501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization
In 1957, the Patterson Ave. Y.M.C.A. offered the public a program designed to give its constituents "food for soul and food for thought." The well-attended program came to be known as the "Hungry Club." During the weekly noon-day luncheons, symposiums were held with a variety of subjects presented and discussed. Because most of the participants were young, male executives and public servants who were former athletes, sports world activities usually dominated the group's attention.
A native son and newly-appointed director of the Winston-Salem Urban League, Samuel D. Harvey, initiated and developed the idea that an auxiliary club should be organized for the sole purpose of pursuing athletic interests and endeavors. The proposal was enthusiastically received and unanimously endorsed by the club members. Harvey was asked to go to Atlanta, Georgia, to observe an organization that was already promoting athletics as a major project. Due to his outstanding report, Harvey was nominated and elected by acclamation to serve as the first president of the newly-organized Winston-Salem Sportsmen Club of the Patterson Ave. Y.M.C.A.
Charter members were: Mrs. Nancy Gannaway,D.D.S., Luix Overbea, W.L. Peay, Dwight Cardwell, H.E. Staplefoote, L.D. McClennon, Marty Penn, E.E. Hill and C.E. Bighouse" Gaines. In an effort to involve the community schools, the club enlisted the support of several associate members: J.A. Carter, Carl Martin, A.H. Anderson, David Lash, and Togo West.
Since the inception of the Sportsmen Club, principals, athletic directors and coaches have expressed their allegiance to the organization through active membership and/or cooperation. Their support has been invaluable in the success of the club's programs to recognize and reward athletic achievement.
The first Annual Banquet of Champions was sponsored by the club in 1957 to honor the Carver High School Western District 3A football champion-ship team because the school lacked adequate funds and community support. Many renowned professional athletes and personalities have contributed to the success of the program. Among the guest speakers have been Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns; Bobby Mitchell, Washington Redskins; Ken Willard, San Francisco 49ers; Bob Hayes, Dallas Cowboys; Willie Richardson, Baltimore Colts; Dave Robinson, Green Bay Packers;
Willie Wood, Green Bay Packers; Carl Eller, Minnesota Vikings; Happy Hairston, Los Angeles Lakers; Willie Davis; Green Bay Packers; H.O. Bright, Jr., Track, Seton Hall University; Jake Gaither, Football Coach, Flordia A&M College; Bill Tate, Football Coach, Wake Forest University; Dr. Leroy Walker, Track Coach, North Carolina Central University; Chuck Mills, Football Coach, Wake Forest University; Billy Packer, National T.V. Sports Commentator; Jim Valvano, Basketball Coach/Athletic Director, North Carolina State University; Bill Dooley, Football Coach, Wake Forest University; Wayne Embry, General Manager, Cleveland Cavaliers; Dr. Larry D. Coble, Superintendent, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools; C.E. "Bighouse" Gaines, Basketball Coach, Winston-Salem State University; Delores "Dee" Todd, Asst. Commissioner of the ACC; Jim Cardwell, Football Coach, Wake Forest University; Kay Yow, Women's Basketball Coach, N.C. State University; Dr. Donald L. Martin, Jr., Superintendent, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System; and Dr. Alvin J. Schexnider, Chancellor, Winston-Salem State University.
Today, the Winston-Salem Sportsmen Club pays tribute to outstanding athletes throughout Forsyth County through the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County High School Sports Hall of Fame and by putting on the Mary Garber Holiday Basketball Classic for the high school females of the Winston-/Salem Forsyth County Schools. The club is also seeking to provide opportunities for others to achieve by exploring the sponsorship of track meets, swimming meets, AAU basketball and general sports tournaments and playoffs.
Through the years, the club has continued to evaluate and revamp its programs to meet the growing and changing needs of the community. While the Banquet of Champions was discontinued, a new gala affair has taken its place. A hall of fame banquet is held in May yearly.
As we go forth in the Christian spirit, let it be long remembered that the Winston-Salem Sportsmen Club has worked to promote brotherhood and citizenship by recognizing the achiever by deed and merit!