Carolina records over her career.
Raleigh (Swanton, Vt.) played baseball at Western Carolina from 1989-92 and left as not only one of the school's top hitters but the Southern Conference's as well. A 1992 second team All-American, he was a three-time, first team All-SoCon pick, earning the league's Player of the Year honor in 1992. In 1992, Raleigh led the SoCon in home runs (25), runs scored (77), slugging percentage (.783) and RBI (73), while helping the Cats to a then school-record 44 wins and one game shy of the College World Series, falling twice to Florida State in the championship of the NCAA South Region II. Also in 1992, he became the first Catamount to hit at least 20 home runs and steal at least 20 bases, while his 25 home runs ranked second in the nation. He additionally paced the SoCon in home runs in 1991 (19). When he left Western, Raleigh had set both WCU and SoCon records for career hits (302), career games played (342), career at bats (837), career runs scored (251), career home runs (68), career total bases (580) and career runs batted in (239). He also set WCU and SoCon season records for runs scored (77 in 1992) and home runs (25 in 1992). Currently, he ranks ninth on the WCU career batting average list (.361), second on the WCU career hits list (302), fifth on the WCU career doubles list (56), eighth on the WCU career triples list (8), first on the WCU career home runs list (68), second on the WCU career RBI list (239), ninth on the WCU career stolen bases list (47), and first on the WCU career runs scored list (251).
Stanberry becomes just the ninth person to be a Patron Award recipient and the first since 1999. The WCU Athletics Hall of Fame Committee periodically gives the Patron Award to an individual who has made a positive impact on the WCU Athletics program through his/her contributions of leadership and/or unique support off the playing field and courts. This past year, Stanberry donated $300,000 to the Catamount baseball program, providing what is believed to be the second-largest, one-time gift ever given to the University. Also this past year, Stanberry was recognized by the Southern Conference as one of its 10 recipients of the 2003-04 Distinguished Service Award. However, his affiliation with Western goes back many years. A Sylva High School graduate in 1957 and after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Stanberry began his relationship with Western's baseball program in the mid-to-late 1960's when he served as the team's manager and right-hand man for then coach Ron Blackburn. Upon his graduation from Western in 1968, he entered the insurance business. Starting with Aetna Insurance then moving on to Hartford Insurance and Wachovia Insurance, which became Alexander & Alexander. In 1980, he and his wife Susan, who passed away this past spring, started Stanberry Insurance Agency, which is now owned by his sons, Kevin and Scott.