Follow in the footsteps of exemplary athletes in Gaston County
Updated: Jan 25, 2022
Do you know the athletes who have excelled on the national and/or international stage athletes with ties to Gaston County, North Carolina? Greats in just about every sport – from basketball to baseball to swimming – all hailed from here. Here is just the short list of close to 100 inductees that can be found in the Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame.
One of the most well-known sports stars from Gaston County, North Carolina is James Ager Worthy, also known as “Big Game James.” Called one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, Worthy was a household name in many basketball-loving communities. During his 12-year career for the Los Angeles Lakers, he became a three-time NBA Champion and a seven-time NBA All-Star.
If you don’t follow basketball, you may follow baseball, which means you’ll know about Kevin Millwood. Born and raised in Gaston County, Millwood played all sorts of sports, but he never expected to get drafted by a professional baseball team. Little did he know that he’d go on to be a pitcher for many of the best MLB teams, including the Seattle Mariners, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Atlanta Braves.
Basketball and baseball are two very traditional sports. But Gaston County also boasts pro athletes in non-traditional sports, like swimming. Melvin Stewart, a famous Gaston County swimmer is most well-known for his three Olympic medals at the 1992 Summer Olympics and his world record-breaking 200-meter butterfly at the 1991 World Championships.
Last but certainly not least is Harold Varner III, an American professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour but grew up playing the local municipal course and proudly reps Gastonia, Despite his smaller stature, Varner is one of the longer drivers on tour and is one of just a handful of African-American PGA Tour golfers.
Others notable athletes include former Olympian (Duane Ross), National Football Leaguers (Koren Robinson), Bass Anglers Sportsman Society professionals (Guy Eaker), National Collegiate Athletic Association All Americans (Eric “Sleepy Floyd”) Champions (Cheryl Littlejohn) and secondary coach of the Carolina Panthers, Perry Fewell.
Watch the action
Participating in sports is one experience, watching professional athletes in their prime is another.
Gastonia Honey Hunters at Caromont Park in Gastonia
Gaston County is home to its own professional baseball team, the Gastonia Honey Hunters. This team is one of the newest additions to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, so it’s exciting see them in action. You can catch one of their home games at the CaroMont Health Park. Sing along to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” size up the players, and enjoy ballpark snacks. Who knows? Maybe you’ll become a life-long Gastonia Honey Hunters fan.
Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championships at Poston Park
The Red Bull Pump Track Qualifier is another one of the main sporting events in Gaston County. Each spring, the best mountain bikers and BMX riders in the United States congregate at Gaston County’s George Poston Park for this event. They then compete head-to-head to prove that they are the most talented riders and racers in the country. The winners of this Gaston County event then go on to participate in the Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championships!
Get in the game at Gaston County’s sports facilities
After learning about the talent of these pro athletes, you’ll feel inspired to improve your own sports skills! Luckily for you, Gaston County is well equipped with amazing sports facilities.
One of the most well-known sports parks in Gaston County is George Poston Park. With four softball and baseball fields, four soccer fields, a beach volleyball court, and even North Carolina’s first asphalt pump track, this 344-acre park can host thousands of athletes at the same time! Are you ready to join in on the fun?
If you’d prefer a smaller yet still well-equipped park, Harper Park may be the one for you. This space was actually completely funded by years of local donations and fundraisers, so it was truly a community effort. Now, everyone in Gaston County can enjoy the two baseball fields and numerous volleyball and basketball courts.
Finally, there is Martha Rivers Park. This park is used primarily for collegiate-level sports. There are four baseball and softball fields, as well as four soccer fields. Between the official games, you can often find locals testing out their own softball and baseball skills with pick-up games of their own.