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SNOW HILL — The occasion was fit for a king.
And, perhaps, Cliff Godwin reigns as king in the small town of Snow Hill and Greene County these days.
Entering his fourth season as East Carolina University head baseball coach, Godwin, a native son, was saluted with the Cliff Godwin Appreciation Dinner on Thursday evening.
Snow Hill Mayor Dennis Liles proclaimed Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, as Cliff Godwin Day and read a lengthy proclamation; and Don Davis, a state senator who represents the Fifth District, honored him with the Laurel Wreath Award, the most prestigious award for athletic achievement presented by the State of North Carolina.
Chairs were at a premium as a mostly standing crowd several deep lined the cramped City Club facility walls all the way around.
The menu provided a spectacular selection ranging from freshly barbecued pig to chicken, turkey, venison, brisquet, clam chowder and turtle stew.
The silent auction featured 48 sports memorbilia items along with golf packages and food baskets.
Proceeds benefited the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plains — some 17 clubs in a five-county area.
Boys and Girls Club officials said an estimate of the proceeds amount would be premature, but they were all wearing huge smiles and speaking proudly of the fast-moving occasion.
Liles and Snow Hill Commissioner Geraldine Shackleford gifted the 39-year-old Godwin with the symbolic key to the Town of Snow Hill and a Snow Hill auto tag among other tokens.
Godwin was not only saluted by Liles but by Davis, Greene County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patrick Miller, a 1988 Greene Central High graduate, and Boys and Girls Club Advisory Committee member; Kirk Dominick, interim president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plains; and veteran WNCT-TV Sports Director Brian Bailey. Miller and Bailey handled the introductions.
“I’m a Snow Hill guy and an ECU guy,” Godwin, a three-sport standout at Greene Central High, told an admiring audience. “When you are surrounded by great people, you are going to be successful.
“You want to make an impact when you go back.
“This is a great honor coming from your hometown. I wanted to grow up and make my family and my hometown proud. Everybody that was positively involved, so many are here tonight — parents, teachers and friends. Everyone is like a family.”
Godwin starred in baseball, basketball and football for Greene Central before continuing his baseball career at ECU, where he enjoyed a stellar career.
His coaching career of 15 years began at Kinston High before moving to the collegiate ranks at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Then came stops at Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, LSU, the University of Central Florida and University of Mississippi before accepting the ECU position.
His background includes nine NCAA regional appearances and serving as an assistant coach in the College World Series with LSU and Mississippi.
In three ECU seasons, Godwin-coached teams have won a conference championship and amassed 100-plus victories. However, Godwin provides perspective by noting the 70-plus losses are too many.
“I promise the Pirates will be back this year,” Godwin concluded his remarks.
And in regards to his impact upon Snow Hill and Greene County, Liles earlier assured: “You have already made us proud.”