Ok sports fans, who knew that Raleigh was home to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame museum?
Don’t worry if you didn’t, because as a sports addict myself it took me 9 years of living in Raleigh to take my first visit.
The NC Sports Hall of Fame is located in downtown Raleigh on the third floor of the NC Museum of History and across from the fantastic Museum of Natural Sciences, so you can be forgiven for not knowing it was here!
This Sports Hall of Fame currently has 375 members, and the first class was inducted in 1963.
The Hall of Fame celebrates excellence and extraordinary achievement in athletics, and commemorates and memorializes exceptional accomplishments in sports for the inspiration and enjoyment of all North Carolinian’s.
As you wander through, you can learn of these achievements through exhibits and educational displays and see artifacts of many of the Hall of Fame members. This is a permanent exhibit, and each spring several new members are inducted into the hall of fame.
On display are sports such as football, basketball, baseball, athletics, golf, motor racing, Olympics sports and more.
Featured displays include Michael Jordan, the Carolina Hurricanes, North Carolina Women in Sports, North Carolinians in Olympic Sports, and Football.
Of course, North Carolina is ACC basketball territory and they sure love their hoops around here, and there is no one bigger in the world of basketball than Michael Jordan.
Jordan’s display highlights his illustrious career, from his collegiate days at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill to his more than 1,000 regular season games during his NBA career.
The Carolina Hurricanes
The National Hockey League (NHL) first arrived in North Carolina in 1997 when the Hartford Whalers relocated to Raleigh and became the Carolina Hurricanes.
Current Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour helped lead the team to a Stanley Cup victory in 2006 versus Edmonton. As Australians who didn’t grow up as hockey fans naturally, we’ll never forget those crazy times here in Raleigh, and even though I’m still not a huge hockey fan, I’m a sports fan and that was amazing to see!
Brind’Amour’s uniform is featured in this case. He played 1,484 regular season games during his 20-year NHL career.
North Carolina Women in Sports
While many North Carolina high schools were offering girls’ basketball as early as the 1920s, in 1972, Congress passed educational legislation that included Title IX, which prohibited, in part, discrimination against girls and women in athletics.
New opportunities allowed women to compete on a wider scale. On display are artifacts from these athletes:
- Andrea Stinson is a three-time all-American at NC State and one of the top 50 female athletes in ACC history. She’s a three-time WNBA all-star and the sixth all-time leading scorer in league history.
- Charlotte Smith, current women’s basketball head coach at Elon University, is best known for hitting a shot in 1994’s NCAA national championship game, carrying the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill to a win over Louisiana Tech. Her UNC jersey is featured in the display case.
- Chasity Melvin’s career at NC State included scoring more than 2,000 career points and grabbing more than 2,000 rebounds.Her jersey from her time with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics is featured.
- Kristi Overton Johnson dominated the women’s slalom in waterskiing for 15 years, accumulating 80 pro victories and capturing more number 1 world rankings than any other female skier in the sport’s history.
- Karen Shelton earned her 600th victory as head coach at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill on October 15, 2015; Carolina’s new field hockey stadium, opened in 2018, is named in her honor.
North Carolinians in Olympic Sports
The first North Carolinian to compete in the Olympic Games was Harry Williamson, a track and field athlete from High Point who attended UNC–Chapel Hill qualified to race in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.
Since then, many men and women have competed. On display are artifacts from these athletes:
- Carla Overbeck captained the 1996 US Olympic team that won a gold medal in women’s soccer.
- Stephanie Wheeler played on the gold medal–winning US women’s wheelchair basketball team at the 2007 Paralympic Games.
- Sue Walsh earned the ACC swimmer-of-the-year title three times as a standout at UNC before competing on the 1980 US Olympic swim team.
- Marty Sheets has earned more than 250 medals – primarily in golf, power lifting, swimming, tennis, and skiing—including seven at the Special Olympics World Games.
- Steve Rerych won more individual ACC titles than any other swimmer in conference history at NC State, then won a pair of gold medals for the US swim team in the 1968 Summer Olympics.
- George Williams built a nationally known track and field program at Saint Augustine’s University while coaching more than 40 Olympians, including three gold medalists, and serving as assistant coach of the US men’s track and field team in the 1996 US Olympics and as coach of the 2004 Olympic team.
When you think of college football in North Carolina, ACC schools receive most of the attention, but East Carolina University (UCU) and Appalachian State University (App State) also boast successful football programs.
Who can ever forget App State pulling off one of the greatest upsets in college sports history by beating the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House in Ann Arbor!
On display are artifacts from these athletes:
- Jerry Moore guided App State to three consecutive national championships and seven appearances in the national semifinals during his time as head football coach.
- Gerald Austin officiated for 25 years in the NFL, including 18 as a referee—and three Super Bowls.
- Ricky Proehl set school records in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns at Wake Forest University before winning two Super Bowl rings, with the St. Louis Rams and the Indianapolis Colts. His Carolina Panthers uniform appears in the display case.
- Don McCauley led the nation in rushing yards during his 1970 season as running back at UNC–Chapel Hill before playing 11 seasons with the Baltimore Colts.
- Rich McGeorge completed a successful football career at Elon College before being taken by the Green Bay Packers as a first-round pick in the 1970 NFL draft.
Other North Carolina sporting legends on display included:
Video: NC Sports Hall of Fame
Admission is FREE, and you can take a self guided tour. It’s not a huge space and you can easily get through it in one hour.
So if you’re a sports fan like me, have an hour to spare, and happen to be in the downtown area, pop in and take your own self-guided tour of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame!