Hall of Fame inducts players, coaches, officials
The LC Sports Hall of Fame gives some love to athletes’ best friends - officials and coaches
Without officials’ play by the rules and coaches’ iron fist in a velvet glove, athletes never would have the level playing field and tireless instruction they need to succeed. The Laurens County Sports Hall of Fame’s second class of induction recognizes the broad range of athletic “greatness.”
Inducted Thursday evening were all-everything Laurens-Waterloo athlete Rickey Foggie and minor league baseball standout Kinard Littleton, along with two officials, brothers Sam and Truman Owens of Clinton, and Laurens football coach Bobby Ivey.
“In memory of the late Elvis Presley, ‘Thank you. Thank you very much,” Littleton quipped. A Cleveland Indians signee out of high school, Littleton was dealt to the Chicago White Sox and played seven seasons. Being a 1964 Army draftee might have cost him the chance at being in the big leagues. Clinton High teams won state titles in 1960 and 1961 with Littleton’s contributions, and he was a stellar football, basketball and track athlete.
Foggie was the first African-American quarterback at Laurens District High School, and went on to star at the University of Minnesota and play Canadian League and Arena League football. He said coach Buddy Jennings gave him the chance he needed to quarterback the Raiders.
Jennings was Laurens’ new coach. “My coach said, ‘Rickey, you should go out for quarterback.’ I said, ‘As far as I know, there’s never been a black quarterback at Laurens.’ My coach said, ‘Yeah, but he doesn’t know that.’
“Buddy and I came along at the perfect time.”
Foggie credited being “the baby” in a family of nine siblings growing up in Waterloo with keeping him on a straight path. “I saw one of my brothers get a whipping and I said, ‘I’m not ever doing that.’ Football, basketball, baseball and track kept me busy, it kept me fit, and I really enjoyed it.”
Foggie said he enjoyed playing to represent Waterloo and Laurens County, and beating Clinton High School. At Laurens High, “there was never a period we were told we couldn’t do something,” he said.
Taking over the Laurens football program from Jennings, Coach Ivey said they didn’t leave him Rickey Foggie, but the departing coaches did leave a stellar group of Raider athletes. “It’s been a good ride. Laurens County is a football county. People live it, breathe it, bleed it - as long as you’re winning,” Ivey said.
His Raiders won a football state championship in 1991, and Ivey was inducted into the SC Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016. His teams at Laurens, Marion, Lake City and Northwestern won 206 games and 12 region championships.
Speaking for his dad, Mike Owens said the late Sam Owens “loved officiating, especially teaching young officials.” Sam and his brother Truman Owens, a fellow 2018 inductee, worked their 500th football game together, their 600th game together, their 700th game together, and were at number 795 when Sam died in 2007.
Sam Owens officiated basketball for 49 years, football for 43, baseball for 40, and softball for 19, working as a South Atlantic Conference football referee on Saturdays.
Truman Owens was a member of Clinton City Council for 41 years, and the Mayor Pro Tem for 20 years. He and Sam were the first brothers inducted into the National High School Federation Hall of Fame.
Sixteen members of the Owens family are sports officials, and Truman said he always has tried to be a positive influence on young officials and athletes.
“I have made life-long friends all over the state,” he said. But, officials know they can’t please everybody all the time. Truman said, “We were over at Lockhart and a guy came up and said, ‘You see that river over there?’ We said yeah. He said, ‘That river’s filled with officials’ and walked off. We never went back there.”