morning of November 7, also a special on-field recognition will be conducted during the
In this spot, we'll take a look at the three individuals being inducted in the the 2015 class, Tom Broadwater (Football, 1957-60), Lonnie Galloway (Football, 1990-94) and Charlie McConnell (Men’s Basketball, 1962-66). Today, we'll highlight Charlie McConnell.
Charlie McConnell, Jr. (1962-66) was a four-year letterwinner for the Catamount men’s basketball team. McConnell started in the backcourt alongside another WCU Hall of Famer, Henry Logan, for two seasons and was credited by head coach Jim Gudger as a key factor in Logan’s legendary career.
McConnell finished with 1,018 career points – the 13th player to score 1,000 and one of just 45 Western Carolina basketball players all-time to eclipse the 1,000 career point plateau – adding 442 career rebounds. McConnell was on the 1962-63 Catamount squad which won a school-record 28 games and advanced to the NAIA National Championship game. McConnell averaged 15.4 points per game as a junior – adding a career-high 225 rebounds – and scored at a career-best 19.6 points per game clip as a senior, collecting All-Carolinas Conference honors.
Following his basketball career at Western Carolina, McConnell continued his education, receiving Masters Degrees from both WCU and Winthrop before earning his Doctorate in Education from UNC Greensboro. His first job as an educator and coach was in Cullowhee from 1966-71 before becoming a principal and supervisor in the school in Rock Hill, S.C., from 1971-81. McConnell then returned home to the mountains of western North Carolina in 1981 as the Superintendent of Schools in Haywood County before finishing his professional career in the same role in Jackson County.
All told, McConnell was a teacher, coach, and an administrator within the public school systems over a 30-plus year distinguished career until his retirement in 1997.
McConnell was a staple at Catamount home sporting events, supporting his alma mater. He was also heavily involved in the Sylva Rotary Club, receiving the Paul Harris Fellows Award. He served on the Board of Directors and was a chief fundraiser for the Jackson Neighbors in Need, and spent countless hours volunteering for initiatives such as Meals on Wheels. In 2012, McConnell was awarded the Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service.
McConnell passed away on Jan. 31, 2013, and is survived by his wife of 46 years, Ruth Morgan McConnell; his children, Gregg McConnell and wife Dorie of Indian Trail, N.C.; Jeff McConnell and his wife Michelle of Charlotte; and Kristy Bullock and husband Troy of Concord. He had six grandchildren – Julie, Garrison, Gavin, Kaylie, Jake and Lilly. His sister, Judy, and brother, Gene – who also played basketball at WCU – and his wife, Kathy, all reside in Cullowhee.
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