North State Journal’s 100 in 100 series will showcase the best athlete from each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. From Alamance to Yancey, each county will feature one athlete who stands above the rest. Some will be obvious choices, others controversial, but all of our choices are worthy of being recognized for their accomplishments — from the diamond and gridiron to racing ovals and the squared circle. You can see all the profiles as they’re unveiled here.
If the movie “Remember the Titans” had taken place in North Carolina, it would probably have been set at Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines.
Established in 1969 at the height of racial tensions in the South, Pinecrest was the consolidation of seven Moore County schools — four white and three black. And the transition was anything but smooth. As was the case in Virginia with T.W. Williams of cinematic fame, it was the football team that helped bring the community together.
“It gave us an opportunity to get to know each other,” Charles Waddell told The Pilot of Southern Pines in 2013. “Athletics played a huge part in making the transition easier. We formed relationships with each other before the school opened. It helped for other students to see that.”
While that first season as an integrated unit didn’t produce a Hollywood ending, the Patriots did fashion a 7-2-1 record in 1970, which stood as the best in school history until 2009. Waddell was one of the catalysts for that team. He also participated in basketball and track, leading to his selection as one of the NCHSAA’s “100 to Remember” recognizing the top 100 prep athletes in state history. He went on to earn a football scholarship at North Carolina, where he earned college letters in all three sports.
A 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end for the Tar Heels, Waddell caught 41 passes for 571 yards and seven touchdowns in his career. He set a school record with three touchdowns in a game against Clemson in 1974, a season that saw him earn All-ACC and All-America honors.
Waddell also ran track at UNC while spending the 1973-74 season as a member of coach Dean Smith’s basketball team, making him the Tar Heels’ last three-sport letterman. His excellence on the playing fields and in the classroom led to his winning the prestigious Patterson Medal, his school’s highest athletic award, in 1975. Forty years later, he also received the UNC Trailblazer Award.
After college, Waddell was drafted in the fifth round by the San Diego Chargers. He also spent time with the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before accepting a front office position with the Carolina Panthers. He has spent the past 14 years as an associate athletic director at South Carolina.