PINETOPS — Following 10 previous induction classes, the SouthWest Edgecombe High School Athletic Hall of Fame welcomed the first members of its second decade Monday night in the school cafeteria.
Two inductees, Chad Webb and Vickie Staton-Best, captured North Carolina High School Athletic Association individual championships in golf and women’s track, respectively. A third, Justin Webb, has his No. 3 jersey retired in the Cougars’ baseball program and went on to play at the University of North Carolina before being drafted in the 23rd round by the Florida (now Miami) Marlins.
The common thread among them all? The strong sense of family felt while representing SouthWest on the fields and courts of varsity competition.
“The best years of my life were the four years that I was here at SouthWest Edgecombe,” Staton-Best said. “Because we were like a family, especially the basketball team. We had three sets of sisters I think, on the team.”
Such was the case in baseball as well.
“I think the best part about those teams, it was just a bunch of good ol’ boys that were together and really enjoyed being around each other and playing the game,” Justin Webb said. “So it changed the idea of practice and having to be there and mandated. It was more you wanted to be there. You wanted to spend time, then you wanted to win for each other.”
The inductions bring membership in the Hall to 26.
Justin Webb, a 2001 graduate, played baseball alongside current SouthWest baseball and boys basketball coach Shelton Langley. While Langley handed the formal portion of his induction, his mother, SouthWest athletic director Sandra Langley, recalled the many weekends spent by Webb at her home, hanging around Shelton and his brother, Alex.
“Justin is like a third son,” Sandra Langley said. “He stayed at my house every weekend — for 18 years! But that was fine. We loved him and Shelton, Alex and Justin were like brothers.”
After starring as a pitcher and shortstop for the Cougars, he started at catcher for the Tar Heels for the final two years of his collegiate career. Other SouthWest honors included being named conference player of the year in baseball and earning all-state acclaim. A four-year minor-league career followed after his time in Chapel Hill.
“A lot of people ask me do I miss baseball,” Justin Webb recalled. “I don’t miss baseball as much as I miss the people.”
Staton-Best graduated in 1984 and was a member of consecutive NCHSAA state championship teams in girls basketball in 1981 and 1982. But her real claim to SouthWest fame came during her senior season of women’s track, where she was forced to travel with a limited party to the NCHSAA 3-A 400-meter finals at North Carolina State. Unfortunately, SouthWest had scheduled its athletic banquet the same night, meaning that her fanbase was limited to her coach and a pair of siblings.
Even as Staton-Best felt alone, it didn’t matter. She won gold anyway.
“That comes from Coach (Sandra) Langley,” she said. “She was a tough coach. You were held accountable for everything. I was forced to play basketball and volleyball because we had our own conditioning coach, from Coach Langley. She ran us more in basketball than I ever ran in track. So by the time track season came around, I was prepared and ready for anything.”
Chad Webb, no relation to Justin, graduated from SouthWest in 1997 and became the first NCHSAA boys golf champion for the Cougars in the spring of his senior year. A former North Carolina Junior Amateur Champion, he signed with NCAA Division II USC-Aiken out of high school before transferring and finishing up at East Carolina. Currently involved in law enforcement, Chad Webb had planned to attend before a work-related obligation surfaced just hours before the event.