'Bud,' Hawks athletes honored at NL winter sports banquet
North Lenoir High School cheerleading coach Gail Jernigan, right, presents Neuse News photographer William ‘Bud’ Hardy with a plaque at Monday’s winter sports banquet. Hardy has taken tens of thousands of photos of Lenoir County folks through the years — nearly always for free — and the Hawks recognized him for his giving heart. Photo by Bryan Hanks / Neuse News
LA GRANGE — This time, it was the guy who’s usually behind the camera that found himself being photographed and cheered.
William “Bud” Hardy, the chief photographer for Neuse News and a Kinston icon, was surprised by North Lenoir High School cheerleading coach Gail Jernigan during the school’s winter sports banquet. Without mentioning his name at first, Jernigan spoke at length about what Hardy means to North Lenoir student-athletes.
“This goes to a young man that means so much to athletics in the community, not just at North Lenoir but at all the other high schools and now recently, middle schools,” she said. “He’s a parent’s best friend because if you were to miss a game, all you have to do is go on his (Facebook) page and look through those 100 or more pictures that he’s uploaded.”
When she called out his name, everyone in attendance at the banquet gave him a lengthy standing ovation.
“This is awesome and it means a lot to me,” Hardy said. “It feels really good to be appreciated by your community.”
Hardy wasn’t the only person honored at the banquet as the Hawks recognized all of their winter sports teams — varsity and junior varsity cheerleading, varsity wrestling, along with the varsity and JV girls’ and boys’ basketball teams — at the event.
Varsity cheerleaders — Damarrion Garrett (cheerleader of the year) and Kailyah Fisher (spirit)
JV cheerleaders — Tee Hines (cheerleader of the year) and Kyla Moye/Sadia Hepburn (coach’s award)
Wrestling — Elijah Swinson (most outstanding wrestler, state finalist), Jerry Yourdon (Century Club, Hawk Club), Chris Russell (coach’s award, state finalist) and Greyson Smith (most improved)
Varsity girls’ basketball — Ashanti Lynch and Ka’Nijah Taylor (co-MVPs); Integrity McPhail (offensive player of the year); Paula Mason and Emmenia Lynch (defensive players of the year)
JV girls’ basketball — Taniya Copper (MVP), Kamryn Sutton (defense award) and Nyquasha Rufus (coach’s award)
Varsity boys’ basketball — DeShaun Kee (MVP, all-conference), Jordan Blow (offensive player of the year), Terrance Copper (defensive player of the year, coach’s award) and Jamir Jones-Gatling and Trevor Sears (co-rookies of the year)
JV boys’ basketball — Justin Cobb (all-around winner), Milton Kivett III (coach’s award) and Chase Jones (most improved)