Mario Williams is an obvious choice for the NC State athletics Hall of Fame—he left Raleigh as the Wolfpack’s all-time sacks leader, and he was also the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Mario was great, and you could sense that every time you watched him play.
What I enjoy most about these Hall of Fame ceremonies, though, is learning about the guys I’d never heard about. Former NC State tennis player Irwin Holmes is a great example; his story is incredible. He was a trailblazer in breaking the color barrier in the ACC. From the GoPack.com release:
Irwin Holmes was a varsity tennis player during his college days under head coach John Kenfield Jr., but that’s not what made him special. As one of the school’s first four African American undergraduate students in the fall of 1956, the native of Durham, North Carolina, helped fully integrate the institution.
In 1957, he and Manuel Crockett became the first black athletes to participate in an ACC-sponsored event during a freshman indoor track meet against North Carolina. Holmes later joined the tennis team as a three-year varsity player. In 1960, he became the first African American captain of a varsity sport at an ACC school and the school’s first black graduate, when he received his degree in electrical engineering. He retired after a long career at RCA, IBM and other pioneering electronics companies. NC State dedicated Holmes Hall, previously known as the University College Commons, in his honor during Homecoming 2018.
Dude fought through all the bullshit and earned an engineering degree in the process, which is impressive as hell.
The rest of the class includes tennis great John Sadri (he played a famous match against John McEnroe at NCAAs), Olympic gold medalist swimmer David Fox, and soccer-greats Henry Gutierrez and Thori Staples.