A native of Cleveland County, Don Patrick has collected about every award offered to a football coach and/or athletic director since becoming the football coach at Newton-Conover some 25 years ago.
A graduate of Appalachian State University, where he excelled in sports and academics as he prepared to become a coach, he was elected president of the student body. He was also named to ‘Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities’.
During his coaching career, he won 198 games, winning or sharing 13 conference championships and qualifying for the playoffs 15 times. In 2003, he was selected National Athletic Director of the Year at NASPE National Convention in Philadelphia.
In 2000, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association. He continues to serve as athletic director at Newton-Conover High School, a position he has held since 1974 and works tirelessly for the advancement of high school athletics throughout the state. His work has been recognized by numerous community groups and agencies including the Newton Police Department, the Conover Optimist Club. He was selected to coach the North Carolina Shrine Bowl team where he received the Shrine Bowl Jacket.
Coach Patrick admits he never aspired to do anything other than coach youngsters and to encourage them to achieve success in academics while achieving success in athletics. In recognition of his 20-year coaching career, the Don Patrick Fieldhouse was named in his honor.
Jennifer Howard Wolgemuth
Jennifer Howard Wolgemuth won two national Elks Club foul-shooting contests while in grade school and went on to score 2,054 points during her career at Fred T. Foard High School. Those achievements helped to earn her recognition as a Kodak All-American and a six-time AAU All-American. During her junior year, she helped lead Foard to a 29-1 season and the 3A state basketball championship.
In addition, she was all-conference for four years in tennis and also ran track. As an outstanding student athlete at N. C. State, she was named second team All-ACC team twice and set a conference record for career foul shots and her three point average of 44 percent remains a conference record.
In 1997, she was awarded the Frances Naismith Award for a player 5’6” or smaller and is enshrined into the National Basketball Hall of Fame as a recipient of this honor. In addition, her basketball jersey was retired and displayed in the gym at Fred T. Foard High School.
An Academic All-American with a 4.0 grade point average both in high school and college, Jennifer played one year of pro basketball with the Cleveland Rockers.
A resident of the Vale community, she and her husband, Wade, have two children.
Richard (Dick) Foster
A native of Caldwell County, Dick Foster’s athletic career spanned nearly six decades—first as a breakaway runner at Granite Falls High School, later at Lenoir-Rhyne College and finally as a head coach at three area high schools.
During his 14 years at Bandys High School, he coached the Trojans to conference championships in 1970 and in 1971. In his 10 seasons at Fred T. Foard, Coach Foster’s teams made the playoffs four times and won the NCHSAA Division II State Championship in 1982.
Known as a coach who could turn around a struggling program, his third high school stop was at St. Stephens High from 1987-1996 where his teams made the state playoffs in 1988 and 1991.
Coach Foster’s final coaching stop was at his alma mater, Lenoir-Rhyne College, where he coached the running backs for five years from 1997-2002. A sportswriter once humorously observed that Dick Foster’s five-plus decades in coaching made him old enough to have invented the game of football. He now admits, at age 70, and after winning 164 games, his coaching days are over.
In recognition of his outstanding achievements as a player and a coach, he was inducted into the Caldwell Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
Dick Foster and his wife, Glenda, have four children, sons Sam and Aaron and daughters, Cindy and Leslie.
D.C. (Pud) Miller
Witnesses to his baseball talent say that if Pud Miller had played in today’s downsized stadiums—with the high-tech equipment and livelier baseballs—he might have hit more than 100 home runs in a season and driven in more than 200. Even so, his minor league exploits were astounding!
Consider for example, his minor league career average was .350 with a single season high of .425. Those numbers included 268 home runs, 248 doubles, 809 hits and 1,037 runs batted in.
As the player-manager of the Hickory Rebels, he was credited with saving that franchise.
The rangy left-handed hitter hit 40 home runs, drove in 136 and had an overall batting average of .425, which was good enough to win the Silver Bat in recognition of the highest batting average in all of minor league baseball. Ironically, his Silver Bat was back-to-back with one earned by his close friend, Don Stafford, who was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2003.
Pud Miller played on 14 different teams during his 13-year career and the long ball was his forte, slamming 57 round trippers for Wichita Falls, Texas in 1947. In 1949, he hit 59 homers while in the Western Texas-New Mexico League and actually hit four home runs in one game.
Pud and his wife, Betty, have two sons and two daughters. In addition, his brother, Gene, was inducted into the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Albert T. Spurlock
A native of Ohio, Al Spurlock came to the Catawba Valley to attend Lenoir-Rhyne College and made his mark as one of the greatest all-round athletes ever and was compared to Jim Thorpe and Red Grange.
His on the field exploits are legendary beginning with his football years during the period of 1925-1927 and they helped earn him recognition into the NAIA Hall of Fame. His booming punts were as long as 87 yards and in one game, the actually kicked four punts inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. The Atlanta Journal referred to Spurlock as the ‘premier toe artist of the South’.
As a member of the Lenoir-Rhyne College track team, he won many individual honors and in one meet, as a ‘one-man team’, he would have won team honors except for a late injury that prevented Duke, State and Carolina from being embarrassed. He could do it all!
In 1927, as a full back, he became the first small college player to make the 11-man All-State team and was later named to the All-Time All-State N. C. Team. He has been inducted into both the Helms Foundation and the Lenoir-Rhyne Sports Hall of Fame.
Al Spurlock retired in 1977 after serving as a supervisor in the Catawba County School System. He and his wife had two children, Clark Spurlock, and Jan Spurlock Ketcham. He died in 1994.