‘It just feels surreal.’ York County Sports Hall of Fame inducts first class since 2019

Karis Watson was candid during her speech at the 2024 York County Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Wednesday night.

The 2010 Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year out of Rock Hill High said she didn’t deserve to be recognized at the event.

While Watson acknowledged she may have been a bit too honest in that moment, she felt immense gratitude to be seen with such esteem.

“It just feels surreal,” Watson said. “I remember being a little girl and looking up to my sports heroes, and you just never expect to be someone’s hero or to be the one that’s enshrined in a Hall of Fame.”

Watson, who is a middle blocker for the Atlanta Vibe of the Pro Volleyball Federation, was one of the nine people inducted into the 2024 York County Sports Hall of Fame class.

Fellow former Bearcat Jonathan Meeks was another.

Meeks starred at quarterback and free safety for the Bearcats before spending his collegiate career at Clemson.

Meeks was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.

As one of the several former NFL athletes from Rock Hill high schools, Meeks helped build the Football City USA legacy and said the recognition was an honor.

“It’s a sense of pride in that,” Meeks said. “I came here, I played here, and I helped add to the great accomplishments of the city, so it’s an honor to be a part of it. It’s just giving back what’s been given to me.”

Enzo Martinez is a midfielder for the Birmingham Legion of the United Soccer League who played for the Northwestern Trojans from 2006-2009.

The Uruguayan won state player of the year honors each of his four years in high school, scoring 182 goals and leading the Trojans to three state championships and one national championship. He went on to have a stellar three-year career at the University of North Carolina before being drafted by Real Salt Lake with the 17th overall pick of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.

Martinez said it felt good to see former coaches and other figures who had a positive impact on his life.

“Since time has passed from that, my memories aren’t about the actual playing but the people,” Martinez said. “The people who you create relationships with from those moments...Just being able to see all those people again after so long, it’s what this is all about. To be able to talk and share stories.”

The other six inductees were:

  • Jim Barnes coached wrestling for 31 years across Union, Airport, Rock Hill and Lewisville high schools, compiling a 415-23 record. Barnes won 17 state championships and finished as a runner-up eight times. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007 and the South Carolina Athletics Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2015.

  • Barry Byers covered high school sports in York County for over 30 years for The Herald while also spending over a decade coaching and refereeing youth sports.

  • Cid Carvalho coached Winthrop’s men’s and women’s tennis teams for a combined 33 years, winning a total of 24 conference championships and 14 conference coach of the year honors.

  • Steven A. Gribble created Fort Mill’s girls golf program in 2000 and coached boys and girls golf there until 2015. During his time there, he won 10 region championships, one state championship and 2002 state coach of the year honors.

  • Devonte Holloman helped South Pointe to an undefeated state football championship season in 2008 before spending his college career at the University of South Carolina. Hollman was a sixth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2013. Holloman eventually came back to South Pointe in 2019, leading the Stallions to a state championship win in 2021.

  • Sherer Lee Gordon Hopkins played volleyball, softball and basketball at Clover, earning all-region and all-state honors in all three sports. After a basketball career at Francis Marion, Hopkins returned to Clover to lead the Blue Eagles’ basketball program to 10 region championships and the 2021 5A state championship.

More about the Hall of Fame

The last York County Sports Hall of Fame induction was in 2019.

Founders Bill Neely and Ed Thompson approached Visit York County in 2022 about possibly taking over the ceremony.

An agreement was reached, and nominations were opened up last summer.

Selection committee chair Chris Miller said that it felt great to bring back the event.

“It’s awesome to be back here with everybody in the community and honor such great individuals,” Miller said. “You look at these nine individuals, they are so deserving. These are people who probably should have been in years ago, but due to being out for five years, we had a big class this year. Most years, we try to do five, but we put basically a double class this year because it’s been so long.”

The next Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for 2026.