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Achievers & Accolades

Four Locals Earn Hall Of Fame Induction

By Hunter Joyner, posted Mar 29, 2016
Gwen Austin, John Bunting, Larry Honeycutt and Charlie Niven are to be inducted into the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame in May.
 
May 1, the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame will welcome the 2016 inductees into membership at its annual banquet at the Burney Center. The event begins with a reception and silent auction, followed by the induction ceremony and dinner, according to a news release.
 
Austin, a standout basketball player at Wallace-Rose Hill High School, was a dominating 6’2” center throughout her athletic career. She played at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and graduated in 1985, with career records in 16 different categories, including points (2,056), rebounds (1,290) and blocks (222). She is the all-time leading scorer for the UNCW women’s basketball team, as well as first-team All-ECAC and ECAD South Player of the Year. 
 
Bunting was a professional football player for 13 years. He was a professional coach for 10 years, a college coach for 13 years, and a professional football player for 11 years. As the head coach of the University of North Carolina, he won more games in the first season than any other first-year coach in school’s history, according to the release.
 
Bunting has served on the board of the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame since 2008, has been a board member of the Miracle League National Organization since 2009 and is a commentator on WECT’s Friday Night Football Program, the release stated.
 
Honeycutt attended UNCW where he was the outfielder on the National Jr. College Baseball Championship team in 1963. He graduated from UNCW in 1966 and from 1966 to 1970 he taught and coached in Raleigh. In 1969 he obtained his master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, according to the release.
 
In 1970, Honeycutt returned to UNCW as a coach and faculty member. He coached baseball and soccer and spent 25 years as the men’s tennis coach. He was voted NAIA coach of the year in 1975.
 
Honeycutt served as a local clinic leader for the Wilmington area officials in football, basketball and soccer.  He was featured in the April 2015 issue of Referee Magazine and received the Golden Whistle Award from the NCHSAA in May of 2015, according to the release.
 
Niven was a multiple-sport athlete. He made All State in football, was MVP in both the North-South Shrine All Star Football Game and the East-West Football All Star Game in high school. UNC Chapel Hill offered Niven a football scholarship but Charlie went to Duke instead.
 
After Niven's  freshman football season at Duke, the Canadian Football League offered him a contract to play for them, and he did. After one season, he returned to Wilmington, got married and decided not to go back. 

Coach Bill Brooks, basketball coach at Wilmington College, gave Niven a basketball scholarship to come play for him. Charlie put Wilmington College on the map, the release stated, leading the nation in scoring with a 38.6 points-per-game average, in an era in which there were no three-point shots.
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